Canadian television and film actress Polly Shannon has amassed numerous credits since making her debut in early 1992. She is probably best known for playing Margaret Trudeau in the hit TV miniseries “Trudeau” (2002), which is based on the life of the late Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau. She earned Gemini nominations for her starring roles in the TV films “The Girl Next Door” and “The Sheldon Kennedy Story” (both 1999) and a Canadian Comedy nomination for her performance in the 2002 film “Men with Brooms.” She co-won a WorldFest Houston Award for the short film “Miranda & Gordon” (2006), which she produced, wrote and starred in. Shannon has also guest starred in many TV shows, including “La Femme Nikita,” “Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye,” “CSI; Miami” and “Cold Case.”
Childhood and Family:
Nicknamed Pops, Polly Shannon was born on September 1, 1973, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, but grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. Her father was a director-general of Health Canada and her mother was a script writer for children's television. She has a half sister named Kaitlin and a younger brother named Micah. Polly enrolled at David Rothenberg's acting class with fellow actors Rachel McAdams, Kenneth Mitchell and Scott Speedman.
The Girl Next Door
Polly Shannon made her television acting debut in 1992 with a guest role in the Canadian/American horror fantasy series “Are You Afraid of the Dark” and a small part in the series “Catwalk” (unknown episodes, 1992-1994). Her first film role arrived the following year when she appeared as a victim in the Canadian drama “Love & Human Remains” (1993), which was directed by Denys Arcand and scripted by Brad Fraser and based on his play “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.” The film starred Mia Kirshner, Joanne Vannicola, and Matthew Ferguson.
Following a guest stint on the anthology series “The Hidden Room,” Shannon was cast as Miss U.S.A., Candice Wilson, in director Paul Lynch's action movie “No Contest” (1994), which starred Robert Davi and Shannon Tweed. She then appeared as Kelly Van Pelt in the episode “The Needle and the Damage Done” (1994) of the Emmy nominated dramatic show “Sirens,” costarred with Michael York, Theresa Russell and Nick Mancuso in the independent film “A Young Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court” (1995) and made her U.S. TV film debut alongside Doug Savant, Ann Wedgeworth and Peri Gilpin in the NBC drama “Fight for Justice: The Nancy Conn Story” (1995). She next appeared as Liselle in an episode of the CBS supernatural series “Forever Knight” called “Trophy Girl” (1995).
1996 found Shannon portraying Elizabeth in the family fantasy film “Frankenstein and Me,” opposite Ricky Mabe, Burt Reynolds and Ryan Gosling, and Tori in the independent comedy “Snowboard Academy,” starring Corey Haim, Jim Varney and Brigitte Nielsen. She also guest starred in the TV series “Ready or Not” (as Angelique) and “Side Effects” (as Lisa Burns) and acted in the TV films “Danielle Steel's 'No Greater Love'” (NBC, starred Jaclyn Smith) and “Devil's Food” (Lifetime TV, starred Suzanne Somers). Shannon next appeared in the Hallmark Entertainment/Showtime Network TV film “End of Summer” (1997, starred Jacqueline Bisset and Peter Weller), starred as Sandra and Nicky Applewhite in the based on book TV movie “Hard to Forget” (1997), was featured as a cashier in the ABC TV comedy film “My Date with the President's Daughter” (1998, starred Dabney Coleman, Will Friedle, Elisabeth Harnois and Mimi Kuzyk) and supported Norm MacDonald, Artie Lange, Jack Warden, Traylor Howard, Don Rickles, Christopher McDonald and Chevy Chase in the Bob Saget directed comedy “Dirty Work” (1998). During 1997-1998, she also made guest appearances in the television shows “Due South” (episode “Seeing Is Believing”), “Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension (episode “Perfect”) and “Highlander: The Raven” (episode “Passion Play”).
In 1999, Shannon offered a remarkable portrayal of Fiona Winters in the made for television thriller movie “The Girl Next Door,” opposite Henry Czerny as Arthur Bradley, and was nominated for a Gemini for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series for her performance. She gained further notice playing Jana in the biopic TV movie “The Sheldon Kennedy Story” (1999), in which she received another Gemini nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series. The same year, she guest starred in “Earth: Final Conflict” (as Dr. Joyce Belman), “The Outer Limits,” “PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal” (as Moira Stratton) and “The Hunger” (as Jen). She then appeared as Vicki Sue in the “Twice in a Lifetime” episode “What She Did for Love.”
Entering the new millennium, Shannon portrayed Phyllis Nesmith in the VH1 film “Daydream Believers: The Monkees' Story” (2000, helmed by Neill Fearnley), landed a supporting role on the USA Network film “The Stalking of Laurie Show” (2000, opposite Mary-Margaret Humes, Marnette Patterson, Jessica Greco and Joanne Vannicola) and appeared in an episode of “Code Name: Eternity” (2000). She then received the recurring role of Michelle in the TV series version of “La Femme Nikita” and appeared in episodes “Deja Vu All Over Again,” “All the World's a Stage” and “The Man Behind the Curtain” (all 2001). Also in 2001, she appeared in five episodes of the Showtime series “Leap Years,” worked with Adrien Grenier, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joey Lauren Adams, Eric Stoltz and Rebecca Gayheart in the James Toback film “Harvard Man,” portrayed Julia Lee in the Bryan Singer science fiction TV miniseries “The Triangle” (Sci-Fi Channel; starred Eric Stoltz, Catherine Bell, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sam Neill, Bruce Davison and Michael E. Rodgers) and was featured in the “Doc” episode “You Gotta Have Heart.”
In 2002, Shannon scored the famed role of Margaret Trudeau in the successful Canadian TV miniseries “Trudeau.” Written by Wayne Grigsby and directed by Jerry Ciccoritti, the show was nominated for six Geminis and won the awards for Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series, Best Picture Editing in a Dramatic Program or Series and Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series. It also became an audience favorite and was hailed as one of the highest rated Canadian television programs of the year. The same year, she also played the supporting role of Joanne in “Men with Brooms,” a comedy film directed and co-written by and starring Paul Gross, guest starred in “Jeremiah” (as Polly) and had a role in the short lived series “Street Time.” She received a Canadian Comedy nomination for Film - Pretty Funny Female Performance for her work in “Men with Brooms.” 2002 also saw the actress began her recurring role on the series “Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye” (as Darcy D'Angelo).
Shannon next starred with Shawn Doyle in the science fiction television movie “Do or Die” (2003, written and directed by David Jackson), played a detective in the Canadian comedy “Ham & Cheese” (2004, starred Mike Beaver and Jason Jones), supported Dolph Lundgren in the action film “Direct Action” (2004, directed by Sidney J. Furie), portrayed Abby Taylor in the TV film “Stone Cold” (2005, starred Tom Selleck as Chief Jesse Stone) and costarred with Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour in the Toronto International Film Festival premiered drama “Lie with Me” (2005, as Victoria). She also appeared in such TV shows as “Wild Card” (2003), “Puppets Who Kill” (2004) and “The Jane Show” (2004, pilot).
Shannon next appeared in Graeme Lynch's short film “Miranda & Gordon” (2006), which she also co-wrote and co-produced with her costar Mark Lutz. She shared a Special Jury Award from the 2008 WorldFest Houston for her work in the film. Later that same year, she reprised her role of Abby Taylor in “Jesse Stone: Night Passage” (TV) and played Allison Grady and Honey Sugar in episodes of “CSI: Miami” and “Cold Case,” respectively.
After a short break, Shannon was reunited with Mark Lutz in the TV film “Victor” (2008), which was nominated for several Gemini Awards, costarred with Rachel Miner and Christian Kane in the action movie “Hydra” (2009, directed by K.C. Bascombe, written by Greg Rosati) and starred as Olivia in the well received 15 minute length film “One Love” (2009, directed by D.J. Matrundola). Recently, in 2010, Shannon played Naomi in two episodes of the Canadian series “Shattered.”
WorldFest Houston: Special Jury Award, “Miranda & Gordon,” 2008