BY LUKE SMITH
Daily Arts Editor
Published September 5, 2002
Launched into the national spotlight playing a desperate drug-loving Caroline Wakefield in Steven Soderbergh's wildly acclaimed 2000 film, "Traffic" starlet Erika Christensen is a busy women in Hollywood now. After turning just 20 last August, Christensen opens her first film this weekend with the sultry-suspense flick "Swimfan."
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The new 20-something has known she wanted to be an actress since she was just 12, growing up on the outskirts of Los Angeles, California, Christensen saw her first role in a McDonald's commercial. Landing a role in the national advertising campaign for Mickey-Ds was quite a jump-start for the young Christensen. She expanded on her commercial career by jumping on with another giant cooperate machine Disney.
Christensen landed a part in the 1997 Disney-flick "Leave it to Beaver," playing the part of Karen. Though the movie wasn't much of a success, Christensen earned high marks critically.
Erika deftly parlayed the "Leave it to Beaver" role into a slew of guest-starring roles on televisions shows, most notably "Fraiser," "The Practice" and "3rd Rock From the Sun." From here it was only a matter of time until she landed her role in "Traffic" and propelled herself into the national eye.
In the wake of "Traffic" Christensen's portrayal of Caroline earned her very strong reviews and she was able to add some brass to her award shelf. Christensen took home an MTV popcorn for Female Breakthrough Performance as well as sharing in the Outstanding Performance by a Cast or Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild awards.
Now, Erika has moved from playing the drug addicted daughter of Michael Douglas to the psychotic Madison Bell in "Swimfan." Christensen's character falls madly for swim team star Jesse Bradford (Ben Cronin). The plot twists and turns and without ruining any surprises, many people end up dead.
Christensen's next project is a complete departure from the mentally-deranged Madison Bell. She will play the daughter of Susan Sarandon in the upcoming "Banger Sisters." The film stars Goldie Hawn and Sarandon as a couple of middle-aged ex-groupies trying to recapture their youth.