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Frances McDormand

Frances McDormand

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Also Known As: Frances Louise Mcdormand Died:
Born: June 23, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As the good-natured, but sharp-minded sheriff on the trail of two murderers in her breakout film, "Fargo" (1996), actress Frances McDormand made a significant mark as an actress, playing one of the more unique, homespun characters in cinema history. Prior to her award-winning performance, McDormand essayed a variety of roles, but mainly focused on put-upon wives or classic femme fatales in films like "Blood Simple" (1984) and "Mississippi Burning" (1988). Later in her career, she branched off into more diverse leading and supporting roles for "Lone Star" (1996), "Wonder Boys" (2000) and "Almost Famous" (2000), though she continued to make her strongest appearances in husband Joel Coens' darkly comic noirs, including "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001). By the time she received her third Academy Award nomination for her supporting performance in "North Country" (2005), it was well established that McDormand was a gifted actress in both comedy and drama and whose best work never failed to impress critics and fans alike.

As the good-natured, but sharp-minded sheriff on the trail of two murderers in her breakout film, "Fargo" (1996), actress Frances McDormand made a significant mark as an actress, playing one of the more unique, homespun characters in cinema history. Prior to her award-winning performance, McDormand essayed a variety of roles, but mainly focused on put-upon wives or classic femme fatales in films like "Blood Simple" (1984) and "Mississippi Burning" (1988). Later in her career, she branched off into more diverse leading and supporting roles for "Lone Star" (1996), "Wonder Boys" (2000) and "Almost Famous" (2000), though she continued to make her strongest appearances in husband Joel Coens' darkly comic noirs, including "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001). By the time she received her third Academy Award nomination for her supporting performance in "North Country" (2005), it was well established that McDormand was a gifted actress in both comedy and drama and whose best work never failed to impress critics and fans alike.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Promised Land (2012)
3.
 Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
5.
7.
8.
 Aeon Flux (2005) The Handler
9.
 North Country (2005) Glory
10.
 Something's Gotta Give (2003) Zoe Barry
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Before age eight, moved frequently with family, before settling in Pennsylvania
1980:
Stage acting debut in "Winterset: Four New American Plays" at Yale Repertory Theater
:
Moved to NYC, initially sharing a Bronx apartment with friend and fellow Yale graduate Holly Hunter
:
First professional stage role, "Trinidad"; written by Jamaican poet Derek Walcott
1983:
New York stage debut, Tina Howe's "Painting Churches"
1984:
Film acting debut, "Blood Simple"; first collaboration with the Coen brothers
1985:
Credited as Fran McDormand for Sam Raimi's "Crimewave"
1985:
TV-movie acting debut, "Scandal Sheet" (ABC)
1987:
Co-starred on the CBS drama series "Leg Work"
1987:
Re-teamed with the Coen brothers for "Raising Arizona"; starred former roommate Holly Hunter
1988:
Won substantial acclaim and a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for her turn in "Mississippi Burning"
1988:
Earned a Tony nomination for her turn as Stella Kowalski in a Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire"
1990:
Co-starred in Ken Loach's controversial political thriller "Hidden Agenda"
1990:
Reteamed with Raimi in "Darkman"
1990:
Appeared uncredited in a bit part as a secretary in the Coens' "Miller's Crossing"
1992:
Played Pfeni, the youngest of three sisters, in the original Broadway production of "The Sisters Rosenzweig"
1993:
Cast in featured role as Tim Robbins' girlfriend in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts"
1995:
Portrayed Patricia Arquette's sister in John Boorman's "Beyond Rangoon"
1995:
Acted in Tommy Lee Jones' critically acclaimed writing-directing debut "The Good Old Boys" (TNT)
1996:
Earned critical praise for her performance as the pregnant police chief in the Coen brothers' "Fargo"
1996:
Delivered a gem of a turn as Gus, a tough mechanic, in HBO's acclaimed "Hidden in America"
1997:
Cast as a German doctor forced into an internment camp with other European women in Bruce Beresford's "Paradise Road"
1998:
Starred as Blanche Du Bois in an Irish production of "A Streetcar Named Desire"
1998:
Portrayed Miss Clavell in "Madeline," the adaptation of a children's book series written by Ludwig Bemelmans
1998:
Returned to the New York stage, co-starring with Billy Crudup in off-Broadway production of "Oedipus"
2000:
Co-starred as Michael Douglas' lover, a college chancellor, in "Wonder Boys"
2000:
Protrayed an eccentric, overprotective mother in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous"; received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
2001:
Played a straying spouse in the Coen brothers' modern noir "The Man Who Wasn't There"
2002:
Co-starred in the drama "Laurel Canyon"; received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best supporting female
2002:
Returned to the NYC stage opposite Willem Dafoe in "To You, the Birdie!"
2003:
Played Diane Keaton's sister in Nancy Meyers' "Something's Gotta Give"
2005:
Co-starred with Charlize Theron in "North Country," a fictionalized account of the first successful sexual harassment case in the U.S.; earned Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Supporting Actress
2005:
Re-teamed with Charlize Theron for the feature adaptation of MTV's cartoon "Aeon Flux"
2006:
Co-starred with Joan Cusack, Jennifer Aniston, and Catherine Keener in director Nicole Holofcener's "Friends with Money"
2008:
Played the title role in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
2008:
Joined an ensemble cast for the Coen's brothers' "Burn After Reading"
2008:
Nominated for the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture ¿ Musical or Comedy ("Burn After Reading")
2011:
Returned to the stage in the David Lindsay-Abaire play "Good People"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
2011:
Appeared in the third installment of the franchise "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
2012:
Cast as the mother of a preteen runaway in Wes Anderson's romantic adventure "Moonrise Kingdom"
2012:
Voiced character of Captain Chantel DuBois in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted"
2012:
Co-starred with Matt Damon as corporate salespersons in "Promised Land," directed by Gus van Sant; film co-written by Damon and John Krasinski
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Bethany College: Bethany , West Virginia - 1979
Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1982

Notes

McDormand continues her active involvement with the 52nd Street Project, a non-profit group that brings members of New York's theatrical world together with children ages 8 though 18 from Hell's Kitchen. She began her long connection with the organization when she met founder Willie Reale in 1985, working on a production for Ensemble Studio Theater (also located on 52nd St). She became a member of its board of directors in 1992 and its chairwoman in 1997.

"I'm a character actress, plain and simple . . . Who can worry about a career? Have a life. Movie stars have careers--actors work, and then they don't work, and then they work again." --Frances McDormand, quoted in Movieline, April 1996

On working with Gene Hackman in "Mississippi Burning": "He had an amazing capacity for not giving away any part of himself [in read-throughs]. But the minute we got on the set, little blinds on his eyes flipped up and everything was available. It was mesmerizing. He's really believable, and it was like a basic acting lesson. I think that's the thing I do most in film, I listen. Which is hard if you don't believe the person talking to you. But if you truly listen to the other characters, then something happens to your face. Enough happens to your face, and you don't have to project it in any way, you can just let it happen." --McDormand to Willem Dafoe in Bomb, Spring 1996

About getting cast by the Coens in "Blood Simple": "They told me later that I was the only actor who had read the scene in the way they had envisioned when they wrote it. After the audition, they asked me to come back later in the day, at four. But I had this friend who had got his first job on a soap opera and I was going to watch him at that time. They were both, like, 'Doesn't she realise that we want her to play Abby? What do you mean she's got to watch a soap opera? Well, can you come back at five?'" --McDormand quoted in Empire, June 1996

"The only control I have is to choose to do the work I want to do, not to follow the Academy Award with something that's predescribed for someone who wins an Academy Award. There's always that sense of anticipation: What will she do next?"

"I'm trying to use the clout [of the Oscar] in my way, not someone else's prescribed way. By saying I'm a character actor and that I play supporting roles in films, I'm not being self-deprecating. That's my agenda--because character actors work until they decide not to work. Leading women can work forever on stage, but they have peaks and valleys in film work. By saying this is what I am, I have control." --McDormand to the Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1998

About working with the Coens: "It's heaven. Their sets are a nice place to be. And their scripts are like plays. You don't mess with them and you don't paraphrase. On 'Fargo', if Marge had to say 'yah' five times, I said it five times." --McDormand to the Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Joel Coen. Director. Directed McDormand in films "Blood Simple" and "Fargo"; together from 1984; married c. 1994; his second marriage.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Vernon McDormand. Preacher. Member of the Disciples of Christ denomination; Canadian by birth.
mother:
Noreen McDormand. Canadian.
brother-in-law:
Ethan Coen. Producer, screenwriter, editor.
son:
Pedro McDormand Coen. Adopted; born c. November 1994 in Paraguay.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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