Birth Date: August 2, 1964
Birth Place: Fort Jackson, South Carolina, USA
Height: 5' 8''
Quote: "I've never had much of a fascination for film. I respect it, but people in Hollywood can have cash registers where their hearts should be. Theater is ephemeral, and that, to me, is romantic--those moments between people that come and then disappear."
A versatile theater veteran with a distinctive voice and delicate features, Mary-Louise Parker was a well-traveled "army brat" who began her stage career in New York City during the mid-1980s. She earned a 1990 Tony nomination for her performance as a young bride who accidentally swaps souls with an old man in Craig Lucas' "Prelude to a Kiss" and later picked up an OBIE for her riveting portrayal of a victim of child abuse in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning "How I Learned to Drive" (1997). In between, she essayed roles as diverse as a woman driven to madness by the birth of a deformed child in "Babylon Gardens" (1991), a schemingly ambitious actress in the black comedy "Four Dogs and a Bone" (1993) and the vocally-challenged saloon singer Cherie in a 1996 revival of "Bus Stop", opposite Billy Crudup. In 1998, Parker won critical kudos as a Cockney dominatrix who overhears a dying man's confession and attempts to save his victims by travelling back in time in Alan Ayckbourn's razor-sharp comedy "Communicating Doors". The actress' next stage appearance saw her offer an acclaimed turn (which netted her a Tony Award) as a mathematician coping with the legacy of her father in the Pulitzer-winning "Proof".
Parker made her film debut as an abused girlfriend in "Signs of Life" (1989) and was the best friend of a gay man dealing with the AIDS crisis in "Longtime Companion" (1989), scripted by Lucas and directed by Norman Rene. She had a nice turn as a lonely secretary infatuated with her employer (Kevin Kline) in Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon", but it was her breakthrough part as an abused wife empowered by her friendship with a female cafe owner (Mary Stuart Masterson) in the sleeper "Fried Green Tomatoes" (both 1991) that really opened eyes to her facility for complex characterizations.
Parker continued to build her resume with starring roles in the coming-of-age flick "Naked in New York," (1994) and opposite Matt Dillon in the gritty romantic comedy "Mr. Wonderful" (1993). After portraying the struggling mother of the adolescent title character in the thriller "The Client" and appearing as John Cusack's girlfriend in Woody Allen's popular comedy "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994), Parker was a series of sad and delightful revelations in "Boys on the Side" (1995). Her emotionally compelling turn as a young woman with AIDS recalled her work in "Fried Green Tomatoes" and was easily the best thing about the movie which also starred Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Barrymore.
Reteaming with Norman Rene and Craig Lucas, Parker had a showy supporting part as Scott Glenn's paraplegic, deaf mute wife in their dark comedy "Reckless" (1995). She next appeared as Nicole Kidman's compatriot in Jane Campion's film version of the Henry James novel "The Portrait of a Lady" (1996). After Parker's awkward but attractive secretary romanced Don Johnson in Roland Jaffe's comic thriller "Goodbye Lover" (1998), she registered as the wonderfully high strung cake maker with no sense of taste in the 1999 Canadian-made "The Five Senses".
Besides an early stint on the ABC soap "Ryan's Hope", Parker had appeared in only one TV-movie, the WWII drama "Too Young the Hero" (1988), prior to her 1994 portrayal of a sullen, chain-smoking, AIDS-stricken mother who after a year's absence returns to legally reclaim her daughter from the pediatrics nurse-turned-foster parent played by Sissy Spacek in "A Place for Annie". Since then, she has turned up frequently on the small screen, beginning with a deft performance as singer Phyllis McGuire in the HBO biopic "Sugartime" (1995). She has seduction on her mind in TNT's "Legalese" (1998), but her very direct legal assistant developed emotionally as the relationship with a young lawyer in the firm became more than just sex. In top form as a flaky, tragic divorcee in the stylish, yet quirky "Anne Tyler's 'Saint Maybe'" (1998), she landed in another top-notch TV movie, "The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn" (1999), portraying a compassionate psychiatrist whose association with the charming, innocent Sidney Poitier makes her re-evaluate her own priorities. The following year she was an unhappy young woman who finds renewed purpose after falling in love with Peter Gallagher in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production "Cupid & Cate" (2000).
Also in 2000, Parker began acting in the award-winning play "Proof" starring as Catherine, the enigmatic troubled young woman embroiled in a mathmatical mystery. Her performance garnered her a Tony Award for Best Actress in 2001 and in 2002, the role was handed to Anne Heche.
Parker stayed busy working in television where her role on "The West Wing" as Amy Gardner has been applauded by critics and earned the actress an Emmy nomination in 2002. Also in 2002, Parker filmed the "Red Dragon" with Anthony Hopkins and Ed Norton in the prequel to "Silence of the Lambs" (1991). In 2003, Parker appeared in the TV mini-series, Angels in America with Meryl Streep and Al Pacino. Parker went on to play a religious mother of a pregnant teen in Saved! (2004). Next up, Parker will appear in Romance and Cigarettes, written and directed by John Turturro and set for release in 2005.
Mary-Louise Parker Filmography
Small Tragedy (2007)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) .... Zeralda James
... aka The Assassination of Jesse James (USA: short title)
"Weeds" .... Nancy Botwin
"The West Wing" .... Amy Gardner
Romance & Cigarettes (2005) .... Constance
Vinegar Hill (2005) (TV) .... Ellen Grier
Miracle Run (2004) (TV) .... Corrine Morgan-Thomas
Saved! (2004) .... Lillian
The Best Thief in the World (2004) .... Sue Zaidman
"Angels in America" (2003) (mini) TV Series .... Harper Pitt
Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story (2002) (TV) .... Bonnie Hanssen
Red Dragon (2002) .... Molly Graham
... aka Roter Drache (Germany)
The Quality of Mercy (2002) .... Sarah Richardson
Pipe Dream (2002) .... Toni Edelman
Cupid & Cate (2000) (TV) .... Cate DeAngelo
Let the Devil Wear Black (1999) .... Julia Hirsch
The Five Senses (1999) .... Rona
The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn (1999) (TV) .... Dr. Valerie Crane
Saint Maybe (1998) (TV) .... Lucy Ann Deen-Dulcimer-Bedloe
... aka Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe (USA: complete title)
Legalese (1998) (TV) .... Rica Martin
Goodbye Lover (1998) .... Peggy Blane
Murder in Mind (1997) (as Mary Louise Parker) .... Caroline Walker
The Maker (1997) .... Officer Emily Peck
The Portrait of a Lady (1996) .... Henrietta Stackpole
Sugartime (1995) (TV) .... Phyllis McGuire
Reckless (1995) .... Pooty
Boys on the Side (1995) .... Robin
... aka Avec ou sans hommes (France)
Bullets Over Broadway (1994) .... Ellen
The Client (1994) .... Dianne Sway
A Place for Annie (1994) (TV) .... Linda
Mr. Wonderful (1993) .... Rita
Naked in New York (1993) .... Joanne White
Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) .... Ruth Jamison
... aka Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (UK)
Grand Canyon (1991) .... Dee
Longtime Companion (1990) .... Lisa
Signs of Life (1989) (as Mary Louise Parker) .... Charlotte
... aka One for Sorrow, Two for Joy
Too Young the Hero (1988) (TV) .... Pearl Spencer
"Ryan's Hope" (1975) TV Series
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