“I've always written. When I got my first acting job, I was paid $300 a week and thought that was a lot of money so I went out and bought my first typewriter.” Patricia Wettig
Starting out with guest roles in the early 1980s, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning American actress and playwright Patricia Wettig rose to fame thanks to her portrayal of the cancer stricken Nancy Weston on the popular drama series “Thirtysomething” (ABC, 1987-1991), opposite her husband Ken Olin. She went on to act in several motion pictures during the 1990s, including the box office hit “City Slickers” (1991) and its 1994 installment “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold” and the independent films “Dancer, Texas Pop. 81” and “Nightmare in Big Sky Country” (both 1998), before pursuing a new career as a playwright. She was a finalist for the 2005 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her work in “My Andy.” More recently, Wettig is known to TV viewers as Dr. Judy Barnett on “Alias” (12 episodes, 2002-2004), Caroline Reynolds on “Prison Break” (18 episodes, 2005-2007) and Holly Harper on “Brothers & Sisters” (2006-2010).
Wettig has been married to actor/producer/director Ken Olin since 1982. They have two children together and have worked together on a number of projects. Commenting on working with her husband, she said, “We've always worked together. It's so much a part of how we do things we don't see it as peculiar. I would expect some whispers (from jealous actors), but I don't know that I care that much.
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of Clifford Neal Wettig, a college basketball coach, and Florence, Patricia Wettig was born on December 4, 1951, in Cincinnati, Ohio, but grew up in Grove City, Pennsylvania. She has three sisters and is of German extraction. Patricia enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan University and graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1975 with a degree in drama. She furthered her acting studies at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York. As a struggling thespian, she supported herself working as a personal dresser for singer/actress/dancer Shirley MacLaine.
In 1982, Patricia met Ken Olin in a New Hampshire production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Although they were both in relationships at the time, they quickly fell in love and married later that same year on May 8 at Patricia's home in Connecticut. She gave birth to a son, Clifford Olin, in 1983. The couple's second child, Roxanne Elizabeth Olin, was born on November 5, 1985. The family currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
In 2001, Patricia received a master's degree in playwright from Smith College.
Patricia Wettig headed to New York City after graduating college to pursue a stage career. She was a longtime member of the New York's Circle Repertory Company and performed in such productions as “A Tale Told,” “Childe Byron,” “The Wool Gatherer,” “The Diviner” (opposite William Hurt), “Innocents, Thoughts, Harmless Intentions” and “ Threads.” In 1982, she starred with Ken Olin in a production of the Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Also that year, she debuted on television as Maureen in a pilot for CBS called “Parole,” opposite Ellen Barkin and Richard Jenkins.
Wettig next landed guest spots in the television series “Remington Steele” (1984, as Barbara Frick), “Hill Street Blues” (1985, as Mrs. Florio), “Stingray” (1986) and “L.A. Law” (1987, as Carolyn Glasband). Her first significant reoccurring role arrived when she was cast as Joanne McFadden in “St. Elsewhere,” a role she played in six episodes during 1986 to 1987. She made her television movie debut in the thriller “Police Story: Cop Killer” (1988), opposite her husband Olin.
Wettig did not gain a real breakthrough until she won the regular role of Nancy Krieger Weston on the ABC hit drama “Thirtysomething” (1987-1991), which was created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. Portraying Elliot Weston’s (played by Timothy Busfield) suffering wife who deals with her husband's unfaithfulness and her struggle with ovarian cancer, Wettig's performance was critically applauded and she was handed an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1988 and Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1990 and 1991. She also received a 1991 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama. Her husband also starred in the series as Elliot's business partner, Michael Steadman.
“Somebody told me the other day, 'Oh, you won a Golden Globe,' and that's great and it's not that I don't like winning those things. Those are fun. Those are like putting on a hat. But when people relate in that deepest way to what I've done, that's the stuff that feeds my soul.” Patricia Wettig (on winning a Golden Globe for her role as a cancer patient)
Wettig began her feature film career in 1991 when she landed the supporting role of Dorothy Nolan in writer/director Irwin Winkler's thriller “Guilty by Suspicion,” which starred Robert De Niro and Annette Bening. After “Thirtysomething” went off the air, she was cast with Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern in the Ron Underwood directed comedy “City Slickers” (1991), playing Crystal’s wife Barbara Robbins. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and was a strong box office success in the U.S. where it earned over $124 million domestically against its budget of $26 million. She then starred as Laura Bardell in the Lifetime TV film “Silent Motive” (1991, with Mike Farrell) and portrayed a rape victim named Nancy Ziegenmeyer in the CBS TV movie “Taking Back My Life” (1992) before returning to the big screen to play Veronica in the 1993 drama “Me and Veronica,” opposite Elizabeth McGovern. In 1994, she was reunited with Billy Crystal for the sequel “City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold,” which was helmed by Paul Weiland. The film was a commercial hit, but failed to achieve the same level of popularity as the first film and was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Remake or Sequel.
Back to the small screen after “City Slickers II,” Wettig supported James Belushi and Liza Minnelli in the Showtime drama “Parallel Lives” (1994), which was directed and co-written by Linda Yellen. She followed it up starring as Laurel Stevenson in the TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's “The Langoliers” (1995), which was directed and scripted by Tom Holland and also starred Dean Stockwell, David Morse and Kate Maberly. She next costarring with her husband in the CBS dramatic film “Nothing But the Truth” (1995) and offering a good portrayal of Virginia Mae Farley in the unsold pilot “Kansas” (1995, ABC), with Matt Craven.
Still in 1995, Wettig got her first regular role after “Thirtysomething” in the CBS drama series “Courthouse,” where she starred as Judge Justine Parkes. Eleven episodes were produced, but the show was canceled after nine episodes aired. However, the series was nominated for a 1996 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Television Series. The show's cast also included Annabeth Gish, Bob Gunton, Brad Johnson, Michael Lerner, Cotter Smith and John Mese.
After the cancellation of her show, Wettig took some time off from acting. She resurfaced in 1997 when she appeared in the comedy “Bongwater,” which starred Luke Wilson, Alicia Witt and Jack Black, and in an episode of the NBC hit sitcom “Frasier” called “To Kill a Talking Bird” (as Stephanie). The next year, she scored the reoccurring role of Eleanor Riggs-Cattan in her husband's short-lived series “L.A. Doctors” (CBS, 1998-1999). She also had the noted supporting role of Mrs. Lusk in the 1988 comedy film “Dancer, Texas Pop. 81,” which starred Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills and Ethan Embry. She then starred as a judge in the independent drama “Nightmare in Big Sky Country” (also 1998) for director Alan Metzger and writer Sharon Elizabeth Doyle.
By 2001, Wettig had turned her attention from acting to writing. Supported with a degree in playwriting from Smith College, she made her debut as a playwright at a summer theater festival in New York City in 2001. The same year, she appeared as Allison Tucker in the David E. Kelley legal drama “The Practice” episode “Vanished.”
In January 2002, Wettig joined the cast of the ABC hit series “Alias,” which was directed and produced by her husband, in the recurring role of Dr. Judy Barnett. She would remain on the show until April 2004. In August 2002, she also began playing the regular role of Alison Dunne in the Bravo short lived drama series “Breaking News,” opposite Tim Matheson, Clancy Brown, Lisa Ann Walter, Rowena King, Paul Adelstein and Scott Bairstow. Her husband was an executive producer for the show. In October that same year, she made a guest appearance in the NBC series “Boomtown.”
In 2005, Wettig was cast in a TV film version of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's play “Lackawanna Blues” (HBO), which was directed by George C. Wolfe and starred S. Epatha Merkerson and Hill Harper. Later that same year, she began the reoccurring role of Caroline Reynolds on the Fox television drama “Prison Break.” Still in 2005, Wettig gained notice for her writing gig on the play “My Andy” and was nominated for a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Wettig returned to series TV as a regular with the ABC family drama series “Brothers & Sisters,” which was co-created by her husband and Jon Robin Baitz. The show premiered on September 24, 2006. In the series, she plays Holly Harper.
“People come up to me and say, 'Oh, I wanted to hate your character! You're the evil woman, the nemesis.... But last week you said something that made me want to like you.’” Patricia Wettig (on audience responses to her role on “Brothers and Sisters”)
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Drama, “Thirtysomething,” 1991
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, “Thirtysomething,” 1991
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, “Thirtysomething,” 1990
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, “Thirtysomething,” 1988