Selma Beitner (aka Batsheva), whose screen name is Selma Blair because (1) "Blair" sounds better than "Beitner," (2) she wants to hide her Jewish heritage ("'Blair' sounds less offensively Anglo," she says), has starred in one or two blockbusters, but she is not adverse to accepting roles in independent films or even art-house trash when the meatier roles are not forthcoming. Her "versatility," she believes, is the secret of her success. "It sure isn't my flat-chested body that's selling tickets," she admits, with disarming candor.
Her career started in 1999, with her appearance in "B" movies, where, the occasional blockbuster notwithstanding, it has generally remained ever since. She is especially known for her saliva-slick lesbian kiss with Sarah Michelle Gellar, one of her co-stars in Crude Intentions. Her role, as Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane, a transvestite with multiple personalities in the television (TV) situation comedy (sitcom) Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane opened the way for her career on the big screen.
In the TV sitcom, Blair (no relation to Linda Blair, of Exorcist fame), alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) plays Zoe Bean, a coy, boy-crazy daydreamer; Duncan Milch, a nervous goofball; Jack Cooper, a handsome narcissist; and Jane Cooper, Jack's sarcastic and cynical kid sister. The role, Blair says, in retrospect, was "exhausting."
Following Crude Intentions, which brought Blair to national attention, she was invited to audition, receiving dozens of casting couch calls. As a result, she appeared in such films as To Hell with Boys, as a telekinetic lesbian who uses her power to make suitors stand to attention; Illegally Blonde, as Reese Witherspoon's footstool; The Sweetest Poontang, as Poontang; The Flog, as sadistic succubus; Purple Violet, as a violated masochist named Violet.
Blair, a product of a broken family, was raised by a single mother. After high school, she attended Outer Wazoo College , where she produced, directed, starred in, and filmed an art-house film, Goose Me. She moved to New Yawk, enrolling in New Yawk University, while living in poverty at the city's Salvation Army, pretending to be a Christian, rather than a Jew, but subsequently relocated, yet again, to the University of Michigan, from which she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
After starring in a TV commercial, as a cereal murderer, Blair was offered a role in Pete and Repeat, starring opposite of Michelle Trachtenberg. Trachtenberg played Pete, and Blair played her twin brother, Repeat. Anything Pete did, Repeat had to do also, which tended to get both of them in trouble or, more often, getting girls in trouble. "Because of our boyish figures, Michelle and I can, and often do, play either boys' or girls' parts. Sometimes, as in Zoe, Duncan, Jack, and Jane, both at the same time," Blair explains.
Following these false starts, Blair was passed over for a part in Dawson's Cheeks, which was offered, instead, to Katie Holmes, because of Holmes' association with Tom Cruise and her connections to Scientology. She was also passed over for the role of Buffy in the TV series Boffing the Vampire, the part going, instead, to Gellar, with whom Blair later exchanged a lesbian liplock in Crude Intentions. She had to settle, she says, for playing a pregnant teen opposite Suzanne Somers in a "dreadful sitcom without a laugh track, No Laughing Matter." This part led to her being typecast as a naive, slightly stupid ingenue who loses her virginity to unscrupulous players like Witherspoon's ex-husband, Ryan. Her role in Crude Intentions resulted in her receiving an MTV Award for "Best Kiss," which she shared-the kiss and the reward-with Gellar.
Although Blair appeared in several other films with such up-and-cummers and has-beens as Rachel Leigh Cook, Jake ("The Snake") Gyllenhaal, Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Jason Lee, Debra Messing, Greg Kinnear, Morgan Freeman, Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow, and Charlie Sheen, star status escaped her until she resorted to nudity, appearing naked in such adult films as Killer Jeans, His Way or the Highway, Hung Island Boys and engaging in lesbian lovemaking in Feast of Love and Second Story Lover. "I decided that, to make it in Tinsel Town, I had to have a little skin in the game," Blair says.
Her place in Hollywood secure at last, Blair began to rack up awards, despite her bee-sting-size rack, receiving Teen Choice Awards, a Movieline Young Hollywood Award, an Independent Spirit Award, a Scream Queen Award, a Grammy Award, Hollywood Style Awards, and a book of half-off coupons for hair and nails at several exclusive Hollywood boutiques.
"With all my awards, it's safe to say I've arrived in Hollywood," Blair says.
Besides the films already mentioned, Blair has had roles in the following films, among others:
In and Out: That's What Life Is All About
Down on You
A Dirty Shame
Different Kinds of Love
Wham! Bam! Thank You, Ma'am