Laura Elizabeth Metcalf
June 16, 1955
Carbondale, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||Illinois State University|
|Children||4, including Zoe Perry|
Laura Elizabeth Metcalf (born June 16, 1955) is an American actress. Over the course of her four-decade career, she has won three Primetime Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, and has been nominated for an Academy Award and British Academy Film Award.
Metcalf began her career with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and frequently works in Chicago theater. For her stage performances and work on Broadway, Metcalf has received six Tony Award nominations, winning Best Actress in a Play in 2017 for her performance in A Doll's House, Part 2 and Best Featured Actress in a Play for the 2018 revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women.
She gained national attention for her performance as Jackie Harris on the sitcom Roseanne (1988–1997, 2018) and its spinoff The Conners (2018–present) for which she won three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1992–1994). She is an 11-time Emmy Award nominee, and her other television credits include 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Norm Show, Frasier, Desperate Housewives and The Big Bang Theory. She played a leading role in the HBO comedy series Getting On (2013–2015), for which she received critical acclaim and a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, and starred in an episode of Horace and Pete (2016), earning a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
Metcalf has starred in numerous films and is known for her critically acclaimed performance in Greta Gerwig's comedy-drama film Lady Bird, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, and a BAFTA Award. Since 1995, she has voiced Mrs. Davis, the mother of Andy, in the Toy Story franchise.
Early life and education
Metcalf was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the eldest of three children. She, her brother James and her sister Linda were raised in Edwardsville, Illinois, which she has said "isn't anywhere near a theatre." Her father, James, was the budget director at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville at the time of his sudden death in 1984. Her mother, Libby, was a librarian. Her great-aunt was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Zoë Akins.
Metcalf is an alumna of Illinois State University, class of 1976. Metcalf worked as a secretary while in college and has said that she 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. She was often so focused on her work she missed lunch. 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. She has said that theatre work also involves interpreting and studying human behavior. She has described herself as hideously shy, and yet she found the courage to audition for a few plays in high school and was "hooked". She initially did not choose acting as a career, because it was unlikely to lead to regular work.
1976–1985: Theatre education and early work
Metcalf attended Illinois State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theater in 1976. 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. Metcalf went to New York to appear in an Off-Broadway Steppenwolf production of Balm in Gilead at Circle Repertory in 1984 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). Metcalf was praised for her performance as Darlene, and was specifically singled out for her 20-minute act two monologue. Chicago critic Richard Christiansen stated:
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.
2008–2012: November and other roles, Off Broadway and the West End
In June 2009, Metcalf starred in Justin Tanner's play Voice Lessons with French Stewart 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 nine performances in October 2009, and the latter was canceled before opening.
In September 2010, Metcalf returned to Steppenwolf and starred in Lisa D'Amour's play Detroit. In 2011, she appeared in the Off-Broadway play The Other Place by Sharr White, directed by Joe Mantello. She won the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, and the 2011 Obie Award, for her performance.
In 2012, Metcalf joined David Suchet in a West End production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, for which she was nominated for the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress.
2013–present: Critical recognition and awards success
In 2013, The Other Place transferred to Broadway with Metcalf reprising her role and earning Tony and Drama League nominations. She starred with her real-life daughter, Zoe Perry. In 2013, Metcalf starred in Bruce Norris's Off-Broadway play Domesticated with Jeff Goldblum at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater of Lincoln Center. She was nominated for the 2014 Drama League Award, Distinguished Performance and the 2014 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play for her performance.
In 2015, she took the role of Annie Wilkes in the Broadway production of Stephen King's Misery, opposite Bruce Willis. The play premiered on November 15, 2015, at the Broadhurst Theatre. It received mixed reviews from critics, but Metcalf's performance was widely acclaimed. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, her third Tony nomination overall.
Metcalf appeared on Broadway in Lucas Hnath's A Doll's House, Part 2 with Chris Cooper at the John Golden Theatre. which opened in April 2017. She received critical acclaim for her performance and earned her first Tony Award, winning for Best Actress in a Play. The following year Metcalf performed in the Broadway revival of Three Tall Women with Glenda Jackson and Allison Pill at the John Golden Theatre in 2018. Metcalf portrays B, a 52 year old version of the protagonist, a woman over 90 years old, who reflects on her life with a mixture of shame, pleasure, regret, and satisfaction. She won her second consecutive Tony Award, this time for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Metcalf played Hillary Clinton opposite John Lithgow as Bill Clinton in Lucas Hnath's Hillary and Clinton on Broadway in 2019 at the John Golden Theatre. The play was directed by Joe Mantello and tells a fictional account of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. It ran April 18, 2019 through June 23, 2019. Metcalf was nominated for the 2019 Tony Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.
In 2020, Metcalf began performances in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? playing Martha. The production was directed by Joe Mantello and Metcalf starred alongside Rupert Everett. The play ran at the Booth Theatre from March 3, 2020, to March 11, 2020. The production was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with no planned return date.
1980–1981: Saturday Night Live cast member
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 perceived 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 not asked back to be a cast member.
1988–1997: Roseanne, recognition and awards
Metcalf is perhaps best known for her role as Jackie Harris, the multiple-careered, low self-esteemed, amiable sister of the title character, in the hit ABC sitcom series Roseanne starring Roseanne Barr, and John Goodman. Her performance garnered three consecutive Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Roseanne, which originally ran from 1988 to 1997. Metcalf appeared as Jackie over the show's entire run.
During this time she also had voice roles on shows such as Duckman (1995–1996), King of the Hill (1997), and Life with Louie (1997). She also appeared in shows such as The Jackie Thomas Show (1995), Dharma and Greg (1997), and 3rd Rock from the Sun (1998).
2000–2008: Continued guest roles
She subsequently appeared with Norm Macdonald on The Norm Show (or Norm), which ran for three seasons (1999–2001), and was also a regular character on the 2003 Nathan Lane series Charlie Lawrence, 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, Without a Trace, 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Big Bang Theory, and Monk. She has been nominated for the Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series for the latter three listed roles. In The Big Bang Theory she played Sheldon Cooper's mother, Mary. In the prequel spinoff Young Sheldon, her daughter Zoe Perry portrays a younger version of Mary. In December 2018, Metcalf was nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for The Conners, competing against her daughter Zoe Perry nominated in the same category for her role in Young Sheldon, though neither won.
Metcalf took a recurring role on Desperate Housewives, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, and 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.
2013–present: Getting On, Horace and Pete, The Conners
Metcalf was the lead actress in the short-lived CBS sitcom The McCarthys (2014–15). From 2013 to 2015, Metcalf starred in HBO comedy series Getting On. Metcalf was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for the final season.
In 2016, Metcalf took a role in the third episode of Louis C.K.'s self-funded show Horace and Pete. She was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Guest Actress in a Drama for her performance. Matt Brenann of IndieWire praised Metcalf's performance writing, "Metcalf’s inflections and expressions its central characters; C.K.’s unflinching direction drinks her performance to the lees, to the point that Sarah’s recollection of an afternoon sunbathing bristles with suspense, approaching the edge of some invisible precipice."
On April 28, 2017, it was announced that a revival of Roseanne was in the works and that Metcalf along with most of the original cast and some of the producers would return for the limited series that was being shopped around with ABC and Netflix the frontrunners to land the show. On May 16, 2017, producers confirmed that eight episodes would air mid-season in 2018 on ABC. On May 29, 2018, in the wake of racist remarks by Barr posted on Twitter regarding Valerie Jarrett (an advisor of former president Barack Obama), ABC cancelled the revival after a single season. Metcalf reprised her role in The Conners, a spinoff of Roseanne without Barr's involvement which premiered in fall 2018. In 2018, Metcalf's performance on the revival of Roseanne was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Comedy Actress in a Supporting Role.
1978–1999: Early roles and career beginnings, established character actress
Metcalf's first on screen role was an uncredited appearance as a maid in Robert Altman's comedy A Wedding (1978). During the 1980s, Metcalf continued to performed in minor roles in many films, including the Susan Seidelman comedy Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Seiderman's Making Mr. Right (1987), Gary Sinise's drama Miles from Home (1988), the comedy Stars and Bars (1988), and John Hughes' comedy film Uncle Buck (1989).
Throughout the 1990s she appeared in films such as the Mike Figgis crime drama Internal Affairs (1990), the comedy-drama film Mistress (1992), the romantic drama A Dangerous Woman (1993), Michael Apted's neo-noir thriller Blink (1994), the Mike Figgis drama Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Warren Beatty's political drama Bulworth (1998), and the Garry Marshall romantic comedy Runaway Bride (1999). Metcalf voiced Andy's mom in Disney-Pixar's Toy Story (1995). Metcalf reprised her role as Andy's mom in Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010); both were financial and critical successes with the latter receiving five Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and winning Best Animated Feature Film. In 2019 she reprised her role in Toy Story 4. Metcalf has appeared against type in both film and television; in Oliver Stone's historical epic JFK (1991), she played a dramatic role as one of Jim Garrison's chief investigators. She appeared as the murderous mother of Billy Loomis in the horror film Scream 2 (1997) and portrayed real-life Carolyn McCarthy in the television movie The Long Island Incident (1998).
2000–2010: Voice work and minor roles
In the 2000s Metcalf became known mostly for her voice work in film. In 2002, she voiced Sarah Hawkins in the Disney animated Treasure Planet (2002). Despite the film receiving positive reviews, the film was a financial box office failure. In 2006 she voiced Lucille Krunklehorn-Robinson in the Disney computer animated film Meet the Robinsons. The film, like Treasure Planet, was met with mixed reviews with A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote: "Meet the Robinsons is surely one of the worst theatrically released animated features issued under the Disney label in quite some time". The film was a box office bomb.
Metcalf did not feature in many live action films during this period but she did appear in the raunchy comedy Beer League (2006), the Jim Carrey-led comedy Fun with Dick and Jane (2005), the coming of age drama Georgia Rule (2006) with Jane Fonda and Lindsay Lohan, and the war drama Stop Loss (2008) with Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
2017–present: Critical recognition with Lady Bird
In 2017, Metcalf received universal critical acclaim for her performance in Greta Gerwig's coming of age film Lady Bird starring alongside Saoirse Ronan and Tracy Letts. For her performance, she was nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, Critics Choice and the Independent Spirit Award.
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, including in the 1994 feature film thriller Blink and the 1998 drama Chicago Cab; 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. 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.
Metcalf has described herself as a workaholic and stated that she is hard on herself during rehearsals. She has said that she prefers theatre over other acting media as it is where she feels most comfortable.
Awards and nominations
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Some of the names here will be familiar only to die-hard fans; others, like Murphy, defined what was funny for generations of viewers.
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