Landau was born in Los Angeles to actor parents Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. Her older sister is film producer Susan Landau Finch, born Susan Meredeth Landau, and the sisters spent their early childhood in a Tudor style house in West Los Angeles. Her family is Jewish.
Landau was a professional ballerina, and her mentor was the late actress, Susan Peretz.
Landau co-starred in Ed Wood – a film which also featured her father, Martin – as Loretta King and starred opposite Whoopi Goldberg in New Line Cinema's Theodore Rex. She played the role of Drusilla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing on Buffy and its spinoff show Angel over the course of six seasons. Steve Vineberg of The New York Times hailed, "The wildly gifted Juliet Landau... plays Dru like an acid-addled cross between Ophelia and Cassandra."
Lead roles in independent films include: The Yellow Wallpaper, Darkness Visible, Hack, Toolbox Murders, Repossessed, Carlo's Wake, Life Among the Cannibals, Ravager, Direct Hit, Citizens and a co-starring turn in Henry Jaglom's Going Shopping.
TV guest appearances include: Millennium, La Femme Nikita, Strong Medicine and a starring role in the Lifetime movie Fatal Reunion. She just completed a project for HBO directed by Jake Scott. She used her skill with dialects by lending her voice to various characters on the popular animated series Justice League Unlimited and Ben 10 as well as the animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight. She has also provided her voice for both BioShock video games.
Landau has received outstanding reviews for her work in the theater. Lead roles include Awake and Sing at The Pittsburgh Public Theater, the world premiere of Failure of Nerve, Uncommon Women and Others, The Pushcart Peddlers, Billy Irish, We're Talking Today Here, the musical How To Steal An Election, the West Coast premiere of Irish Coffee and the world premiere of Murray Shisgal's musical The Songs Of War. She played Natasha in a reading of The Three Sisters that Al Pacino put together at The Actors Studio.
Her first work as director was Take Flight, a short documentary film about Gary Oldman. It is about Oldman's creative process. He has said, "Juliet Landau is an exceptional talent! I entrusted Juliet to make a documentary film about me and I am thrilled with the results! Take Flight is a special film that shows me in a very different light. I will work with Juliet again without hesitation." She has written the short film, It's Raining Cats and Cats and adapted Andrew Prine's play Cissy into a short as well. She will helm these projects. She portrayed Claire in the British horror film Haunted Echoes, who was directed by Harry Bromley Davenport.
In 2009 Juliet Landau co-wrote two issues of the Angel comic book series for IDW Publishing, in collaboration with Brian Lynch. The issues (#24 and #25 of the series, appearing in August and September 2009) feature Drusilla, the character she played on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. In addition to writing, she contributed numerous ideas and references for both the cover and interior art of the issues. She has stated that she would like to write more comics set in the Buffyverse. She will be writing a 5 part Drusilla miniseries from Dark Horse Comics this year, which is now delayed.
Landau is a member of The Actors Studio and as recently as of 2008 was being mentored by Mike Medavoy.
- Her sister is producer Susan Landau Finch.
- Daughter of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain
- Currently resides in Los Angeles.
- Her parents moved to London, England when she was a child. She studied both acting and classical ballet at the American school in London, before returning to the States at the age of 18.
- Auditioned for the role of "Polignac" in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006) but lost out to Rose Byrne.
- Sister-in-law of Roy Finch.
I have an action figure, and so do my parents, so it's odd that we all have these dolls of ourselves. It's a little bit surreal but kind of fun. You can play with the whole family.
I like working in both movies and television. Television is faster, not very much rehearsal and a lot of material is shot in a day. Big budget movies are luxurious in terms of the schedule. Independent films often shoot fast as well.
I loved dancing. I still use my dance background in the different physicality's of each character I work on. Once I started studying acting, I was energized and excited by the verbal exchange, having a conceptual communication of what was being expressed. As a dancer, I was technically very proficient. But for me, dancing was always about expressing something more. With acting you add the component of language to the above.
I've been really fortunate in the fact that I've gotten a chance to do a real wide range of all different kinds of characters. Drusilla is amazing, and is such a rich character, and then to go from that and work on a New York Italian character, to get that diversity of roles. That's what makes me tick. I love that I've gotten a chance to do a lot of that.
I've always wanted to do a period movie, to do something the turn of the century and I'm really fascinated by that whole time period. It's been really so interesting through Buffy to get to visit some of that. Although I can say that corsets aren't really very comfortable.