Elisabeth Rose Harnois was born in Detroit in 1979 and raised Catholic in Riverside, California. She grew up an only child until she turned 8 when her mother delivered the first of her four brothers. She has had an agent from the age of 3 which is also when she started acting – she started out primarily in commercials like a Duncan Hines one in which she exclaimed “Deluxious!”. The young Elisabeth got her first film role at the tender age of five, namely the Christmas tale “One Magic Christmas” in 1985 in which she portrayed Abbie Grainger, a young girl who needs the help of an angel to show her mother the true meaning of Christmas. Her performance earned Elisabeth a nomination for a Young Artist Award for “Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Starring in a Feature Film – Comedy or Drama”. A year later, she starred in “Where Are The Children?” as Missy Eldridge, and in 2 episodes of the TV show “Highway To Heaven” for which she was once again nominated for a Young Artist Award, this time for “Best Young Actress – Guest Starring in a Television Drama”. Unfortunately she did not pick up any of the awards.
In 1991 she landed the role of Alice in Disney’s action series “Adventures in Wonderland” which had a four year run and earned her her third Young Artist Award nomination for “Outstanding Performers in a Childrens Program” – and this time she won! From there, she continued on the television circuit, making appearances on sitcoms such as “Boy Meets World,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Brotherly Love,” as well as several TV movies such as “The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy”. In 1997, just before traveling from L.A. to Middletown, she landed the title character in the TV movie “My Date with the President’s Daughter”, in which she portrayed Hallie, the president’s daughter who goes out on a date with a regular guy. In 1999 she guest starred in “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” and in 2000 she delivered her critically acclaimed portrayal of the mentally unstable Kate in Carl Colpaert’s “Facade”. In addition, she played in the popular TV series “Charmed” in the episode “Magic Hour”, but this should be her last guest appearance in a TV show for a while.
Miss Harnois graduated from Wesleyan University (Connecticut) in 2001 with a degree in film studies and history. She was described by friends as a diligent student, singing a cappella with the Cardinal Sinners, acting in student-run productions and spending copious amounts of time at Olin Library. “She was a very hard worker,” said close friend Lauren Singerman ’01, a fellow Cardinal Sinner. “She took her work very seriously.”
In 2002 she was cast as the female lead in Robert J. Emery’s drama “Swimming Upstream”, and then took a 3-year break from acting until she starred in “Strangers With Candy” and “Pretty Persuasion”, an official selection for the Sundance film festival. Harnois gushed about the impressive “Strangers With Candy” cast, which includes Ian Holm, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, and Sarah Jessica Parker. But it was working with her comedic avatar, Sedaris, that excited her most. “Amy is one of the smartest and most daring female comedians of her time,” says Harnois. “On the set I just sat there in awe of the constant invention.”
Prior to playing Christina Nickson in the short lived TV series “Point Pleasant” in 2005, she was working in a lowly job at the Sundance Channel. “I was a PA,” Harnois admits humbly. “I was digitizing interview tapes like this one. Ultimately, my reasons for wanting to be involved on the production side and starting at the bottom was that it was a step forward to doing my own independent projects.” But when “Point Pleasant” came calling, she was eager to jump back into acting. “Somewhere along the way, I realized how much I was missing from this creative side, so now I know I can still get to that goal of producing my own films and such, but I can also do this as well,” says Harnois. The show was partially filmed in San Diego, a place Miss Harnois later considered as “one of the most beautiful parts of the country.” About her character Christina Nickson she says: “Christina may seem weird but she’s actually like a lot of teenagers. She’s constantly asking ‘Will I be a good person or a bad person?’ and ‘How can I resist temptation?'” Furthermore, Elisabeth also said she was making sure she was portraying this character in this world as accessible, human and as real as possible. “The thing about this show is that it’s a supernatural drama, but it’s very much grounded in the reality of normal human struggles,” she says. “In portraying the character, it’s been mostly about playing it as real as possible. Now, of course, when I’m staring at someone with the evil eye, that’s fun because you don’t get to do that in normal life very often. You definitely feel that way sometimes, so it’s definitely fun to be able to manifest those emotions for no reason. But for me it was most important to portray this character grounded in reality, in the normal sort of teen struggles.” It’s only fitting that the actress who plays the devil’s daughter on “Point Pleasant” would love horror movies. “I am so masochistic – I love to be scared, and I think “The Exorcist” is one of the scariest movies ever made. I can watch it over and over, and I’m still frightened by it.” Elisabeth also points to Buffy as a favorite show that made her crave witchy adventures of her own because “it was such a smart show”. Her co-star Grant Show later said about Elisabeth that “she seems totally innocent – a real sweetheart – but you’re not quite sure if there’s something kind of dark behind it”. Elisabeth did an outstanding job at portraying Christina and was very disappointed when the show got cancelled after only 8 episodes. But as they say – when one door closes, another one opens – and so in 2006 Elisabeth got cast in “Keith” alongside Jesse McCartney, “Chaos Theory” and the horror movie “Solstice”.
Miss Harnois currently lives in L.A. to be closer to her boyfriend, a freelance TV producer whom she declines to name. To keep her slim figure, Elisabeth says she likes Pilates: “I find it to be the best thing for me. It’s not too high-impact, it’s relaxing, and yet it works you out.”
Written by Mel