Melissa Leo

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Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Leo at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
Born Melissa Chessington Leo
(1960-09-14) September 14, 1960 (age 53)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1984–present
Children 2
Website
www.melissaleo.com

Melissa Chessington Leo (born September 14, 1960) is an American actress. After appearing on several television shows and films in the 1980s, her breakthrough role came in 1993 as Det. Sgt. Kay Howard on the television series Homicide: Life on the Street for the show's first five seasons from 1993 to 1997. She was also previously been a regular on the television shows All My Children and The Young Riders. Her breakthrough film role was in the 2003 film, 21 Grams as Marianne Jordan. She was also in the 2013 film Oblivion, starring as NASA Ground Control correspondent Sally.

Following several films, Leo received critical acclaim and national attention for her performance as Ray Eddy in the 2008 film Frozen River, earning several nominations and awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Leo earned several awards for her role as Alice Ward in the 2010 film, The Fighter, including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Leo currently stars on the main cast of the HBO television series Treme in the role of Antoinette "Toni" Bernette.

Personal life[edit]

Leo was born in Manhattan, New York City.[1] She is the daughter of Peggy (née Chessington), a California-born teacher, and Arnold Leo III, an editor at Grove Press, fisherman, and spokesman for the East Hampton Baymen's Association.[2][3][4][5] Leo was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and spent summers at her father's house in Springs, a section of East Hampton, N.Y.[1] She is a former resident of Putney, Vermont[6] and now lives in Stone Ridge, New York.[7] She has a son with actor and former boyfriend John Heard named John "Jack" Matthew Heard (born 1987) and years later adopted Adam (born 1984).

Career[edit]

Leo's acting debut came in 1984, for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy at the Daytime Emmy Awards/12th Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Ingenue/Woman in a Drama Series for All My Children. Following this, Leo appeared in several films, including the lead role as a strait-laced girl named Cookie who succumbed to prostitition in "Streetwalkin," A Time of Destiny, Last Summer in the Hamptons, and Venice/Venice. She also had several appearances on television, most notably her role as Det. Sgt. Kay Howard on Homicide: Life on the Street until 1997. Three years later she reprised her role in the television movie, Homicide: The Movie. After a brief hiatus from acting, Leo's breakthrough came three years later in the Alejandro González Iñárritu film, 21 Grams released to critical acclaim. Leo appeared in a supporting role alongside Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro and Clea DuVall. Leo shared a "Best Ensemble Acting" award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society in 2003 and the runner-up for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actress.

Leo in January 2006

Leo appeared in supporting roles throughout the 2000s including the film Hide and Seek, the independent film American Gun, both in 2005, and a minor role in the comedy Mr. Woodcock. In 2006, she won the Bronze Wrangler at the Western Heritage Awards for Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada shared with Tommy Lee Jones who also produced the film. In 2008, she won the Maverick Actor Award and also the Best Actress award at the Method Fest for Lullaby (2008).

That same year Leo earned critical praise for her performance in the film Frozen River, winning several including the Best Actress award from the Independent Spirit Awards, the Spotlight award from the National Board of Review and Best Actress nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Academy Awards. Critic Roger Ebert backed her for a win, stating, "Best Actress: Melissa Leo. What a complete performance, evoking a woman's life in a time of economic hardship. The most timely of films, but that isn't reason enough. I was struck by how intensely determined she was to make the payments, support her two children, carry on after her abandonment by a gambling husband, and still maintain rules and goals around the house. This was a heroic woman."[8]

Following Frozen River, Leo continued to appear in several independent films and had a minor role in the 2008 film Righteous Kill with Al Pacino and her Hide and Seek co-star, Robert De Niro. Leo appeared in a series of films throughout 2009, including According to Greta, the title character in Stephanie's Image, True Adolescents and Veronika Decides to Die.

In 2010, Leo received fame for her role in David O. Russell's The Fighter. Rick Bentley of The Charlotte Observer said "Both actors (Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale) are very good, but they get blown off the screen by Melissa Leo, who plays their mother, Alice Ward. Leo's Oscar-worthy portrayal of Alice as a master manipulator goes beyond acting to a total transformation."[9] Roger Ebert referred to it as a "teeth-gratingly brilliant performance." Leo and several of the film's actors including her co-star Amy Adams and Bale were nominated. For her performance Leo received several awards, including the Golden Globe, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, Screen Actors Guild and culminating in her winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. While accepting her Oscar, Leo said "When I watched Kate [Winslet] two years ago, it looked so fucking easy!" She apologized afterwards for using profanity, admitting that it was "a very inappropriate place to use that particular word...those words, I apologize to anyone that they offend."[10][11]

Prior to her win Leo had created some controversy by attempting to self promote her Oscar campaign rather than rely on the marketing department of the studio. Leo personally bought ad space in Hollywood trade publications which was initially thought might backfire in a similar manner to previous Oscar contenders Chill Wills and Margaret Avery.[12]

Following her Oscar win, Leo appeared in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce alongside Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood and Guy Pearce. Her performance garnered an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Her next projects include the satirical horror film Red State, the independent comedy Predisposed with Jesse Eisenberg currently in pre-production[13] and the crime thriller The Dead Circus based on the novel by John Kaye with Michael C. Hall and James Marsden currently in development.[14] She guest-starred in an episode of the hit FX comedy Louie, which garnered her an Emmy win for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Leo recently appeared in the action-thriller Olympus Has Fallen as the Secretary of Defense held hostage by terrorists in the White House and Oblivion as the main antagonist. Most recently, Leo can be seen in a major role in Prisoners.

Filmography[edit]

Film and television (regular cast)
Year Title Role Notes
1984 All My Children Linda Warner Contract cast member (1984–1985)
Nominated—Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series (1985)
1985 Always Peggy
1985 Streetwalkin' Cookie
1985 Silent Witness Patti Mullen TV movie
1986 Deadtime Stories Judith "MaMa" Baer
1988 Time of Destiny, AA Time of Destiny Josie Larraneta
1989 The Young Riders Emma Shannon Main cast member season 1: 24 episodes
1989 Nasty Boys Katie Morrisey TV
1990 The Bride in Black Mary Margaret TV
1991 Carolina Skeletons Cassie TV
1992 Immaculate Conception[15] Hannah
1992 Venice/Venice Peggy
1993 Ballad of Little Jo, TheThe Ballad of Little Jo Beatrice Grey
1993 Homicide: Life on the Street Det. Sgt. Kay Howard Television series, main cast member seasons 1–5 (1993–1997): 77 episodes
1994 Garden Elizabeth
1995 Last Summer in the Hamptons Trish
1995 In the Line of Duty: Hunt for Justice Carol Manning TV
1997 Under the Bridge Kathy
1999 The 24 Hour Woman Dr. Suzanne Pincus
1999 Code of Ethics Jo DeAngelo
2000 Homicide: The Movie Det. Sgt. Kay Howard TV
2000 Fear of Fiction Sigrid Anderssen
2003 21 Grams Marianne Jordan Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2004 First Breath Detective Waxman
2004 From Other Worlds Miriam
2005 Hide and Seek Laura
2005 Runaway Lisa Adler
2005 No Shoulder Ruth
2005 Patch Maelynn
2005 Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, TheThe Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada Rachel Bronze Wrangler Award for Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture
2005 American Gun Louise
2005 Confess Agnes Lessor
2006 Stephanie Daley Miri
2006 The Limbo Room KC Collins
2006 Hollywood Dreams Aunt Bee
2006 House is Burning, TheThe House is Burning Mrs. Miller
2006 Falling Objects Helga
2007 Bomb Sharon
2007 Midnight Son Rita
2007 Black Irish Margaret McKay
2007 Cake Eaters, TheThe Cake Eaters Ceci
2007 Racing Daylight Sadie Stokes/Anna Stokes
2007 I Believe in America Soto
2007 Mr. Woodcock Sally Jansen
2007 One Night Wendy
2008 Frozen River Ray Eddy Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Film Artist
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
Marrakech International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
San Sebastián International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award for Best Actress
Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Women Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
2008 Alphabet Killer, TheThe Alphabet Killer Kathy Walsh
2008 Lullaby Stephanie Method Fest Independent Film Festival Award for Best Actress
2008 Night of the Living Jews[16] Jewish Mother zombie Low budget film
2008 Santa Mesa Maggie
2008 Ball Don't Lie Georgia
2008 This is a Story About Ted and Alice Alice
2008 Righteous Kill Cheryl Brooks
2008 Predisposed Penny
2009 According to Greta Karen
2009 Stephanie's Image Stephanie
2009 True Adolescents Sharon
2009 Veronika Decides to Die Mari
2009 Dear Lemon Lima Mrs. Howard
2009 Don McKay Marie
2009 Everybody's Fine Colleen
2010 Treme Toni Bernette Main cast member: season 1 – present
2010 Welcome to the Rileys Mrs. Lois Riley
2010 Dry Land, TheThe Dry Land Martha
2010 The Space Between Montine Best New York Narrative - Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival
2010 Fighter, TheThe Fighter Alice Ward Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Capri Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Online for Best Supporting Actress
North Texas Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Central Ohio film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards for Best Ensemble
2010 Conviction Nancy Taylor
2011 Red State Sarah Cooper
2011 The Sea Is All I Know Sara California Independent Film Festival Slate Award for Best Actress
Rhode Island International Film Festival Grand Prize Award for Best Actress
2012 Flight Ellen Block
2012 Why Stop Now Penny Bloom
2013 Olympus Has Fallen Ruth McMillan
2013 Oblivion Sally
2013 Lee Daniels' The Butler Mamie Eisenhower Scenes deleted
2013 Prisoners Holly Jones
2013 Call Me Crazy: A Five Film Robin A Lifetime Original Movie
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2013 Charlie Countryman Charlie's mother
2014 The Angriest Man in Brooklyn Bette Altmann
2014 The Equalizer post-production
2014 I Fought the Law Alice McMillan pre-production

Television mini-series and guest appearances[edit]

Film and television (short term roles)
Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Equalizer Irina Dzershinsky 1 episode, "The Defector"
1987 Spenser: For Hire Mary Hamilton 1 episode, "Mary Hamilton"
1988 Miami Vice Kathleen Gilfords 1 episode, "Bad Timing"
1989 Gideon Oliver Rebecca Hecht 1 episode, "Kennonite"
1993, 2002, 2008 Law & Order Alice Sutton / Sherri Quinn / Donna Cheponis 3 episodes, "Sweeps", "Who Let the Dogs Out?", and "Personae Non Grata"
1994 Scarlett Suellen O'Hara Benteen TV mini-series
1998 Legacy Emma Bradford 2 episodes, "Emma" and "The Search Party"
2004 Veronica Mars Julia Smith 1 episode, "Meet John Smith"
2004 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Sybil Perez 1 episode, "Harvest"
2005 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Maureen Curtis 1 episode, "The Good Child"
2005 The L Word Winnie Mann 3 episodes, "Luminous", "Loyal", and "Lacuna"
2006 Shark Elizabeth Rourke 1 episode, "Pilot"
2007 Criminal Minds Georgia Davis 1 episode, "No Way Out"
2007 Cold Case Tayna Raymes '94–'07 1 episode, "Thrill Kill", 2007
2011 Mildred Pierce Lucy Gessler TV mini-series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
2012 Louie Laurie 1 episode, "Telling Jokes/Set Up"
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominated -Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Post (2009-02-19). "Veteran Actors, First Time Nominees". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Actress up for Oscar has longtime ties to Hamptons". Newsday.com. 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  3. ^ "Melissa Leo Biography (1960–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  4. ^ Mother's California birth stated on the 68th Golden Globe Awards, January 16, 2011
  5. ^ Ingrassia, Michele (January 25, 1990). "The Unlikely Bayman Arnold Leo forsook Manhattan years ago for the East End. Today, he's the single most powerful voice for that endangered species, the Long Island fisherman". Newsday. 
  6. ^ "Burlington Free Press – Vermonter Nominated". Burlington Free Press. January 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Nebraska threads woven into red carpet". Omaha.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (2011-04-23). "Elevating the Oscar winners, Part #3: Best Leading Actress". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ Posted: Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 (2010-12-18). "Cast puts punch in scrappy 'Fighter'". CharlotteObserver.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  10. ^ Liz Kelly (February 27, 2011). "Melissa Leo drops F-bomb in Oscar Acceptance Speech". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  11. ^ Vancouver Sun and wire services (February 27, 2011). "OSCARS: F-Bomb mars speech; Toy Story 3, In a Better World, Christian Bale, Social Network. King's Speech take awards". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  12. ^ Melissa Leo's 'rogue' Oscar campaign. The Week (2011-02-11). Retrieved on 2013-07-13.
  13. ^ Vancouver Sun and wire services (March 2, 2011). "Jesse Eisenberg to play Melissa Leo’s son in "Predisposed". Up and Comers. Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  14. ^ Jay A. Fernandez (March 3, 2011). "What Oscar Winners Are Doing Next". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ Movie at IMDb
  16. ^ Night of the Living Jews – Credits on official website.

External links[edit]