As Good As It Gets
“On a professional level, an Oscar means that your salary suddenly increases by a few million and you get offered a lot more movies which in the past you had to beg to have a chance to read for.” Helen Hunt
American television and movie star Helen Hunt won Academy Award’s Best Actress for her star turn as Carol Connelly, a single mother and waitress who becomes involved with Jack Nicholson’s character, in James L. Brooks’ As Good As It Gets (1997). The eye-catching performance also garnered Hunt such awards as a Golden Satellite award, a Golden Globe award, a Screen Actors Guild award, an American Comedy award and a Blockbuster Entertainment award. On the small screen, Hunt gained fame and critical acclaim while portraying the attractively neurotic Jamie Buchman in the weekly comedy series “Mad About You” (NBC, 1992-99), in which she picked up four Emmy awards, three Golden Globe awards, two American Comedy awards and a Screen Actors Guild award.
The actress is also well-known known for playing roles in such films as The Waterdance (1992), Mr. Saturday Night (1992), the blockbuster smash hit Twister (1996), Dr. T and the Women (2000), Pay It Forward (2000), What Women Want (2000) and Cast Away (2000, won a Blockbuster Entertainment award), and TV projects like the CBS TV-movie Quarterback Princess (1983), the acclaimed NBC drama series St. Elsewhere (1984-1986) and the HBO series “The Hitchhiker” (1987, received a Cable Ace nomination). Fans can look forward to Hunt’s performance in the upcoming Bobby (2006) and Then She Found Me (2006).
Off screen, 5’ 8” inch tall Helen Hunt was among hundreds of celebrities who organized against a possible war in Iraq (2002). They gathered to publicize a letter urging President Bush to avoid military action. The pretty, effervescent blonde beauty, who was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” (1998), was once married to actor Hank Azaria, but they later divorced in 2000. Her private life has also been linked to her ex-agent Doc O’Conner (together in early 1990), The Waterdance costar Eric Stoltz, actor Matthew Broderick, and producer Matthew Carnahan (reportedly dating since 2001), with whom she shares a daughter named Makena Lei Gordon (born in 2004).
Childhood and Family:
An offspring of Gordon Hunt, a half-Jewish film director and acting coach, and Jane Novis, a Methodist photographer, Helen Elizabeth Hunt was born on June 15, 1963. A native of Culver City, California, Helen relocated with her family to New York City when she was three, and by the time they moved back to Los Angeles, 9-year-old Helen had decided she wanted to become an actress. Studying acting with her father by age 8, the young girl soon landed her first acting job as Sarah Sargeant in the television movie Pioneer Woman (1973). She was educated at the Providence High School in Burbank from September 1978 to June 1981 and attended the University of California in Los Angeles, but dropped out of college after two months. She has an older sister named Colleen.
Helen became engaged to actor Hank Azaria (born on April 25, 1964) in 1997 and the couple exchanged wedding vows on July 17, 1999. In May 2000, however, they became estranged and Helen filed for divorced five months later on December 18, 2000. She has one daughter, Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan (born on May 13, 2004), with her lover, producer Matthew Carnahan.
Mad About you
Raised by an acting coach father, Helen Hunt was exposed to theater from an early age and soon developed a passion for acting. As a child, Hunt made her professional debut on the made-for-television movie Pioneer Woman (1973), which paved the way for a number of roles in other television films like All Together Now (1975), The Swiss Family Robinson (1975), Death Scream (1975), Having Babies (1976), The Spell (1977) and Transplant (1979). Hunt was cast as a regular for the first time in “Amy Prentiss,” playing Jessica Walter’s daughter, Jill Prentiss, from 1974-1975, and went on to become a series’ regular in such shows as “Swiss Family Robinson” (1975-1976) and “The Fitzpatricks” (1977). After getting her feet wet with numerous TV performances, a young Hunt kicked off her movie career with the unforgettable drama/thriller Rollercoaster (1977), playing the supporting role of Tracy Calder, opposite the film’s stars George Segal and Richard Widmark.
After a string of guest appearances in the early 80s and making such TV films as Angel Dusted (1981), I Think I'm Having a Baby (1981), The Best Little Girl in the World (1981), The Miracle of Kathy Miller (1981), Child Bride of Short Creek (1981), Desperate Lives (1982) and Bill: On His Own (1983), as well as playing a regular role in the series “It Takes Two” (1982), Hunt eventually made an impression with the critics as a high school girl leading her school’s otherwise all-male football team to the state championships in the CBS TV-movie Quarterback Princess (1983), a role that led to her being cast in her first adult role as Clancy Williams, the girlfriend of Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse), in the highly popular medical series St. Elsewhere (NBC, 1984-1986). She was then nominated for a Cable Ace Award for her fine guest stint in an episode of the HBO series “The Hitchhiker (1987).”
In the mid 80s, Hunt made her second movie, the comedy-romance Waiting to Act (1985). It was followed by a costarring role as Lena in the sci-fi movie Trancers (1985), and small roles like playing Sarah Jessica Parker’s goofy friend Lynne in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985), Nicolas Cage and Kathleen Turner’s daughter in Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), the animal trainer Teri in Project X (1987), Hope Wyatt in the drama Stealing Home (1988) and Jennifer, opposite Richard Gere, in Gary Sinise’s Miles from Home (1988). She rounded the remainder of the decade by playing various roles in such movies as The Frog Prince (1988) and Next of Kin (1989, playing Patrick Swayze’s wife). In between her film and TV career, Hunt made her Broadway debut as Emily Webb in a revival of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” (1989), co-starring opposite Eric Stoltz and later, Jason Gedrick.
The next decade saw Hunt even busier with her work on the big and small screen. She starred as Rebecca Miller in the drama series “My Life and Times” (1991), played Blossom in the television movie Into the Badlands (1991), reprised her role of Lena for the sequel Trancers II (1991) and had the title character in the TV movie Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story (1991). Hunt then displayed her extraordinary acting talents as a married editor in Neil Jimenez’s The Waterdance (1992), and was admired as a smart-mouthed, young agent of Buddy Young Jr (Billy Crystal) in Mr. Saturday Night (1992). She also appeared in Betty Thomas’ Only You (1992) and in Tim Robbins’ Bob Roberts (1992).
Hunt’s big breakthrough, however, arrived when she was cast as the engagingly phobic Jamie Buchman in the much-loved NBC sitcom “Mad About You” in 1992. Costarring with Paul Reiser as a couple facing the ups and downs of marriage, Hunt was so spectacular that she was handed numerous awards, including four consecutive Emmys, from 1996 to 1999, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, three Golden Globes (1993, 1994 and 1996) for Best Actress in a TV Series (Musical or Comedy), two American Comedy awards (1994 and 1995) for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series and a 1994 Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series. By the end of the show in 1999, Hunt became the highest paid TV actress in history with a salary of $1 million per episode. Additionally, the multi-award winning role garnered the actress star status.
With newfound popularity, Hunt entered the sphere of the box-office bonanza in 1996 with the summer action blockbuster Twister, playing a scientist tracking tornadoes with her alienated husband (Bill Paxton). With Jan De Bont directing, Hunt was nominated for a Best Female Performance award at the MTV Movies in 1997. A year before, she costarred with David Caruso and Nicholas Cage in Kiss of Death (1995).
In 1997, Hunt gained even more recognition and praise as a movie star when director James L. Brooks cast her in the starring role of Carol Connelly, a long-suffering single mother and waitress, alongside Jack Nicholson, in the comedy/romance As Good As It Gets (1997). Hunt’s glowing performance won praise from audiences and critics alike, and she finally took home a Best Actress Oscar, as well as a Golden Satellite, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild. She also nabbed an American Comedy award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) and a Blockbuster Entertainment for Favorite Actress.
Following her award-winning performance, Hunt took a hiatus from filmmaking to play charming Viola in the acclaimed 1998 production of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at the Lincoln Center in New York City. The actress made her way back to film in 2000 with several long-awaited efforts, including Robert Altman’s Dr. T and the Women (also starring Richard Gere), Pay It Forward (costarring opposite Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment), the romantic comedy What Women Want (alongside Mel Gibson) and the Tom Hanks vehicle Cast Away. The latter film garnered Hunt a 2001 Blockbuster Entertainment for Favorite Supporting Actress and a MTV Movie nomination for Best Kiss (shared with Hanks).
Next up, Hunt costarred opposite writer-director Woody Allen in Allen’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, a 1940s-era detective comedy also featuring Dan Ackroyd and Charlize Theron and had her screen deleted from One Night at McCool’s (2001). Hunt resurfaced on stage in 2003 when she participated in the Broadway production of Yasmina Reza’s “Life x 3.” The following years, she starred with Scarlett Johansson in the Mike Barker-helmed comedy film A Good Woman (2004), and in the television movie Empire Falls (2005), the actress found herself acting opposite Ed Harris and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Hunt is scheduled to join Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone and Elijah Wood to star in Emilio Estevez’s ensemble project Bobby (2006), which will fuse fact and fiction around the night in 1968 when Senator Kennedy was shot, and play April in a movie version of Elinor Lipman’s novel, Then She Found Me (2006), in which she will also serve as a director and screenwriter.
Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Supporting Actress - Drama, Cast Away, 2001
People’s Choice: Favorite Female Television Performer, 1999
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Mad About You, 1999
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Mad About You, 1998
Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Actress - Video, As Good As It Gets, 1999
Sho West: Actress of the Year, 1998
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, As Good As It Gets, 1998
American Comedy: Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role), As Good As It Gets, 1998
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), As Good As It Gets, 1997
Golden Satellite: Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), As Good As It Gets, 1997
Oscar: Best Actress, As Good As It Gets, 1997
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Mad About You, 1997
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Mad About You, 1996
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a TV Series (Musical or Comedy), Mad About You, 1996
American Comedy: Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series, Mad About You, 1995
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a TV Series (Musical or Comedy), Mad About You, 1994
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, Mad About You, 1994
American Comedy: Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series, Mad About You, 1994
Golden Globe: Best Actress in a TV Series (Musical or Comedy), Mad About You, 1993