From the earliest stages of her career, Juliette Lewis has shown amazing versatility. That will be evident this week in Maine, when she performs a rock show at Port City Music Hall tonight and when her new movie, “The Switch,” opens on Friday.

Whether it’s the acting roles she chooses, the music she performs or anything else that strikes her fancy (yes, that’s her voice you hear as a radio DJ in the videogame “Grand Theft Auto IV”), Lewis has let her muse take her in often unfamiliar territory, with often brilliant results.

Here are my personal picks for Lewis’ best on-screen performances. Get your Netflix queue ready, because the following will provide one roller-coaster of a marathon viewing session:

“Christmas Vacation” (1989): Although Lewis only has a minor role in this holiday comedy as Chevy Chase’s daughter, it’s worth watching first just to get a taste of how she avoided being typecast as the cute teenbopper she plays here. Plus, the squirrel scene alone is worth the rental.

“Cape Fear” (1991): Now it’s two years later, and Lewis is again playing a teenage daughter, this time as the offspring of a sleezy lawyer (Nick Nolte) whose unethical behavior comes back to bite him on the tushie when a psycho killer he sent to the big house (Robert De Niro) returns. But then you get to the scene where Lewis licks De Niro’s fingers, and the hair stands up on the back of your neck. The journey to the dark side has begun.

“Kalifornia” (1993): Lewis plays a naive, backcountry waif caught up in the charms of another psycho killer (Brad Pitt). When they go on a cross-country tour with two journalists to visit scenes of past murders, Pitt decides to add some more bodies to the list. In one fell swoop, Lewis and Pitt simultaneously destroyed their images as teen hearthrobs forever.

“Natural Born Killers” (1994): Lewis stars opposite Woody Harrelson as a morally bereft murderer raised on bad TV and a sexually abusive father (a chilling Rodney Dangerfield). Together, they go on a cross-country killing spree. The journey to the dark side is complete. (Bonus: Lewis sings a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”)

“From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996): At first, Lewis returns to her good-girl roles of old by playing a young girl kidnapped by two fugitives (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino). But then the movie does a 180-degree turn in a Mexican bar, and she turns into a vampire-killing machine.

“Old School” (2003): What do you do when you’ve turned in Oscar- and Emmy-nominated performances in dramatic roles? How about a raunchy comedy? Lewis plays a nymphomaniac whose cheating drives boyfriend Luke Wilson on a quest to regain his carefree college days by forming a fraternity with friends Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn.

“Whip It” (2009): As Iron Maven, Lewis straps on skates, dons a Catholic schoolgirl outfit and whups butt in a modern-day roller derby. What’s not to love?

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

[email protected]


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