Clea DuVall

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Clea DuVall
DuVall in 2019
Clea Helen D'Etienne DuVall

(1977-09-25) September 25, 1977 (age 46)[1]
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Actress
  • filmmaker
Years active1996–present

Clea Helen D'Etienne DuVall (born September 25, 1977) is an American actress and filmmaker. Her film appearances include The Faculty (1998); But I'm a Cheerleader; Girl, Interrupted (both 1999); Ghosts of Mars (2001); Identity; 21 Grams (both 2003); The Grudge (2004); Zodiac (2007); and Argo (2012). On television, DuVall starred as Emma Borden in Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014) and its miniseries spinoff, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015). Her other credits include Carnivàle (2003–2005), Heroes (2006–2007), American Horror Story (2012–2013), Better Call Saul (2015–2017), Veep (2016–2019), and The Handmaid's Tale (2018–2022). She has voiced Elsa on Fox's HouseBroken, which she co-created, since 2021.

DuVall's directorial work includes the features The Intervention (2016) and Happiest Season (2020). She is the creator, writer, and executive producer of the Amazon Freevee series High School (2022–present).

Early life[edit]

DuVall was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.[1] Her forename derives from the novel Clea by Lawrence Durrell.[2][3] She worked in a coffee shop as a teenager and studied at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.[4]


1996–2000: Career beginnings[edit]

DuVall made her screen debut in the low-budget horror film Little Witches (1996). This was followed by small roles in several independent features, as well as guest appearances on episodes of ER and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her breakthrough came in 1998 when she starred in Robert Rodriguez's sci-fi horror film The Faculty, receiving positive reviews for her portrayal of "Stokes" Mitchell, a goth high school student.[5][6] Also that year, she had a supporting role in the teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait, which later developed a cult following.[7]

DuVall had roles in several films released in 1999, including biographical drama Girl, Interrupted, where she appeared as compulsive liar Georgina Tuskin; teen romantic comedy She's All That, which opened atop the U.S. box office;[8] and the independent features Wildflowers and But I'm a Cheerleader. The latter, a satirical comedy in which she played a lesbian undergoing conversion therapy, is often cited as a favorite among fans of LGBT cinema.[9][10] For her work in Wildflowers, a drama about a 17-year-old obsessed with finding her birth mother, DuVall received rave reviews,[11] with Barry Johnson noting in his appraisal for The Austin Chronicle, "Clea DuVall has those deep, round, chestnut eyes that convey years of experience with a solitary glance … [she] always seems to capture that unique blend of wisdom and naiveté … [here she] takes center stage in an impressive, nuanced performance that makes use of [her] magnetic screen presence".[12]

2001–2015: Film and television roles[edit]

DuVall had prominent parts in a variety of film projects throughout the early 2000s, such as Ghosts of Mars (2001), a space Western directed by John Carpenter; the ensemble drama Thirteen Conversations About One Thing (2001); The Laramie Project (2002), a documentary-style dramatisation of the murder of Matthew Shepard; coming-of-age sports drama The Slaughter Rule (2002); the James Mangold–directed mystery thriller Identity (2003); and the psychological crime drama 21 Grams (2003), the English-language film debut of Alejandro González Iñárritu. Writing for The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell called the latter "a ruminative, stunned look at life after death – that is, the existence of the living after they have been devastated by loss", noting that "The actors [don't] sink to theatrical histrionics; instead they're linked by the red-eyed, unblinking stare of zombies, and they shamble through their day-by-day activities as if saddled with death wishes they are too enervated to act upon".[13]

DuVall appeared as a regular cast member on the HBO drama series Carnivàle between 2003 and 2005, with the Los Angeles Times pointing out that her portrayal of tarot card reader Sophie was "especially good".[14] During that period, she also starred in the television film Helter Skelter (2004), earning a Satellite Award nomination for Best Actress, and in the horror film The Grudge (2004), which grossed US$187 million at the box office.[15] Subsequent credits included guest appearances on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2005), Lie to Me (2009), Numb3rs, Bones, and Law & Order (all 2010), as well as key parts in films such as David Fincher's critically acclaimed Zodiac (2007),[16] and the recurring role of Audrey Hanson on the NBC science fiction series Heroes (2006–2007).

After appearances in the psychological thrillers Anamorph (2007) and Passengers (2008), and a supporting role in the legal drama Conviction (2010), DuVall co-starred in Ben Affleck's Argo (2012), a political thriller based on the Iran hostage crisis. For her portrayal of Cora Amburn-Lijek, one of the six American diplomats rescued from Iran in 1980, DuVall was awarded—alongside her co-stars—the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture the following year. Also in 2012, she appeared in a recurring role on the second season of the FX anthology series American Horror Story, playing Wendy Peyser. Writing for Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg said of her work in the latter projects, "Where DuVall often played strong, even aggressive characters in the past, in both American Horror Story and Argo, she's turned in good performances by playing deeply vulnerable people trying to be strong in threatening circumstances".[17]

DuVall in 2016

DuVall starred as Emma Borden, sister of Lizzie Borden—played by Christina Ricci—in the Lifetime television film Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014), reprising the role for the limited series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles the following year. The latter received mixed reviews, but critics praised the performances of Ricci and DuVall; writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Keith Uhlich said the actresses "have a delectable rapport not too far removed from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford at their hag-horror peak in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"[18]

Since 2016: Directorial debut and subsequent work[edit]

DuVall made her feature directorial debut with The Intervention (2016), which she also wrote, starred in, and produced.[19][20] Acquired by Paramount Pictures after its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival,[21] the comedy-drama was positively reviewed; Andy Webster of The New York Times noted that "DuVall juggles the emotional dynamics with fluid editing and light comic touches".[22] That same year, she starred in the independent features Zen Dogs and Heaven's Floor, and guest-starred in three episodes of AMC's Better Call Saul.

From 2016 to 2019, DuVall played Marjorie Palmiotti on the HBO political satire Veep, for which she was twice nominated—alongside her co-stars—for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, winning in 2018.[23] She also starred in the independent comedy-drama All About Nina (2018), and played Sylvia in several episodes of the dystopian Hulu drama series The Handmaid's Tale between 2018 and 2022, with Judy Berman of Time calling it "the best work of [DuVall's career]".[24]

DuVall wrote and directed the 2020 film Happiest Season,[25] a romantic comedy, which premiered on Hulu to a positive critical reception,[26] later winning the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film.[27] She is the creator, writer, director, and executive producer of the coming-of-age drama series High School, which premiered on Amazon Freevee in October 2022.[28] Rolling Stone named it one of the best shows of the year,[29] writing in their review, "[DuVall captures] the thrilling, horrifying, profoundly uncomfortable experience of adolescence".[30]

Personal life[edit]

DuVall is a lesbian.[31][32] She came out in 2016,[33] and has said that she was "very closeted" while making But I'm a Cheerleader.[34] She is close friends with Melanie Lynskey and Natasha Lyonne, whom she worked with on But I'm a Cheerleader and The Intervention.[35] DuVall is married and lives in Los Angeles.[36][37]



Clea DuvVall film performances
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Little Witches Kelsey
1997 The Alarmist Suzy
1997 Niagara, Niagara Convenience store clerk
1998 How to Make the Cruelest Month Bell Bryant
1998 Girl Gillian
1998 Can't Hardly Wait Jana
1998 The Faculty Stokely "Stokes" Mitchell
1999 A Slipping-Down Life Nurse
1999 She's All That Misty
1999 Wildflowers Cally
1999 Sleeping Beauties Clea Short film
1999 The Astronaut's Wife Nan
1999 But I'm a Cheerleader Graham Eaton
1999 Girl, Interrupted Georgina Tuskin
2000 Committed Mimi
2001 See Jane Run Jane Whittaker
2001 Ghosts of Mars Bashira Kincaid
2001 Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Bea
2001 How to Make a Monster Laura Wheeler
2002 The Slaughter Rule Skyla Sisco
2003 Identity Ginny Isiana
2003 21 Grams Claudia
2004 The Grudge Jennifer Williams
2005 Two Weeks Katrina
2006 Champions Billy
2007 Zodiac Linda Del Buono
2007 Ten Inch Hero Jen
2007 Itty Bitty Titty Committee Singer
2007 Anamorph Sandy Strickland
2008 Passengers Shannon
2009 The Killing Room Kerry Isalano
2010 Conviction Brenda Marsh
2012 Argo Cora Amburn-Lijek
2013 Armed Response Lena Also executive producer
2014 Jackie & Ryan Virginia
2014 Zen Dog Marlene Meeks
2015 Ma/ddy Dana
2015 Addicted to Fresno Regina
2016 The Intervention Jessie Also writer, director, and executive producer
2016 Heaven's Floor Julia
2018 All About Nina Paula
2020 Happiest Season Co-writer and director only


Clea DuVall television performances
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Dangerous Minds Nina Episode: "Evolution"
1997 ER Katie Reed 2 episodes
1997 Crisis Center Laura Thomas Episode: "Where Truth Lies"
1997 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Marcie Ross Episode: "Out of Mind, Out of Sight"
1997 On the Edge of Innocence Ann Television film
1997 The Defenders: Payback Jessica Lane Television film
2000 Popular Wanda Rickets 2 episodes
2001 The Fugitive Lynette Hennessy 2 episodes
2001 How to Make a Monster Laura Television film
2002 The Laramie Project Amanda Gronich Television film
2003–2005 Carnivàle Sofie Agnesh Bojakshiya Main role
2004 Helter Skelter Linda Kasabian Television film
2005 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Abigail Spencer Episode: "Shooting Stars"
2005 Fathers and Sons Laura Television film; uncredited
2006–2007 Heroes Audrey Hanson Recurring role
2008 Grey's Anatomy Jennifer Robinson 2 episodes
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mia Latimer Episode: "Persona"
2008 The Watch Cassie Television film
2009 Virtuality Sue Parsons Television film
2009 Saving Grace Maura Darrell Episode: "Looks Like a Lesbian Attack to Me"
2009 Lie to Me Michelle Russell Episode: "Blinded"
2010 Private Practice Natasha Episode: "Fear of Flying"
2010 Bones McKenna Grant Episode: "The Bones on the Blue Line"
2010 Numb3rs Melanie Bailey Episode: "Devil Girl"
2010 Law & Order Amanda Green Episode: "The Taxman Cometh"
2010–2011 The Event Maya 3 episodes
2011 CSI: Miami Lyla Moore Episode: "About Face"
2011 And Baby Will Fall Melinda White Television film
2012–2013 American Horror Story: Asylum Wendy Peyser 5 episodes
2014 The Newsroom Lilly Hart 2 episodes
2014 Lizzie Borden Took an Ax Emma Borden Television film
2015 The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Emma Borden Main role
2015–2017 Better Call Saul Lara Cruz 3 episodes
2016 Brooklyn Animal Control Madeleine Holmlund Unsold pilot
2016 New Girl Camilla Episode: "Wig"
2016–2019 Veep Marjorie Palmiotti Recurring role (seasons 5–6); main role (season 7)
2018 Take My Wife Audience Member Episode #2.3
2018–2022 The Handmaid's Tale Sylvia 5 episodes
2018 The Romanoffs Patricia Callahan Episode: "End of the Line"
2019 Broad City Lesley Marnel 3 episodes
2019 Looking for Alaska Director only; episode: "I'll Show You That It Won't Shoot"
2021–present HouseBroken Elsa (voice) Also co-creator, executive producer, and writer
2021 Q-Force (voice) 2 episodes
2022 The First Lady Malvina Thompson Recurring role
2022 High School Creator, director, and writer only
2023 Poker Face Emily Cale Episode: "The Hook"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1999 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Female Newcomer The Faculty Nominated [38]
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Supporting Actress The Faculty Nominated [38]
Teen Choice Awards Breakout Performance (Film) The Faculty Nominated [38]
2003 Florida Film Critics Circle Best Ensemble (shared with the cast) Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Won [38]
2004 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Helter Skelter Nominated [38]
2005 Women's Image Network Awards Best Actress in a Drama Series Carnivàle Nominated [38]
2012 Hollywood Film Awards Ensemble of the Year (shared with the cast) Argo Won [39]
Palm Springs International Film Festival Best Ensemble Cast (shared with the cast) Argo Won [38]
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Performance (shared with the cast) Argo Nominated [38]
2013 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (shared with the cast) Argo Won [40]
2016 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize The Intervention Nominated [41]
2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with the cast) Veep Nominated [42]
2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with the cast) Veep Won [43]
2021 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Film – Wide Release Happiest Season Won [44]
2023 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Series – Short Form (shared with the producers) High School Nominated [38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Clea DuVall Biography & Movies". Tribute. Retrieved November 21, 2023.
  2. ^ "Clea DuVall".
  3. ^ Hanson-Firestone, Dana (March 11, 2020). "10 Things You didn't Know About Clea DuVall". TVOvermind.
  4. ^ "Clea DuVall". This Distracted Globe. September 24, 2008. Archived from the original on November 8, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Faculty: No Chance of Tenure". December 25, 1998. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  6. ^ "The Faculty". December 27, 1998. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  7. ^ "The Beer Has Not Gone Bad: How Can't Hardly Wait Became a Teen Cult Classic". The Ringer. June 11, 2018.
  8. ^ ""She's All That' tackles "Varsity Blues' for top box office spot". Tampa Bay Times. February 1, 1999. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  9. ^ "Top Ten Best Lesbian Movies: 10 Queer Movies That Don't Suck". Autostraddle. August 19, 2009.
  10. ^ Dry, Jude (May 8, 2017). "The 15 Best Lesbian Movies of All Time, Ranked". IndieWire.
  11. ^ Scott, A. O. (September 1, 2000). "Film Review; A 60's Marin County Map With Vietnam Left Off". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Johnson, Barry (March 10, 2000). "SXSW Film Festival: Five in Focus". The Austin Chronicle.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (October 18, 2003). "FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW; Hearts Incapacitated, Souls Wasting Away". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  14. ^ Lloyd, Robert (September 13, 2003). "Good, evil at it again in HBO's Carnivale". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  15. ^ "The Grudge". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  16. ^ "Zodiac". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  17. ^ Rosenberg, Alyssa (October 18, 2012). "The Reinvention of '90s Favorite Clea DuVall". Slate. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  18. ^ "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. April 5, 2015.
  19. ^ McNary, Dave (July 20, 2015). "Clea DuVall Making Directorial Debut With Film Starring Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey". Variety. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  20. ^ "The Intervention". Archived from the original on September 22, 2016. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  21. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 28, 2016). "Paramount Acquires The Intervention In $2.5 Million+ WW Rights Deal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 28, 2016.
  22. ^ Webster, Andy Jr. (August 25, 2016). "Review: In The Intervention, There's a Big Chill in the Air". The New York Times.
  23. ^ "Veep wins best comedy cast at SAG Awards". Entertainment Weekly. January 21, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "The Handmaid's Tale Could Be So Much Better. But First It Has to Leave Its Star Behind". Time. June 26, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  25. ^ Verhoeven, Beatrice (November 25, 2020). "Happiest Season Director Made LGBT Holiday Rom-Com Because 'I've Never Seen My Experience Represented'". TheWrap. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  26. ^ "Happiest Season". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  27. ^ France, Lisa Respers (April 9, 2021). "GLAAD Media Awards 2021: The winners list". CNN.
  28. ^ "High School: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  29. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (December 7, 2022). "The 20 Best TV Shows of 2022". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  30. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (October 13, 2022). "High School Tells Tegan and Sara's Coming-of-Age Story Their Way". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  31. ^ Reynolds, Daniel (July 1, 2016). "Clea DuVall Is Finally Playing 'The Gay That I Feel Like I Am'". The Advocate. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
  32. ^ Ferber, Lawrence (August 24, 2016). "Clea DuVall: Out actress turns writer-director with The Intervention". Windy City Times. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  33. ^ "Clea DuVall on 25 Years in Hollywood: 'I've Learned to Be the Source of My Own Happiness'". People. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  34. ^ Chichizola, Corey (December 18, 2020). "Happiest Season Director Clea Duvall Talks Her Own LGBTQ Journey And What Made It Into The Kristen Stewart Movie". Cinemablend. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  35. ^ Caskey, Sara (May 20, 2023). "Melanie Lynskey And Clea DuVall Are Still Best Friends Over 20 Years After But I'm A Cheerleader". The List. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  36. ^ Li, Shirley (December 9, 2020). "How a Queer Icon Made the Holiday Film of the Year". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  37. ^ Stone, Abigail (June 25, 2022). "How One Designer Created Homes for Three Veep Stars". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Clea DuVall - Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 25, 2023.
  39. ^ "Hollywood Film Awards – Honorees Database". Hollywood Film Awards. Archived from the original on April 7, 2019. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  40. ^ "SAG-AFTRA Honors Outstanding Film and Television Performances at the 19th Annual SAG Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. January 27, 2013. Archived from the original on November 16, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  41. ^ "Sundance Film Festival 2016 – Sundance Institute". Archived from the original on January 21, 2016.
  42. ^ "Nominations Announced for the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild. December 14, 2016. Archived from the original on September 15, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  43. ^ "SAG Awards Winners: Complete List". Variety. January 21, 2018. Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  44. ^ France, Lisa Respers (April 9, 2021). "GLAAD Media Awards 2021: The winners list". CNN.

External links[edit]