"I am known for my work, which is awesome, and that is because I did all my running-around in my 20s. I was dating pot-smoking grad students and they were all anonymous people. If I had been doing that in Hollywood, it would have been with people like George Clooney and Woody Harrelson. But it was okay because my messing-around days were before I got to Hollywood. So I was lucky." Amy Brenneman
Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress Amy Brenneman is popular among TV viewers for her roles in the hit television series “NYPD Blue,” as Officer Janice Licalsi (1993-1994) and “Judging Amy” (1999-2005), as a juvenile court judge and divorced mother. She currently plays Dr. Violet Turner, a psychiatrist, on ABC's new series "Private Practice," a spin-off of the popular medical drama series "Grey's Anatomy."
On the big screen, the 5' 4" raven-haired, hazel-eyed performer could be seen in the films "Bye Bye Love" (1995), "Casper" (1995), "Heat" (1995), "Fear" (1996), "Nevada" (1997), "Your Friends & Neighbors" (1998), "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her" (2000), "Nine Lives" (2005) and "The Jane Austen Book Club" (2007). She will co-star with Maria Bello in an upcoming drama/thriller film titled "Downloading Nancy."
Brenneman, a Harvard graduate, is a co-founder of the Cornerstone Theater Company and has appeared in several of their productions. She currently resides in L.A. with her husband, television and film director Brad Siberling, and their two children.
Childhood and Family:
Born in New London, Connecticut, on June 22, 1964, Amy Frederica Brenneman was raised in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Her parents were the first married couple at Harvard Law School. Her father, Russell L Brenneman, is an environmental lawyer and her mother, Frederica S Brenneman, served on Connecticut’s State Supreme Court and was one of the first women to graduate from Harvard. The youngest of three children, Amy has two older brothers, Andrew Brenneman (born in 1961), an interactive software producer, and Matthew Brenneman (born in 1960), a lawyer who practices in Maryland.
"I know for me, a lot of my 20s was about going off and proving that I wasn't like my mother. I was so different. I wasn't going to do anything like her. And then, we all know, you fall flat on your face because you're exactly like your parents." Amy Brenneman
Amy, nicknamed “Ames,” graduated from Glastonbury High School, in Glastonbury, Connecticut, in 1982. Just like her parents, she also went to Harvard University where she earned her B.A in Comparative Religion in 1987. While at Harvard, she co-founded the Cornerstone Theater Company, with whom she traveled for several years after graduation. She also spent one semester studying sacred dances in Nepal.
On the set of "NYPD Blue," Amy met television and film director Brad Silberling (born on September 8, 1963). They married on September 30, 1995, in the garden at the home of her parents. The couple have two children together, a daughter named Charlotte Tucker Silberling (born on March 20, 2001) and a son named Bodhi Silberling (born on June 8, 2005).
A pro-choice activist, Amy recently spoke at the March for Women's Lives rally in Washington, DC.
While in college, Amy Brenneman co-founded the Cornerstone Theater Company, a touring production company that takes classics to small towns and encourages locals to participate in them. With them, she appeared in "The Video Store Owner's Significant Other," an adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca's farce "The Shoemaker's Prodigious Wife," in Los Angeles in 1990, and starred in Bertolt Brecht's "Saint Joan of the Stockyards" at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1992.
After touring for around five years, Brenneman relocated to New York where she became a teacher in Brooklyn. She eventually landed her first TV role in 1992 as a regular on the acclaimed, but short-lived, CBS comedy-drama series "Middle Ages," playing the role of Blanche.
The next year, Brenneman got her first big break when she was cast as Officer Janice Licalsi (1993-1994) on the ABC police drama series "NYPD Blue," in which future husband Brad Silberling directed several episodes. She appeared in a groundbreaking nude scene in the show and earned back-to-back supporting actress Emmy nominations.
Following her breakout TV appearance, Brenneman co-starred with Matthew Modine, Randy Quaid, Paul Reiser and Janeane Garofalo in Sam Weisman's divorce-themed comedy-drama film "Bye Bye, Love" (1995), playing the ex-wife of Modine's character, and portrayed Christina Ricci's deceased mother Amelia Harvey in the Brad Silberling-directed live-action feature film based on the cartoons and comic strips, "Casper" (1995). She was also featured opposite Robert De Niro, playing his new girlfriend Eady, in Michael Mann's critical and commercial successful crime/thriller/drama film "Heat" (1995), a remake of Mann's 1989 made-for-television film titled "L.A. Takedown."
More film roles subsequently followed. Brenneman played Reese Witherspoon's stepmother in James Foley's blockbuster stalker thriller "Fear" (1996) and starred opposite Sylvester Stallone in Rob Cohen's "Daylight" (1996). She also co-produced and starred as a mysterious woman in a remote desert community seemingly populated only by women, in Gary Tieche's independent drama film "Nevada" (1997; with Gabrielle Anwar, Kirstie Alley and Angus MacFadyen) and returned to stage headlining the Off-Broadway play "God's Heart" (1997).
From 1998 to 1999, Brenneman had a recurring role as Faye Moskowitz, a love interest to Kelsey Grammer's "Frasier," on the NBC sitcom with the same name. She also starred as Aaron Eckhart's unsatisfied wife who has an affair with Ben Stiller's character in writer/director Neil LaBute's drama/comedy movie "Your Friends and Neighbors" (1998) and was featured in William DeVizia's independent police drama "Lesser Prophets" (1997) with fellow "NYPD Blue" veteran Jimmy Smits. She also played the longtime girlfriend of a has-been rocker in Donal Lardner Ward's Sundance-premiered satirical drama "The Suburbans" (1999), starred as a loose cannon field agent in the ABC TV movie "ATF" (1999) and portrayed the painter in the HBO biopic "Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist" (1999).
Brenneman returned to series TV as a judge and single mother in the CBS drama "Judging Amy" (1999-2005), with husband Brad Silberling directed the pilot. In the show, based on Brenneman's mother's actual life, she played the title role of a young New York attorney who, after divorcing her husband, returns with her young daughter to her childhood home and becomes a judge in that city's family court. Brenneman was also credited as one of the executive producers and one of the series' creators. Her performance in the series later gave her three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, three Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama, and one Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. It also won her two TV Guide Awards for Actress of the Year in a Drama Series (2001) and Favorite Actress in a New Series (2000).
"They canceled 'Judging Amy' and about two weeks later I gave birth to my son. So really, TV was not the first thing on my mind and I was tired. I have been doing some movies. I did some theater and I really thought it's going to have to be the perfect fit for me because I had such a great thing going. It's just going to have to be at a really high caliber and also, frankly, fit with the lifestyle of having two small children. So it's interesting. I passed on some stuff where I would have been the series lead. Then, as a woman, you are left with being a wifey for the guy and I don't want to do that."
During her hefty six-year stint on "Judging Amy," Brenneman also acted as a detective in writer/director Rodrigo Garcia's Sundance screened feature "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her" (2000; aired on Showtime in 2001), with Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart and Kathy Baker, and starred with Joan Allen and Sam Elliott in Campbell Scott's adaptation of Joan Ackermann's play, "Off the Map" (2003). She also reunited with writer/director Rodrigo Garcia in his ensemble drama feature "Nine Lives" (2005), which nominated her for a Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast and won her a Locarno International Film Festival Award for Best Actress.
Returning to stage, Brenneman performed in Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls" on January 11-15, 2006, with Theatre Works in Los Angeles and headlined the late John Belluso's "A Nervous Smile" at The Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Mass, in August 2006, alongside Gloria Reuben, Scott Cohen and Deirdre O'Connell. She was recently cast as Dr. Violet Turner, a psychiatrist at the Oceanside Wellness Centre, on ABC's new series, "Private Practice," a spin-off of the popular medical drama series "Grey's Anatomy." "Private Practice" premiered on September 26, 2007.
Moviegoers recently caught Brenneman in Robin Swicord's feature adaptation of Karen Joy Fowler's novel, "The Jane Austen Book Club" (2007), as Sylvia, a 50-something Sacramento wife and mother who is going through a troubling separation with her husband (played by fellow "NYPD Blue" veteran Jimmy Smits). Maria Bello, Emily Blunt and Kathy Baker also star in the film.
Brenneman will soon wrap up her upcoming film with Maria Bello, a drama/thriller titled "Downloading Nancy" directed by Johan Renck.
Locarno International Film Festival: Best Actress, "Nine Lives," 2005
Women in Film Lucy: Lucy Award, 2002
TV Guide: Actress of the Year in a Drama Series, "Judging Amy," 2001
TV Guide: Favorite Actress in a New Series, "Judging Amy," 2000