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Holly Hunter


Birth name:

Holly Hunter




Conyers, Georgia, USA



Race or Ethnicity:


Sexual orientation:





United States

Executive summary:

The Piano


5' 2" (1.57 m)


Holly Hunter - Pictures

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Holly Hunter - Biography


Holly P. Hunter (born March 20, 1958) is an American actress. Her films include Raising Arizona, Broadcast News, Always, and The Piano for which she won several acting awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actress. She stars in the cable television series Saving Grace.

Holly 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. Hunter earned a degree in drama from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, after which she 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". 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".
When she moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1982, Hunter shared a house with a group of people that included McDormand and director Sam Raimi, as well as future collaborators Joel and Ethan Coen.

Hunter made her screen debut in the 1981 horror movie The Burning. After moving to Los Angeles, California 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 appreciation for her work in three 1993 films, two of which resulted 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 appear in films such as the comedy-drama Home for the Holidays and the thriller Copycat. Her work in David Cronenberg's Crash 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. 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 won positive reviews for her performance. 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 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 drawing favorable reviews for her role in the otherwise critically maligned redemption drama Levity. Also in 2003, Hunter had a supporting role in the acclaimed film Thirteen for which she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
In 2004, Hunter starred alongside Brittany Murphy in the romantic satire Little Black Book, and the same year lent her voice to the animated film The Incredibles as the voice of Helen Parr, a.k.a. the superheroine Elastigirl. 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 nomination, and an Emmy Award nomination. On May 30, 2008 Hunter received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

For many years, Hunter was in a relationship with actor Arliss Howard. She was married to Polish cinematographer Janusz Kamiński from May 20, 1995 until their divorce on 21 December 2001. Since 2001, she has been in a relationship with American actor Gordon MacDonald, with whom she co-starred in Marina Carr's By the Bog of Cats in a 2001 run at the San Jose Repertory Theater, and later in a 2004 West End production of the same play. In January 2006, Hunter's publicist announced that Hunter had given birth to the couple's twins at the age of 47; Entertainment Weekly later reported that the twins were boys. In a 2009 interview, Hunter stated to TV Guide that she does not discuss the children with media.
Hunter's cousin is Tim Salmon, former right fielder and designated hitter of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim major league baseball team.


Holly Hunter - Personal Quotes


Acting, for me, is the last vestige of doing something that I would like to feel really naive about. - Interview, November 1995.

[on the importance of rehearsal for Thirteen (2003)] : I mean, some movies I walk in, "Hi, nice to meet you", we get in bed and we do a love scene. And that does happen. That happened with me with Billy Crudup on Jesus' Son (1999). Actors talk about that a lot, but it's not uncommon. And we could not have done Thirteen (2003) that way. It would not have worked.

I always feel that I am the advocate for my character. More than anyone else on the set, including the director. I'm there to protect my character, in a way.

I often get asked to direct and I've never taken anyone up on it. It would be very interesting and I would learn so much. But it's a very confrontational job - I mean, directors are forced to confront themselves, and I don't think there's really a way to prepare for the pressure of directing. And I have seen quite a few good people crash and burn at the job. Nervous breakdowns, crying, screaming fits - people buckle, so it's always scared me. But it's intriguing.

It just seems that abortion rights never ceases to be a hot topic. It's a shame. It feels to me an anachronism. I mean, why are we still talking about this? Why is this not just a woman's right, period? I find it boring and very frustrating that it remains such a high profile subject.

Actors do movies because you want to make a connection, you want an audience to recognise themselves in what it is that you're depicting. The portrait, you want it to be a reflection of some aspect of humanity that people understand, that they see in their own lives. And so, when a movie makes a connection like that, there's simply nothing better. And in some ways, an Academy Award does validate that actual hook-up.

I was trying to get as much experience as I could. But very early on, I was always extremely particular. From the beginning, I was never desperate. I did other things for money; you know, the normal, boring stuff - I temped, I did waitressing. But I actually quit a play early on in my career - it was one of the first things that I ever got cast in, but I quit because there was something about it that I didn't like. I didn't think the director was the right guy to be directing it. So I've never felt that every situation was great for me and therefore I would have to stay. To me, being creative is a very fragile thing, the environment in which one can create is a very particular one, and somehow I've always felt the need to be very protective of that.

[on how her career as an actress began] : ....Joel and Ethan (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen) had just finished the script of Raising Arizona (1987), and they asked me to read it and said that they'd written this part for me and would I be interested in doing it? So that was the beginning of my feature film career.

I'm just always looking for the best stuff. And also, there are things I want to do that I can't get - they want someone else. Often, in the movie business, they need somebody who will garner box office because they need to pay for the movie. So the people who are in movies that make a lot of money are the people who most often get cast in studio pictures. In my career, I've never been a box office name. Granted, a couple of my movies have made a lot of money but I'd do other movies which make very little money or they're not seen that much.

Actors are beggars and gypsies, that's just the way it is. And in many ways, I take what I can get. But I do search high and low for stuff that interests me.

Well, I think that an Academy Award has a certain kind of business shelf life. People have different speculations but definitely for a couple of years, your price is raised and there are more plentiful offers. Which only makes sense - it is a business. And the Academy Awards is a business, it enhances everything when you win one. But I think the most significant thing for me was, one, it was presented to me by Al Pacino, which I just loved. And two, that it was given to me for a role and an experience that I felt was a profound influence in my life. I know this because I was nominated for The Firm (1993) that same year and I don't feel the same way about The Firm (1993) that I do about The Piano (1993). So if I'd won for The Firm (1993) it would have been a whole different deal for me. I never actually saw The Firm (1993), so for me it would have been like... [grimaces]


Holly Hunter - Filmography


"Saving Grace" .... Grace Hanadarko / ... (37 episodes, 2007-2009)
- Do You Love Him? (2009) TV episode .... Det. Grace Hanadarko
- Am I Gonna Die Today? (2009) TV episode .... Grace Hanadarko
- Looks Like a Lesbian Attack to Me (2009) TV episode .... Grace Hanadarko
- Popcorn (2009) TV episode .... Det. Grace Hanadarko
- That Was No First Kiss (2009) TV episode .... Grace Hanadarko
(32 more)
The Big White (2005) .... Margaret Barnell
... aka Auch Morden will gelernt sein (Germany: TV title)
... aka Auch morden will gelernt sein (Germany: TV title)
... aka Le grand blanc (Canada: French title)
... aka The big White - Immer Ärger mit Raymond (Germany)
Nine Lives (2005) .... Sonia
The Incredibles (2004) (voice) .... Helen Parr/Elastigirl
Little Black Book (2004) .... Barb
Thirteen (2003) .... Melanie 'Mel' Freeland
Levity (2003) .... Adele Easley
Moonlight Mile (2002) .... Mona Camp
Eco Challenge New Zealand (2002) (TV) .... Narrator
When Billie Beat Bobby (2001) (TV) .... Billie Jean King
... aka Billie contre Bobby: La bataille des sexes (Canada: French title)
Harlan County War (2000) (TV) .... Ruby Kincaid
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) .... Penny
... aka O' Brother (France)
Timecode (2000) .... Renee Fishbine, Executive
Woman Wanted (2000) .... Emma Riley
Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000) .... Rebecca Waynon (segment "Fantasies About Rebecca")
Jesus' Son (1999) .... Mira
Living Out Loud (1998) .... Judith Moore
A Life Less Ordinary (1997) .... O'Reilly
Crash (1996/I) .... Helen Remington
Home for the Holidays (1995) .... Claudia Larson
Copycat (1995) .... M.J. Monahan
The Firm (1993) .... Tammy Hemphill
The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993) (TV) .... Wanda Holloway
The Piano (1993) .... Ada McGrath
... aka Leçon de piano, La (France)
Crazy in Love (1992) (TV) .... Georgie Symonds
Once Around (1991) .... Renata Bella
Always (1989) .... Dorinda Durston
Animal Behavior (1989) .... Coral Grable
Roe vs. Wade (1989) (TV) .... Ellen Russell/Jane Doe
Miss Firecracker (1989) .... Carnelle Scott
Broadcast News (1987) .... Jane Craig
End of the Line (1987) .... Charlotte
A Gathering of Old Men (1987) (TV) .... Candy Marshall
... aka Aufstand alter Männer, Ein (West Germany)
... aka Murder on the Bayou
Raising Arizona (1987) .... Edwina 'Ed' McDunnough
Blood Simple. (1984) (voice) (uncredited) .... Helene Trend
Swing Shift (1984) .... Jeannie
With Intent to Kill (1984) (TV) .... Wynn Nolen
... aka Urge to Kill
An Uncommon Love (1983) (TV) .... Karen
Svengali (1983) (TV) .... Leslie
The Burning (1981) .... Sophie


Holly Hunter  - Related Links

Wikipedia: Holly Hunter
YouTube: Holly Hunter

Holly Hunter





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