Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen
First appearing on television in 1997 in an episode of CBS’ children's mystery show "The New Ghostwriter Mysteries," Canadian actress Alison Pill is probably best remembered by TV viewers for her role of Grace Webster in the short-lived NBC drama “The Book of Daniel” (2006). She has also appeared in the TV series "Poltergeist: The Legacy," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," the miniseries "The Last Don II" (1998), and the TV movies "What Katy Did" (1999), "The Dinosaur Hunter" (2000), "The Other Me" (2000), "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" (2001), "What Girls Learn" (2001), and "Plain Truth" (2004).
As for her big screen work, this 5' 6½" baby-faced actress could be seen in the films "Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang" (1999), "Pieces of April" (2003), "Fast Food High" (2003), "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" (2004; as Lindsay Lohan's unpopular best friend Ella), "Dan in Real Life" (2007; as Jane Burns), and the Oscar nominated "Milk" (2008; portraying Anne Kronenberg). Alison also proved her acting skills on stage and received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Martin McDonagh's "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" (2006).
Childhood and Family:
In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Alison Courtney Pill, nicknamed “Ali” or “Al,” was born on November 27, 1985. She attended Vaughan Road Academy, a high school in Toronto, and studied dance at the National Ballet School. She was also part of the Toronto's Children's Chorus.
Alison's favorite band is “Coldplay,” and she often camps out to buy tickets for their concerts. She is friends with Lorna Luft, whom she played in “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows” (2001, TV).
What Girls Learn
Alison Pill began appearing on television in 1997 at age 12 in an episode of CBS’ children's mystery show "The New Ghostwriter Mysteries." She followed it up with a role in the animated TV series "Anatole" (1998), which was based on Paul Galdone's book, and "Redwall" (1999), which was adapted from Brian Jacques' fantasy novel. The newcomer also guest starred in an episode of the Canadian television series "PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal" and the Canadian/American horror television series "Poltergeist: The Legacy." She then appeared in the miniseries "The Last Don II" (1998) and the made-for-television movies "Degas and the Dancer" (1998), which handed her a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a TV Movie or Pilot - Supporting Young Actress, "Stranger in Town" (1998; alongside Harry Hamlin), "Locked in Silence" (1999), "Dear America: A Journey to the New World" (1999), "What Katy Did" (1999), "God's New Plan" (1999; starring Katey Sagal and Annabeth Gish), "Different" (1999), and "A Holiday Romance" (1999; with Naomi Judd and Andy Griffith). On the big screen, Alison, who appeared in the direct-to-video released "You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's Camping Party" in 1998, could be seen in the 1999 films "The Life Before This," which was directed by Jerry Ciccoritti and featured Catherine O'Hara, Joe Pantoliano, Sarah Polley, and Stephen Rea, and "Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang," George Bloomfield's film version of Mordecai Richler's book starring Gary Busey and Miranda Richardson.
Entering the new millennium, Alison won the Best Child Actress Performance Award at the Burbank International Children's Film Festival for her performance in the TV movie "Redwall: The Movie" and "The Dinosaur Hunter," opposite Christopher Plummer. Also that year, she starred in the made-for-TV movies "The Other Me" (opposite Andrew Lawrence), which earned her a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Ensemble in a TV Movie, and "Baby" (with Farrah Fawcett and Keith Carradine). She also as guest starred in an episode of the Canadian drama on the Global Television Network, "Traders” and was cast in Tamara Davis' comedy adapted from Tim Sandlin's novel, "Skipped Parts.”
During the next few years, Alison spent her time acting in the TV movies "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" (2001; starring Judy Davis), "Midwives" (2001; starring Sissy Spacek), "What Girls Learn" (2001; with Elizabeth Perkins and Scott Bakula), which earned her a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a TV Movie or Special - Leading Young Actress, and "The Pilot's Wife" (2002; alongside Christine Lahti and Campbell Scott).
"When I meet people I'm not usually freaked out. I guess the first big name I worked with was Sissy Spacek and that was really interesting just because she's so incredible and I learned so much from just watching her. But, she's also so unassuming that I loved working with her. It wasn't like working with a star. It was Sissy. Not a big deal." Alison Pill (on working with Sissy Spacek in "Midwives," 2001)
She also could be seen in the made-for-television movies "An Unexpected Love" (2003; starring Leslie Hope and Wendy Crewson), "A Separate Peace" (2004; with J. Barton and Toby Moore), and "Plain Truth" (2004), in which she starred as an unmarried 18 year old Amish girl charged with the murder of her infant child and being defended by her lawyer, which was played by Mariska Hargitay. During this time, moviegoers could also catch Alison in Barbara Willis Sweete's film version of Judith Thompson's play, "Perfect Pie" (2002; alongside Wendy Crewson and Rachel McAdams), writer/director Peter Hedges' "Pieces of April" (2003; with Katie Holmes, Derek Luke, Oliver Platt, and Patricia Clarkson), and Nisha Ganatra's romantic comedy "Fast Food High" (2003). She then costarred as Lindsay Lohan's unpopular best friend Ella in Sara Sugarman's teen comedy film based on the book by Dyan Sheldon, "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" (2004), played the lead in Miguel Gallego's 23-minute short horror film "The Crypt Club" (2004), and teamed up with Jamie Bell, Bill Pullman, and Michael Angarano in Thomas Vinterberg's drama "Dear Wendy" (2005).
On the stage, Alison appeared in the NYC plays “None of the Above” (2003), "The Distance from Here" (June 2004; with Melissa Leo, Mark Webber and Anna Paquin, and “On The Mountain” (2005). She also made her Broadway debut in Martin McDonagh's "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" at the Lyceum Theater, in New York City in April 2006 and received a 2006 Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Tony Award nomination for her work.
About her nomination for a Tony, Alison commented, “That was quite a nice wakeup call. I really wasn't expecting it at all. To come down here from Toronto and be so warmly welcomed by the people of New York is absolutely amazing.”
Returning to television, Alison costarred with Aidan Quinn, Susanna Thompson and Christian Campbell in the short-lived NBC drama series "The Book of Daniel" (2006), playing the Websters' 16-year-old daughter Grace. That same year, she was also spotted as a guest in an episode of the NBC/USA Network's drama series "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
Afterward, Alison appeared in the off Broadway show "Blackbird" (March 2007; opposite Jeff Daniels) at the Manhattan Theatre Club Stage II and returned to Broadway in September 2007 in Theresa Rebeck's "Mauritius." In June 2008, she appeared off Broadway alongside Piper Perabo and Pablo Schreiber in Neil LaBute's play "Reasons to be Pretty," which premiered on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre on March 6, 2009, with an opening on April 2, 2009.
On screen, Alison recently portrayed Jane Burns, the eldest daughter of Dan (played by Steve Carell), in Peter Hedges' film "Dan in Real Life" (2007). She was also spotted as a guest in an episode of the Golden Globe Award nominated HBO drama series "In Treatment" and in CBS’ television series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."
2008 saw Alison portray Anne Kronenberg, the brassy lesbian hired by gay rights activist Harvey Milk (portrayed by Sean Penn), in Gus Van Sant's Oscar nominated biographical film, "Milk." Along with her costars in the film, Alison shared a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. About portraying Anne Kronenberg, Alison revealed, "I spent quite a bit of time with her just talking on set and during rehearsal and asking her basic questions about her life at the time. You know, the simple stuff like, ‘What did you guys do after work? Who did you hang out with in the campaign office most?’ And just to have that resource was amazing. But at the same time, she's actually the deputy director of Public Health in San Francisco, so she's dealing with budget meetings and everything else. And then she would come to the set and see her life being portrayed from 30 years before, so I think it was strange for both of us. Luckily for me, I get to play this amazing woman who I actually loved spending as much time as I could with."
More recently, in 2009, Alison played the title role in the 4-minute short mystery film, "The Awakening of Abigail Harris." She is currently on set working on writer/director Karen Goodman's upcoming drama film, "One Way to Valhalla" (opposite Gabriel Macht and Kim Dickens), Terry Nemeroff's "Thicker" (with Guy Pearce, Christopher Lloyd, John Goodman, and Fairuza Balk), Steve Bendelack's comedy "Sweet Baby Jesus," in which she will portray Mary, opposite Melanie Griffith and Lily Tomlin, and David Michaels' adventure "The Other Side," alongside Jason Lee, Eddie Izzard, Woody Harrelson, and Giovanni Ribisi. She is also rumored to be appearing in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," an upcoming action comedy directed by Edgar Wright and featuring Chris Evans, Michael Cera, Brandon Routh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Mae Whitman.
“For every part I get, there are probably three that I don't get. There is no real reason to get discouraged if you enjoy it enough and if you remind yourself not to take it personally. It can be a challenge to avoid getting upset, but there is absolutely nothing you can do. There are often moments when I feel it's necessary to yell and cry over losing a role, but there's always something else around the corner. I've gotten to a point where I forget completely about an audition after it's over (or at least I try to) and I move on as if I know I didn't get it. It may sound like a defeatist attitude, but it's important for the survival of your sanity as an actor.” Alison Pill (about her auditions)
Burbank International Children's Film Festival: Best Child Actress Performance, "The Dinosaur Hunter," 2000