Somerville at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival
Phyllis Jeanne Somerville
December 12, 1943
|Education||University of Northern Iowa|
Phyllis Jeanne Somerville (born December 12, 1943) is an American stage, film and television actress. She is best known for her roles in Little Children (2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Surviving Family (2012), The Big C (2010–2013) and Outsiders (2016–2017).
Somerville was born in Iowa City, Iowa, to Lefa Mary (née Pash; 1918–2011) and The Rev. Paul Somerville (1919-1995), who moved the family around as he preached at different parishes, until settling in Traer, and eventually Cresco, Iowa. There, her mother worked as a librarian and Phyllis attended high school where she was involved with cheerleading, drama, and music, including playing clarinet in the All-State band. She has three brothers: Bruce (also an actor), Paul (1947-2005) and Stephen, a pathologist.
She attended Morningside College and then transferred to the University of Northern Iowa, studying theatre and graduating with a degree in English in 1966. In college she starred in productions such as The Visit, Electra, and Macbeth. She next did graduate work performing classical roles like Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Hilberry Theatre through Wayne State University in Detroit and later became a resident equity actress with the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. Her first paid job as an entertainer was at Buckskin Joe amusement park over summer break in college.
Somerville made her Broadway debut as Wilma in the 1974 musical Over Here! which was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical. The following year, she performed in the off-Broadway musical The Journey of Snow White as "The Witch". She appeared in the 1978 Broadway production of Once in a Lifetime. In 1983 she was the understudy for Kathy Bates in the Broadway production of Marsha Norman's 'night, Mother, and later toured in the role opposite Mercedes McCambridge. In 1984, she originated the role of Glory in Norman's next play, Traveler in the Dark, at the American Repertory Theater.
In 1990, she originated the role of Joyce in The Sum of Us by David Stevens. In 2001, she originated the role of Hannah in the Off-Broadway musical The Spitfire Grill, a role played in the 1996 film by Ellen Burstyn. In 2009 she performed in the musical Happiness at the Lincoln Center Theatre. She has appeared in other productions Off-Broadway, as well as in regional theatre, including many roles with the Hartford Stage Company. She is a member of the LAByrinth Theater Company. In 2014, she appeared Off-Broadway in an experimental all-female production of I Remember Mama, alongside Rita Gardner, Heather MacRae and Barbara Barrie.
|1992||Leap of Faith||Dolores|
|1999||Bringing Out the Dead||Mrs. Burke|
|2006||Little Children||May MacGorvey|
|2008||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||Grandma Fuller|
|2012||Surviving Family||Mary Giaconne|
|The Double||Mrs. James|
|2017||Our Souls at Night||Ruth|
|1990||Law & Order||Ms. Maltese|
|1991||Law & Order||Kristen Cameron|
|1995||New York News||Edith Schemer|
|NYPD Blue||Dorothy Russell|
|1997||One Life to Live||Charlotte Stonecliff|
|1998||Guiding Light||Mrs. Beasley|
|Sex and the City||Gertrude Morgan|
|Homicide: Life on the Street||Faye Ann Ralston|
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Mrs. Moss|
|2002||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Mrs. McLeish|
|2004||As the World Turns||Annabelle Fettle|
|Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Louise Politano|
|2008||Life on Mars||Mrs. Raimes|
|2010||CSI: Miami||Louise Russo|
|The Big C||Marlene|
|2013||House of Cards||Russo's Mother|
|2014||Taxi Brooklyn||Sasha Lowenthal|
|The Blacklist||Skye Kincaid||The Mombasa Cartel|
|2015||Blue Bloods||Beth Del Rio||Episode: Occupational Hazards|
|The Night Shift||Marilyn Capshaw|
|The Good Wife||Louise Nolfi|
|2017||Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt||Meemaw|
|2018||Castle Rock||Leanne Chambers|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Award / Festival||Category||Work||Result|
|2006||Awards Circuit Community Awards||Best Cast Ensemble||Little Children||Nominated|
|2009||Gold Derby Awards||Best Ensemble Cast||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|2012||Indie Gathering International Film Festival||Best Supporting Actress||Surviving Family||Nominated|
|Golden Door Film Festival||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|2016||Long Island International Film Expo||Best Supporting Actress||Stuff||Won|
- Profile, iagenweb.org; accessed May 30, 2014.
- Lefa Pash Somerville obituary, iowajones.org; accessed May 28, 2014.
- Profile, unialum.org; accessed May 28, 2014.
- Phyllis Somerville interview with AARP, aarp.org; accessed May 28, 2014.
- Profile, wcfcourier.com; accessed May 28, 2014.
- Profile, historicimages.com; accessed May 28, 2014.
- Profile, abouttheartists.com; accessed May 24, 2014.