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The Big 5-Oh

Daryl Hannah Turns 50

Hollywood's famous mermaid hits the mid-century mark

Big 5-0: Daryl Hannah

— Illustration by Sean McCabe


The Big 5-Oh: December 3

In 1984, a movie about a mermaid who ended up in midtown Manhattan helped launch the film careers of its director, Ron Howard, and its male lead, Tom Hanks. It may be hard to believe now, but when Splash hit theaters that spring, 24-year-old Daryl Hannah was a hotter name than either of those guys (yes, even Opie). Coming off a breakthrough performance in 1982’s Blade Runner, her splashy turn as half-fish-out-of-water Madison came during a decade-long run of big screen hits that also included Wall Street and Roxanne.

The 1990s didn’t bring similar film success for Hannah (though we loved her in small roles in both the Matthau/Lemmon Grumpy Old Men movies). For a time, her romance with John F. Kennedy Jr. made her the toast of the tabloids. It wasn’t until Quentin Tarantino tapped her in 2003 to play eyepatch-sporting assassin Elle Driver in the Kill Bill movies that she roared back into the multiplexes in a big way. Her memorably gritty six-minute-long knives-and-fists battle against Uma Thurman’s Bride earned the duo that year’s MTV Movie Award for Best Fight.

These days, she’s fighting for environmental causes, advocating the use of biodiesel fuel and hosting DHLoveLife, a web video series that promotes a green lifestyle.

With her environmental work taking much of her time, Hannah has been keeping a low show biz profile, though with the recent announcement of Tarantino’s Kill Bill 3 there are rumors that she’ll be strapping on Elle’s eyepatch once again. Note to Uma: Watch your back.

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