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Amanda Plummer

Amanda Plummer

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Also Known As: Amanda Michael Plummer Died:
Born: March 23, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... actor jockey
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BIOGRAPHY

The daughter of two acting legends, Amanda Plummer carved out her own impressive stage and screen legacy. Creating the Broadway role of the innocent, ethereal young nun who claimed to have become pregnant by God, the actress won a Tony for Agnes of God and played many other stage roles to great acclaim. Onscreen, Plummer earned excellent reviews for small, offbeat roles including a mutilated victim in "The World According to Garp" (1982), a shy accountant in "The Fisher King" (1991) and the developmentally disabled girlfriend of mentally challenged Benny (Larry Drake) on "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994). Best remembered as the ferocious robber "Honey Bunny" who held up a diner with "Pumpkin" (Tim Roth) in "Pulp Fiction" (1994), the killer in Mike Myers's campy "So I Married an Axe Murderer" (1993), and a knife-happy small-town woman in Stephen King's "Needful Things" (1993), the multiple Emmy-winning Plummer was often cast as frighteningly intense, unhinged or desperate characters. One of the all-time best character actresses of the modern era, Amanda Plummer was noteworthy for her complete lack of onscreen vanity and fearless dedication to her craft.

Born March 23, 1957, in New York City, Amanda Michael Plummer was the daughter of stage-and-screen royalty, the Tony Award-winning actors Tammy Grimes and Christopher Plummer. As a child and teenager, Plummer had no contact with her father. She dreamed of becoming a jockey, and spent several years training. Nevertheless, acting was in her blood, and she attended Middlebury College in Vermont and took acting lessons at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse. Her film debut came in the Western-tinged "Cattle Annie and Little Britches" (1981), the story of two young girls (Plummer, Diane Lane) who escape reform school to inspire a ragtag bunch of outlaws led by Burt Lancaster. That same year, she also debuted on Broadway as Josephine in the 1981 revival of A Taste of Honey, winning a Theatre World Award and earning nominations for a Best Actress Tony as well as Drama Desk Award.

The following year, she blew critics away by creating the role of the impossibly innocent, possibly insane Sister Agnes in the wrenching drama of faith and female identity, Agnes of God, winning a Best Actress Tony as well as a Drama Desk Award for her performance. Plummer then turned in a small but crucial supporting role in "The World According to Garp" (1982) as Ellen James, a mutilated victim of a sex crime who becomes the unwilling figurehead of a series of rabidly feminist devotees, and played the daughter of the infamously executed spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in "Daniel" (1983). Back on Broadway, she starred as the invalid daughter Laura in the revival of Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie" opposite Jessica Tandy. Plummer returned to the big screen as a doomed radical in "The Hotel New Hampshire" (1984) and essayed an overworked, lonely young mother in the Jane Fonda Appalachian showpiece "The Dollmaker" (ABC, 1984).

The actress continued to log guest and supporting roles in a series of film and television projects while earning starring roles on Broadway, including the lead role of Dolly Clandon in the 1986 Broadway revival of the comedy "You Never Can Tell." She earned an Emmy nomination and another shower of critical acclaim for her recurring role as Alice Hackett, the developmentally disabled girlfriend of Benny Stulwicz (Larry Drake) on "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994). She starred as Eliza Doolittle in the 1987 Broadway revival of Pygmalion and earned another Best Actress Tony nomination. Plummer found the perfect outlet for her signature crazy-edged intensity as a newlywed with a deadly secret in a memorable episode of "Tales from the Crypt" (HBO, 1989-1996), played a wacky New Age teacher in the WonderWorks made-for-TV film "Gryphon" (PBS, 1988), and cameoed as Dagmar, a sailor, in the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan big screen bomb "Joe Versus the Volcano" (1990).

Continuing to rack up a variety of credits, she earned a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA nomination for playing Lydia, a shy accountant with whom a delusional homeless man (Robin Williams) falls in love in Terry Gilliam's Oscar-winning "The Fisher King" (1991). As a pair of very different Polish sisters, Plummer more than held her own against Kyra Sedgwick in "Miss Rose White" (NBC, 1992) and won a Best Supporting Actress Emmy as well as a Golden Globe nomination for her powerful work as a concentration camp survivor. She was campy fun as Nancy Travis' unhinged sister in Mike Myers flop-turned-cult film "So I Married an Axe Murderer" (1993), and played another woman driven to murder in the decidedly darker Stephen King adaptation "Needful Things" (1993). For her performance in the latter, Plummer won a Best Supporting Actress Saturn Award for her violent and memorable performance.

As "Honey Bunny" to Tim Roth's "Pumpkin," a wild-eyed, live-wired Plummer played a small but pivotal role in the industry-changing global phenomenon "Pulp Fiction" (1994), setting the film's tone in its opening moments and kicking the movie off with a legendary and profane line. Quentin Tarantino wrote the part specifically for the actress, who earned an American Comedy Award nomination for her brief role. The quirky actress next played a breathtakingly twisted lesbian serial killer in the British indie "Butterfly Kiss" (1995) and a loyal-to-the-death minion of a dark angel (Christopher Walken) in the horror hit "The Prophecy" (1995). Ever the chameleon, the actress fearlessly mined comedy from a sharp little turn as the prostitute mother of Reese Witherspoon in the excellent "Freeway" (1996) and played a gun-toting pizza deliverywoman in the ensemble character piece "The Right to Remain Silent" (Showtime, 1996) alongside Lea Thompson and Robert Loggia. For her work on "Silent," she won a Best Supporting CableACE Award.

Plummer took home her second Emmy as a mysterious scientist in a time-travel-themed episode of "The Outer Limits" (Showtime, 1995-2000; Syfy, 2001-02). On a lighter note, she voiced Clotho, the youngest of The Fates, in Disney's successful animated hit "Hercules" (1997) and delighted as Boots, a dog who has been magically transformed into a human by an evil fairy godmother (Kathleen Turner) in the Martin Short fantasy "A Simple Wish" (1997). Although she continued to appear on the stage, starring in the 1998 off-Broadway run of "Killer Joe," Plummer appeared more frequently in indie, genre and TV projects, including the Mel Gibson/Milla Jovovich/U2 drama "The Million Dollar Hotel" (2000), a reprisal of her role on "The Outer Limits," and the kids' mystery "Get a Clue" (Disney Channel, 2002) starring a young Lindsay Lohan.

She continued to corner the market on creepy with her portrayal of a nightmarish professor in an episode of "Night Visions" (Fox, 2001), and notched a small but heartbreaking role of a fragile friend to a dying blue-collar woman (Sarah Polley) in "My Life Without Me" (2003). Plummer gave committed performances as trashy characters in the decidedly low-quality horror films "Mimic 3: Sentinel" (2003) and "Satan's Little Helper" (2004), but proved she still possessed her considerable acting chops by winning her third Emmy for a grueling performance as Miranda Cole, a schizophrenic rape victim in an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ). In an only-in-Hollywood twist, the actress's father, Christopher Plummer, was nominated for an Emmy the same year but did not win. Although the two had little in the way of a father-daughter relationship when she was a child, they later became friends in adulthood. Meanwhile, she continued to add to her eclectic filmography, booking guest spots on the sci-fi "Battlestar Galactica" (Syfy, 2004-09), the educational cartoon "WordGirl" (PBS, 2007- ) and the kids' animated comedy "Phineas and Ferb" (Disney Channel, 2007- ). A steady presence in independent film of all types, budgets and distributions, Plummer never stopped earning her indie stripes, appearing in a slew of projects, including the lesbian-themed Victorian prison drama "Affinity" (2008).

By Jonathan Riggs

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