Helen Hunt

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Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt 2011.jpg
Hunt in 2011
Born Helen Elizabeth Hunt
(1963-06-15) June 15, 1963 (age 50)
Culver City, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, director, screenwriter
Years active 1973–present
Spouse(s) Hank Azaria (1999–2000)
Partner(s) Matthew Carnahan (2001–present)
Children 1

Helen Elizabeth Hunt (born June 15, 1963) is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom Mad About You for seven years before being cast in the 1997 romantic comedy film, As Good as It Gets for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Some of her other notable films include Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want, Pay It Forward, Soul Surfer and The Sessions. She made her directorial debut in 2007 with Then She Found Me. In addition to her Oscar, Hunt has won four Emmy awards, four Golden Globe awards, and two Screen Actors Guild awards.

Early life[edit]

Hunt was born in Culver City, California. Her mother, Jane Elizabeth (née Novis), worked as a photographer, and her father, Gordon E. Hunt, is a film director and acting coach.[1] Her uncle, Peter H. Hunt, is also a director. Her Iowa-born maternal grandmother, Dorothy (Anderson) Fries, was a voice coach.[2] Hunt's paternal grandmother was from a German Jewish family, while Hunt's other grandparents were of English descent (her maternal grandfather was born in England).[3][4][5] When she was three, Hunt's family moved to New York City, where her father directed theatre (Hunt attended plays as a child several times a week).[6] Hunt studied ballet, and briefly attended UCLA.[6][7][8]


Hunt began working as a child actress in the 1970s.[6] Her early roles included an appearance as Murray Slaughter's daughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, alongside Lindsay Wagner in an episode of The Bionic Woman, an appearance in an episode of Ark II called Omega, and a regular role in the television series The Swiss Family Robinson.[6] She appeared as a marijuana-smoking classmate on an episode of The Facts of Life. Hunt also played a young woman who, while on PCP, jumps out of a second-story window, in a 1982 TV movie called Desperate Lives (a scene which she mocked during a Saturday Night Live monologue in 1994).[9] That same year, Hunt was cast on the ABC sitcom It Takes Two, which lasted a single season. In the mid-1980s, she had a recurring role on St. Elsewhere as Clancy Williams, the girlfriend of Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison. She played Jennie in the television movie Bill: On His Own, co-starring Mickey Rooney. She also starred in the 1985 film Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Shannen Doherty.

Hunt at the 70th Academy Awards, March 23, 1998

In the 1990s, after playing the lead female role in the short-lived My Life and Times, Hunt starred in the series Mad About You, winning Emmy Awards for her performances in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.[6] Hunt directed several episodes of Mad About You, including the series finale. Her big-screen directorial debut came with the film Then She Found Me, in which she also starred, with Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick.[1] In 1998, Hunt won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Carol Connelly in the movie As Good as It Gets; the character is a waitress and single mother who finds herself falling in love with Melvin Udall, an obsessive-compulsive romance novelist played by Jack Nicholson.[6] After winning the Academy Award, she took time off from movie work to play Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, at Lincoln Center in New York.[10] In 2000, Hunt starred in four films: Dr. T & the Women, with Richard Gere; Pay It Forward, with Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment; What Women Want, with Mel Gibson; and Cast Away, with Tom Hanks.[6] In 2003, she returned to Broadway in Yasmina Reza's Life x 3.[10] In 2006, Hunt appeared in the ensemble cast film Bobby alongside Demi Moore, Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone and William H. Macy. In 2012, she starred alongside John Hawkes and William H. Macy in The Sessions as sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene. The movie and her performance were very well reviewed and earned her several award nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

She owns a production company with Connie Tavel, Hunt/Tavel Productions under Sony Pictures Entertainment.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Hunt started dating actor Hank Azaria in 1994 and they married in 1999, only to get divorced 17 months later (July 17, 1999 – December 18, 2000).[1] She has been in a relationship with producer/writer/director Matthew Carnahan since 2001. They have a daughter, Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan, born on May 13, 2004.[1][11]


Hunt has been recognized extensively in her career. In 1998 she won a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award and an Emmy Award in the same year. Hunt was nominated for an Emmy Award for lead actress in a comedy seven years in a row, from 1993 through 1999, winning in the last four years.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1973 Pioneer Woman Sarah Sargeant Movie
1974 Amy Prentiss Jill Prentiss Series; supporting role
1975 Death Scream Teila Rodriguez Movie
1975 Swiss Family Robinson, TheThe Swiss Family Robinson Helga Series; main role
1975 All Together Now Susan Lindsay Movie
1976 Ark II Diana Episode: "Omega"
1976 Having Babies Sharon McNamara Movie
1977 The Spell Kristina Matchett Movie
1977 Fitzpatricks, TheThe Fitzpatricks Kerry Gerardi 9 episodes
1978 Bionic Woman, TheThe Bionic Woman Princess Aura Episode: "Sanctuary Earth"
1979 Transplant Janice Hurley Movie
Knots Landing Betsy
"Hitchhike" (Part 2)
"Step One"
1981 CBS Afternoon Playhouse Phoebe "I Think I'm Having a Baby"
1981 Child Bride of Short Creek Naomi Movie
1981 Best Little Girl in the World, TheThe Best Little Girl in the World Movie
1981 Darkroom Nancy Lawrence Episode: "The Bogeyman Will Get You"
1981 Angel Dusted Lizzie Eaton Movie
1981 Miracle of Kathy Miller, TheThe Miracle of Kathy Miller Kathy Miller Movie
1982 Desperate Lives Sandy Cameron Movie
1982–83 It Takes Two Lisa Quinn Main role
1983 Bill: On His Own Jenny Wells Movie
1983 Quarterback Princess Tami Maida Movie
1983 Choices of the Heart Cathy Movie
1984 Sweet Revenge Debbie Markham Movie
1985 Highway To Heaven Lizzy MacGill Episode: "Thoroughbreds" (Parts 1 & 2)
1984–86 St. Elsewhere Clancy Williams 8 episodes
1988 Shooter Tracey Movie
1989 Incident at Dark River Jesse McCandless Movie
1991 My Life and Times Rebecca Miller 6 episodes
1991 Murder in New Hampshire:
The Pamela Wojas Smart Story
Pamela Smart Movie
1991 Into the Badlands Blossom Movie
1992–99 Mad About You Jamie Stemple Buchman
1993 In the Company of Darkness Gina Pulasky Movie
1995 Friends Jamie Buchman Season one, episode: "The One with Two Parts" (Part 1); Mad About You crossover appearance
1998 The Simpsons Renee Episode: "Dumbbell Indemnity"
1998 Twelfth Night Viola Movie
2005 Empire Falls Janine Roby Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Special
2012 Californication Director – season five episode: "At the Movies"
2013 Revenge Director – season two episode: "Retribution"


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Rollercoaster Tracy Calder
1985 Trancers Leena
1985 Waiting to Act Tracy
1985 Girls Just Want to Have Fun Lynne Stone
1986 Nativity, TheThe Nativity Mary Voice
1986 Peggy Sue Got Married Beth Bodell
1987 Project X Teri
1988 Miles from Home Jennifer
1988 Stealing Home Hope Wyatt (adult and pregnant)
1988 Frog Prince, TheThe Frog Prince Princess Henrietta
1989 Next of Kin Jessie Gates
1991 Trancers II Lena Deth
1992 Waterdance, TheThe Waterdance Anna
1992 Only You Clare Enfield
1992 Mr. Saturday Night Annie Wells
1992 Bob Roberts Rose Pondell
1992 Trancers III Lena
1993 Sexual Healing Rene
1995 Kiss of Death Bev Kilmartin
1996 Twister Dr. Jo Harding (Adult)
1997 As Good as It Gets Carol Connelly
2000 Dr. T & the Women Bree Davis
2000 What Women Want Darcy McGuire Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Comedy/Romance
2000 Pay It Forward Arlene McKinney Nominated – Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Drama/Romance
2000 Cast Away Kelly Frears
2001 One Night at McCool's Truck driver scenes deleted
2001 Curse of the Jade Scorpion, TheThe Curse of the Jade Scorpion Betty Ann Fitzgerald
2004 Good Woman, AA Good Woman Mrs. Erlynne
2006 Bobby Samantha Stevens
2007 Then She Found Me April Epner
2011 Every Day Jeannie
2011 Soul Surfer Cheri Hamilton
2011 Jock of the Bushveld Jess voice
2012 The Sessions Cheryl Cohen-Greene Won – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Depiction Of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Nevada Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Sundance Film Festival - U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Female Icon
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2013 Decoding Annie Parker Dr. Mary-Claire King
2014 Ride In post-production; also director, producer, and writer


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