The short, sad life of Jennifer Syme is not one which is often discussed these days. But during her 28 years, she made a significant mark on those around her and frequented the upper echelons of Hollywood celebrity. In some ways, this would bring about her downfall.
Jennifer Syme was born in Pico Rivera, California, but at the age of eighteen she moved out to LA to pursue a career in the movie business. It was not long after that that she found work as an assistant to the maverick director David Lynch.
Lynch is a famously eccentric and boundlessly imaginative filmmaker whose masterpieces Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and The Elephant Man have redefined the way we think about screen storytelling.
One of his boldest experiments was the 1997 movie Lost Highway. Jennifer Syme snagged a cameo role in the distinctly arthouse and very Lynchian movie. It is one of the very few appearances she ever made on screen, and certainly the most recognizable.
Jennifer Syme – Keanu Reeves
It was in the mid to late ’90s that she met the actor Keanu Reeves and they began dating casually. Keanu was a hot property at this point in his career, having already starred in big hits like Point Break and Speed.
He was on the cusp of even more success with The Matrix. Jennifer was also a high-flyer in these days, working with musicians like Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In 1999, Jennifer Syme became pregnant with Keanu Reeves’ daughter, and the couple looked set to settle down. However, the child was tragically stillborn eight months into the pregnancy. Consequently, the relationship between Keanu and Jennifer dissolved several weeks after that.
Jennifer was consumed by depression and was on a cocktail of prescription medication. She made an effort to start afresh with a role as a record company executive, but her downward spiral proved insurmountable.
In April of 2001, Jennifer Syme was killed when her Jeep collided with a row of parked cars. She had been driving away from the home of rock star Marilyn Manson who, it was alleged, had provided her with recreational drugs.
She was 28 years old when she died and was buried beside her daughter, Ava Archer Syme-Reeves. Jennifer’s mother has since tried to have Manson prosecuted for providing Jennifer with the drugs which led to her death, but so far this has been unsuccessful.
An eerie element of the case is the fact that the crash which killed Jennifer Syme virtually mirrored the crash which is a central plot point of the David Lynch movie Mulholland Drive.
The movie had wrapped prior to Jennifer’s death, so there is no way Lynch could have modeled the scene on what happened to her. But he evidently retained a great deal of affection for his one-time assistant.
Mulholland Drive is dedicated to Jennifer Syme. It is a testament to Jennifer’s quiet and unassuming influence that a great auteur like Lynch should feel inclined to dedicate one of his definitive cinematic statements to her.