Lili Anne Taylor was born in Glencoe Illinois and grew up in this suburb of Chicago. Her parents are Park and Marie Taylor. She is the second youngest of six children. Three boys and three girls. She describes herself as being a tomboy and says that she "always wanted to be a boy."(1) Lili says that Glencoe is "one of the richest suburbs in America"(2) but her family in contrast didn't have a lot of money. Since Lili says that her Grandfather practically founded the town of Glencoe it seems the wealth must have grown up around her family. The Taylor family did live in a well proportioned house to match the somewhat large number of children. She describes her childhood in terms of being chaotic yet loving.
Her father describes her first acting experience - a 6th grade production of "Once Upon a Mattress". "...Lili sang 'My Daddy's Dancing Shoes.' She just belted the number out, so the person in the very back row could hear her. She brought down the house. There was a guy with the Chicago Symphony (Orchestra) standing next to me and he said, 'That girl is going to have a future in show business.'" (3) These are too much the words of a proud father to be taken entirely seriously but perhaps even then Lili had that spark that marks the difference between a talented actor and a transcendant artist.
She attended New Trier High School and acted (probably her first serious acting as a young adult) in a production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds as a Junior in 1984.
Around this time Lili acted at the Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston (another Chicago suburb), where John, Ann and Joan Cusack, as well as Aidan Quinn and Jeremy Piven, also sharpened their acting skills.
Lili attended college at the Goodman Theatre School at DePaul University but left after a year because of a rule requiring her to abstain from taking paying acting jobs while in school.
Lili was a member of Naked Angels in New York City (along with Marisa Tomei apparently) after leaving college. She went on to form her own theater company, Machine Full. She participated in a Cultural Exchange Program which took her to Czechoslovakia, as well as contributing to the Humanfestival in Louisville, Kentucky, and starring in the critically-acclaimed Aven U Boys at the American Place Theater. Her first time directing was Machine Full's production of Halcyon Days at the Work House Theater. In 1997 she performed in Scott Elliott's production of Three Sisters at the Roundabout Theatre.
Her first movie credit was Mystic Pizza and since then she has been prolific (see timeline.) She has worked with many great directors including Emir Kusturica, Robert Altman, Nancy Savoca and recently John Waters. All of Lili's collaborators describe her in glowing terms. Kusturica for instance said "Technically, as an actor, Lili Taylor has no peer. She is flawless. No other American actor her age can touch her." (3)
She is active in the 52nd Street Project giving inner city kids a chance to experience theatre first hand.
Note: I've tried to be as accurate as possible here but some of the facts above are based on Lili's offhand comments and other uninstantiable information. If anyone finds any information they believe is incorrect I will gladly rectify it.
(1) Interview on Rosie O'Donnel show January 1998
(2) Interview in Details Magazine November 1993
(3) Chicago Tribune Thursday, May 16, 1996