Frances McDormand

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Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand, cropped.jpg
McDormand on the set of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in 2007
Born (1957-06-23) June 23, 1957 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s) Joel Coen (m. 1984)
Children 1

Frances Louise McDormand[1] (born June 23, 1957) is an American actress. She has won an Academy Award and a Tony Award. She married director and writer Joel Coen in 1984 and has starred in several of the Coen brothers' films, including Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996) which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Burn After Reading (2008).

McDormand is also a three-time nominee of the Academy Award For Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Mississippi Burning (1988), Almost Famous (2000) and North Country (2005). Her other films include Short Cuts (1993), Primal Fear (1996), Wonder Boys (2000) and Something's Gotta Give (2003). She has also been nominated for four Golden Globes, three BAFTA Awards,[2] and an Emmy Award.

She made her Broadway debut in 1984 in the play Awake and Sing. In 1988, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. She returned to Broadway for the first time in twenty years in 2008 to star in the revival of The Country Girl and received a Drama Desk nomination. In 2011, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Margi Walsh in Good People.

Early life[edit]

McDormand was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was adopted by a Canadian-born couple – Noreen E. (Nickleson), a registered nurse and receptionist, and Vernon W. McDormand, a Disciples of Christ pastor.[3] She has said that her biological mother may have been one of the parishioners at Vernon's church.[4] She has a sister, Dorothy A. McDormand, who is an ordained Disciples of Christ minister and chaplain,[5] as well as another sibling, both of whom were adopted by the McDormands, who had no biological children.

As her father specialized in restoring congregations,[4] he frequently moved their family, and they lived in several small towns in Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee,[6] before settling in Monessen, Pennsylvania, where she graduated from Monessen High School in 1975. McDormand attended Bethany College in West Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in theater in 1979. In 1982, she earned an Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. She was a roommate of Holly Hunter at the time.


Her first professional acting job was in Trinidad and Tobago, performing in a play written by Derek Walcott and funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

McDormand's film debut was in the 1984 Coen brothers first film, Blood Simple. In 1985, they, Holly Hunter, and director Sam Raimi shared a house in The Bronx.[citation needed] In 1987, she appeared as the wacky friend Dot in the hit film Raising Arizona, starring Holly Hunter and Nicolas Cage. In addition to her early film roles, McDormand played Connie Chapman in the fifth season of the television police drama Hill Street Blues. In 1988, she played Stella Kowalski in a stage production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. McDormand is an associate member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group.

McDormand appeared in several theatrical and television roles during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. She has gained renown and critical acclaim for her dramatic work,[7] and is a respected actress, having been nominated for Academy Awards four times. In 1988, she was nominated for a Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Mississippi Burning; in 1996, she won the Academy award for Best Actress for her performance as police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo; in 2000, she earned her third nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of an overbearing mother in Almost Famous. Also for Almost Famous, she won the Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, San Diego Film Critics Society, Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the Florida Film Critics Circle. For her role in Wonder Boys (2000), she won Best Supporting Actress from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

In 2006, McDormand received her fourth nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 2005's North Country, although she lost to Rachel Weisz. She also had a role in the film Friends with Money, a dark comedy co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, and Joan Cusack, and directed by Nicole Holofcener. She received an Independent Spirit Award for her role in Friends with Money. She also voiced the role of the lady principal Melanie Upfoot in the Simpsons episode "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", which aired on April 30, 2006. McDormand has recently starred in the films Burn After Reading and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

McDormand starred in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the sequel after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. She played the US government's National Intelligence Director, alongside Burn After Reading co-star John Malkovich. She returned to the stage in the David Lindsay-Abaire play Good People, in a limited engagement on Broadway from February 8, 2011 to May 29, 2011.[8][9] Her performance earned her a Tony Award win for Best Leading Actress in a Play.[10]

In the animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, she voiced Capitain Chantal Dubois and also sang a version of the French song "Non, je ne regrette rien". She also starred in Promised Land with Matt Damon, filmed in April 2012 and released on December 28, 2012.[11]

In November, 2014, HBO telecast a four-part mini-series based upon the series of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, "Olive Kitteridge," co-produced and starring McDormand.[12]

Personal life[edit]

McDormand has been married to director Joel Coen since 1984, and the two adopted a son from Paraguay, Pedro McDormand Coen, in 1994. They live in New York City.



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Blood Simple Abby
1985 Crimewave Nun
1985 Scandal Sheet Television film
1986 Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo Brigette Television film
1987 Raising Arizona Dot
1988 Mississippi Burning Mrs. Pell
1989 Chattahoochee Mae Foley
1990 Miller's Crossing Mayor's Secretary Uncredited
1990 Darkman Julie Hastings
1990 Hidden Agenda Ingrid Jessner
1991 Butcher's Wife, TheThe Butcher's Wife Grace
1991 Barton Fink Stage Actress Voice
1992 Passed Away Nora Scanlan
1992 Sôsei kishi Gaiâsu Pool Girl Voice
English version
1992 Crazy in Love Clare Television film
1993 Short Cuts Betty Weathers
1994 Bleeding Hearts Woman on Television
1995 Palookaville June
1995 The Good Old Boys Eve Calloway Television film
1995 Beyond Rangoon Andy Bowma
1996 Primal Fear Dr. Molly Arrington
1996 Plain Pleasures Short film
1996 Fargo Marge Gunderson
1996 Lone Star Bunny Lone Star Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996 Hidden in America Gus Television film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1997 Paradise Road Dr. Verstak
1998 Madeline Miss Clavel
1998 Talk of Angels Conlon
1998 Johnny Skidmarks Alice
2000 Wonder Boys Dean Sara Gaskell
2000 Almost Famous Elaine Miller
2001 Man Who Wasn't There, TheThe Man Who Wasn't There Doris Crane Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2001 Upheaval Anne Short film
2002 City by the Sea Michelle
2002 Laurel Canyon Jane
2003 Something's Gotta Give Zoe Barry
2004 Last Night Marit Such Short film
2005 AEon FluxÆon Flux The Handler
2005 Precinct Hollywood Narrator
2005 North Country Glory Dodge
2006 Friends with Money Jane Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
2008 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Guinevere Pettigrew
2008 Burn After Reading Linda Litzke
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Charlotte Mearing
2011 This Must Be the Place Jane
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Mrs. Bishop
2012 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Captain Chantal Dubois Voice
2012 Promised Land Sue Thomason
2014 Every Secret Thing Producer
2015 The Good Dinosaur Momma Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Hill Street Blues Connie Chapman 6 episodes
1985 Hunter Nina Sloan Episode: "The Garbage Man"
1986 Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight Zone Amanda Strickland Segment: "Need to Know"
1986 Spenser: For Hire Mary Episode: "A Day's Wages"
1987 Leg Work Willie Pipal 7 episodes
2001 State of Grace Narrator / Adult Hannah Unknown episodes
2006 Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Melanie Upfoot Voice
Episode: "Girls Just Want to Have Sums"
2014 Olive Kitteridge Olive Kitteridge TV Miniseries
Pending—Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film
Pending—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Pending—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film


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