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Actress, b. March 20, 1958 in Conyers, Georgia, USA.

Holly Hunter was born on a farm in Georgia as the youngest of seven children. Her rural upbringing would play a potent role in her development as an actress, becoming one of the few who could actually play the role of a Southern woman without having to fake an accent.

An opportunity to play Helen Keller in a fifth grade play would inspire Holly Hunter to pursue an acting career. She would attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for formal acting training and then move to New York City where her professional acting debut would begin off-Broadway in 1981. It was then that Holly would manage to get trapped on an elevator with playwright Beth Henley, an event that would help jump start her career and lead to Holly's Broadway 1982 debut in Crimes of the Heart.

Not limiting herself to the pursuit of a stage career, Holly had made her screen debut in an uninspiring horror movie called The Burning in 1981. Then, following her Broadway run with Crimes of the Heart in 1982 she moved out to Los Angeles full time. There she found herself cast in a string of made for television movies before picking up a supporting role in Swing Shift in 1984. At the same time she had her first encounter with the soon to be well known filmmaking Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel Coen, who cast her as a voice on an answering machine in their debut film, Blood Simple.

The next three years would be spent in relative obscurity, although Holly never went for lack of work, appearing in minor films and more made of television excitement. Then, in 1987, the Coen brothers would come calling again, this time casting Holly in Raising Arizona with Nicolas Cage and allowing her to actually grace the screen rather than hide on an answering machine. That same year she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Jane Craig in Broadcast News. This pair of films made 1987 the magical turning point in Holly Hunter's career, as her range and talent were prominently displayed (someone once insisted to me that the same person did not play Jane Craig in Broadcast News and Ed in Raising Arizona and it made me a hundred dollars richer, so who am I to argue with her range?).

Two years later, in 1989, Holly Hunter would again receive critical notice for her work in another range of widely different films. She starred in the film version of her old elevator pal Beth Henley's play Miss Firecracker, the much overlooked Steven Spielberg romance Always (I have a weakness for films where the lead actor is a dead guy) with Richard Dreyfuss and a made for television movie dramatizing Roe vs. Wade.

In 1993, Holly would receive her most distinguished critical praise when she was nominated for Academy Awards in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. A supporting role in The Firm would get her a nomination but not the award. They would save that for her lead role as a self-imposed mute in The Piano.

Fate would blow some whispers of doom at Holly over the next couple of years. As always, she continued to get work, but mostly in projects that either no one was interested in or that were just plain horrible. In 1996 she took a strange un-Holly-like turn in the infamous David Cronenberg film Crash in which, amongst other things, she got to make out with Rosanna Arquette. Following that was A Life Less Ordinary in which she plays an angel who is assigned to make Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor fall in love.

Her return to critical favor would come in 1998's Living Out Loud Her powerful portrayal of Judith Nelson, a woman who comes to terms with life after discovering her husband has been carrying on an affair with another woman. A film that more or less started the trend towards "slice of life" films that watch multiple story lines of myriad characters, this may very well be Holly at her best.

Since then she has appeared in a number of films, most noteworthy of the pack being O Brother, Where Art Thou. Her resume is packed with movies that dance their way to every corner of the dartboard, and it appears there is no role she is afraid to tackle.

But she still tells me she is too busy to come over for coffee.
I mean, come on, how busy can she really be?


Dates, film titles, and chronology researched at allmovie.com

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