About Mary-Louise Parker
Born on Aug. 2, 1964 in Fort Jackson, SC, her father's career in the U.S. Army led the family to such far-flung places as Thailand, France, Germany, and the wilds of Texas. Parker was an extremely shy girl, but came to life whenever she was onstage in dance recitals and plays; her comfort inhabiting other personas led her to an acting career early on. For college, she returned to her native South and attended the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, where she became friends with future successes Peter Hedges, the director of "Dan in Real Life" (2007) and other features, and Joe Mantello, who would become a multiple Tony-winning director. After graduating in the spring of 1986, she moved to New York City and within a few months, had landed her first professional gig in "Night of the Iguana" at a theater in nearby Stamford, CT. Along with Hedges and Mantello and K. Todd Freeman, Parker co-founded The Edge Theater, with which she made her off-off-Broadway debut, appearing in half a dozen productions.
An early stint on the ABC soap "Ryan's Hope" (ABC, 1975-1989) helped finance her love of live theater, beginning her lifelong pattern of alternating impassioned New York stage roles with heady TV and film dramas. Parker made her film debut as an abused girlfriend in "Signs of Life" (1989) and that same year began a long-term working relationship with playwright Craig Lucas, appearing in a film adaptation of his "Longtime Companion" (1989), portraying the best friend of a gay man dealing with the AIDS crisis in one of the first films to address the controversial topic. A year later, Parker made it to Broadway and earned a Theater World Award and a Tony nomination for the challenging role of a young bride who accidentally swaps souls with an old man in Lucas' "Prelude to a Kiss." The breakout performance and Parker's compelling ability to combine smarts and sophistication with emotional vulnerability won the eye of film directors and Parker was soon on her way.
Famed writer-director Lawrence Kasdan cast her as a lonely secretary infatuated with her employer (Kevin Kline) in "Grand Canyon" (1991), but it was her breakthrough as an abused wife empowered by her friendship with a female cafe owner (Mary Stuart Masterson) in "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991) that really drew attention to her facility for complex characterizations. Never away from the theater for long, Parker hit the boards to play a woman driven to madness by the birth of a deformed child in "Babylon Gardens" (1991), as well as essayed an ambitious and scheming actress in John Patrick Shanley's black comedy "Four Dogs and a Bone" (1993). On the big screen, the romantic comedy "Mr. Wonderful" (1993) starring Matt Dillon failed to do the thespian justice, but a meatier role as a 1930s intellectual bohemian in Woody Allen's hilarious and underrated "Bullets over Broadway" (1994) was a delight. Proving that there was a place for the skills of a seasoned stage actress in popular Hollywood movies, Parker delivered a series of sad and delightful revelations in "Boys on the Side" (1995), her emotionally compelling turn as a young woman with AIDS, easily eclipsing that of co-stars Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Barrymore. Reuniting with writer Craig Lucas, Parker played a paraplegic deaf mute in a screen adaptation of his smart comedy "Reckless" (1995) before scoring on the small screen as 1950s pop singer Phyllis McGuire and mafia moll in HBO's biopic, "Sugartime" (1995).
At the peak of her film career in the mid- to early-1990s, Parker gave a series of powerhouse stage performances as well, beginning with her portrayal of aspiring and troubled saloon singer Cherie in a revival of "Bus Stop," starring opposite Billy Crudup, with whom she would begin a long-term relationship. The following year she picked up an OBIE for her captivating chronicle of a victim of child abuse in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning "How I Learned to Drive" (1997), and in 1998 won critical kudos in Alan Ayckbourn's razor-sharp comedy "Communicating Doors" as a Cockney dominatrix who overhears a dying man's confession and attempts to save his victims by traveling back in time. After Parker's awkward but attractive secretary romanced Don Johnson in Roland Jaffe's comic thriller "Goodbye Lover" (1998), she was in top form as a flaky, tragic divorcee in the stylish yet quirky TV film "Anne Tyler's 'Saint Maybe'" (CBS, 1998). Several more TV films helped finance Parker's passion for the less lucrative stage, including "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn" (CBS, 1999), in which she co-starred with no less than Sidney Poitier, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame production "Cupid & Cate" (CBS, 2000) with Peter Gallagher. Her big screen performance as the wonderfully high-strung cake maker with no sense of taste in the "The Five Senses" (2000) was sadly a limited release, though it was a critical pick at festivals internationally.
In 2001, Parker earned the biggest raves of her stage career for starring as an enigmatic, troubled young woman embroiled in a mathematical mystery in "Proof." The play ran for over a year and a half and earned the actress a Tony Award, as well as pretty much every other theater award in the Western world, including a Drama Desk, Obie, and Lucille Lortel Award. Parker's high-profile accolades led to an offer from the "The West Wing" for a recurring role as women's rights advocate Amy Gardner. Not surprisingly, she was again applauded by critics, earning an Emmy nomination in 2002 for her role on the popular political drama. Parker next filmed the "Silence of the Lambs" prequel "Red Dragon" (1991) with Anthony Hopkins and Ed Norton before Mike Nichols cast her in HBO's acclaimed adaptation of the Tony award-winning "Angels in America" (2003). It was a highlight of Parker's screen career, proving what the actress was capable of on film if given worthy material and a director who recognized her strengths.
On a personal note, her "Angels" efforts were honored with Emmy and Golden Globe Awards. At the Golden Globe ceremony, Parker, who had recently given birth, not only won a statue that night, but also America's sympathy. The press had recently jumped on the story that just as she was about to become a new mom, her seven-year relationship with the baby's father, actor Billy Crudup, had ended after he reportedly left his pregnant girlfriend to woo his much younger co-star, Claire Danes. To say Parker was a figure of admiration due to the class with which she conducted herself in light of a broken heart, was an understatement. Despite her new responsibilities as a single mother, Parker maintained a dizzying schedule, starting with a run of TV movies, including "The Best Thief in the World" (Showtime, 2004) and "Miracle Run" (Lifetime, 2004). In addition to her recurring role on "The West Wing," she appeared in a supporting role in the feature comedy, "Saved!" (2004), a timid Christian satire, and returned to Broadway in Craig Lucas' "Reckless," playing the role that had been Mia Farrow's in the 1995 screen adaptation.
But the best was yet to come as far as high profile exposure was concerned. After earning another lead actress Tony Award nomination for "Reckless," that fall, she was cast in her first lead television role on "Weeds" (Showtime, 2005- ), a dark comedy about a widowed suburban mom who maintains her lifestyle after her husband's death by supplying her idyllic community with high-grade pot. The quirky, stylized show was a hit for the network and Parker, its anchor, recognized with multiple SAG, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominations. She took home a Golden Globe in 2006 and was nominated the following year in addition to her nom for the television murder mystery "The Robber Bride" (Oxygen, 2007). In 2008, Parker was slated to appear off-Broadway at Playwright's Horizons in a new production entitled "Dead Man's Cell Phone," as well as continue her impressive work on the much beloved "Weeds," which earned her a fourth Golden Globe nomination and a third consecutive Emmy Award nomination, all in 2009.
|Adam Duritz. Lead singer of Counting Crows; dated briefly from 1995-1996|
|Billy Crudup. Met while appearing in a 1996 stage production of "Bus Stop"; rumored to have been briefly engaged; Crudup left Parker for actress Claire Danes in November 2003, while Parker was seven months pregnant with their child|
|Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Met on the set of "Weeds" (Showtime); briefly split in June 2007, but later reconciled; announced engagement in February 2008; broke off engagement in April 2008, which was blamed on their "differing lifestyles"; reportedly dating again as of April 2009|
|Pat Mannochia. Former professional hockey player; together c. 1992-95|
|Timothy Hutton. Co-starred together on Broadway in "Prelude to a Kiss" (1990) and later Off-Broadway in "Babylon Gardens"; no longer together|
|North Carolina School of the Arts, Winston-Salem , North Carolina|
|Appeared in regional theater productions of "The Night of the Iguana" and "The Little Foxes"|
|Grew up in Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Thailand, Germany and France where her father served in the US Army|
|Played a recurring role in the ABC daytime drama "Ryan's Hope"|
|Off-off-Broadway debut, "The Girl in Pink" at the Quaigh Theatre|
|TV-movie debut, "Too Young the Hero" (CBS)|
|Film debut, "Signs of Life"|
|Off-Broadway debut, "The Art of Success"|
|Broadway debut in Craig Lucas' "Prelude to a Kiss" (originated the role at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre); earned a Tony nomination as Actress in a Play|
|Played a neighbor helping her gay friend through the early years of the AIDS crisis in Norman Rene's "Longtime Companion"|
|First starring role in a feature, "Fried Green Tomatoes"|
|Portrayed Dee, a secretary and part-time lover of Kevin Kline, in Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon"|
|Acted Off-Broadway in John Patrick Shanley's Hollywood satire "Four Dogs and a Bone"|
|First appearance in a Hallmark Hall of Fame production, "A Place for Annie" (ABC) as a surly AIDS patient who tries to get back the baby she abandoned|
|Played John Cusack's girlfriend in Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway"|
|Delivered a poignant portrayal of a woman dying from AIDS in "Boys on the Side"|
|Portrayed a parapalegic deaf mute in the feature "Reckless"; film is based on the play by Craig Lucas|
|Starred opposite John Turturro as singer Phyllis McGuire in HBO's "Sugartime"|
|Acted the part of Henrietta Stackpole in Jane Campion's "The Portrait of a Lady"; based on the novel by Henry James|
|Earned critical acclaim for her performance of a young girl molested by a relative in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "How I Learned to Drive"; played character at various ages from teens to adulthood|
|Appeared in small but pivotal role as the free-spirited (and later suicidal) Lucy in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of "Anne Tyler's 'Saint Maybe'" (CBS)|
|Returned to the NYC stage in the Off-Broadway production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Communicating Doors"|
|Co-starred in the Slamdance-screened "Let the Devil Wear Black"; a modern interpretation of Shakespeare's Hamlet written and directed by Stacey Title|
|Portrayed a cake maker who problematically lacks a sense of taste in the Canadian-made "The Five Senses"|
|Garnered rave reviews for performance in the Off-Broadway play "Proof"; production moved to Broadway in the fall|
|Played an unhappy young woman who finds purpose in a new romance in the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation "Cupid & Cate" (CBS)|
|Had recurring role on the NBC series "The West Wing"; reprised her role as women's-rights advocate Amy Gardner for the shows final episodes in 2006; received an Emmy (2002) nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama and a SAG (2003) nomination for Best Ensemble|
|Portrayed Molly Graham in the thriller feature "Red Dragon" the prequel to "Silence of the Lambs"|
|Cast as Harper Pitt in the HBO adaptation of "Angels in America"; received a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie or Miniseries (2004)|
|Starred in the dark comedy "Saved!" with Jena Malone and Mandy Moore|
|Starred on Broadway in the revival of Craig Lucas's "Reckless"; received a Tony nomination for her role|
|Cast in John Turturro's big-screen musical "Romance and Cigarettes"; film released theatrically in 2007|
|Cast in the Showtime series "Weeds" as a suburban mom who beings dealing Marijuana, after her husband's unexpected death; earned SAG (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009), Golden Globe (2007, 2008, 2009) and Emmy (2007, 2008, 2009) nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy Series|
|Starred in Oxygen's "The Robber Bride" as Zenia, a glamorous femme fatale; earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie|
|Played Jesse's (Brad Pitt) wife, Zee James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"|
|Appeared in the off-Broadway play "Dead Man's Cell Phone" at Playwrights Horizons theater|
|Cast as the mother in the fantasy film "The Spiderwick Chronicles"|
|Nominated for the 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series|
|Starred in the Broadway revival of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler"|
|Played Sarah opposite Bruce Willis in "Red," an adaption of the comic book mini-series of the same name|