Taylor Momsen: Why She Stopped Acting And Ended Up Naked On An Album Cover

Most of you should remember Cindy Lou Who in the 2000 hit Christmas movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She was played by actress Taylor Momsen.

By Rick Gonzales | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

Taylor Momsen

Most of you should remember Cindy Lou Who in the 2000 hit Christmas movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She was played by actress Taylor Momsen and it was during the making of this movie that Momsen found her calling, though she wouldn’t be able to follow that for a few more years.

Taylor Momsen continued acting into her late teens and then poof. She was simply gone.


Cindy Lou Who The Grinch

The Grinch is still Taylor Momsen’s claim to acting fame. Momsen got the role of Cindy Lou Who in Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and has only fond memories of the production, even though Jim Carrey was extremely difficult on set. “I do remember having a lot of fun on that set,” Momsen said in a rare interview on the Today show.

While Carrey got a well-deserved bad rep on the set, Taylor Momsen only recalls a very nice Jim Carrey. “(Carrey) is incomparable. I remember him being so kind, so concerned, but so methodical with what he was doing. Even at that young of an age, I remember watching him and going, ‘I’m watching an artist right now at work.’”

This is in stark contrast to the reported violent outbreaks Jim Carrey would constantly have while makeup was being applied. He got so frustrated that he kicked a hole in his trailer, causing his makeup artist to walk off the set. It took some convincing, but Carrey finally settled down and the makeup artist returned.

Taylor Momsen
Taylor Momsen in The Grinch

Speaking of makeup, Taylor Momsen said writers had to add a line for her character because she was so young at the time (she was seven when she was filming) that she couldn’t wear the prosthetics all the other actors wore. A line was added to explain why Cindy Lou Who looked different than the other Who’s. “They wrote a line into the film, ‘She hasn’t even grown into her nose yet,’ because I couldn’t have all the [prosthetics], so they just put a little blush on my nose,” she said via ET.

It wasn’t just filming with Jim Carrey that resonated with Taylor Momsen, it was the fact that she got to sing. She considers it one of the most impactful moments in her young life. “The thing that I remember the most that probably resonated with me to this day as an adult was the first time that I went into a recording studio and got to work with the amazing James Horner. And I’ll never forget walking into this beautiful studio, with this immaculate console in front of me, and putting headphones on and singing into a microphone for the first time, singing ‘Where Are You Christmas.'” She added, “That was such an impactful moment in my life because it made me go, ‘I wanna make music for the rest of my life. I love being’ in a recording studio.’”


Taylor Momsen

After The Grinch, Taylor Momsen was in a few more movies. She followed Grinch with We Were Soldiers, Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams where she played the President’s daughter, and Hansel & Gretel. Then she took a three-year break.

Taylor Momsen came back in 2006 with Saving Shiloh and a TV series called Misconceptions which never found airtime. She was in Paranoid Park and then Disney’s Underdog where she had a much larger role as Molly.

It was around this time that Taylor Momsen auditioned for the lead role in Hannah Montana and actually was one of the three finalists. The role would go to Miley Cyrus and looking back, Momsen is thrilled she didn’t get the part. “Honestly, if I’d have ended up as Hannah Montana, I don’t know if the show would have gone as well. I probably would have told them all to go f**k themselves by the time I hit 11. And I don’t know how that would have gone down. It’s great for Miley, but I really like where I am right now and I feel really fortunate to be able to really be myself,” she said through Starpulse.

Taylor Momsen in Underdog

At the time social media was not something Taylor Momsen on board with. “Online, there’s a thousand people who are just so mean. There are so many negative comments about just the pettiest things that you can’t even read it… My favorite blogs are where you get the mothers saying, ‘She’s the worst influence on my daughter, I would never let my daughter dress like that’, or, ‘This girl’s such a whore, she’s a slut’. And I’m, like, you’re a mother! And I’m 16…”

The then 16-year-old summed up her feelings, “To be honest, I don’t f**king care. I didn’t get into this to be a role model. So I’m sorry if I’m influencing your kids in a way that you don’t like, but I can’t be responsible for their actions. I don’t care.”


Taylor Momsen

Taylor Momsen’s role as Jenny Humphrey on the TV series Gossip Girl would be the last part she’d play. For the first three seasons, Momsen was a series regular but by the time the fourth season rolled around, Momsen was only in a handful of episodes.

Rumors at the time were that her off-screen antics were the cause of her departure from the show as she was beginning to do more with her music, which was causing a personality change that wasn’t aligning with the series.

Taylor Momsen Gossip Girl
Taylor Momsen on Gossip Girl

Tim Gunn, who was a mentor on the series Project Runway, spoke via Deadline about Momsen concerning the episode he and Taylor Momsen were on together, “What a diva. She was pathetic, she couldn’t remember her lines, and she didn’t even have that many. I thought to myself, ‘Why are we being held hostage by this brat?’”

According to Taylor Momsen, she initiated leaving the show. She told Elle, “I quit acting, actually. I quit Gossip Girl and now tour and am in a band and that’s pretty much all I want to do. Hopefully I’ll be able to only do that for the rest of my life.”


Taylor Momsen naked album cover

So, from The Grinch to The Pretty Reckless. Taylor Momsen started her band, at first called Reckless, back in 2009 as a 16-year-old. Their first album, Light Me Up, came out a year later.

Since that time, Taylor and her band have been on five tours and recorded more albums that include Going to Hell and Who You Selling For. Taylor Momsen is their lead singer, plays rhythm guitar, and writes many of the band’s songs. You can see one of her videos below.

She has definitely come a long way from her time as sweet, innocent Cindy Lou Who. Right now, Taylor Momsen has no plans at all to return to acting and her band is ready to release their fourth album in early 2021 titled Death by Rock and Roll.