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|Also Known As:||Laura Elizabeth Innes||Died:|
|Born:||August 16, 1959||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Pontiac, Michigan, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actress director|
After years of stage experience and a half-decade of guest roles on television, actress Laura Innes earned her big break as the steely Dr. Kerry Weaver on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), which in turn launched her successful career as a television director. As played by Innes, Weaver was one of the strongest and longest-running female characters on network television, facing seemingly impossible internal and external challenges during her 12 seasons on the series. Her work, both indomitable and fragile, brought two Emmy nominations to the actress. She later showed the same skill as a director on "ER" and "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006); the latter of which earned her an Emmy nomination and solidified her status as a multi-hyphenate whose talents were yet to reveal their full potential.
Born Aug. 16, 1957, Laura Elizabeth Innes was the youngest of six children by Robert Innes, a tool and die company executive, and his wife, Laurette. Her father, who often took the family to the Stratford Festival of Canada in Ontario, introduced her to the theater world. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in theater, she became a fixture on stage in Chicago, including turns opposite John Malkovich in "A Streetcar Named Desire," as well as productions at Lincoln Center in New York and in Los Angeles. She eventually moved to L.A., where she began making guest appearances on television series. One of these stints, the kids' comedy "Hey Dude" (Nickelodeon, 1988-1991), marked her screenwriting debut in partnership with her husband, actor David Brisbin, who starred in the series.
Her first breakthrough role was as Thomas Haden Church's oversexed ex-wife on the sitcom "Wings" (NBC, 1990-97). After a handful of small but notable turns in TV efforts, including the HBO drama "And the Band Played On" (1993), Innes was cast as Dr. Kerry Weaver on "ER." Initially a recurring role, Weaver's performance as the driven physician quickly earned her critical praise, which led to her becoming a series regular by the third season. Over the course of the show's next 10 seasons, Weaver's personal life came to the forefront; viewed as an abrasive, by-the-books administrator, she clashed frequently with other staff members, especially over issues of same-sex relationships. Her homophobia was eventually revealed as a front for her own sexual confusion, which came to a head in the show's 7th season, when Weaver began to come out to her co-workers. A romance with a female firefighter (Lisa Vidal) broke ground for its sensitive treatment of a gay relationship on primetime network television. Weaver eventually rose to Chief Administrator of the hospital before losing the title over a hiring scandal, then endured numerous personal struggles - a custody battle over her child with Vidal's character, surgery to fix the hip dysplasia that forced her to use crutches throughout the series' run, and an encounter with the mother (Frances Fisher) who gave her up for adoption as an infant. Weaver eventually left her position to become a television reporter in Miami in the 13th season, but returned for the show's final episode. Her 12 seasons with "ER" made her its longest running cast member.
For her work on "ER," Innes received two Emmy nominations and shared three Screen Actors Guild awards with her castmates. More importantly, the show also launched her successful second career as a director. She first stepped behind the camera to helm an episode of the show in 1999, and eventually handled 12 in total, including 2000's "Be Still My Heart," in which Kellie Martin's character, Lucy Knight, is fatally stabbed by schizophrenic Paul Sobriki (David Krumholtz). Her work on "ER" made her an in-demand director for other episodic television, most notably "The West Wing," which brought her an Emmy nomination for her work on the episode "Shibboleth" (2000). Innes also directed numerous episodes of "Brothers and Sisters" (ABC, 2006- ) as well as single stints on "House MD" (Fox, 2004- ) and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (NBC, 2006-07). While honing her directorial skills, Innes continued to work as an actress; her feature film debut came in the 1998 disaster epic "Deep Impact" (1998) directed by frequent "ER" helmer Mimi Leder. In 2010, she returned to NBC and series work as the leader of a mysterious group of detainees held by the government on "The Event" (NBC, 2010- ).
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