Mary-Louise Parker (born August 2, 1964) is an
American Tony-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress. Some of her
better known works include Fried Green Tomatoes, Boys on the Side,
Proof, The West Wing, Angels in America, and her current role on
Showtime's television series Weeds portraying Nancy Botwin.
Early life and 1980s
Parker was born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Her mother
was Swedish and her father was a judge and served in the U.S. Army.
Parker majored in drama at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
She then got her start in a bit part on the soap opera Ryan's Hope.
In the late 1980s, Parker moved to New York, where she got a job
measuring feet at ECCO. After a few minor roles, she made her
Broadway debut in a 1990 production of Craig Lucas' Prelude to a
Kiss, playing the lead role of Rita. She won the Clarence Derwent
Award for her performance and was nominated for a Tony Award. Parker
also briefly dated her co-star Timothy Hutton during this time.
That same year, Parker was noticed by critics when she appeared in
the movie adaptation of another Lucas play, Longtime Companion, one
of the first movies to confront AIDS in the public arena. This role
was followed by her appearance in 1991's Grand Canyon, which also
starred Mary McDonnell, Alfre Woodard and Kevin Kline. Parker's next
film was Fried Green Tomatoes, alongside Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart
Masterson, Kathy Bates and Cicely Tyson.
Parker maintained a strong theater presence in the early 1990s, but
also built her reputation on the big screen, starring with Susan
Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in The Client (1994); with John Cusack
in Bullets Over Broadway (1994); and with Drew Barrymore and Whoopi
Goldberg in Boys on the Side (1995), as a woman with AIDS. Her next
role was in a movie adaptation of yet another Craig Lucas play,
Reckless (1995), alongside Mia Farrow, followed by Jane Campion's
The Portrait of a Lady (1996), which also starred Nicole Kidman,
Viggo Mortensen, Christian Bale, John Malkovich and Barbara Hershey.
In addition, she appeared alongside Matthew Modine in Tim Hunter's
The Maker (1997).
Parker's theater career continued when she appeared in Paula Vogel's
1997 critical smash How I Learned To Drive, with David Morse. After
several independent film releases, she appeared in Let The Devil
Wear Black and then a much-lauded role in The Five
2001 – 2003
In 2001, Parker appeared alongside Larry Bryggman in David
Auburn's Proof on Broadway, for which she won a Tony Award. However,
Parker again lost out when the play was made into a film and the
role was given to Gwyneth Paltrow. During this period, she left the
theater for three years to look for other roles: among them, Red
Dragon and Pipe Dream (2002).
Next was a guest role on the NBC drama, The West Wing, as women's
rights activist Amelia "Amy" Gardner, which soon became a recurring
role as a love interest for Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman and
later becoming Chief of Staff to the First Lady. For this role,
Parker was nominated for both an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors
Guild Award. During the fifth season, however, Parker became
pregnant and her character was written out of the series after
appearing in four episodes.
On December 7, 2003, HBO aired an epic six-and-a-half hour
adaptation of Tony Kushner's acclaimed Broadway play Angels in
America, directed by Mike Nichols. The miniseries — about a group of
lost souls in New York during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s — was
hailed with international critical acclaim. Parker played Harper
Pitt, the Mormon Valium-addicted wife of a closeted lawyer. For her
performance, Parker received Golden Globe and Emmy awards for Best
Supporting Actress in a Miniseries.
2004 – 2006
In 2004, Parker appeared in the comedy Saved!, and a TV movie called
Miracle Run, based on the true story of a mother of two sons with
autism, as well as appearing in Craig Lucas' Reckless on Broadway.
Parker took the lead role that had been Mia Farrow's on screen. The
production, directed by Mark Brokaw, earned Parker another
nomination for a Tony Award for Best Actress in 2005.
Parker returned to The West Wing in several guest appearances in
2005 and 2006, the show's final season, portraying the Director of
Legislative Affairs under the President-elect Matt Santos.
In 2005, Parker took on the lead role in the television series
Weeds, a Showtime comedy-drama. Parker's character, Nancy Botwin, is
a suburban mother who, following the death of her husband, decides
to sell marijuana to make money, while also attempting to maintain
her community reputation. She stars alongside Kevin Nealon,
Elizabeth Perkins, her Saved! co-star Martin Donovan, and her Angels
in America co-star Justin Kirk. The show is currently in its fourth
season, with two more confirmed by Showtime, to air in 2009 and 2010
In November 2005, Parker was honored with an exhibition of her
career at Boston University, where memorabilia from her career were
donated to the University's library. Parker received the 2006 Golden
Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television
Series - Musical or Comedy, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press
Association, for her lead role in Weeds. In that category, she
defeated the four leads of Desperate Housewives. She dedicated the
award to the late John Spencer, best known for his work as Leo
McGarry on The West Wing. After receiving the award, Parker stated:
"I'm really in favor of legalizing marijuana. I don't think it's
007 – 2008
In March 2007, Parker played the lead role in the TV film The Robber
Bride. Her next role, Zerelda Mimms, in the Andrew Dominik film The
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, opened in
cinemas in September 2007. Parker appeared alongside Brad Pitt,
Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell and Garret Dillahunt. In August 2007,
Parker continued her role in the third season of Weeds. In July
2007, Parker was nominated for two Emmy Awards, one for Lead Actress
In A Miniseries Or A Movie for playing Zenia Arden in The Robber
Bride and the other for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Weeds.
In August 2007, she posed nude for an ad for the third season of
Weeds. In the ad, she appears as Eve in the Garden of Eden, with a
snake draped around her body and a cannabis leaf behind her ear. In
2008, she was naked on screen several times during the show's fourth
On November 9, 2007, Parker was honored as the Entertainer of the
Year by Out Magazine at the Out 100 Awards, which were celebrated in
New York City.
Parker appeared in 2008's The Spiderwick Chronicles and in
off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in the New York premiere of Dead
Man's Cell Phone, a new play by Sarah Ruhl, alongside Drama Desk
Award Winner Kathleen Chalfant.
She is currently filming the Donna Vermeer film Les Passages
alongside Julie Delpy. Following this, she will return to work on
the fifth season of Weeds. In the winter of 2008, Parker will take
the lead role in the upcoming revival of the play Hedda Gabler.
On January 7, 2004, Parker gave birth to her first child, William
Atticus Parker. The boy's father is actor Billy Crudup, whom Parker
met when they co-starred in a 1996 revival of the William Inge play
Bus Stop. After nearly eight years together, the couple split when
the actress was seven months pregnant. There was a negative response
to this because shortly after, Crudup openly admitted that he was
dating actress Claire Danes, whom he met on the set of Stage Beauty.
Crudup denies the rumor that the breakup was caused by Danes.
Parker has also dated Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows and Timothy
In December 2006, Parker began dating actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan,
whom she met on the set of Weeds. In March 2007, Parker stated
that the relationship was "going great." The two briefly split in
June 2007, but later reconciled. On February 12, 2008, Parker and
Morgan announced their engagement only to break up again in April
In September 2007, Parker adopted a baby girl, Caroline "Ash"
Aberash Parker, from Ethiopia.
Awards and nominations
2004 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
(Angels in America)
2001 - Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Proof)
2004 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a
Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Angels in
2006 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series -
Musical or Comedy (Weeds)
2005 - Outstanding Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical (Weeds)
Philadelphia Film Festival
2004 - Artistic Achievement Award
Out Magazine's Out 100 Awards
2007 - Entertainer of the Year
High Times Stony Awards
2007 - Best Actress
2007 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series -
Musical or Comedy (Weeds)
Screen Actors Guild Awards
2003 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (The
2004 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television
Movie or Miniseries (Angels in America)
2006 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
2007 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
2007 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
2004 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a
Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television (Angels in
2002 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (The West
2007 - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Weeds)
2007 - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (The Robber
2008 - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (Weeds)
2000 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (The Five
1990 - Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Prelude to a
2005 - Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Reckless)