Holly Hunter

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Holly Hunter
Hunter at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1958-03-20) March 20, 1958 (age 66)
EducationCarnegie Mellon University (BFA)
Years active1981–present
(m. 1995; div. 2001)
PartnerGordon MacDonald (2001–present)
AwardsFull list

Holly Hunter (born March 20, 1958)[1] is an American actress. Hunter won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ada McGrath in the 1993 drama film The Piano. She earned three additional Academy Award nominations for Broadcast News (1987), The Firm (1993), and Thirteen (2003). She won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for the television films 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 (2007–2010).

Hunter's other film roles include Raising Arizona (1987), Always (1989), Miss Firecracker (1989), Home for the Holidays (1995), Crash (1996), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Incredibles (2004) and its sequel Incredibles 2 (2018), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and The Big Sick (2017), the latter of which earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.

Early life[edit]

Hunter was born in Conyers, Georgia, the daughter of Marguerite "Dee Dee" (née Catledge),[2] a homemaker, and Charles Edwin Hunter, a part-time sporting goods company representative and farmer with a 250-acre farm. She is the youngest of six children. Her parents encouraged her talent at an early age, and her first acting part was as Helen Keller in a fifth-grade play. She is unable to hear with her left ear due to a childhood case of the mumps. The condition sometimes leads to complications at work, and some movie scenes have to be altered from the script for her to use her right ear.[3] She is irreligious.[4][5] She began acting at Rockdale County High School in the early 1970s, performing in local productions of Oklahoma, Man of La Mancha, and Fiddler on the Roof.[6] Hunter earned a degree in drama from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and for a while performed in local theater, playing ingenue roles at City Theater, then named the City Players.[7]


Hunter at the 1989 Emmy Awards

Hunter moved to New York City and roomed with fellow actress Frances McDormand, living in the Bronx "at the end of the D [subway] train, just off 205th Street, on Bainbridge Avenue and Hull Avenue".[8] 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."[8]

Hunter made her film debut in the 1981 slasher movie The Burning.[9] 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 she earned a starring role in the Coens' Raising Arizona and was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Broadcast News, after which Hunter became a critically acclaimed star.

Hunter 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 Roe vs. Wade 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. Hunter appeared in David Cronenberg's Crash and as a sardonic angel in A Life Less Ordinary. The following year, Hunter 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 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.

Hunter at the 2010 Metropolitan Opera opening night of Das Rheingold

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 animated superhero film, The Incredibles. She reprised the role in the Disney Infinity video game series, and in the film's long-awaited sequel Incredibles 2 in 2018. She also voiced Chicken Little during the early production of the 2005 film Chicken Little until the character's gender was changed and was replaced by Zach Braff.

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.[10] In 2016, Hunter played Senator Finch in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[11][12] 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. In 2019, she took on a brief guest appearance in the HBO series Succession as CEO Rhea Jarrell, leader of a rival media conglomerate.[13] Hunter subsequently starred opposite Ted Danson in the 2021 NBC comedy Mr. Mayor.

in 2023, Hunter was cast in Hurricanna alongside Sylvia Hoeks. It is a dramatization of the final days of pop culture icon Anna Nicole Smith, Hunter plays Smith's therapist. Production took place in late 2023.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Hunter was married to Janusz Kamiński, cinematographer of Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan,[15] from 1995 until 2001. She 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. In January 2006, Hunter gave birth to the couple's twin sons,[16] Claude and Press.[17]

Hunter's maternal uncle “Butch” was Air Force Major General Richard C. Catledge. He formed and led the first U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds.



Year Title Role Notes
1981 The Burning Sophie
1984 Swing Shift Jeannie
Blood Simple Helene Trend Voice, uncredited
1987 Raising Arizona Edwina "Ed" McDunnough
End of the Line Charlotte Haney
Broadcast News Jane Craig
1989 Miss Firecracker Carnelle Scott
Animal Behavior Coral Grable
Always Dorinda Durston
1991 Once Around Renata Bella
1993 The Piano Ada McGrath
The Firm Tammy Hemphill
1995 Copycat M.J. Monahan
Home for the Holidays Claudia Larson
1996 Crash Helen Remington
1997 A Life Less Ordinary O'Reilly
1998 Living Out Loud Judith Moore
1999 Jesus' Son Mira
Woman Wanted Emma Riley
2000 Timecode Renee Fishbine
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Penny Wharvey McGill
2001 Festival in Cannes Herself
2002 Moonlight Mile Mona Camp
2003 Levity Adele Easley
Thirteen Melanie Freeland Also executive producer
2004 Little Black Book Barb Campbell-Dunn
The Incredibles Helen Parr / Elastigirl Voice role
2005 Nine Lives Sonia
The Big White Margaret Barnell
Chicken Little Chicken Little as a girl Deleted scenes
2011 Portraits in Dramatic Time Herself
2012 Won't Back Down Evelyn Riske
Jackie Jackie
2013 Paradise Mrs. Mannerhelm
2014 Manglehorn Dawn
2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Senator Finch
Strange Weather Darcy Baylor
2017 Breakable You Eleanor Weller
The Big Sick Beth Gardner
Song to Song Miranda
2018 Incredibles 2 Helen Parr / Elastigirl Voice role
TBA Hurricanna TBA Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Svengali Leslie Television film
An Uncommon Love Karen Television film
1984 With Intent to Kill Wynn Nolen Television film
1987 A Gathering of Old Men Candy Marshall Television film
1989 Roe vs. Wade Ellen Russell/Jane Doe Television film
The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Three Little Pigs Narrator (voice) Television short
1992 Crazy in Love Georgie Symonds Television film
1993 The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom Wanda Holloway Television film
2000 Harlan County War Ruby Kincaid Television film
Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her Rebecca Weyman Segment: "Fantasies About Rebecca"
2001 When Billie Beat Bobby Billie Jean King Television film; also executive producer
2007 Peep and the Big Wide World Robin (voice) Episode: "Big Bird/Chirp Flies the Coop"
2007–2010 Saving Grace Grace Hanadarko 46 episodes; also executive producer
2013 Top of the Lake GJ 6 episodes
Bonnie & Clyde Emma Parker 2 episodes
2018 Here and Now Audrey Bayer 10 episodes
2019 Succession Rhea Jarrell 6 episodes
2019–2020 Bless the Harts Marjune Gamble (voice) 3 episodes
2020 The Comey Rule Sally Yates 2 episodes
2021–2022 Mr. Mayor Arpi Meskimen Main role
2024 Star Trek: Starfleet Academy[18] Captain and chancellor

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Disney Infinity Helen Parr / Elastigirl
2014 Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0 [19]

Theme parks[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2018 Incredicoaster Helen Parr / Elastigirl Voice

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 1999, Hunter received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[20] In 2016, Hunter was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University.[21]


  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Saturday, March 20, 2021". United Press International. March 20, 2021. Archived from the original on March 20, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2022. actor Holly Hunter in 1958 (age 63)
  2. ^ Marguerite Catledge obituary Legacy.com 2011 accessed 2-22-22
  3. ^ Schlöndorff, Volker: "A Gathering of Old Men", Extras on German DVD by Arthaus
  4. ^ Mackenzie, Suzie (November 22, 2003). "What people don't know about Holly". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  5. ^ Wightman, Catriona (March 29, 2010). "Holly Hunter: 'I am not religious'". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  6. ^ "Conyers native Holly Hunter brings Southern charm, complexity to film, TV roles". ajc.com. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b "Fast Chat: Holly Hunter". Newsday. July 13, 2008. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  9. ^ EDT, David Sim On 3/20/19 at 2:00 AM (March 20, 2019). "To celebrate Holly Hunter's birthday, we rank her best 15 movies". Newsweek. Retrieved August 14, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Lucy Awards, past recipients Archived August 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine WIF web site
  11. ^ "Superman/Batman: Holly Hunter, Callan Mulvey, Tao Okamoto join cast". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ "Holly Hunter On HBO's 'Succession,' She Plays Rhea Jarrell". NPR. Retrieved March 14, 2024.
  14. ^ London, Rob (December 7, 2023). "Sylvia Hoeks Stuns as Anna Nicole Smith in First Image from Biopic 'Hurricanna'". Collider. Retrieved January 19, 2024.
  15. ^ "Holly Hunter has twins at 47". The Telegraph. January 19, 2006. Archived from the original on January 11, 2022. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  16. ^ "Holly Hunter gives birth at age 47". Accessed January 23, 2023.
  17. ^ "Holly Hunter and Gordon MacDonald take sons to the park – Moms & Babies – Celebrity Babies and Kids - Moms & Babies". PEOPLE.com. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  18. ^ Rehman, Sanya (May 22, 2024). "Holly Hunter Takes Command in Star Trek: Starfleet Academy". ScreenNearYou. Retrieved May 28, 2024.
  19. ^ Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of.
  20. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  21. ^ University, Carnegie Mellon (May 11, 2016). "Countdown To 119th Commencement - News - Carnegie Mellon University". Retrieved September 22, 2018.

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