Dianne Wiest

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Dianne Wiest
Wiest in 2009
Dianne Evelyn Wiest

(1948-03-28) March 28, 1948 (age 76)
Alma materUniversity of Maryland
Years active1970–present
AwardsFull list

Dianne Evelyn Wiest[1] (/wst/;[2] born March 28, 1948)[3][4][5][6] is an American actress. She has won two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for 1986’s Hannah and Her Sisters and 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway (both directed by Woody Allen), one Golden Globe Award for Bullets over Broadway, the 1997 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Road to Avonlea, and the 2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for In Treatment. In addition, she was nominated for an Academy Award for 1989’s Parenthood.

Other film appearances by Wiest include Footloose (1984); Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987), and September (1987); The Lost Boys (1987), Bright Lights, Big City (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Little Man Tate (1991), The Birdcage (1996), Practical Magic (1998), Dan in Real Life (2007), Synecdoche, New York (2008), Rabbit Hole (2010), The Mule (2018), Let Them All Talk (2020) and I Care a Lot (2020). She also appeared in the television series Law & Order (2000–02), and the CBS comedy Life in Pieces (2015–2019).

Early life[edit]

Wiest was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Her mother, Anne Stewart (née Keddie), was a nurse. Her father, Bernard John Wiest, was a college dean and former psychiatric social worker for the U.S. Army. Her parents met in Algiers.[7][8][9] Wiest has two brothers, Greg and Don. She attended high school at Nurnberg American High School in Germany. Her ambition was to be a ballet dancer, but she switched her goal to theater during her senior year.[10] Wiest graduated from the University of Maryland in 1969 with a degree in Arts and Sciences.[11]



Wiest at the 1990 Academy Awards

Wiest left her theater studies in Maryland after the third term in order to tour with a Shakespearean troupe. Later, she had a supporting role in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of Ashes.[12] She also acted at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, playing the title role in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. She was an understudy both off-Broadway and on Broadway, in Kurt Vonnegut's Happy Birthday, Wanda June in 1970.[13][14]

She made her Broadway debut in Robert Anderson's Solitaire/Double Solitaire, taking over in the role of the daughter in 1971.[15] She landed a four-year job as a member of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.,[16] in such roles as Emily in Our Town, Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and leading roles in S. Ansky's The Dybbuk, Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths and George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House. She toured the USSR with the Arena Stage.[17] In 1976, Wiest attended the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and starred in leading roles in Amlin Gray's Pirates and Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film. At Joe Papp's Public Theater she took over the lead in Ashes, and played Cassandra in Agamemnon, directed by Andrei Șerban. In 1979, she originated the role of Agnes in Agnes of God in its first production in Waterford, Connecticut.[18]

She appeared in two plays by Tina Howe: Museum and The Art of Dining. In the latter, Wiest's performance as the shy and awkward author Elizabeth Barrow Colt won three off-Broadway theater awards: an Obie Award (1980), a Theatre World Award (1979–1980), and the Clarence Derwent Award (1980), given yearly for the most promising performance in New York theatre.[19][20][21][22]

On Broadway she appeared in Frankenstein (1981), directed by Tom Moore, portrayed Desdemona in Othello (1982) opposite James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer and co-starred with John Lithgow in Christopher Durang's romantic screwball comedy Beyond Therapy (1982), directed by John Madden.[15] (She played opposite Lithgow again in the Herbert Ross film Footloose). During the 1980s, she also performed in Hedda Gabler, directed by Lloyd Richards at Yale Repertory Theatre,[23] and in Harold Pinter's A Kind of Alaska (1984, Manhattan Theatre Club),[24] Lanford Wilson's Serenading Louie (1984),[25] and Janusz Glowacki's Hunting Cockroaches (1987, Manhattan Theater Club).[26] As Wiest became established as a film actress through her work in Woody Allen's films, she was less frequently available for stage roles. However, she did appear onstage during the 1990s, in In the Summer House, Square One, Cynthia Ozick's The Shawl, and Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare. In 2003, she appeared with Al Pacino and Marisa Tomei in Oscar Wilde's Salome. In 2005, she starred in Kathleen Tolan's Memory House. She also starred in a production of Wendy Wasserstein's final play Third (directed by Daniel Sullivan) at Lincoln Center.[27]

Later New York theater roles include performances as Arkadina in an off-Broadway revival of The Seagull (opposite Alan Cumming's Trigorin) and as Kate Keller in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, opposite John Lithgow, Patrick Wilson, and Katie Holmes.[28] In 2009, Wiest appeared in the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in a dialogue with Katie Holmes celebrating the life of an American veteran seriously wounded in Iraq, José Pequeño.[29] Wiest spent September 2010 as a visiting teacher at Columbia University's Graduate Acting Program,[30] working with a group of 18 first-year MFA Acting students on selected plays by Anton Chekhov and Arthur Miller.

In 2016, Wiest took on the role of "Winnie" in The Yale Repertory Theatre's production of Samuel Beckett's, Happy Days.[31] She reprised the role for Theatre for a New Audience in downtown Brooklyn, New York, in the spring of 2017,[32] and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2019.[33]

Film and television[edit]

Her early screen roles include small roles in It's My Turn (credited onscreen as Diane Wiest) and I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, both starring Jill Clayburgh in the lead roles. In 1984, she starred in Footloose, as the reverend's wife and Ariel's mother. Under Woody Allen's direction, Wiest won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Hannah and Her Sisters in 1987 and Bullets over Broadway in 1995.[16][34] She also appeared in three other Woody Allen films: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987) and September (1987).[35]

Wiest (left) in 2011

She followed her first Oscar success with performances in The Lost Boys (1987) and Bright Lights, Big City (1988). She also starred with Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves and Martha Plimpton in Ron Howard's Parenthood, for which she received her second Oscar nomination. Other major film roles include Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990), Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate (1991) and The Birdcage (1996), Mike Nichols' remake of La Cage aux Folles.

On television, her performance on the series Road to Avonlea in 1997 brought her her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Dramatic Series. She received another nomination for her performance in the 1999 telefilm The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, co-starring Sidney Poitier. She starred in the television mini-series The 10th Kingdom in 2000. From 2000 to 2002, Wiest portrayed interim District Attorney Nora Lewin in the NBC crime drama Law & Order. She also played the character in two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the pilot episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Wiest starred alongside Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche in Dan in Real Life (2007) and had a key supporting role in Charlie Kaufman's 2008 film Synecdoche, New York. In 2008, she also appeared as Gabriel Byrne's therapist, Gina Toll, on the HBO television series In Treatment, for which she received her second Emmy Award, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She received another nomination (in the same category) for the second season, in 2009, but did not win.

She starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole (2010), which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. Wiest also co-starred in Lawrence Kasdan's 2012 comedy Darling Companion, alongside Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton. In 2020, Wiest starred in Steven Soderbergh's drama Let Them All Talk alongside Meryl Streep, and Candice Bergen. That same year she also starred opposite Rosamund Pike in the action thriller I Care a Lot.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Wiest was in a relationship with her talent agent Sam Cohn for three years in the mid-1980s.[37][38] She adopted two daughters: Emily and Lily.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 It's My Turn Gail as Diane Wiest
1982 I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can Julie Addison
1983 Face of Rage Rebecca Hammil
1983 Independence Day Nancy Morgan
1984 Falling in Love Isabelle
1984 Footloose Vi Moore
1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo Emma
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters Holly
1987 Radio Days Bea
1987 September Stephanie
1987 The Lost Boys Lucy Emerson
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Mrs. Conway
1989 Parenthood Helen Buckman
1989 Cookie Lenore Voltecki
1990 Edward Scissorhands Peg Boggs
1991 Little Man Tate Jane Grierson
1994 Bullets Over Broadway Helen Sinclair
1994 Cops & Robbersons Helen Robberson
1994 The Scout Doctor H. Aaron
1995 Drunks Rachel
1996 The Associate Sally Dugan
1996 The Birdcage Louise Keeley
1998 Practical Magic Aunt Bridget 'Jet' Owens
1998 The Horse Whisperer Diane Booker
2001 I Am Sam Annie Cassell
2002 Merci Docteur Rey Elisabeth Beaumont
2005 Robots Lydia Copperbottom (Paramount Pictures) Voice
2006 A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Flori Montiel
2007 Dedication Carol
2007 Dan in Real Life Nana Burns
2008 Passengers Toni
2008 Synecdoche, New York Ellen Bascomb/Millicent Weems
2009 Rage Miss Roth
2010 Rabbit Hole Nat
2011 The Big Year Brenda Harris
2012 Darling Companion Penny Alexander
2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green Ms. Crudstaff
2014 The Humbling Carol Stapleford
2015 Five Nights in Maine Lucinda
2015 Sisters Deana Ellis
2018 The Mule Mary Stone
2020 I Care a Lot Jennifer Peterson
2020 Let Them All Talk Susan
2022 My Father's Dragon Iris the Rhinoceros Voice
2024 Apartment 7A TBA


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Zalmen: or, The Madness of God Nina Television film
1978 Great Performances: Out of Our Father's House Elizabeth Gertrude Stern Television film
1997 Road to Avonlea Lillian Hepworth 1 episode
1999 The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn Sarah McClellan Television film
2000 The 10th Kingdom The Evil Queen/Christine White Miniseries, 5 episodes
2000–02 Law & Order D.A. Nora Lewin Lead role, 46 episodes
2001 Law & Order: Criminal Intent D.A. Nora Lewin 1 episode
2001–02 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit D.A. Nora Lewin 2 episodes
2004 The Blackwater Lightship Lily Devereux Breen Television film
2004 Category 6: Day of Destruction Secretary of Energy Shirley Abbott 2 episodes
2008–09 In Treatment Dr. Gina Toll Main role, 17 episodes
2008 The Return of Jezebel James Talia Tompkins 2 episodes
2011 Woody Allen: A Documentary Herself 2 episodes
2014 The Blacklist Ruth Kipling 1 episode
2015–19 Life in Pieces Joan Short Main role, 79 episodes
2021–present Mayor of Kingstown Miriam McClusky Main role, ongoing series
Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Venue
1970 Happy Birthday, Wanda June Understudy: Penelope Ryan, Mildred[39] Edison Theatre
1971 Solitaire / Double Solitaire Daughter[40] John Golden Theatre
1977 Agamemnon Cassandra Delacorte Theatre
1979 The Art of Dining Elizabeth Barrow Colt Joseph Papp Public Theatre
1981 Frankenstein Elizabeth Lavenza Palace Theatre
Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler Yale Repertory Theatre
1982 Othello Desdemona Winter Garden Theatre
Beyond Therapy Prudence Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Three Sisters Masha Manhattan Theatre Club
1983 Ivanov Anna Petrovna[41] Williamstown Theatre Festival
1984 Serenading Louie Gaby[42] Second Stage
After the Fall Maggie Playhouse 91
A Kind of Alaska Deborah Manhattan Theatre Club
1987 Hunting Cockroaches Anka[43] Manhattan Theatre Club
1988 Les Liaisons Dangereuses La Marquise de Merteuil[44] Williamstown Theatre Festival
1993 In the Summer House Gertrude Eastman Cuevas[45] Vivian Beaumont Theater
1997 One Flea Spare Mrs. Darcy Snelgrave The Public Theater
2003 Salome Herodias Ethel Barrymore Theatre
2005 Memory House Maggie[46] Playwrights Horizons
Third Laurie Jameson Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre
2008-2009 All My Sons Kate Keller Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
2008 The Seagull Arkadina CSC Theatre
2010 The Forest Raisa Pavlovna Gurmyzhskaya[47]
2011 The Cherry Orchard Madame Ranevskaya
2015 Rasheeda Speaking Ileen[48] The New Group
2016-2019 Happy Days Winnie Yale Repertory Theatre
Theatre for a New Audience
Mark Taper Forum
2023 Scene Partners Meryl Kowalski Vineyard Theatre

Awards and honors[edit]

Wiest has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress receiving two wins for her performances in the Woody Allen films Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Bullets over Broadway (1994). She has received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her work on television, winning two awards for Road to Avonlea (1996) and In Treatment (2008). She has also received two Golden Globe Award nominations and two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.


  1. ^ "Deaths: Wiest, Dr. Bernard". The Advocate (Louisiana). NewsBank. May 3, 1986. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  2. ^ Dianne Wiest winning Best Supporting Actress for "Hannah and Her Sisters" on YouTube, presenters' announcing her win at the 1987 awards confirm pronunciation, accessed August 20, 2014
  3. ^ "DIANNE WIEST TRYING TO AVOID YET ANOTHER ROLE TRAP". Chicago Tribune. December 28, 1990. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  4. ^ "Oscar Winner Dianne Wiest: I'm Struggling to Pay My Rent". The Hollywood Reporter. January 25, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
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  9. ^ "NewsLibrary Search Results". nl.newsbank.com.
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  11. ^ The Women of Maryland: Alumni Who Have Made A Difference Archived 2013-01-19 at the Wayback Machine. University of Maryland Women Alumni.
  12. ^ Dianne Wiest Profile Archived 2007-10-27 at the Wayback Machine. E!Online.
  13. ^ Happy Birthday, Wanda June listing at the Internet Broadway Database. Internet Broadway Database, accessed October 30, 2010
  14. ^ Happy Birthday, Wanda June listing, Internet Off-Broadway Database listing Archived 2011-11-15 at the Wayback Machine. Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed October 30, 2010
  15. ^ a b Dianne Wiest at the Internet Broadway Database
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  17. ^ a b Biography. tcm.com, accessed October 30, 2010
  18. ^ Agnes of God A Drama accessed 11/23/2106
  19. ^ The Art of Dining listing, Internet Off-Broadway Database Archived 2011-11-15 at the Wayback Machine. Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed October 30, 2010
  20. ^ Wiest Obie Awards Archived 2013-05-30 at the Wayback Machine. villagevoice.com, accessed October 30, 2010
  21. ^ Theatre World Awards History. theatreworldawards.org, accessed October 30, 2010
  22. ^ Derwent Awards Archived October 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. actorsequity.org, accessed October 30, 2010
  23. ^ Gussow, Mel.Review: 'HEDDA GABLER' BY YALE REP". New York Times, March 11, 1981
  24. ^ New York Magazine listing. New York Magazine, April 30, 1984
  25. ^ Rich, Frank."Review:'Serenading Louie'. The New York Times, February 3, 1984
  26. ^ Rich, Frank.Review, 'Hunting Cockroaches'. New York Times, March 4, 1987
  27. ^ Bacalzo, Dan. "Review: 'Third.
  28. ^ The New York Times, "Two Fathers Are Learning Lessons of 'All My Sons'." Cohen, Patricia. November 12, 2008
  29. ^ "The Concert 2009 Features Families of Disabled Vets" PBS.org
  30. ^ Faculty Archived 2010-12-06 at the Wayback Machine. columbia.edu, accessed October 30, 2010
  31. ^ Isherwood, Charles (May 9, 2016). "Review: 'Happy Days,' an Unsettling Glimpse Into the Existential Abyss". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "Overview". November 10, 2010.
  33. ^ "Happy Days". Center Theatre Group. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  34. ^ Wiest Academy Award wins and nominations[permanent dead link]. awardsdatabase.oscars.org, accessed October 31, 2010
  35. ^ Bauer, Patricia. "Dianne Wiest Biography". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  36. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (February 18, 2021). "'I Care a Lot' Review: The Art of the Steal". The New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  37. ^ Weber, Bruce (May 6, 2009). "Sam Cohn, Powerful Talent Broker, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
  38. ^ "Dianne Wiest -- Hannah's Fragile Sister". Orlando Sentinel. April 6, 1987.
  39. ^ "Happy Birthday, Wanda June – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  40. ^ "Solitaire / Double Solitaire – Broadway Play – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  41. ^ "Ivanov". Williamstown Theatre Festival. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  42. ^ Rich, Frank (February 3, 1984). "STAGE: 'SERENADING,' BY LANFORD WILSON". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  43. ^ "'Hunting Cockroaches' Starring Ron Silver and Dianne Wiest Opens Off-Broadway". AP NEWS. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  44. ^ "Les Liaisons Dangereuses". Williamstown Theatre Festival. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  45. ^ "In the Summer House – Broadway Play – 1993 Revival | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  46. ^ "Memory House". Playwrights Horizons. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  47. ^ BWW News Desk. "Classic Stage Company Presents Dianne Wiest in THE FOREST". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved April 4, 2021.
  48. ^ Isherwood, Charles (February 12, 2015). "Review: 'Rasheeda Speaking' Finds a Chilling Place to Work". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 4, 2021.

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