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Often lauded for her prolific stage work, actress Felicity Huffman struggled for years in trying to find her footing on both television and the big screen. An accomplished performer whose best early work consisted of collaborations with playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy, whom she later married, Huffman slowly forged a career onscreen that at first mainly consisted of small parts in television movies and guest starring roles on series television, including episodes of "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) and "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000). She finally began to make a name for herself with a starring role on Aaron Sorkin's acclaimed comedy, "Sports Night" (NBC, 1998-2000), though the series only lasted two seasons. Eventually, Huffman received her proper due when she landed a plum role on the ensemble dramedy, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004- ), which propelled her and co-star Eva Longoria and creator Marc Cherry to stardom, while reviving the careers of the show's other stars like Teri Hatcher and Nicolette Sheridan. After receiving an Emmy Award for her performance as the most down-to-earth housewife, Lynette Scavo, Huffman found Academy Award-worthy success on the big screen with her...
Often lauded for her prolific stage work, actress Felicity Huffman struggled for years in trying to find her footing on both television and the big screen. An accomplished performer whose best early work consisted of collaborations with playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy, whom she later married, Huffman slowly forged a career onscreen that at first mainly consisted of small parts in television movies and guest starring roles on series television, including episodes of "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) and "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000). She finally began to make a name for herself with a starring role on Aaron Sorkin's acclaimed comedy, "Sports Night" (NBC, 1998-2000), though the series only lasted two seasons. Eventually, Huffman received her proper due when she landed a plum role on the ensemble dramedy, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004- ), which propelled her and co-star Eva Longoria and creator Marc Cherry to stardom, while reviving the careers of the show's other stars like Teri Hatcher and Nicolette Sheridan. After receiving an Emmy Award for her performance as the most down-to-earth housewife, Lynette Scavo, Huffman found Academy Award-worthy success on the big screen with her touching portrait of a transsexual parent in "Transamerica" (2005), proving that talent and perseverance could win out.
Born on Dec. 9, 1962 in Bedford, NY, Huffman was raised in Colorado by her father, Moore Peters Huffman, a banker, and her mother, Grace, who were divorced just a year after her birth. The youngest of eight children, which included six other girls, Huffman discovered acting at a young age and eventually attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, a boarding school where she studied theater during her high school years. After graduation, she continued her theatrical coursework at New York University, graduating with a drama degree from the Tisch School of the Arts in 1988. During her late teens and early twenties, Huffman - who hated her body - battled bulimia, which quickly turned into anorexia nervosa. At her lowest point, Huffman was a scant 98 pounds. Her problem caused deep concern within her family so she eventually sought the help of a therapist. Meanwhile, she joined the Atlantic Theater Company, where she learned her craft from actor William H. Macy, who later became her husband. At the time, however, both maintained a strict student-teacher relationship, though both admitted in interviews later that the romantic chemistry was there. She later credited Macy with helping to make her feel good about her appearance, as well.
Huffman soon made her feature debut with a bit part as the "Wheel of Fortune" girl in David Mamet's Mafia comedy "Things Change" (1988). He also tapped her to understudy and eventually replace Madonna in the playwright's Broadway production of "Speed-the-Plow" (1988). After appearing as a Harvard law school student in the courtroom drama, "Reversal of Fortune" (1990), Huffman made her small screen debut with a strong supporting role in "Stephen King's Golden Years" (CBS, 1991), playing a government security officer who aids an elderly man (Keith Szarabajka) who mysteriously starts to grow younger after a lab experiment goes horribly wrong. Following small roles in made-for-television movies like "The Water Engine" (TNT, 1992) and "Quicksand: No Escape" (USA, 1992), she landed a memorable guest-starring role on "The X-Files" playing a scientist who helps Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) deal with extraterrestrial parasitic organisms. Hoping for her own regular series role, Huffman was Ed Asner's daughter in the pilot for "Thunder Alley" (ABC, 1994), but was replaced in subsequent episodes by Diane Venora when the series began.
Despite the setback, Huffman recovered from that disappointment with stage success in David Mamet's "The Cryptogram" (1995), winning an OBIE Award for her performance. She made numerous guest spots on television, including episodes of "Bedtime" (Showtime, 1995-97), "Chicago Hope" and "Early Edition" (CBS, 1996-2000), but had trouble landing a regular series role. Following another strong supporting turn in a David Mamet production, "The Spanish Prisoner" (1998), Huffman finally received her due when she was tapped by writer and executive producer Aaron Sorkin for his acclaimed, but short-lived comedy, "Sports Night." Huffman played Dana Whitaker, executive producer of a fictional "Sports Center"-like show, who engages in an on-again, off-again romance with one of the anchors (Peter Krause). Husband Bill Macy also had a recurring character on the series as a ratings expert. "Sports Night" sparked an on-screen partnership that endured through many projects, including the cable telepic "A Case of Murder" (1999), a comedy-mystery Macy adapted from the Donald Westlake novel. After both appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson's acclaimed ensemble drama, "Magnolia" (1999), Huffman branched out on her own to play a photographer falsely accused of child pornography in the made-for-television drama, "Snap Decision" (Lifetime, 2001).
Following an uncredited turn in her husband's award-winning telepic "Door To Door" (TNT, 2002), which her husband co-wrote, Huffman delivered an exceptional performance as Lady Bird Johnson in "Path to War" (HBO, 2002), John Frankenheimer's compelling look at President Lyndon Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War. She next starred in "Out of Order" (Showtime, 2003), a look at a Hollywood couple coping with infidelity and addiction. After co-starring in the legal potboiler "Reversible Errors" (2004), Huffman spent a couple seasons as Dr. Frasier Crane's caustic co-worker and eventual love interest on the hit sitcom "Frasier" (NBC, 1996-2004). After playing Kate Hudson's late older sister in the comedy "Raising Helen" (2004), Huffman returned to series drama in the offbeat serial drama "Desperate Housewives," playing Lynette Scavo, a former corporate ladder-climber who becomes a stay-at-home mom, struggling with her insecurities when she can not control her wild children and gets little support from her husband (Doug Savant). The show's immediate popularity provided Huffman's career with fresh energy and at long last gave her the hit she and her collaborators richly deserved. Meanwhile, Huffman won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the series' debut season, as well as a 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance in a Comedy Series, even though she continued to remain the most private and low-profile of her co-stars, who included Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross, Nicolette Sheridan and Eva Longoria.
Later that same year, Huffman had an astonishing turn on the big screen in the quirky independent drama "Transamerica" (2005) playing Bree, a pre-operative transsexual who, on the brink of her transforming surgery, discovered that in her youth she had fathered a son (Kevin Zegers) - who is now a troubled teen hustler on the run. Despite the gender-bending premise, the film followed a traditional road movie dynamic and Huffman won widespread praise for her nearly unrecognizable, fully-formed performance as a man. All the attention she received resulted in a Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama and a nod for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. While continuing her award-winning stint on "Desperate Housewives," Huffman returned to the big screen again, playing a San Francisco mother disgruntled with her impulsive, uncontrollable daughter (Lindsay Lohan) in "Georgia Rule" (2007). Angry with her daughter getting into yet another car accident, she sends her to Iowa to live with Georgia (Jane Fonda) her strict, God-fearing grandmother, in order to learn a little down-home discipline. Despite typically strong performances from Huffman and Honda and the star power of the tabloid-favorite Lohan, "Georgia Rule" displeased a great many critics with its wavering between ham-fisted comedy and overwrought drama.
Despite her struggles to forge a prominent feature career, Huffman continued to enjoy great success on the small screen, nabbing a second Emmy nod for her role on "Desperate Housewives" in 2007. Though co-star Nicolette Sheridan left the show in 2009, Huffman and her co-stars stayed onboard through five seasons and beyond. That same year, she and Macy were set to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Meanwhile, she co-starred in the coming of age drama, "Phoebe in Wonderland" (2009), playing the mother of a rebellious little girl (Elle Fanning) whose indulgence of slipping into a fantasy world causes concern, including with her unconventional drama teacher (Patricia Clarkson).
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"It's actually one of the things we do best. We work really well together, which is surprising because I know it's tough for couples to play tennis together, much less work together."---Huffman on working with husband William H. Macy to CNN May 21, 2004
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