After making her film debut in 1978's “The Fury,” Screen Actors Guild award winning actress and TV director Laura Innes emerged with a prolific stage career in New York and Chicago from the late 1970s throughout the 1980s, during which time she performed in such productions as “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Edmund” and “Three Sisters.” First gaining notice on the small screen as Bunny in several episodes of the sitcom “Wings” (1991-1993), Innes rose to stardom with her role of Dr. Kerry Weaver on the hit series “ER” (1995-2009), from which she took home three Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Emmy nominations and two Viewers for Quality Television nominations. She also directed several episodes of the show. In 2001, Innes nabbed an Emmy nomination for her direction of “Shibboleth,” an episode of the hit series “The West Wing.” On directing, she described, “It gives me the biggest buzz. The crass way of putting it is to say that it gives you complete control, but beyond that it's extremely creative. You're creating something from scratch but you're not alone, you're a part of a community. When it's working well, you feel like a great parent trying to bring out the best in everybody. But its hard work; nothing worth while is easy.
Innes has also acted in numerous TV films, guest starred in many TV shows and added film credits to her resume with performances in “Deep Impact” (1998) and “Can't Stop Dancing” (1999).
As for her personal life, Innes, who was named one of People magazine's “10 Most Beautiful People” in 2001, has been married to actor David Brisbin since 1988. The couple now resides in Los Angeles, California, with their son Cal and daughter Mia (adopted). Innes is a close friend of “Will & Grace” actress Megan Mullally, whom she met at Northwestern University.
Childhood and Family:
Laura Elizabeth Innes was born on August 16, 1959, in Pontiac, Michigan, to Laurette and Robert Innes, who was an executive at a tool-and-dye company. She grew up in Birmingham with her five older siblings, including Kathy Innes (born in 1945), who lost the use of one arm because of polio. Laura became interested in performing after attending the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada, with her family when she was young. Laura, who is dyslexic, graduated from Seaholm High School in Birmingham in 1977 and studied theater at Northwestern University in Illinois.
After the murder of her fiancé in the early 1980s, Laura tied the knot with actor David Brisbin in 1988, who she met a year before while performing in New York. She welcomed a baby boy named Cal Brisbin in 1990. The couple later adopted a one-year-old girl from China named Mia.
First discovering an interest in acting after attending the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada, Laura Innes had her first taste of acting in front of the film camera while still in college when she appeared in Brian De Palma's “The Fury” (1978). After completing her studies, she embarked on her stage career by joining the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. During her three years with the company, she performed in such plays as Tennessee Williams' “A Streetcar Named Desire,” opposite John Malkovich, and David Mamet's “Edmund,” portraying Glenna. She also honed in on her craft with the Widsom Bridge and Body Politic theaters before taking her theater career on the road. Innes played Glenna in the touring production of “Edmond,” acted with Eric Stoltz in “Two Shakespearean Actors” at the Lincoln Center, costarred with Campbell Scott in “Our Town” at the Seattle Repertory Theater, and joined Nancy Travis and Phoebe Cates for “Three Sisters” at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.
After extensive stage experience, Innes broke into the small screen in the mid-1980s when she appeared as Krissy Bender Marino in the failed pilot “The Stiller & Meara Show” (1986), starring Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. She joined the cast of the NBC soap opera “Another World” in 1988 as the Ghost of Nora Diamond and made her TV film debut a year later in PBS' “Jacob I Have Loved,” opposite Bridget Fonda and Jenny Robertson. She then appeared in two episodes of her husband's series “Hey Dude” (1989) and also wrote an episode of the show before it was canceled in 1991.
Innes relocated to Los Angeles in 1991. Two years later, she appeared with Cybill Shepherd and Ken Olin in the TV film “Telling Secrets.” She then portrayed characters in the TV movies “When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn,” “Desperate Rescue: The Cathy Mahone Story,” HBO's “And the Band Played On” and “Judith Krantz's 'Torch Song’” (all 1993) and received guest roles in TV series like “Brooklyn Bridge,” “Bakersfield P.D.” (both 1993), “The Good Life” and “Party of Five” (both 1994). She also had a recurring role as Bunny Mather, the former wife of Lowell (played by Thomas Hayden Church), in four episodes of “Wings” (1991-1993).
However, Innes did not reach television prominence until she was cast as Dr. Kerry Weaver on the NBC popular medical series “ER” in 1995. First hired to appear in six episodes, the actress' presentation of the strict red-headed doctor was so impressive that she was invited to appear in eight more episodes before eventually becoming a regular cast member in 1996. She co-won three consecutive Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1997, 1998 and 1999), two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1997 and 1998) and two Viewers for Quality Television nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series (1998 and 2000).
Encouraged by her costar Anthony Edwards, Innes made her TV directorial debut in an “ER” episode called “Power” (1999), which impressed the show's producer John Wells. She was given the opportunity to direct eleven more episodes of the hit series and received a five-episodic directing gig on Wells' other successful series “The West Wing” (2000-2005). She earned a 2001 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for her work in the “The West Wing” episode of “Shibboleth.” In addition to her work on both shows, Innes has also directed episodes of other popular television shows, such as “Brothers and Sisters.”
On the acting front, Innes appeared in such TV films as “See Jane Run,” “Just Like Dad” (both 1995), “The Price of a Broken Heart” (1999) and “Taking Back Our Town” (2001), and costarred in the motion pictures “Deep Impact” (1998), opposite Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave and Morgan Freeman. She also appeared in “Can't Stop Dancing” (1999), a comedy written and directed by Stephen David and Ben Zook.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, “ER,” 1999
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, “ER,” 1998
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, “ER,” 1997