3rd Rock from the Sun
“If you love it and work really hard at it, it will really happen I believe. I'm living proof.” Kristen Johnston
Two time Emmy Award winning actress Kristen Johnston is best recognized for her scene stealing portrayal of Sally Solomon, the no-nonsense male alien lieutenant and security officer impersonating a sexy female human, on the hit fantasy series “3rd Rock from the Sun” (NBC, 1996-2001), from which she won her Emmy Awards, not to mention nominations at the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards. She has also played recurring roles on “ER” and “Ugly Betty.” On the big screen, Johnston is perhaps best known for playing Ivana Humpalot in the commercially successful “Austin Powers The Spy who Shagged Me” (1999) and Wilma Flintstone in the live action film “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas” (2000). Her more recent film credits include Paul Dinello's “Strangers with Candy” (2005), Marc Lawrence's “Music and Lyrics” (2007), Gary Winick's “Bride Wars” (2009) and Julie Davis' “Finding Bliss” (2009). Making her professional stage debut with New York's Atlantic Theater Company, Johnston was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance in the Lincoln Center production of “The Lights” (1993). Other stage productions she has acted in include Clare Boothe Luce's “The Women” (2001), Wallace Shawn's “Aunt Dan and Lemon” (2004), Paula Vogel's “The Baltimore Waltz” (2004), “The Understudy” (2008) and “So Help Me God” (2009).
In 1996, Johnston dated actor David Newsom, who co-starred on the TV series “Homefront.” She posed nude for the animal rights organization PETA in protest of the treatment of carriage horses in New York City.
Childhood and Family:
Kristen Johnston was born on September 20, 1967, in Washington, District of Columbia, to a former state senator and a real estate agent mother. Her family later moved to a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she enrolled in St. Eugene's Catholic Grade School and Whitefish Bay High School. As a teen, Kristen spent some of her years traveling to Sweden and South Africa as an exchange student. Kristen graduated from high school with good grades in 1985. She went on to receive a BFA in drama from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts (1989). She also studied the technique “Practical Aesthetics” at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School in New York City, which was founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy.
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Kristen Johnston launched her stage career with New York's Atlantic Theater Company. During her stint with the company, she performed in various productions, including “As You Like It,” “Stage Door,” “Author's Voice,” “Girl's Talk,” “Rosemary for Remembrance” and “Portrait of a Woman.” Johnson also worked with the Naked Angels Theatre Company in “The Stand-In” and “Hot Keys” and with New York Stage and Film in “Kim's Sister,” opposite David Strathairn and Jane Adams.
Johnston's first gained notice when she picked up a Drama Desk nomination for her supporting performance in “The Lights” (1993) at the Lincoln Center Theatre. The show would open doors for Johnston for a career in television and movies.
Johnston had her first taste in front of the film cameras when she landed a part in the 35 minute comedy “The Orkly Kid” (1985), directed and written by Trent Harris and starring Crispin Glover. She resurfaced eight years later starring with Scott Renderer in Bruno de Almeida's acclaimed short “The Debt” (1993), which won a Canal Award at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival, among other recognitions. Her feature acting debut arrived in 1995 when she was cast as Kate in “Backfire,” a comedy starring Josh Mosby, Robert Mitchum and Kathy Ireland.
Branching out into television with a guest spot (as Dr. Wendy Smythe) in “Chicago Hope” (1994), Johnston landed guest roles in “The 5 Mrs. Buchanans” (1994) and “Hearts Afire” (1995), but did not get her big break until she won the role of Lieutenant Sally Solomon on the NBC series “3rd Rock from the Sun,” which ran from January 9, 1996, to May 22, 2001. For her performance on the show, the actress was nominated for three consecutive Emmys in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and won two awards in 1997 and 1999. She also earned a 1997 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, Screen Actors Guild nominations for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (three times) and Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (once), and a 2001 TV Guide nomination for Supporting Actress of the Year in a Comedy Series. Commenting about her character on the show, she said, “Sally is strong, sexy, weak, goofy, funny, mean, mothering. She's everything. I love her.”
During the six year run of “3rd Rock from the Sun,” Johnston also portrayed Grace Chapman in a television film adaptation of Neil Simon's play “London Suite” (1996), opposite Kelsey Grammer, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Madeline Kahn, was featured as a stalker in the independent film “Colin Fitz Lives” (1997), narrated the 1997 animated TV series “Microscopic Milton” and provided the voice of Kathie Lee in an episode of “Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man” called “My Feral Lady” (1997). On stage, she appeared in Peter Hedges’ off-Broadway comedy “Baby Anger” (1997) and played Sabina in the revival of Thornton Wilder's “The Skin of Our Teeth” (1998).
With her success on “3rd Rock from the Sun,” Johnston eventually got her first prominent role in a movie when director Jay Roach hired her to play Ivana Humpalot, an evil former KGB agent, in the blockbuster action comedy “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999), which starred Mike Myers. She was also named the spokesmodel for Clairol and appeared on the cover of Bad Religion's album “No Substance” (both 1998). Johnston won her next important film role in the 2000 live action film “The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas,” where she played Wilma Slaghoople opposite Mark Addy as Fred Flintstone and Stephen Baldwin as Barney Rubble. An adaptation of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon show “The Flintstones,” the film received negative reviews from critics and performed poorly at the box office. She returned to the stage in 2001 when she received the lead role of Sylvia Fowler in a Broadway revival of “The Women” (2001), which ran for 77 performances at the American Airlines Theatre. The production was also filmed for the PBS series “Stage On Screen,” which was broadcasted on June 8, 2002.
After the demise of “3rd Rock from the Sun,” Johnston got an unaccredited part as a dancer in the sequel “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002), costarred with Alan Blumenfeld and Margaret Cho in William Tannen's comedy “Nobody Knows Anything” (2003), supported Jennifer Alexander and Josh Alexander in Hal Salwen's comedy “Duane Incarnate” (2004) and portrayed Coach Divers on the Amy Sedaris comedy “Strangers with Candy” (2005), which was based on the TV series of the same name. She also appeared in episodes of “Queens Supreme” (2003), “Sex and the City” (2005, as Lexi Featherston), played Suzanne Collins on an unsold pilot titled “Don't Ask” (2005) and acted on stage in William Shakespeare's “Twelfth Night” (2002, as Maria), “Aunt Dan and Lemon” (2004) and “The Baltimore Waltz” (2004). In 2005, Johnston played Dr. Eve Peyton on several episodes of the hit medical series “ER.”
From November 2006 to February 2007, Johnston worked on the stage production “Love Song.” She also had a small role in Marc Lawrence's “Music and Lyrics” (2007), a comedy film starring Hugh Grant and Scott Porter, played the voice role of Warmonga in “Kim Possible” (3 episodes, 2007) and appeared in the short film “Puppy Love” (2008). 2008 also found her acting in “The Understudy” at the Williamstown Theater Festival.
In October 2009, Johnston played Helen in an episode of the popular series “Ugly Betty” called “The Butterfly Effect: Part 2.” She would reprise her role in the episodes “Chica and the Man” and “Smokin' Hot” (both 2010). Still in 2009, she portrayed Patsy in the TV film “Ab Fab,” a remake of “Absolutely Fabulous” (1992), Deb in Gary Winick's comedy “Bride Wars,” opposite Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway, and Irene in “Finding Bliss,” a comedy written and directed by Julie Davis that starred Leelee Sobieski and Matthew Davis. She also appeared in an episode of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and in a Mint Theatre Company production titled “So Help Me God.” In 2010, Johnston appeared in the made for TV film “Beach Lane,” written by Paul Simms.
“I never seriously considered it, but if I had to be something other than an actress, I'd probably be a director.” Kristen Johnston
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “3rd Rock from the Sun,” 1999
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, “3rd Rock from the Sun,” 1997