Worked With:

Jason Momoa


Derek Waters


Gretchen Mol


Laurence Fishburne


John Cusack


Will Smith


Michael Madsen


Patrick Dempsey


Bill Cosby


Mickey Rourke

Lisa Bonet Biography


Home > Actresses > B > Bonet, Lisa > Biography


Birth Name: Lisa Bonet
Born: 11/16/1967
Birth Place: San Francisco, California, USA


Born Nov. 16, 1968 in San Francisco, CA, Bonet was the daughter of opera singer and music teacher, Allen Bonet, and his wife, Arlene Litman Bonet, an educator. The couple split when Bonet was young so she divided her time between New York and Los Angeles. Her acting career began at the age of 11 with appearances in commercials before she later honed her craft at the Celluloid Actor's Studio in North Hollywood. After a few guest appearances on television series, she was selected by the legendary Bill Cosby to play his teenage daughter Denise on "The Cosby Show," a sitcom based around the lives of an affluent African-American family in New York City. Denise was based on Cosby's own daughter, Erinn. On the smash sitcom, Denise came across in early seasons as somewhat flighty and more concerned with fashion and boyfriends than anything tangible. But after Bonet's return to the show in its final years, she developed something of a social conscience, as displayed by travels to Africa and Asia. Granted, the dispatches to foreign lands were more of a convenient way to explain Bonet's absence from the show due to personal issues, but it ultimately lent the character a soulful quality that exceeded the limitations of the writing.

While on "The Cosby Show," Bonet met and fell for an aspiring Los Angeles musician named Lenny Kravitz. Like her, Kravitz had some understanding of a childhood overshadowed by show business - his mother was actress Roxie Roker of "The Jeffersons" (CBS, 1975-1982). And he also had first hand knowledge of the challenges inherent to growing up in a biracial household (Kravitz's father and Bonet's mother were white). The pair soon became inseparable and eloped to Las Vegas in 1987. That same year, she began making inroads to film and television projects that would put some distance between her and her rather goody-two-shoes "Cosby Show" persona. She found what appeared to be the right film in Alan Parker's "Angel Heart," a blood-soaked noir tribute about a detective (Mickey Rourke) who encounters voodoo and Satanism in his search for a missing crooner. Bonet played the daughter of a New Orleans priestess who becomes Rourke's lover. Their bedroom romp - exceptionally graphic and drenched in fake blood to boot - set off critical alarms across Hollywood due to her connection to the "Cosby Show." The scene was eventually trimmed to avoid an X rating, but the damage to Bonet's clean-cut image was already done. Despite the initial press - which included a cover shoot for Rolling Stone which featured a semi-nude Bonet - the film was not a success, and she found herself without the backing of a hit film or her top-rated series, which she had left - much to Bill Cosby's dismay - prior to the release of "Angel Heart."

But with Cosby's help, she was back on NBC in the fall of 1987 as the star of "A Different World," a sitcom built around Denise Huxtable's experiences at college. Produced by Cosby, the show was another hit for the actor and the network, but Bonet's tenure would again be short-lived. She was frequently late or absent for rehearsals, and cited problems with Kravitz as the source of her troubles. Matters grew more complicated when she announced that she and Kravitz were having a baby, which prompted her immediate departure from the show. She returned to "Cosby" for its final three seasons (1989-1991), but the regular work did little to alleviate her personal issues. Despite the arrival of daughter Zoe Isabella in 1988, her relationship with Kravitz continued to spiral downward in the face of allegations of infidelity and intense media scrutiny. To make matters worse, Kravitz had suddenly emerged from Bonet's shadow with the 1989 release of his debut album, Let Love Rule. A bonafide success thanks to the Top 40 title song - which featured Bonet in the music video - Kravitz was suddenly much in demand - and as far as most critics and audiences were concerned, Bonet was a former child star who had dropped out of two hit series. The couple officially divorced in 1993, leaving Bonet to largely fade from the acting scene, save for appearances in largely forgettable direct-to-DVD features.

Now adrift from her Hollywood moorings, Bonet legally changed her name to Lillakoi Moon and focused her attention on raising her daughter. A new man popped briefly into her life in the form of yoga instructor Bryan Kest. Rumors began wafting from the gossip mills that Bonet had given birth to a son by Kest, but these were dismissed by her publicity team. After a four-year absence from the screen, she enjoyed a meaty supporting role as a former girlfriend of imperiled lawyer Will Smith in Tony Scott's frantic thriller "Enemy of the State" (1998). Two years later, she appeared briefly as a former flame of record obsessive John Cusack in "High Fidelity" (2000). In both features, she was billed as Lisa Bonet, which she retained for professional reasons. She also developed an amicable friendship with Kravitz, and the pair collaborated on a 1999 CD by Bonet's former "Different World" co-star, Cree Summer, with Kravitz handling production and Bonet directing a music video.

Bonet's comeback continued the following year with a supporting role in the urban action film "Biker Boyz" (2003) and a TV adaptation of Ursula K. LeGuin's science fiction classic "The Lathe of Heaven" (2003). And in a rare nod to her past, she participated in a "Different World" reunion for the TV Land network in 2006. The following year, she gave birth to her second child, daughter Lola Iolani, with actor Jason Momoa of "Stargate Atlantis" (Sci-Fi Channel, 2004- ) fame. In 2008, she returned to television as Jason O'Mara's love interest in the highly anticipated series "Life on Mars." Bonet was tapped to play Maya Daniels after the show underwent an extensive casting overhaul and location shift from L.A. to Manhattan in mid-2008. Despite being absent from the TV for decades, her return to series television was given special treatment in promos for the show, proving she might have turned her back on the industry from time to time, but the industry never turned its back on her, always welcoming the enigmatic actress back with open arms.