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Whatever Happened To Piper Perabo From Coyote Ugly?

Piper Perabo was an up-and-comer at the turn of the century with her blast-off performance as Violet "Jersey" Sanford in the 2000 romantic comedy "Coyote Ugly." In the film, she plays a struggling songwriter with stage fright who takes a job at a bar in New York City with a group of wild New Yorkers. The bar, aptly named Coyote Ugly, takes her on a journey to overcome her stage fright, make friends in the big bad city, and find love along the way.

Perabo holds her own amongst Tyra Banks and John Goodman's star power, and also stars alongside Bridget Moynahan, Izabella Miko, and Maria Bello (via IMDb). "Coyote Ugly" served as Perabo's flare shooting into the sky to signal her arrival in Hollywood. When she auditioned she had to beat out Jessica Simpson and singer-songwriter Jewel for the part, but Perabo's New Jersey roots impressed director David McNally, who loved her screen test (per The Hollywood Reporter.)  

As Roger Ebert put it, Perabo had "big-time star power." After a smash hit performance in "Coyote Ugly," moviegoers expected to see a Julia Roberts-esque meteoric rise through the ranks of Tinseltown. Instead, Perabo took a different route. Here's what happened to Piper Perabo after her role in "Coyote Ugly."

Piper Perabo focused on independent films

For a 24-year-old, the fame of starring in a big movie like "Coyote Ugly" was overwhelming for Piper Perabo. She told E! News afterward, "I was pretty young, so I was a little afraid of all that, you know? Right after the movie came out, I actually went and did a movie with a French director out of the country because I just needed to escape from it. It was all just a little too much."

The director she spoke about was Léa Pool, and the movie was "Lost and Delirious" (via IMDb). The film is based on the novel "The Wives of Bath" by Susan Swan and follows Mary "Mouse" Bedford (Mischa Barton) as she starts at a new boarding school. When she discovers her two older roommates (Jessica Pare and Perabo) are in a romantic relationship, she finds herself in a complicated third-wheel situation.

Perabo found more praise for her acting without the big Hollywood blockbuster fanfare, as seen in a review from The New York Times: "Having squandered her talents in 'The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle' and 'Coyote Ugly,' Ms. Perabo displays more of her potential in 'Lost and Delirious' and adds a new wrinkle. At moments of excitement or embarrassment, she gets flushed just under her eyes; her skin goes dark, indicating an emotional transparency she doesn't overdo."

She would eventually return to bigger movies in the form of Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige," but much of her career has been spent in smaller productions.

She never considered TV until Covert Affairs

Piper Perabo was in the middle of a play during a writer's strike when the USA Network's "Covert Affairs" script came to her attention. In a 2010 interview , she explained that she had never really considered doing TV, but there was something about the character Annie Walker that interested her. "And so when this came up, although I hadn't really considered doing television before, because it was a feminine heroine, that really attracted me to it, you know what I mean? Not just playing like the girlfriend of the sidekick or the person who's always being rescued."

Perabo's role on "Covert Affairs" required her to speak a whopping 18 languages. Her character being a CIA agent meant she was always in foreign countries, where speaking English would make little sense. Still, after learning nearly 20 different languages for scenes, she reportedly put a stop to it. "Annie is speaking 18 languages now, and I told the writer to put a lid on it already! It's starting to get a little bit ridiculous, although some of the languages have begun to get easier for me," Perabo said. "In the beginning, she didn't speak any tonal languages, and now she speaks Mandarin. The tonal languages are honestly REALLY difficult for me" (via Celeb Dirty Laundry).

While Perabo initially hadn't considered television as a route for her career, after five seasons playing Annie Walker, she found a home for herself on the small screen.

She appeared in two movie franchises

While Piper Perabo was content to appear on the small screen and in smaller, independent movies, she picked up small parts in some of the bigger films throughout her career. One of the most significant roles was as the eldest Baker daughter in 2003's "Cheaper by the Dozen" (via IMDb). While she is part of a massive family of 12 children, Nora Baker has already struck out on her own, but keeps getting pulled back into the chaos. She only has a few scenes, but bringing her over-the-top boyfriend (Ashton Kutcher) to the family created some of the best scenes in the film.

Her other, and more recent, step into the blockbuster territory was in the 2019 installment of the Gerard Butler adrenaline rush "Angel" franchise, "Angel has Fallen." Radha Mitchell played his wife, Leah, in the first two installments, but Parabo was able to step in and take over when Mitchell couldn't return. While Butler was busy making minced meat out of those looking to do President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) harm, Parabo was home looking after their daughter and fighting off those who came to do them harm.

She plays Summer Higgins on Yellowstone

Piper Parabo was able to land a role on one of the biggest hits in the last few years: "Yellowstone." While we are introduced to Summer Higgins (Perabo) as John Dutton's (Kevin Costner) rival, she seems to have more beneath the surface from the beginning.

During an interview with Esquire, Perabo spoke about what it was like taking on the role. "It's very terrifying to come in on the wrong side of the Duttons," she explained. "That was the choice, though; it was like you cannot do it, or you can come in on the wrong side of the Duttons, but I was like, 'Well, I just want to get it there. So let me try my chances.'"

While actors play many different characters over their careers, Perabo has an interesting connection to Summer Higgins. As she explained to Esquire, when she first sat down with "Yellowstone" executives (including her husband, Steven Kay), she was coming off of an arrest for civil disobedience while protesting Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination. Perabo shares her passion for activism with her on-screen persona, as she is vocal about politics and social issues on her Twitter page.

Piper Perabo remains busy on TV

While many actors slowed down their work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Piper Perabo seemed to ramp up, appearing in four different tv series from 2020 to 2022 (via IMDb).

Aside from her role on "Yellowstone," she appeared as Linda Craft in Showtime's "Penny Dreadful: City of Angels." She starred in six episodes alongside Natalie Dormer as an aging American-beauty-turned-housewife, bored with her life. Next was her 11-episode run as Paula Clark on Fox's "The Big Leap" alongside Scott Foley ("Scandal" and "The Unit"). And her most recent credit sees her return to Showtime as Andy Salter on the latest season of "Billions."

Perabo has come a long way from couch surfing and waiting tables when she first moved to New York (via Blast Magazine), to blockbuster fame, to talented character actor for the small screen. While some may move to Hollywood in search of the spotlight, Perabo found a way to navigate around it and carve out a place for herself that allows the balance of privacy and success.