Marcia Gay Harden

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Marcia Gay Harden
A photograph of Harden at the premiere of Frozen in 2013
Harden in 2013
Born (1959-08-14) August 14, 1959 (age 63)
San Diego, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Texas, Austin (BA)
New York University (MFA)
Years active1979–present
Thaddaeus Scheel
(m. 1996; div. 2012)
AwardsFull list

Marcia Gay Harden (born August 14, 1959)[1] is an American actress. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award and a Tony Award, in addition to nominations for three Primetime Emmy Awards.

Born in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, Harden began her acting career appearing in television programs throughout the 1980s. In 1986, she appeared in her first film role, with her breakthrough coming in the 1990 Coen brothers–directed Miller's Crossing. For her portrayal of artist Lee Krasner in the 2000 biographical film Pollock, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She received a second Academy Award nomination for her performance as Celeste Boyle in the drama film Mystic River (2003). Her other notable film credits include The First Wives Club (1996), Flubber (1997), Space Cowboys (2000), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), and the Fifty Shades film trilogy.

Harden made her Broadway debut in 1993, starring in Tony Kushner's epic play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches/Angels in America: Perestroika for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. She returned to Broadway in 2009 as Veronica in Yazmina Reza's comedic play God of Carnage, with her performance earning her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

Harden's television credits include the HBO series The Newsroom, the CBS series Code Black, the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder, and the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show. She received her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her role as FBI Special Agent Dana Lewis in the crime drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and earned a second Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her performance as Janina Krzyżanowska in the television film The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009).

Early life[edit]

Harden was born in the La Jolla area of San Diego, California, the daughter of Texas natives Beverly Harden (née Bushfield), a housewife, and Thad Harold Harden (1932–2002), who was an officer in the United States Navy.[2] She has three sisters and one brother.

Harden's brother is named Thaddeus, as are her father and her former husband. Harden's family frequently moved because of her father's job, living in Japan, Germany, Greece, California, and Maryland.[3]

Harden graduated from Surrattsville High School in Clinton, Maryland in 1976. She received a Bachelor of Arts in theater from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980. Harden received a Master of Fine Arts from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1988.[4]


Harden's first film role was in a 1979 student-produced movie at the University of Texas. Throughout the 1980s, she appeared in several television programs, including Simon & Simon, Kojak, and CBS Summer Playhouse. She appeared in The Imagemaker (1986), her first movie screen role, in which she played a stage manager. She appeared in the Coen brothers' Miller's Crossing (1990), a 1930s mobster drama in which she first gained wide exposure. Even so, at the time, living in New York City, she had to go back to doing catering jobs "because I didn't have any money".[5]

Harden debuted on Broadway in the role of Harper Pitt (and others) in Tony Kushner's Angels in America in 1993. The role earned her critical acclaim and she received a Tony Award nomination (Best Featured Actress in a Play).

Harden played actress Ava Gardner alongside Philip Casnoff as Frank Sinatra in the 1992 made-for-TV miniseries Sinatra. Throughout the 1990s, she continued to appear in films and television. Her notable film roles include the Disney sci-fi comedy Flubber (1997), a popular hit in which she co-starred with Robin Williams; the supernatural drama Meet Joe Black (1998), playing the under-appreciated daughter of a tycoon (Anthony Hopkins, co-starring Brad Pitt); Labor of Love (1998), a Lifetime television movie in which she starred with David Marshall Grant; and Space Cowboys (2000), an all-star adventure-drama about aging astronauts.

In 2000, Harden won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of painter Lee Krasner in the biographical film Pollock. In 2004, she received a second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the mystery crime drama Mystic River.

Harden guest-starred as FBI undercover agent Dana Lewis posing as a white supremacist in "Raw", an episode of the popular crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. This role earned Harden her first Emmy Award nomination for best guest actress in a drama series in 2007. She reprised the role in the series' eighth-season premiere and again in the 12th-season episode "Penetration" as a rape victim.

Harden appeared in several 2007 films, including Sean Penn's Into the Wild and Frank Darabont's The Mist (opposite Thomas Jane and Laurie Holden), based on the novella by Stephen King. Also in 2007, she shared top billing with Kevin Bacon in Rails & Ties, the directorial debut of Alison Eastwood. Harden played a woman who has a mastectomy in Home (2008). (Her character in Rails & Ties also had a mastectomy.) Scenes in both films required her to bare her breasts, with the missing breast removed using computer-generated imagery. In Home, her co-stars include her daughter, Eulala Scheel. Harden starred in the Christmas Cottage, a story of the early artistic beginnings of the Painter of Light Thomas Kinkade.

Harden appeared as a regular on the FX series Damages as a shrewd corporate attorney opposite Glenn Close and William Hurt in 2009. She received a 2009 Emmy nomination for her role in The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, a TV film also starring Oscar-winner Anna Paquin. She was a Best Supporting Actress in a TV Movie/Miniseries nominee and lost to Shohreh Aghdashloo. If she had won this Emmy, Harden would have entered the elite group of "triple-crown" actors, those who have won the profession's three highest honors: the Academy Award (film), the Tony Award (stage), and the Emmy Award (television).

Harden co-starred with Elliot Page and Drew Barrymore in 2009's Whip It, which proved a critical success.[6] She also appeared in the comedy The Maiden Heist (2009) with Christopher Walken and Morgan Freeman.

Harden returned to Broadway in Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, co-starring with James Gandolfini, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels, in 2009.[7] All three actors were nominated for a Tony Award; Harden won Best Actress in a Play.[8]

Harden reunited with her former Broadway co-star Jeff Daniels as a new cast member on HBO's series The Newsroom in 2013.[5] She played Christian Grey's mother, Grace Trevelyan Grey, in the Fifty Shades film series from 2015 to 2018. Also in 2015, she began a starring role in the TV series Code Black. She stars in the 2022 CBS drama So Help Me Todd, since renewed for a second season.

Personal life[edit]

In 1996 Harden married Thaddaeus Scheel, a prop master, with whom she worked on The Spitfire Grill.[5] They have three children: a daughter, Eulala Grace Scheel (born September 1998), and twins Julitta Dee Scheel and Hudson Harden Scheel (born April 22, 2004).[9] In February 2012, Harden filed for divorce from Scheel.[10]

Harden has owned a property in the Catskills and a townhouse in Harlem.[11][12][13] She sold the Harlem townhouse in 2012.[14]

Harden is an avid potter, which she learned in high school, and then took up again while acting in Angels in America.[15][11]

Harden is a practitioner of ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, which her mother learned while they lived in Japan.[16] She gave a brief demonstration in 2007 on The Martha Stewart Show and presented some works of her family, as well.[17] In May 2018, a memoir called The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers was published. The book details the story and bond of mother and daughter throughout time and how they are dealing with the largest struggle yet, her mother's Alzheimer's disease. Harden created works of ikebana specifically for this book to illustrate the different seasons of her mother's life.[18][15]

Acting credits[edit]


List of films and roles
Year Title Role Notes
1990 Miller's Crossing Verna Bernbaum
1991 Late for Dinner[19] Joy Husband
In Broad Daylight Adina Rowan
1992 Crush Lane
Used People Norma
1994 Safe Passage Cynthia
1996 The Spitfire Grill Shelby Goddard
The Daytrippers Libby
The First Wives Club Dr. Leslie Rosen
Spy Hard Miss Cheevus
Far Harbor Arabella
1997 Flubber Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds
1998 Desperate Measures Dr. Samantha Hawkins
Meet Joe Black Allison Parrish
Curtain Call Michelle Tippet
2000 Space Cowboys Sara Holland
Pollock Lee Krasner
2001 Gaudi Afternoon Frankie Stevens
2003 Mystic River Celeste Boyle
Casa de los Babys Nan
Mona Lisa Smile Nancy Abbey
2004 Welcome to Mooseport Grace Sutherland
P.S. Missy Goldberg
2005 Bad News Bears Liz Whitewood
Willa Cather: The Road Is All Willa Cather Voice role
American Gun Janet Huttenson
2006 American Dreamz First Lady
The Dead Girl[20] Melora
The Hoax Edith Irving
Canvas Mary Marino
2007 The Invisible Diane Powell
Into the Wild Billie McCandless
Rails & Ties Megan Stark
The Mist Mrs. Carmody
2008 Home Inga
Thomas Kinkade's Home for Christmas Maryanne Kinkade
2009 The Maiden Heist Rose
Whip It Brooke Cavendar
2010 A Cat in Paris Jeanne Voice role
2011 Detachment Principal Carol Dearden
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You Marjorie Dunfour
2012 Noah's Ark: The New Beginning Aamah Voice role
If I Were You Madelyn
2013 The Wine of Summer Shelley
Parkland Head Nurse Doris Nelson
2014 Magic in the Moonlight Mrs. Baker
You're Not You Elizabeth
Elsa & Fred Lydia Barcroft
Unity Narrator Documentary
2015 Grandma Judy
Fifty Shades of Grey Grace Trevelyan Grey
Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant President of the FAFAFA
After Words Jane Taylor
2016 Get a Job Katherine Dunn
2017 Fifty Shades Darker Grace Trevelyan Grey
2018 Fifty Shades Freed
2019 Point Blank Regina Lewis
2020 Pink Skies Ahead Pamela
2021 Moxie Principal Marlene Shelly
2022 Gigi & Nate Claire Gibson
Confess, Fletch The Countess
2023 Daughter of the Bride Diane
TBD Knox Goes Away Not yet released TBA Post-production[21]
Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released


List of television appearances and roles
Year Title Role Notes
1987 CBS Summer Playhouse Kim Episode: "In the Lion's Den"
1988 Simon & Simon Librarian, Joan Episode: "Ties That Bind"
1989 Gideon Oliver Lila Episode: "Sleep Well, Professor Oliver"
1991 In Broad Daylight Adina Rowan Television film
Fever Lacy Television film
1992 Sinatra Ava Gardner Television film
1995 Fallen Angels Marie Episode: "Good Housekeeping"
Chicago Hope Barbara Tomilson Episode: "Internal Affairs"
Great Performances Episode: "Talking With"
Homicide: Life on the Street Joan Garbarek Episode: "A Doll's Eyes"
1997 Path to Paradise Nancy Floyd Television film
1998 Labor of Love Annie Pines Television film
1999 Spenser: Small Vices Susan Silverman Television film
2000 Thin Air Television film
2001 Walking Shadow Television film
2001–2002 The Education of Max Bickford Andrea Haskell 22 episodes
2002 Guilty Hearts Jenny Moran Television film
King of Texas Mrs. Susannah Lear Tumlinson Television film
2004 She's Too Young Trish Vogul Television film
2005 Felicity: An American Girl Adventure Mrs. Martha Merriman Television film
2005–2013 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit FBI Special Agent Dana Lewis 4 episodes
2006 In from the Night Vicki Miller Television film
2008 The Tower Zoe Cafritz Television film
Sex and Lies in Sin City Becky Binion Television film
2009 Damages Claire Maddox 7 episodes
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Janina Kyzyzanowska Television film
2010 Royal Pains Dr. Elizabeth Blair 3 episodes
2011 Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy Edda Mellas Television film
Innocent Barbara Sabich Television film
2012 Body of Proof Sheila Temple Episode: "Sympathy for the Devil"
Bent Vanessa Carter Episode: "Mom"
2012–2013 Tron: Uprising Keller Voice role, Episodes: "State of Mind", "Welcome Home"
2012 Isabel Frances Lorenz Television film
2013–2014 The Newsroom Rebecca Halliday 10 episodes
Trophy Wife Diane 22 episodes
2015, 2017,
How to Get Away with Murder Hannah Keating 5 episodes (inc. 2 voice role appearances)
2015–2018 Code Black Dr. Leanne Rorish Main role
2019 Love You to Death Camile Television film
BoJack Horseman Denise/McCaitlyn 2 episodes (voice role)
The Morning Show Maggie Brener 6 episodes
2020 A Million Little Things Alice Episode: "Guilty"
Barkskins Mathilde Geffard Series regular
2022 Uncoupled Claire Lewis Recurring role
2022 The Cuphead Show! Sally Stageplay Episodes: "Dead Broke", "Cupstaged"
2022–present So Help Me Todd Margaret Wright Main role


List of stage appearances and roles
Year Title Role Writer Venue Location
1989 The Man Who Shot Lincoln Mary Devlin Luigi Creatore Astor Place Theatre New York City
1992–1993 The Years Isabella Cindy Lou Johnson New York City Center - Stage I
1993–1994 Angels in America: Perestroika Harper Pitt Tony Kushner Walter Kerr Theatre
Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Harper Pitt,
Martin Heller
Tony Kushner Walter Kerr Theatre
1994 Simpatico Cecilia Sam Shepard The Public Theater - Newman Theater
2001 The Seagull Masha Anton Chekhov Delacorte Theater
2002 The Exonerated Jessica Blank,
Erik Jensen
Lynn Redgrave Theater
2009 God of Carnage Veronica Yasmina Reza Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
2017 Sweet Bird of Youth'[22] Alexandra del Lago Tennessee Williams Chichester Festival Theatre Chichester, England

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • Harden, Marcia Gay (2018). The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers. New York: Atria Books. ISBN 978-1-5011-3572-9. OCLC 1027733089.


  1. ^ "The Year I Turned..." People. Vol. 72, no. 23. December 2, 2009.
  2. ^ "Thad Harold Harden". Variety. March 1, 2002. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  3. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (February 15, 2001). "Strange Attraction". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  4. ^ "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Archived from the original on May 30, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Goldman, Andrew (July 5, 2013). "What Marcia Gay Harden Knows About Trophy Wives". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Whip It Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on May 26, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  7. ^ Davis, Hope (July 13, 2012). "Marcia Gay Harden Stands Strong". Hamptons.
  8. ^ Hetrick, Adam (January 12, 2011). "Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis to Reunite for God of Carnage in Los Angeles". Playbill. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  9. ^ Armstrong, Mark (April 27, 2004). "Marcia Gay Harden Welcomes Babies". People.
  10. ^ "Marcia Gay Harden Files for Divorce". People. February 16, 2012. Retrieved February 16, 2012.
  11. ^ a b Dweck, Sophie (January 25, 2019). "Marcia Gay Harden: 25 Things You Don't Know About Me ('I Love Camping in National Parks')". Us Weekly.
  12. ^ Capuzzo, Jill P. (September 14, 2007). "Between Film Sets, Life on Gossamer Lake". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Leon, Anya (December 10, 2009). "Marcia Gay Harden Embraces City Life With Her Family". People.
  14. ^ Velsey, Kim (May 28, 2012). "Marcia Gay Harden Sells Harlem Brownstone". The Observer. London.
  15. ^ a b King, Larry; Harden, Marcia Gay (May 11, 2018). "Marcia Gay Harden on Alzheimer's, 'Fifty Shades,' & her new book" (Video interview). Larry King Now. Ora TV.
  16. ^ Hoban, Mary Kate (March 28, 2017). "'Code Black' Star Marcia Gay Harden On Alzheimer's Disease". Elite Daily. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  17. ^ "Ikebana | Martha Stewart". Archived from the original on October 2, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  18. ^ Harden, Marcia Gay (May 1, 2018). The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-5011-3572-9.
  19. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 20, 1991). "Late For Dinner". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 9, 2020 – via
  20. ^ Finn, Robin (December 22, 2006). "The Down-to-Earth Act? It's for Real". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Kroll, Justin (December 15, 2022). "James Marsden, Marcia Gay Harden And Al Pacino Among Those Starring In Michael Keaton-Directed Thriller Knox Goes Away". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 6, 2023.
  22. ^ Armitstead, Claire (May 22, 2017). "Diamond dame: Marcia Gay Harden on hellish roles, washed-up stars and nipple clamp tweets". The Guardian. London.

External links[edit]