Beyond Saved by the Bell: As Elizabeth Berkley dazzles in a rare red carpet appearance, FEMAIL lays bare the ups and downs of her roller coaster career – from her Showgirls flop to her role in her ex’s $45 MILLION lawsuit against Leonardo DiCaprio
- Berkley, 50, and her husband, Greg Lauren, 52, attended the Ralph Lauren Spring 2023 fashion show in San Marino, California, on Thursday
- The actress has been working in Hollywood for more than 30 years, but she has been living a relatively private life with Lauren and their 10-year-old son, Sky
- She most recently appeared in Saved by the Bell’s short-lived reboot, and she also has a reoccurring role in the upcoming HBO drama The Idol
- In honor of Berkley’s return to the red carpet, FEMAIL has highlighted the ups and downs of her career
Elizabeth Berkley rose to fame playing Jessie Spano on the NBC sitcom Saved by the Bell and became a cult icon after starring in Showgirls, but nearly two decades later, she is living a relatively private life.
The actress, 50, made a rare red carpet appearance with her husband, Greg Lauren, 52, on Thursday while attending the Ralph Lauren Spring 2023 fashion show in San Marino, California.
Berkley, who is mom to a 10-year-old son, Sky, has been acting for more than 30 years — on both the screen and the stage.
Elizabeth Berkley, 50, made a rare red carpet appearance on Thursday while attending the Ralph Lauren Spring 2023 fashion show in San Marino, California
The actress was joined by her husband, Greg Lauren, who is the famed designer’s nephew
She most recently appeared in Saved by the Bell’s short-lived reboot, which was canceled earlier this year after two seasons on Peacock.
Berkley also has a reoccurring role in the upcoming HBO drama The Idol starring Lily-Rose Depp, The Weeknd, and the late Anne Heche.
In honor of her return to the red carpet, FEMAIL has highlighted the ups and downs of her career, from her TV stardom and feature film flop to her involvement in a $45 million lawsuit against Leonardo DiCaprio.
Bursting onto the scene: Berkley shoots to fame while starring on hit series Saved By the Bell
Berkley developed a passion for dancing at an early age and went on to become a teen model
In 1989, Berkley got her big break when she was cast as Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, a role that was made specifically for her
Berkley (pictured left with Mario Lopez) had originally auditioned to play Zach Morris’ main love interest, Kelly Kapowski, but she faced stiff competition from actress Tiffani Amber Thiessen (pictured right with Mark-Paul Gosselaar), who ended up getting the role
Berkley was born and raised in Farmington Hills, Michigan, where she started taking dance classes at an early age.
She danced in Swan Lake with principals from the American Ballet Theatre and performed in the New York City Ballet’s holiday production of The Nutcracker in Detroit for five years, according to her IMBD page.
Before she got into acting, she worked as a teen model and was represented by Elite Model Management. She made her television debut with a small part in the TV series Gimme a Break! in 1986 and appeared in the TV movie Frog the following year.
In 1989, Berkley got her big break when she was cast as Jessie Spano on Saved by the Bell, a role that was made specifically for her.
She had originally auditioned to play Zach Morris’ main love interest, Kelly Kapowski, but she faced stiff competition from actress Tiffani Amber Thiessen.
Producer Peter Engel wrote in his book, I Was Saved by the Bell, that he fought for Thiessen to be cast as Kelly and won, according to Showbiz Cheatsheet.
However, NBC executives weren’t willing to let Berkley go, which led to the creation of her character, Jessie — Zach’s brainy feminist neighbor and friend.
Berkley starred in the show and its TV film installments until it ended in 1993.
The actress did not appear in the sole season of the show’s spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, which starred Thiessen, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, and Dustin Diamond.
Uphill battle: Actress makes a move into movies with lead role in Showgirls – but film is critically PANNED
Berkley left Saved by the Bell behind to pursue a film career and was cast as stripper Nomi Malone in the 1995 film Showgirls
Showgirls was critically panned and bombed at the box office, but the movie went on to become a cult classic status and turned Berkley (pictured at the film’s premiere) into an icon
Berkley left Saved by the Bell behind to pursue a film career and was cast as stripper Nomi Malone in the 1995 film Showgirls.
The movie was directed by Paul Verhoeven from a script by Joe Eszterhas following their successful collaboration on the erotic thriller Basic Instinct.
The script was the most expensive ever sold at the time, but Showgirls was critically panned and bombed at the box office, hamstrung partly by its NC-17 rating. Berkley faced the brunt of the criticism and was shunned by Hollywood.
‘Of course it was disappointing that it didn’t do well, but there was so much cruelty around it. I was bullied,’ she told People in 2020. ‘And I didn’t understand why I was being blamed. The job as an actor is to fulfill the vision of the director. And I did everything I was supposed to do.’
Berkley went on to score small roles in the critically acclaimed films, including the 1996 movie The First Wives Club, which starred Goldie Hawn
In 2001, she appeared in the Woody Allen film The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Berkley made her Broadway debut in the revival of Sly Fox in 2004
She noted ‘no one associated with the film spoke up on my behalf to protect me. I was left out in the cold and I was a pariah in the industry I had worked so hard for.’
Berkley left Creative Artists Agency (CAA) after the misfire and signed with United Talent Agency as she worked to rebuild her career.
Ironically, despite all the backlash, the film became a cult favorite after its video release — thanks in part to her performance as the aspiring Las Vegas showgirl.
Berkley went on to score small roles in the critically acclaimed films The First Wives Club (1996), Any Given Sunday (1999), and Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001).
She also saw success on stage with her performance in the West End production of Lenny in 1999. Five years later, she made her Broadway debut in the revival of Sly Fox.
The actress went on to reprise her role as Jessie Spano in the Saved by the Bell reboot. The show premiered on Peacock in 2020 but was canceled after two seasons
Berkley also appears in the upcoming HBO drama miniseries The Idol, which stars Lily-Rose Depp (center)
In 2005, she earned praise for her role as Bonnie on the off-Broadway production of Hurlyburly, starring Ethan Hawke and Josh Hamilton.
Theater critic Charles Isherwood even went as far as issuing her an apology in The New York Times, writing, ‘That Ms. Berkley holds her own among this skilled company of scene-stealers is a testament to how much her talent has grown since her appearance in the monumentally bad movie [Showgirls].’
Berkley also appeared in CSI: Miami and the final season of the Showtime series The L Word in the early aughts.
The actress went on to reprise her role as Jessie Spano in the Saved by the Bell reboot. The show, which featured a number of her former co-stars, premiered on Peacock in 2020 but was canceled after two seasons.
Berkley also appears in the upcoming HBO drama miniseries The Idol, which centers on a complicated relationship between a self-help guru and a rising pop star.
Courtroom drama: Berkley becomes embroiled in her ex’s Leonardo DiCaprio Lawsuit
Berkley’s former boyfriend Roger Wilson (pictured together) famously sued Leonardo DiCaprio and several other members of his entourage for $45 million in the late ’90s
Berkley allegedly caught the attention of DiCaprio and his famed ‘P**y Posse’ when she attended the premiere of his film The Man in the Iron Mask in March 1998. She said that when she turned down an offer to hang out with the crew, she was bombarded with phone calls the next day and turned to Wilson for help
Berkley found herself wrapped up in a $45 million lawsuit against DiCaprio and several members of his famed ‘P***y Posse’ over an alleged assault on her then-boyfriend Roger Wilson.
Wilson, who starred in Porky’s and Porky’s II: The Next Day, claimed that the Titanic star encouraged his entourage to attack him outside the Manhattan restaurant Asia de Cuba on March 4, 1998.
Journalist Nancy Jo Sales wrote about the leadup to the scuffle in her 1998 New York magazine profile of DiCaprio, titled Leo, Prince of the City. The fight was said to be over Berkley.
A few days before, the Showgirls star had attended the premiere of DiCaprio’s film The Man in the Iron Mask, where she allegedly caught the attention of his crew.
LA publicist Karen Tenzler was said to have been tasked with getting Berkley to ditch her boyfriend and hang out with them instead.
‘She said, “Jay Ferguson and Leo are going crazy for you, and they want you to come to Elaine’s after this — without Roger,”‘ the actress told Sales.
Berkley, who was living with Wilson at the time, said Tenzler was well aware that she was in a relationship, and she asked if it was some kind of joke before declining the offer.
The next day, she was reportedly bombarded by phone calls from Ferguson — who wanted to hang out with her — and Tenzler — who wanted to know why she wasn’t calling him back.
Wilson claimed that DiCaprio encouraged his entourage to attack him outside the Manhattan restaurant Asia de Cuba on March 4, 1998, and he told them to leave Berkley alone
Wilson went on to sue DiCaprio and two of his pals for $45 million. He and Berkley later broke up, and the lawsuit was dismissed in 2004
After Berkley told Wilson what was going on, he called Ferguson and asked him to leave his girlfriend alone.
‘I said, “Look, Jay, I know you guys are having a great time and the town is your apple — but not this part of town,”‘ he told Sales.
Wilson said there was a short pause before Ferguson responded: ‘F**k you, you f**kin’ f****t, f**kin’ motherf****r, we’ll call whoever we want and if you don’t f**kin’ like it, why don’t you come down here and tell us to our face?’
When the actor arrived at Asia de Cuba to confront the crew, Ferguson allegedly insisted on taking things outside. DiCaprio was also reportedly overheard saying, ‘Let’s go kick his a**.’
As the argument got more heated, someone punched Wilson in the Adam’s apple when he was distracted. Detective George Wich of the 6th Precinct told Sales that Wilson was ‘definitely assaulted.’
Sales never named the attacker, but she noted it wasn’t Ferguson while implying that that it was DiCaprio in the profile.
The posse ‘went crazy, saying, “Oh, no, oh, no, this can’t happen!”‘ Wilson said. ‘They jumped on the guy and threw him back in the hotel. I never saw the kid again.’
Wilson went on to sue DiCaprio, Ferguson, and actor Kevin Connelly for $45 million.
Todd Healy, another posse member, admitted to hitting Wilson, but he claimed it was in self-defense because he thought he saw him reaching for a weapon.
DiCaprio denied encouraging his friends to attack Wilson, who later split from Berkley. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2004.
Behind the spotlight: Actress ties the knot with Ralph Lauren’s nephew Greg and welcomes a son
Berkley married Lauren in 2003 after meeting at a dance class three years prior
Berkley (pictured in 2013) and Lauren welcomed the son, Sky Cole Lauren, in 2012
Berkley met her husband, Greg Lauren — nephew of the famed fashion designer Ralph Lauren — at a dance class in January 2000.
After three years together, they tied the knot on November 1, 2003, at the Esperanza Hotel in Cabo San Lucas in front of 100 guests, including Jennifer Beals and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Fittingly, Berkley wore bias cut silk charmeuse gown with pearl straps that was designed by Lauren’s famous Uncle Ralph. The fashion legend also designed the groom’s tux.
The three-day affair was featured in the July 2004 issue of InStyle Weddings, including stunning photos from photographer Lara Porzak.
The proud mom shares throwback photos of her only child – who is now 10 – on Instagram, but she has kept him out of the public eye.
Berkley and Lauren are slated to celebrate their 19-year anniversary next month
The couple paid tribute to their fateful meeting by having their first dance be a choreographed routine to a medley of songs, including Madonna’s Crazy For You.
Berkley legally changed her name to Elizabeth Berkeley Lauren, but she still uses her maiden name as an actress.
In 2012, she and her husband welcomed their son, Sky Cole Lauren, who is now 10.
The proud mom shares throwback photos of her only child on Instagram, but she has kept him out of the public eye.
Berkley and Lauren are slated to celebrate their 19-year anniversary next month.
Something new: Berkley launches empowerment workshops for girls – and makes her mark on Dancing With the Stars
Berkley was paired with Valentin Chmerkovskiy when she appeared on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2013
The trained dancers regularly high scores from the judges, but they were eliminated in the ninth week due to the public vote and came in sixth place in the competition
In 2006, Berkley launched a series of well-being and empowerment workshops for girls 11-17 that later became known as ‘Ask Elizabeth.’
In 2011, Berkley published a diary-style self-help book for teens, Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body… and Life in Genera
‘Everyone just talks about the problems our teenage girls are facing and what they’re dealing with,’ she told Entertainment Weekly in 2011. ‘But there was, to me, a void in how they were being served or helped. I thought, “Wow, I’d love to create something.”‘
At the time of the interview, she already had 30,000 participants in her workshops and had created an Ask Elizabeth website.
Berkley drew from the conversations when she wrote her book, Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything You Secretly Wanted to Ask About Love, Friends, Your Body… and Life in General.
Published in 2011, the diary-style self-help guide is meant to provide answers to some of the toughest questions that plague teens.
Berkley also appeared on the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2013. The trained dancer partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy, and they regularly received high scores from the judges.
However, due to the public vote, they were eliminated in the ninth week and came in sixth place in the competition.
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