Laurie Metcalf

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Laurie Metcalf
LaurieMetcalfFeb08 cropped.jpg
Metcalf in 2008
Born Lauren Elizabeth Metcalf
(1955-06-16) June 16, 1955 (age 61)
Carbondale, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Jeff Perry (m. 1983–92)
Matt Roth (m. 1993–2014)
Children 4

Lauren Elizabeth "Laurie" Metcalf (born June 16, 1955) is an American actress. She is known for her television roles as Jackie Harris on the ABC sitcom Roseanne (1988–97); Carolyn Bigsby on Desperate Housewives (2006); the recurring role of Mary Cooper on The Big Bang Theory (2007–16); Dr. Jenna James on Getting On (2013–15),[1] and Marjorie McCarthy in The McCarthys (2014–15).[2] She voiced the role of Mrs. Davis in the Toy Story film series. Her other film appearances include Making Mr. Right (1987), JFK (1991), Mistress (1992), and as Debbie Salt/Loomis in Scream 2 (1997). She has also appeared in commercials for Plan USA, a humanitarian organization which helps children in need around the world.[3]

Metcalf began her career with the Steppenwolf Theater Company and frequently works in Chicago theater, including the 1983 revival of Balm in Gilead. A 10-time Emmy Award nominee, she won three consecutive Emmys for Roseanne from 1992 to 1994.[4] In 2012, she starred as Mary Tyrone in a London production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night at the Apollo Theatre.[5] She has received a Theatre World Award and two Obie Awards for her Off-Broadway work, as well as receiving three Tony Award nominations for her work on Broadway: for November (2008), The Other Place (2013), and Misery (2016).

Early life[edit]

Metcalf was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the eldest of three children, with her brother James, and sister Linda,[6] and was raised in Edwardsville, Illinois, which she has said "isn't anywhere near a theatre".[7] Her father, James, was the budget director at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville at the time of his sudden death in 1984,[8][not in citation given] and her mother, Libby, was a librarian.[9][10] Her great-aunt was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Zoë Akins.[11] Metcalf is an alumna of Illinois State University, class of 1976.[12] She worked as a "damn good" secretary while in college and thoroughly enjoyed seeing a pile of paper in the to-do box on one side of her desk move over to the completed side by the end of the day, as she often zoned in on the task at hand and worked through lunch.[7] She originally majored in German thinking she could work as an interpreter and then in Anthropology before accepting that majoring in Theatre was her true passion, and has said that theatre work also involves the interpreting and studying human behavior.[7] She has described herself as hideously shy, yet found the courage to audition for a few plays in high school and was "hooked", yet never considered acting as a career because of the unlikelihood of it actually leading to regular work.[7] She liked bike riding as a child.[13]



Metcalf attended Illinois State University and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Theater in 1977. While at ISU, she met fellow theater students, among them John Malkovich, Glenne Headly, Joan Allen, Terry Kinney, and Jeff Perry, the latter two of whom, along with Perry's high school classmate Gary Sinise, went on to establish Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Metcalf began her professional career at Steppenwolf, of which she was a charter member.[14][15] Metcalf went to New York to appear in an Off-Broaway Steppenwolf production of Balm in Gilead at Circle Repertory in 1984[16] for which she received the 1984 Obie Award for Best Actress and a 1984–85 Theatre World Award (for best debut in a Broadway or Off-Broadway performance).[14] Metcalf was praised for her performance as "Darlene", and was specifically singled out for her tour de force twenty-minute Act Two monologue.[17]

There's a moment when Laurie Metcalf—who plays this poor young thing that comes to the big city and hangs out at this greasy spoon diner where the play is set—is talking about her once boyfriend who is an albino; I think it's a monologue of about five, six, seven minutes. Just to sit there and watch and hear Laurie unspool that story, it just brought tears coming down your eyes—oh, boy, it was something.

— Chicago critic Richard Christiansen on Balm in Gilead

Thereafter, Metcalf relocated to New York City and began to work in both film and theater, including such productions as David Mamet's November on Broadway in 2008.[18]

Through June 2009, Metcalf starred with French Stewart in Justin Tanner's play, Voice Lessons, in Hollywood before beginning rehearsals to play Kate Jerome in the Broadway revival of Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, directed by David Cromer. The former production's run, however, lasted for 9 performances in October 2009, while the latter was canceled prior to opening.[19][20][21]

Voice Lessons, however, with its original cast intact, went on to two more runs—one Off-Broadway in May 2010,[22] and another in Hollywood in May 2011.[23]

In September 2010, Metcalf returned to Steppenwolf and starred in Lisa D'Amour's play, Detroit.[24]

In March 2011, she appeared Off-Broadway in The Other Place by Sharr White.[25] She won the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, and the 2011 Obie Award, Performance for The Other Place.[26]

In 2012, Metcalf joined David Suchet in a British stage production in the West End of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night.[27]

She performed in The Other Place again in 2013, this time on Broadway and earning a Tony nomination.[28] She starred with her real life daughter, Zoe Perry.[29]

In October 2013, Metcalf performed with Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated, by Bruce Norris at the Off-Broadway Mitzi Newhouse Theater of Lincoln Center.[30] She was nominated for the 2014 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play; the 2014 Drama League Award, Distinguished Performance; and the 2014 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Actress in a Play for Domesticated.[26]

She was then cast in the role of Annie Wilkes in the Broadway production of Stephen King's Misery, opposite Bruce Willis. The play premiered on November 15, 2015.[31] It received mixed reviews from critics, however Metcalf's performance was universally acclaimed. She received another Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play.[31]

Television and film[edit]

Metcalf has performed in roles that range from very large to very small in many films, including Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Making Mr. Right (1987), Miles from Home, Internal Affairs, Stars and Bars, Beer League, Mistress, A Dangerous Woman, Uncle Buck, Blink, The Secret Life of Houses, Treasure Planet, Toy Story, Runaway Bride, Bulworth, Meet the Robinsons, Georgia Rule (2007), Fun with Dick and Jane, Leaving Las Vegas, Scream 2, Stop Loss (2008), and Hop.[32]

Metcalf has often appeared against type in both film and television; in JFK (1991), she played a dramatic role as one of Jim Garrison's chief investigators.[33] She appeared as the murderous mother of Billy Loomis in the horror film Scream 2 (1997);[34] and portrayed real-life Carolyn McCarthy in the television movie The Long Island Incident (1998).[35]

Metcalf has appeared in several television series, including being a cast member for a single episode of Saturday Night Live—the final episode of the show's tumultuous 1980-1981 season. In 1981, she appeared as a feature player on the first Dick Ebersol-produced episode of Saturday Night Live following the firing of Jean Doumanian. She appeared in a Weekend Update segment about taking a bullet for the President of the United States. Because of the sketch show's severe decline in quality at the time and the 1981 Writers Guild of America strike, the show was put on hiatus for retooling. Metcalf was never asked back to be a cast member.

Metcalf is perhaps best known for her role as "Jackie", the multiple-careered, low self-esteemed, amiable sister of the title character in the hit series Roseanne. Her performance garnered her three consecutive Emmy Awards. Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997, and Metcalfappeared as Jackie over the show's entire run.[36]

She subsequently appeared with Norm Macdonald on The Norm Show (or Norm), which ran for three seasons (1999-2001), [37] and was also a regular character on the 2003 Nathan Lane series Charlie Lawrence,[38] which was cancelled after the airing of two episodes. Metcalf has made guest appearances on Absolutely Fabulous, Malcolm in the Middle, My Boys, Dharma & Greg, Frasier, The Big Bang Theory, Without a Trace, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Monk. She was nominated for the Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series for both of the latter two listed roles.

She took a recurring role on Desperate Housewives—for which she received Emmy (also in the category Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series) and Satellite Award nominations—[39] and also appeared alongside her ex-husband Jeff Perry in an episode of Grey's Anatomy. In fall 2008, Metcalf starred in the CW dramedy Easy Money, as the matriarch of a family of loan sharks. The series was canceled after three episodes.[40]

Metcalf starred in HBO's Getting On during its run from 2013–15.[39][41]

Personal life[edit]

In 1983, Metcalf married Jeff Perry, co-founding member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. They had a daughter, Zoe, in 1984, and later divorced, in 1992.[42]

Metcalf later began a relationship with Matt Roth, the Roseanne co-star who played her abusive boyfriend, Fisher. By November 1993 they had a son, Will, and eventually married. They also worked together on occasion, as in the 1994 feature film thriller Blink and the 1998 drama Chicago Cab;[43] they also appeared together in an episode of Desperate Housewives. Their daughter, Mae Akins, was born in 2005 via surrogate. They had a second son, Donovan, whom they fostered at six years old in 2006 and permanently adopted.[44] On November 26, 2008, Metcalf and Roth separated. In September 2011, Roth filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. In May 2014, the divorce was finalized.[45]

Metcalf enjoys doing yoga before a performance and practices all of her lines out loud before a show.[46] She also enjoys playing Bananagrams[46] and not wearing makeup.[47] She has self-disclosed as a workaholic and that she is hard on herself during rehearsals.[1] She has often said that she prefers theatre to any acting medium as it is where she feels most comfortable.[1]



Sources: TCM;[32] Film Reference;[9] Rotten Tomatoes;[48] AllMovie[49]

Year Title Role Notes
1978 Wedding, AA Wedding Maid Uncredited Role
1985 Desperately Seeking Susan Leslie Glass
1987 Making Mr. Right Sandy
1988 Candy Mountain Alice
1988 Stars and Bars Melissa
1988 Appointments of Dennis Jennings, TheThe Appointments of Dennis Jennings Emma Short film
1988 Miles from Home Exotic Dancer
1989 Uncle Buck Marcie Dahlgren-Frost
1990 Internal Affairs Amy Wallace
1990 Pacific Heights Stephanie MacDonald
1991 JFK Susie Cox
1992 Mistress Rachel Landisman
1993 Dangerous Woman, AA Dangerous Woman Anita Bell
1994 Secret Life of Houses, TheThe Secret Life of Houses Ann
1994 Blink Candice
1995 Leaving Las Vegas Landlady
1995 Toy Story Mrs. Davis Voice role
1996 Dear God Rebecca Frazen
1997 U Turn Bus Station Clerk
1997 Chicago Cab Female Ad Exec
1997 Scream 2 Debbie Loomis/Debbie Salt
1998 Bulworth Mimi
1999 Runaway Bride Betty Trout Uncredited Role
1999 Toy Story 2 Mrs. Davis Voice role
2000 Timecode Dava Adair Scenes Deleted
2002 Treasure Planet Sarah Hawkins Voice role
2005 Fun with Dick and Jane Phyllis Uncredited Role
2006 Steel City Marianne Karn
2006 Beer League Artie's Mom
2007 Meet the Robinsons Lucille Krunklehorn-Robinson Voice role
2007 Georgia Rule Paula Richards
2008 Stop-Loss Mrs. Colson
2008 Persepolis Mother of a young teenage boy Voice role
2010 Toy Story 3 Mrs. Davis Voice role
2011 Hop Mrs. Bunny Voice role
2017 Lady Bird Filming
2018 Toy Story 4 Jenny Voice role


Sources: Film Reference;[9] Rotten Tomatoes;[48] AllMovie[49]

Year Title Role Notes
1981 Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Reporter Episode 119
1985 Execution of Raymond Graham, TheThe Execution of Raymond Graham Carol Graham Television film
1986 Equalizer, TheThe Equalizer Theresa Episode: "No Conscience"
1988–97 Roseanne Jackie Harris 221 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Comedy Series (1992–94)
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Comedy Series (1995)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1993, 1995)
1995–96 Duckman Voice role
Episodes: "Research and Destroy" and "Forbidden Fruit"
1997 King of the Hill Cissy Cobb Episode: "Peggy the Boggle Champ"
1997 Eddie Files, TheThe Eddie Files Special Agent Hicks Episode: "Decimals - The Fake Money Caper"
1997 Life with Louie Miss Kinney Voice role
Episode: "The Kiss Is the Thing"
1997 Dharma & Greg Spyder Episode: "Instant Dharma"
1998 Always Outnumbered Halley Grimes Television film
1998 Long Island Incident, TheThe Long Island Incident Carolyn McCarthy Television film
1998 3rd Rock from the Sun Jennifer Ravelli Episodes: "What's Love Got to Do, Got to Do With Dick?", "I Am Dick Pentameter!" and "D3 - Judgment Day"
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress - Comedy Series
1999 Balloon Farm Casey Johnson Television film
1999–2001 Norm Show, TheThe Norm Show Laurie Freeman 54 episodes
2000 God, the Devil and Bob Donna Allman Voice role
13 episodes
2002 Two Families Unsold pilot
2003 Phil at the Gate Teddy Duffy Unsold pilot
2003 Charlie Lawrence Sarah Dolecek 7 episodes
2004 Malcolm in the Middle Susan Episode: "Lois's Sister"
2004 Frasier Nanny G Episode: "Caught in the Act"
2004 Absolutely Fabulous Crystalline Episode: "White Box"
2005 Without a Trace Susan Hopkins Episode: "A Day in the Life"
2006 Monk Cora Episode: "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head"
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress - Comedy Series
2006 Grey's Anatomy Beatrice Carver Episode: "The Name of the Game"
2006 Desperate Housewives Carolyn Bigsby 4 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress - Comedy Series
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
2006 My Boys Aunt Phyllis Episode: "When Heroes Fall from Grace"
2007 Virgin of Akron, Ohio, TheThe Virgin of Akron, Ohio Lydia Pilot episode
2007 Raines Alice Brody Episode: "Reconstructing Alice"
2007–present Big Bang Theory, TheThe Big Bang Theory Mary Cooper Season 1 – present (recurring)
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (2016)
2008–09 Easy Money Bobette Buffkin 8 episodes
2009 Farm, TheThe Farm Warden Margaret Elder Unsold pilot
2013 Goodwin Games, TheThe Goodwin Games Dr. Richland[50] 2 episodes
2013–15 Getting On Dr. Jenna James Series regular
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (2016)
2014 Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories Gabrielle Episode: "Baby"
2014–15 The McCarthys Marjorie McCarthy Series regular
2016 Horace and Pete Sarah Guest star
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (2016)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Sources: Emmy Awards;[51] Golden Globe Awards;[52] Tony Awards[53]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1992 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Roseanne Won
1993 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
1994 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
1995 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
1999 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series 3rd Rock from the Sun Nominated
2006 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Monk Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Desperate Housewives Nominated
2007 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2008 Tony Awards Best Featured Actress in a Play November Nominated
2009 Ovation Awards Lead Actress in a Play[54] Voice Lessons Nominated
2011 Lead Actress in a Play[55] Voice Lessons Won
2013 Tony Awards Best Actress in a Play The Other Place Nominated
2016 Best Actress in a Play Misery Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Getting On Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series The Big Bang Theory Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Horace and Pete Nominated


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  54. ^ "Ovation Nominees". 16 September 2013. 
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External links[edit]