Date of Birth: March 20, 1958
Born in Conyers, Georgia, Holly Hunter was raised on a farm and attended Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University for theatrical training. Moving to New York to pursue her acting career, the fledgling actress enjoyed a serendipitous twist of fate in the form of being stuck in a stalled elevator with playwright Beth Henley.
The chance meeting led to a collaboration between the two women, first with the stage production of The Miss Firecracker Contest and then with Hunter's 1982 Broadway debut, Crimes of the Heart. Meanwhile, Hunter had made her onscreen debut in the 1981 horror flick The Burning, a film remarkable both for its high schlock quotient and its casting of a similarly obscure young actor named Jason Alexander.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1982, Hunter appeared in some made-for-TV movies before being cast in a supporting role in 1984's Swing Shift. The same year, she had her first collaboration with Ethan and Joel Coen in Blood Simple as a voice on an answering machine recording. More obscure 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 finally got her share of the limelight.
The praise she received led to more work: in 1989, the actress won raves for her parts in three different films: the screen adaptation of Henley's Miss Firecracker; Steven Spielberg's Always, a romantic drama with Richard Dreyfuss; and the made-for-TV docudrama Roe vs. Wade. Following her second collaboration with Dreyfuss in Once Around (1991), Hunter once again garnered a wealth of critical appreciation for her work in three 1993 films, two of which resulted in her being nominated for Academy Awards as both Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress in that same year. Hunter's performance in The Firm won her a nomination for the former; her portrayal of a mute Scottish woman in Jane Campion's The Piano won her the latter.
Over the next couple of years, Hunter starred in projects that ranged from underrated to dreadful, with Jodie Foster's Home for Holidays (1995) at one end of the spectrum and the thriller Copycat (also 1995) at the other. Her work in David Cronenberg's controversial Crash (1996) did win her strong notices, but it was swallowed by the controversies surrounding the film, and her appearance as a sardonic angel in A Life Less Ordinary suffered a similar fate.
However, the actress rebounded the following year with her portrayal of a recently divorced New Yorker in Richard LaGravenese's Living Out Loud (1998). Starring alongside Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, and Martin Donovan, Hunter won overwhelmingly positive reviews for her performance, convincing critics and audiences alike that she was back in the saddle again. In 2004, she received both a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nomination for her role as a single mother who struggles to raise her teenage daughter in Thirteen (2003).
In 2007, Hunter made the switch to television with the lead role in the series Saving Grace where she once again played an angel, this time helping a jaded police detective to redeem her life. She held the role for all three of the show's seasons. Hunter then returned to the big screen in 2012 with the real-life drama Won't Back Down alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.
* 1993 Winner of the Best Actress Academy Award for The Piano.
Won't Back Down(2012)
My Boy (2005)
Downloading Nancy (2005)
The Big White(2005)
Little Black Book(2004)
O Brother, Where Art Thou?(2000)
Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her(2000)
Living Out Loud(1998)
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Home for the Holidays (1995)
The Firm (1993)
The Piano (1993)
Once Around (1991)
Animal Behavior (1989)
Miss Firecracker (1989)
Broadcast News (1987)
End of the Line (1987)
Swing Shift (1984)
Blood Simple (1984) (voice)
The Burning (1981)