Actress Mary-Louise Parker won a Tony Award for her work in the Pulitzer-winning ''Proof'' (2000; as Catherine), an Emmy for her performance in the HBO miniseries ''Angels in America'' (2003; as Harper Pitt) and two Golden Globe awards for her roles in ''Angels in America'' (2003) and Showtime’s dark comedy series "Weeds" (2005-Present; as Nancy Botwin).
"I tend to play people who are uninhibited emotionally." Mary-Louise Parker
The versatile and pretty theater veteran, who has been described by some writers as "the long-suffering girl next door," had her breakout role as the sexually ambiguous Ruth Jamison in Jon Avnet's Oscar-nominated ''Fried Green Tomatoes'' (1991). Since then, she has delivered memorable roles in such films as "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994), "Boys on the Side" (1995), "The Portrait of a Lady" (1996), "Red Dragon" (2002), "Saved," (2004), "Romance & Cigarettes" (2005), and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007). She will star in the upcoming films "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and "Les Passages." She also had a recurring role as Amelia "Amy" Gardner (2001-2006) on the NBC political drama series "The West Wing," which earned her an Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.
On a more personal note, the 5' 8" actress was romantically linked to former professional hockey player Pat Mannochia (dated 1992-1995), Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz (dated briefly in 1995-1996) and actor Timothy Hutton (born August 16, 1960; met in 1996). She had been with actor Billy Crudup (born July 8, 1968) for seven years (1996-2003) when the actor began a relationship with actress Claire Danes and left Parker, who was seven months pregnant with his child. She began dating her "Weeds" co-star, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, in December 2006, but they broke up in May/June 2007.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, on August 2, 1964, Mary-Louise Parker, an ''army brat,'' grew up on military bases in Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Thailand, Germany and France. Her mother was Swedish and her father was a judge and served in the U.S. Army.
The youngest of the family's brood, Parker studied acting at the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After graduation, she headed for New York in the mid-'80s to pursue a career in theater.
Parker has one son named William Atticus Parker (born on January 7, 2004) with longtime companion Billy Crudup (actor; born July 8, 1968, no longer together). They met while doing a revival of ''Bus Stop'' in 1996. In November 2003, after seven years together, Crudup split up with Parker, who was seven months pregnant with his child at the time, and began a relationship with actress Claire Danes.
"There was a time in my life when I felt I couldn't live without doing it. But now that I have a child, it wouldn’t be as bad. But I still feel that to sustain myself I need to express in that way. I was a very shy, awkward child, but I remember I went to an audition for a community theatre play and I just had this boundless, crazy confidence that I hadn't had anywhere else. It's a hard one though; a hard job if you're sensitive and you have to be sensitive to do it. But at the same time, it's hard because people take shots at you. Like, I can't have those magazines in my house because I almost feel self-destructive just looking for something mean and I'll only remember the one really mean thing." Mary-Louise Parker
At age 43, Parker adopted a second child, a baby girl from Africa.
Angels in America
Graduating from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Mary-Louise Parker began appearing in regional theater productions of "The Miser," "Hay Fever," "The Night of the Iguana" and "The Little Foxes" before deciding to test her craft in New York City in the mid-'80s. In 1986, she made a theatre debut with "The Girl in Pink" at the Quaigh Theatre, and made her Off-Broadway debut with "The Art of Success" in 1989. Around this time, she also got her start on television with a small recurring role on ABC's long-running soap opera ''Ryan's Hope.''
The newcomer subsequently made her TV movie debut in 1988 in the CBS World War II drama movie starring Rick Schroder, ''Too Young the Hero.'' The following year, she landed a feature film role as an abused girlfriend in John David Coles' indie ''Signs of Life'' (1989; with Beau Bridges, Vincent D'Onofrio and Arthur Kennedy), which earned director Coles an Deauville Film Festival award.
After a couple of years working in off-Broadway productions, Parker eventually worked her way onto Broadway, playing the role of Rita, opposite Alec Baldwin, in director Craig Lucas' "Prelude to a Kiss" (1990), helmed by Norman René. Her work later won a Theatre World Award and a Clarence Derwent Award, as well as a Drama Desk Award nomination and Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play. Her character Rita, which she originated at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and in an off-Broadway production at the Circle Rep, would later be portrayed by Meg Ryan when the play was adapted into film in 1992. Meanwhile, Parker appeared in the Lucas-scripted, René-directed feature ''Longtime Companion'' (1990), alongside Bruce Davison, Campbell Scott and Patrick Cassidy.
In 1991, Parker delivered a standout performance as the sexually ambiguous Ruth Jamison in Jon Avnet's Oscar-nominated drama film based on the novel by Fannie Flagg, ''Fried Green Tomatoes,'' opposite such female powerhouses as Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy and Mary Stuart Masterson. Dubbed by some as the "long-suffering girl next door," Parker subsequently portrayed Dee, a secretary and part-time lover of a successful immigration lawyer (played by Kevin Kline), in Lawrence Kasdan's Oscar-nominated ensemble drama "Grand Canyon" (1991), which won the Golden Bear of Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival, and co-starred as Joanne White, the college sweetheart of a young playwright (played by Eric Stoltz), in Daniel Algrant's romantic comedy film "Naked in New York" (1993). She also played Ellen, the girl who is cheated by her idealistic young playwright boyfriend (played by John Cusack), in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994) and Robin, an uptight real estate agent who has been infected with HIV, in Herbert Ross' "Boys on the Side" (1995; with Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Barrymore).
Parker acted Off-Broadway in John Patrick Shanley's Hollywood satire "Four Dogs and a Bone" (1993) and reunited with Rene to play a paraplegic deaf mute in the feature based on the play by Lucas, "Reckless" (1995; starring Mia Farrow). She also made her first appearance in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production with "A Place for Annie" (ABC) and starred as singer Phyllis McGuire in HBO's true story-based movie "Sugartime." Additionally, she appeared in the music video for Bonnie Raitt's song "You Got It."
Afterward, Parker played the role of aspiring nightclub singer Cherie in William Inge's "Bus Stop" (February 22 - March 17, 1996) at the Circle in the Square Theatre, which was directed by Josephine R. Abady. She then portrayed Henrietta Stackpole in Jane Campion's Oscar-nominated film version of Henry James' classic novel, "The Portrait of a Lady" (1996; alongside Nicole Kidman and John Malkovich), and received critical acclaim for her performance as Li'l Bit, a molested girl (she played the character at various ages from teen to adulthood) in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "How I Learned to Drive" (1997) at the Vineyard Theatre. Her performance in the play that was directed by Mark Brokaw and also stars David Morse later won her a Lucille Lortel Award and an Obie Award, as well as nominated her for a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award.
After turning down an opportunity to replace Shannon Doherty in "Charmed" (1998), Parker appeared in the small, but pivotal, role as the free-spirited (and later suicidal) sister-in-law of a lonely teen (played by Thomas McCarthy) in “Saint Maybe" (CBS), a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation. She returned to the NYC stage in Alan Ayckbourn's "Communicating Doors" (1998) and co-starred as Jonathan Penner's increasingly unstable girlfriend in "Let the Devil Wear Black" (1999), Stacey Title's modern interpretation of Shakespeare's ''Hamlet.'' She was nominated for a Genie Award (for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) for her portrayal of a cake maker in the Canadian drama film directed, written and produced by Jeremy Podeswa, "The Five Senses" (filmed in 1999; released in the United States in 2000).
The new millennium saw Parker garnered rave reviews for her performance as Catherine in David Auburn's "Proof," which first opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club on May 23, 2000. Parker's brilliant performance later won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama League Award, an Obie Award and a New York Magazine Award, as well as the 2001 T. Schreiber Award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre. The play itself, which was directed by Daniel Sullivan, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play.
''I'll take any trophy. I don't care what it says on it.'' Mary-Louise Parker
Meanwhile, TV viewers could catch Parker playing the title role of Cate, an unhappy young woman who finds purpose in a new romance, in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "Cupid & Cate" (2000; CBS). She also had a recurring role on the NBC political drama series "The West Wing," which earned her an Emmy (2002) nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG; 2003) nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. About her character in the show, Parker once said, "It was one of my best, most fulfilling experiences I've had in a character; a big part of my career."
During her ''West Wing'' years, Parker also portrayed Molly Graham, the wife of Edward Norton's character, in Brett Ratner's mystery/thriller feature based on the novel by Thomas Harris, "Red Dragon" (2002; starring Anthony Hopkins), the prequel to "Silence of the Lambs." She was also cast as Harper Pitt, the Valium-addicted wife of a closeted homosexual Mormon and Republican law clerk (played by Patrick Wilson), in the HBO adaptation of Tony Kushner's play "Angels in America" (2003), directed by Mike Nichols. Her performance in the award-winning miniseries won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television. She was also nominated for a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries and a Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television.
In 2004, Parker starred in Brian Dannelly's comedy film "Saved” and returned to Broadway to star as Rachel in the revival of Craig Lucas's "Reckless" at the Biltmore Theatre. She also headlined a one-night performance of "Escape: 6 Ways to Get Away" at the Circle in the Square Theatre on January 31, 2005.
Since 2005, Parker has been playing the lead role of Nancy Botwin on Showtime’s dark comedy series "Weeds." For her performance, Parker has received three SAG nominations (two for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and one for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series), as well as a Golden Globe (for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy), an Emmy (for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series) and a Satellite (for Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical) nomination. In November 2007, the show was picked up for a fourth season with Parker reprising her role as the pot-dealing suburban mother.
Parker was also cast in writer/director John Turturro's down-and-dirty musical film with James Gandolfini, Kate Winslet and Susan Sarandon, "Romance & Cigarettes" (filmed in 2005; released theatrically in 2007) and starred as seductress Zenia in Oxygen's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's 1993 novel, "The Robber Bride" (2007), which earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie and a Gemini nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series. Recently, moviegoers saw her as Zee James, the wife and first cousin of Jesse James (portrayed by Brad Pitt), in Andrew Dominik's Western drama film adapted from Ron Hansen's 1983 novel about America's most notorious outlaw, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (2007).
Parker has completed "The Spiderwick Chronicles," Mark Waters' upcoming movie based on Holly Black and Tony Diterlizzi's bestselling children's book series of the same name. In the movie, she portrays Helen Grace, the mother of the Grace children (played by Sarah Bolger and Freddie Highmore). She will also star opposite Julie Delpy in "Les Passages," a romantic drama comedy by writer/director Donna Vermeer. On stage, she will next be seen in Sarah Ruhl's "Dead Man's Cellphone,” directed by Anne Bogart (Spring 2008).
"The best way to know me is through my work. I just think it's more interesting to experience someone that way. And also, I'll never be able to give anyone what I can give them there, because that's how I am able to communicate. I mean, I first started doing it because I couldn't do it any other way." Mary-Louise Parker
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy, "Weeds," 2006
Satellite: Outstanding Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical, "Weeds," 2005
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, ''Angels in America,'' 2004
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, ''Angels in America,'' 2004
Philadelphia Film Festival: Artistic Achievement Award, 2004
Tony: Best Actress (Play), ''Proof,'' 2001