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Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Born (1958-03-20) March 20, 1958 (age 60)
ResidenceNew York City, New York, U.S.
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1981–present
Janusz Kamiński
(m. 1995; div. 2001)

Holly Hunter (born March 20, 1958) is an American actress and producer. For her performance as Ada McGrath in the 1993 drama film The Piano, she won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress. She was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Broadcast News (1987), and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Firm (1993) and Thirteen (2003).

A seven-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee, Hunter won for Roe vs. Wade (1989), and The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993). She also starred in the TNT drama series Saving Grace (2007–10). Her other film roles include Raising Arizona (1987), Always (1989), Home for the Holidays (1995), Crash (1996), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Incredibles (2004), its sequel Incredibles 2 (2018), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and The Big Sick (2017), which earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.

Early life and career

Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, the daughter of Opal Marguerite (née Catledge), a housewife, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a farmer and sporting-goods manufacturer's representative.[1] Hunter earned a degree in drama from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and for a while performed in the theatre scene there, playing ingenue roles at City Theatre, then named the City Players.[2]

She eventually moved to New York City and roomed with fellow actress Frances McDormand. Hunter, in 2008, described living in The Bronx "at the end of the D [subway] train, just off 205th Street, on Bainbridge Avenue and Hull Avenue. It was very Irish, and then you could go just a few blocks away and hit major Italian."[3] A chance encounter with playwright Beth Henley, when the two were trapped alone in an elevator, led to Hunter's being cast in Henley's plays Crimes of the Heart (succeeding Mary Beth Hurt on Broadway), and Off-Broadway's The Miss Firecracker Contest. "It was like the beginning of 1982. It was on 49th Street between Broadway and Eighth [Avenue] ... on the south side of the street," Hunter recalled in an interview. "[We were trapped] 10 minutes; not long. We actually had a nice conversation. It was just the two of us."[3]

Stage and film

Hunter at the 2010 Metropolitan Opera opening night of Das Rheingold
Hunter at the 2010 Metropolitan Opera opening night of Das Rheingold

Hunter made her film debut in the 1981 horror movie The Burning. After moving to Los Angeles in 1982, Hunter appeared in TV movies before being cast in a supporting role in 1984's Swing Shift. That year, she had her first collaboration with the writing-directing-producing team of brothers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, in Blood Simple, making an uncredited appearance as a voice on an answering-machine recording. More film and television work followed until 1987, when thanks to a starring role in the Coens' Raising Arizona and her Academy Award-nominated turn in Broadcast News, Hunter became a critically acclaimed star. She went on to the screen adaptation of Henley's Miss Firecracker; Steven Spielberg's Always, a romantic drama with Richard Dreyfuss; and the made-for-TV 1989 docudrama about the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.

Following her second collaboration with Dreyfuss, in Once Around, Hunter garnered critical attention for her work in two 1993 films, resulting in her being nominated for two Academy Awards the same year: Hunter's performance in The Firm won her a nomination as Best Supporting Actress, while her portrayal of a mute Scottish woman entangled in an adulterous affair with Harvey Keitel in Jane Campion's The Piano won her the Best Actress award.

Hunter went on to star in the comedy-drama Home for the Holidays and the thriller Copycat, both in 1995. She also appeared in David Cronenberg's Crash and as a sardonic angel in A Life Less Ordinary. The following year, she played a recently divorced New Yorker in Richard LaGravenese's Living Out Loud; starring alongside Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, and Martin Donovan. Hunter rounded out the 1990s with a minor role in the independent drama Jesus' Son and as a housekeeper torn between a grieving widower and his son in Kiefer Sutherland's drama Woman Wanted.

Following a supporting role in the Coens' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Hunter took top billing in the same year's television movie Harlan County War, an account of labor struggles among Kentucky coal-mine workers. Hunter would continue her small screen streak with a role in When Billie Beat Bobby, playing tennis pro Billie Jean King in the fact-based story of King's famed exhibition match with Bobby Riggs; and as narrator of Eco Challenge New Zealand before returning to film work with a minor role in the 2002 drama Moonlight Mile.

The following year found Hunter in the redemption drama Levity. Also in 2003, Hunter had the role of a mother named Melanie Freeland, whose daughter is troubled and going through the perils of being a teenager in the film Thirteen. The film was critically acclaimed along with Hunter and her co-stars and earned her nominations for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2004, Hunter starred alongside Brittany Murphy in the romantic satire Little Black Book, and provided the voice for Helen Parr (also known as Elastigirl) in the acclaimed computer-animated superhero film, The Incredibles. Hunter has also voiced Elastigirl in the Disney Infinity video game series, and reprised the role for the film's sequel, Incredibles 2 in 2018. In 2005, Hunter starred alongside Robin Williams in the black comedy-drama The Big White.

Hunter became an executive producer, and helped develop a starring vehicle for herself with the TNT cable-network drama Saving Grace, which premiered in July 2007. For her acting, she received a Golden Globe Award nomination, two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, and an Emmy Award nomination. On May 30, 2008, Hunter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2009, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award.[4] In 2016, Hunter played Senator Finch in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[5][6] Hunter's likeness was used to portray Senator Finch in the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice tie-in prequel comics, released by Dr. Pepper on February 3, 2016.

Personal life

Hunter is unable to hear with her left ear due to a childhood case of the mumps. The condition sometimes leads to complications at work. Some scenes have to be altered from the script for her to use her right ear.[7]

Hunter was married to Janusz Kamiński, cinematographer of Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan[8] from 1995 until 2001.

Hunter has been in a relationship with British actor Gordon MacDonald since 2001. The couple met in San Jose Repertory Theatre's production of playwright Marina Carr's By the Bog of Cats, in which she played a woman abandoned by her lover of 14 years, played by MacDonald.[9] In January 2006, Hunter's publicist announced that Hunter had given birth to the couple's twin boys[9] Claude and Press.[10]

Hunter identifies as an agnostic atheist.[11]



Year Title Role Director Notes
1981 The Burning Sophie Tony Maylam
1984 Swing Shift Jeannie Jonathan Demme
1984 Blood Simple Helene Trend Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
Voice / Uncredited
1987 Raising Arizona Edwina "Ed" McDunnough Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
1987 End of the Line Charlotte Haney Jay Russell
1987 Broadcast News Jane Craig James L. Brooks
1989 Miss Firecracker Carnelle Scott Thomas Schlamme
1989 Animal Behavior Coral Grable Jenny Bowen & Kjehl Rasmussen
1989 Always Dorinda Durston Steven Spielberg
1991 Once Around Renata Bella Lasse Hallström
1993 The Piano Ada McGrath Jane Campion Academy Award for Best Actress
1993 The Firm Tammy Hemphill Sydney Pollack
1995 Copycat M.J. Monahan Jon Amiel
1995 Home for the Holidays Claudia Larson Jodie Foster
1996 Crash Helen Remington David Cronenberg
1997 A Life Less Ordinary O'Reilly Danny Boyle
1998 Living Out Loud Judith Moore Richard LaGravenese
1999 Jesus' Son Mira Alison Maclean
1999 Woman Wanted Emma Riley Kiefer Sutherland
2000 Timecode Renee Fishbine Mike Figgis
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? Penny Wharvey McGill Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
2001 Festival in Cannes Herself Henry Jaglom
2002 Moonlight Mile Mona Camp Brad Silberling
2003 Levity Adele Easley Ed Solomon
2003 Thirteen Melanie Freeland Catherine Hardwicke Also executive producer
2004 Little Black Book Barb Campbell-Dunn Nick Hurran
2004 The Incredibles Helen Parr / Elastigirl Brad Bird Voice
2005 Nine Lives Sonia Rodrigo García
2005 The Big White Margaret Barnell Mark Mylod
2011 Portraits in Dramatic Time Herself David Michalek & Paul Warner
2012 Won't Back Down Evelyn Riske Daniel Barnz
2012 Jackie Jackie Antoinette Beumer
2013 Paradise Mrs. Mannerhelm Diablo Cody
2014 Manglehorn Dawn David Gordon Green
2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Senator Finch Zack Snyder
2016 Strange Weather Darcy Baylor Katherine Dieckmann
2017 Breakable You Eleanor Weller Andrew Wagner
2017 The Big Sick Beth Gardner Michael Showalter
2017 Song to Song Miranda Terrence Malick
2018 Incredibles 2 Helen Parr / Elastigirl Brad Bird Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Svengali Leslie TV movie
An Uncommon Love Karen TV movie
1984 With Intent to Kill Wynn Nolen TV movie
1987 A Gathering of Old Men Candy Marshall TV movie
1989 Roe vs. Wade Ellen Russell/Jane Doe TV movie
1992 Crazy in Love Georgie Symonds TV movie
1993 The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom Wanda Holloway TV movie
2000 Harlan County War Ruby Kincaid TV movie
Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Rebecca Weyman Segment: "Fantasies About Rebecca"
2001 When Billie Beat Bobby Billie Jean King TV movie; also executive producer
2007–2010 Saving Grace Grace Hanadarko 46 episodes; also executive producer
2013 Top of the Lake GJ Miniseries; 6 episodes
2013 Bonnie & Clyde Emma Parker Miniseries; 2 episodes
2018 Here and Now Audrey Bayer Series lead

Video games

Year Title Role
2004 The Incredibles Helen Parr / Elastigirl (archive footage)
2013 Disney Infinity Helen Parr / Elastigirl
2014 Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0[12]

Awards and nominations

In 2016, Hunter was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University.[13]

For film

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1987 Boston Society of Film Critics Award Best Actress
Broadcast News
National Board of Review Awards Best Actress Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Won
Silver Bear Award Best Actress Won
Academy Award Best Actress Nominated
American Comedy Award Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Award Best Actress Nominated
1993 Academy Award Best Actress
The Piano
Australian Film Institute Award Best Actress in a Leading Role Won
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Leading Role Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Award Best Actress Won
Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Won
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Won
Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Won
London Film Critics Circle Award Actress of the Year Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Won
National Board of Review Awards Best Actress Won
National Society of Film Critics Award Best Actress Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award Best Actress Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Won
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Actress Nominated
Academy Award Best Supporting Actress
The Firm
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
1998 American Comedy Award Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture
Living Out Loud
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Actress Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Nominated
2000 Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2003 Academy Award Best Supporting Actress
BAFTA Award Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Bronze Leopard Award Best Actress Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
International Cinephile Society Award Best Supporting Actress Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Won
London Film Critics Circle Award Actress of the Year Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Prism Award Best Performance in a Theatrical Feature Film Nominated
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2005 MTV Movie Award Best On-Screen Team
The Incredibles
Bronze Leopard Award Best Actress
Nine Lives
Gotham Awards Best Cast Nominated
2017 Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress
The Big Sick
Critics' Choice Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Hollywood Film Award Hollywood Comedy Ensemble Award Won
Houston Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Female Nominated
International Online Cinema Award Best Supporting Actress Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated

For television

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1989 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Roe vs. Wade
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Won
1993 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom
CableACE Award Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Won
2000 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Harlan County War
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her
2001 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
When Billie Beat Bobby
2007 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Saving Grace
Gracie Allen Award Outstanding Actress — Drama Series Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2008 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Saturn Award Best Actress on Television Nominated
Prism Award Best Performance in a Drama Series Episode Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
2009 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
People's Choice Award Favorite TV Drama Diva Nominated
2013 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Top of the Lake
Equity Award Most Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Television Movie or Miniseries Won


  1. ^ "Holly Hunter Biography (1958-)". Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  2. ^ Conner, Lynne (2007). Pittsburgh In Stages: Two Hundred Years of Theater. University of Pittsburgh Press. pg. 247. ISBN 978-0-8229-4330-3. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Fast Chat: Holly Hunter". Newsday. July 13, 2008. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  4. ^ Lucy Awards, past recipients Archived August 20, 2011, at WebCite WIF web site
  5. ^ "Superman/Batman: Holly Hunter, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto join cast". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  6. ^ Begley, Chris (June 17, 2014). "Exclusive: Lex Luthor's hairstyle in 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' revealed". Batman on Film. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  7. ^ Schlöndorff, Volker: "A Gathering of Old Men", Extras on German DVD by Arthaus
  8. ^ "Holly Hunter has twins at 47". The Telegraph. January 19, 2006. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Twins for Oscar Winner Holly Hunter" January 18, 2006, People
  10. ^ "Holly Hunter and Gordon MacDonald take sons to the park – Moms & Babies – Celebrity Babies and Kids - Moms & Babies -". Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  11. ^ Mackenzie, Suzie. "What people don't know about Holly". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  12. ^ Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of.
  13. ^ University, Carnegie Mellon (May 11, 2016). "Countdown To 119th Commencement - News - Carnegie Mellon University". Retrieved September 22, 2018.

External links

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