Alberta Watson

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Alberta Watson
Alberta Watson on 24.jpg
Alberta Watson on 24
Faith Susan Alberta Watson

(1955-03-06)March 6, 1955
DiedMarch 21, 2015(2015-03-21) (aged 60)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Years active1975–2012
SpouseKen Sedgwick

Faith Susan Alberta Watson (March 6, 1955 – March 21, 2015), better known as Alberta Watson, was a Canadian film and television actress.[1]

Early life[edit]

Watson was born in Toronto, Ontario, in 1955.[2] She grew up in Toronto with her mother Grace, a factory worker, and her brother. She began performing with a local Toronto theatre group, T.H.O.G. (Theatre House of God),[3] of the Bathurst Street United Church, at age 15.[4]

Watson took a workshop for the Hair musical.[5] While at the workshop she acted in Hamlet, which was directed by René Bonnière,[6] who later directed her in La Femme Nikita.[7]

Acting career[edit]

Watson got her first role at age 19 in a CBC movie called Honor Thy Father.[3][8] Early in her career she portrayed the role of Mitzi in George Kaczender's[9] In Praise of Older Women (1978), for which she received a Genie nomination. A year later she received the Best Actress award at the Yorkton Film Festival for "Exposure".[4] She moved to Los Angeles, California, and later to New York City.[10]

Watson lived in New Jersey for eight years[11] with her husband until they divorced.[7] She then returned to Toronto and focused on finding roles in independent films. She worked with director Colleen Murphy on the film Shoemaker (1996), for which she received a second Genie nomination for Best Actress.[4]

Among her well-known film roles are the bed-ridden mother Susan Aibelli in the 1994 American independent film Spanking the Monkey, Lauren Murphy (the mother of Jonny Lee Miller's character Dade, also called "Crash Override"/"Zero Cool") in the 1995 cult film Hackers, and Risa in the 1997 Academy Award-nominated Canadian film The Sweet Hereafter, directed by Atom Egoyan.[4]

In Spanking the Monkey, Watson plays her favourite character,[12] a mother who has an incestuous relationship with her son. The role was turned down by several actresses such as Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange and others.[2] Watson said:[7]

I took it because it was a heck of a challenge. And I'm not a name with an image to protect. The subject was incest. It didn't scare me at all. I seized the character and made her something. She was a deeply disturbed woman with a roller coaster of emotions. Her son visits for the summer and she's laid up in a cast with a broken leg and things get out of hand.

She played the role of Madeline in La Femme Nikita for four seasons from 1997 to 2001 (with guest appearances in the short fifth season). During the show's second season (in 1998), Watson was diagnosed with lymphoma, for which she had to undergo chemotherapy treatment which caused her to lose her hair.[12][13] Producers at La Femme Nikita worked around her treatment and limited her appearances.[13] Watson wore wigs in the show when she lost her hair.[13] When her hair started to regrow, she sported the short haircut in her role as Madeline in the show's third season.[13]

Watson's first name inspired the character Alberta Green in the first season of 24.[citation needed] In 2005, Watson joined the cast of 24, playing CTU Director Erin Driscoll for 12 episodes of the show's fourth season.

During 2007 and 2008, Watson played a supporting role in the Canadian television series The Border as the Minister of Public Safety.

In 2010, Watson guest-starred in Heartland, a series on CBC Television, and she won a 2011 Gemini Award for her portrayal of Sarah Craven.

In a nod to her La Femme Nikita role, Alberta played a recurring character Madeline Pierce in Nikita, the CW's 2010–2013 reboot of the film and TV series.


Watson died on March 21, 2015, due to complications from cancer at Kensington Hospice in Toronto fifteen days after her 60th birthday.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 Power Play Donna
1978 In Praise of Older Women Mitzi
1979 Exposure Barbara Short film
1979 Stone Cold Dead Olivia Page
1980 Virus Litha AKA, Day of Resurrection
1981 Dirty Tricks Tony
1981 Black Mirror Tina
1982 The Soldier Susan Goodman
1983 The Keep Eva Cuza
1984 Best Revenge Dinah
1987 White of the Eye Ann Mason
1989 Destiny to Order Thalia / Marla / Nicole
1991 The Hitman Christine De Vera
1992 Zebrahead Phyliss
1994 Spanking the Monkey Susan Aibelli
1995 What's His Face Woman Short film
1995 Hackers Lauren Murphy
1996 Shoemaker Anna
1996 Sweet Angel Mine Megan
1997 The Sweet Hereafter Risa
1998 Seeds of Doubt Jennifer Kingsley
1999 The Life Before This Nita
2000 Desire Simone
2000 Deeply Fiona
2001 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hansel's Mom
2001 Chasing Cain Denise McGoogan
2001 Tart Lily Storm
2001 The Art of Woo Caterin
2002 The Wild Dogs Natalie
2004 The Prince and Me Amy Morgan
2004 My Brother's Keeper Helen Woods
2004 Vendetta: No Conscience, No Mercy Anne Phelan
2004 Some Things That Stay Liz Anderson
2006 Citizen Duane Bonnie Balfour
2006 Away from Her Dr. Fischer
2006 A Lobster Tale Martha Brewer
2007 The Lookout Barbara Pratt
2008 Growing Op Marilla
2009 Helen Dr. Sherman
2009 The Spine Mary Rutherford Short film


Year Title Role Notes
1980 King of Kensington Mitzi Episode: "War and Peace"
1980 War Brides Norma TV film
1983 I Am a Hotel Suzanne TV short
1984 Hill Street Blues Prostitute Episode: "Fuched Again"
1984 Deadly Nightmares Jill Friedlander Episode: "Remembering Melody"
1985 Murder in Space Dominica Mastrelli TV film
1985 The Equalizer Carla Holden Episode: "The Distant Fire"
1985 Kane & Abel Zofia Rosnovski TV miniseries
1986 Fortune Dane Amy Steiner TV series
1986 Women of Valor Lt. Helen Prescott TV film
1987 Street Legal Mercedes Puentes Episode: "Tango Bellarosa"
1987–1988 Buck James Dr. Rebecca Meyer Main role (19 episodes)
1989 The Equalizer Taffy Gould Episode: "The Caper"
1989 Shannon's Deal Terry Lomax TV film
1989 Street Legal Maria Lopez Episode: "Partners and Other Strangers"
1990 Island Son Nina Delaney Episode: "Separations"
1990 Grand Andrea Episode: "The Return of Yale Pinhaus"
1991 Law & Order Miss Hanley Episode: "His Hour Upon the Stage"
1992 Law & Order Angela Brandt Episode: "Skin Deep"
1993 Relentless: Mind of a Killer Ellen Giancola TV film
1993 Matrix Marie Sands Episode: "Conviction of His Courage"
1994 Jonathan Stone: Threat of Innocence Deborah Walsh Bradford TV film
1995 The Outer Limits Lynda Tillman Episode: "If These Walls Could Talk"
1995 A Child Is Missing Agent Lynette Graham TV film
1996 Giant Mine Peggy Witte TV film
1996 Gotti Victoria Gotti TV film
1997–2001 La Femme Nikita Madeline Main role (89 episodes)
Nominated - Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series[15]
1998 The Girl Next Door Mary Bradley TV film
2000 Soul Food Judge Olivia Delaney Episode: "The More Things Stay the Same"
2001 After the Harvest Amelia Gare TV film
2002 Guilt by Association Angie TV film
2002 Chasing Cain: Face Det. Denise McGoogan TV film
2003 The Risen Amanda Knowles TV film
2003 Penguins Behind Bars Babs (voice) TV film
2003 Missing Mrs. Mastriani Episode: "Pilot"
2003 Choice: The Henry Morgentaler Story Chava Rosenfarb-Morgentaler TV film
2004 Puppets Who Kill Judge Episode: "Bill Sues"
2004 The Newsroom Susan Recurring role (4 episodes)
2004 Show Me Yours Toni Bane Recurring role (8 episodes)
2004–2005 24 Erin Driscoll Regular role (13 episodes)
2005 Million Dollar Murder Ted's Lawyer TV film
2006 At the Hotel Camille Recurring role (4 episodes)
2006 Angela's Eyes Lydia Anderson Recurring role (6 episodes)
2008 The Border Minister Suzanne Fleischer Recurring role (10 episodes)
2010 Heartland Sarah Craven Episode: "Where the Truth Lies"
2011–2012 Nikita Senator Madeline Pierce Recurring role (9 episodes)


  • Heyn, Christopher. "A Conversation with Alberta Watson". Inside Section One: Creating and Producing TV's La Femme Nikita. Introduction by Peta Wilson. Los Angeles: Persistence of Vision Press, 2006. pp. 88–93. ISBN 0-9787625-0-9. In-depth conversation with Alberta Watson about her role as Madeline on La Femme Nikita, as well as her more recent acting experiences.


  1. ^ Alberta Watson profile,; accessed March 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Rita Zekas. "Alberta's Feeling At Home On Deranged" Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Toronto Star, August 5, 1994.
  3. ^ a b Neil Morton. "In Praise of Alberta Watson" Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Elm Street Magazine; accessed March 23, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Alberta Watson at IMDb
  5. ^ Bruce Blackadar. "Young Actress Is Behind Bars -- For A Movie" Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Toronto Star, August 7, 1980.
  6. ^ Profile of René Bonnière; accessed March 23, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Jim Bawden. Toronto Star, Nikita's Iciest Femme Fatale Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine,, July 18, 1999.
  8. ^ Liz Braun. "Happy In Her Work" Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine,, December 29, 1995.
  9. ^ George Kaczender profile,; accessed March 23, 2015.
  10. ^ "Three Hours On A Plane Is All She Can Stand: Great Escapes - Alberta Watson" Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Interview with Fulton King, February 19, 2000.
  11. ^ "She Wasn't Afraid of 'Spanking'" Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, San Francisco Examiner, August 23, 1994.
  12. ^ a b Profile Archived 2008-07-02 at the Wayback Machine TVGuide/Yahoo Chat, January 7, 1999.
  13. ^ a b c d Michelle Erica Green. "Alberta Watson: The Toughest Woman on Television",; accessed March 23, 2015.
  14. ^ "'24' actress Alberta Watson dies at 60". Fox News. March 23, 2015. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  15. ^ "awards database". Archived from the original on 2016-11-25. Retrieved 25 November 2016.

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