Family & Companions
Academy Award-nominated actress Kathleen Quinlan enjoyed a lengthy, diverse career that encompassed roles as an ingénue, romantic leading lady, supporting player, and on the rare occasion, formidable character actress. Audiences were given their first brief glimpse of her in George Lucas' sophomore effort, "American Graffiti" (1973), followed by more substantial parts that led to her first starring role in the affecting drama "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (1977). She ably carried the Joe Dante-directed segment of the tragedy-plagued "Twilight Zone: The Movie" (1983), and gave a devilishly seductive performance in the Jim Morrison biopic "The Doors" (1991). Quinlan elevated her status in director Ron Howard's NASA docudrama "Apollo 13" (1995) with a role that earned her critical raves. She had high-profile co-starring roles in features such as the thriller "Breakdown" (1997) and the space-horror movie "Event Horizon" (1997), as well as enjoyed a run as the star of her own legal drama with "Family Law" (CBS, 1999-2002). Quinlan occasionally revisited the horror genre with films such as the remake "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006), as well as periodic returns to television for work that included a run on the final season of "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09). Versatility was truly the hallmark of Quinlan's impressive acting career; one in which she either led a production's cast or lent it invaluable support, each with an admirable artistic dexterity.
Born Kathleen Denise Quinlan on Nov. 19, 1954 in Pasadena, CA to parents, Robert, a local sportscaster, and Josephine. Quinlan was raised in the town of Mill Valley. Although she suffered from allergy-induced asthma as a child, Quinlan overcame the condition by maintaining an active lifestyle as a gymnast, scuba diver and surfer while attending Tamalpais High School. While still a teen, she made her first screen appearance, albeit uncredited, as Trish Van Devere's double in a diving scene from the romantic drama "One is a Lonely Number" (1972). Quinlan's big break, however, came the following year, after director George Lucas visited her high school while looking to cast his latest film, the nostalgic coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of early '60s car culture and classic rock-n-roll, "American Graffiti" (1973). With her first speaking role under her belt, Quinlan began taking on more substantial parts, including a turn in the apocalyptic sci-fi thriller "Where Have All the People Gone?" (NBC, 1974), which marked her television debut. Other portrayals included that of a teenager with miraculous abilities imprisoned by her father in "The Abduction of Saint Anne" (ABC, 1975), and a supporting role as a teenager with a crush on perpetual beach bum Sam Elliott in "Lifeguard" (1976).
With her star on the rise, Quinlan landed her first leading role as a schizophrenic teenager in the absorbing, often disturbing drama "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (1977), showing remarkable restraint in a portrayal that could have easily lapsed into histrionics, but instead earned Quinlan a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. That same year, she joined the star-studded cast of the air-disaster sequel "Airport '77" (1977), in which a luxury jetliner crash lands in the dreaded Bermuda Triangle. In 1979, Quinlan made her New York stage debut in Thomas Babe's "Taken in Marriage" at the Public Theater for a production that earned the young actress a Theatre World Award. Although she continued to work steadily, Quinlan's talent often outshone the quality of the material she appeared in, with such projects as the maudlin romantic melodrama "The Promise" (1979), the "Private Benjamin" rip-off "She's in the Army Now" (ABC, 1981), and the sub-par Gene Wilder-Richard Pryor vehicle "Hanky Panky" (1982). More ambitious was her leading role in "Independence Day" (1983), as a young artist trying to escape the cultural confines of her small town. Also that year, Quinlan delivered a compelling performance as an outsider drawn into a child's nightmarish cartoon world for the Joe Dante-directed segment of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" (1983).
Quinlan played a modern-day Jane to an urban-dwelling Tarzan in "Wild Thing" (1987), an oddball adventure tale penned by future filmmaker John Sayles, and turned in a cameo in the Blake Edwards' misfire "Sunset" (1988). The following year, she starred in "Trapped" (USA, 1989), a "Die Hard"-inspired thriller, on the set of which she met future husband, actor Bruce Abbott. Quinlan turned in a brief, albeit memorable performance as the man-eating photographer Patricia Kennealy, seducing rock god Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer) in Oliver Stone's ambitious biopic "The Doors" (1991). Other early 1990s work included roles as an adoptive mother in "Stolen Babies" (Lifetime, 1993), and as the jealous moll of an indicted mob boss in "Trial by Jury" (1994). Far more prestigious was Quinlan's contribution as a member of a strong ensemble cast in director Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" (1995). Her portrayal of Marilyn Lovell, the concerned but supportive wife of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), earned Quinlan Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress. The accolades led to a deluge of work for Quinlan, exemplified by her quadruple appearances in the taught roadside thriller "Breakdown" (1997), the kid-friendly eco-adventure "Zeus and Roxanne" (1997), the visually arresting sci-fi horror of "Even Horizon" (1997), and the British indie drama "Lawn Dogs" (1997).
Quinlan decreased her output by half the following year with a turn as Billy Crystal's wife in the lackluster comedy "My Giant" (1998), and played a part in the courtroom drama "A Civil Action" (1998), starring John Travolta. She later signed as a regular on the domestic legal drama "Family Law" (CBS, 1999-2002) in the role of Lynn Holt, an attorney who starts her own firm after her lawyer husband leaves her and takes all of their clients with him. After a five-year absence from the big screen, Quinlan returned as Shia LaBeouf's mother in the second "Project Green Light" feature "The Battle of Shaker Heights" (2003), an uneven coming-of-age comedy drama. Several made-for-TV projects occupied her time until she took part in the grisly remake of the Wes Craven cult favorite "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006), this time directed by French horror wunderkind Alexandre Aja. Quinn picked up a recurring role as ruthless power player Christina Scofield Rose in the final season of the critically lauded series "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09), followed by a frightening turn as the insane matron of a safe house for abused woman in "Harm's Way" (2010). On cable she joined the ensemble cast of "Cinema Verite" (HBO, 2011), a docudrama about one of the first experiments with reality television, starring Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini among others.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Appeared as diving double for Trish Van Devere in "One Is a Lonely Number"
Film acting debut, a one-line part in "American Graffiti"
TV acting debut, "Where Have All the People Gone?"
Starred in feature "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden"
New York stage debut "Taken in Marriage" at New York Shakespeare Festival; first time working with Dixie Carter; Meryl Streep also co-starred
Featured in busted ABC pilot for "She's in the Army Now"
Played recurring role on CBS TV series "Wolf"
Co-starred in "Apollo 13"; earned Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination
Co-starred with Kurt Russell in the surprise hit "Breakdown"
Starred along with Billy Crystal and basketball player Gherghe Muresan in "My Giant"
Cast as a mother seeking answers about a community health issue in "A Civil Action"
Starred in the CBS drama "Family Law", alongside Dixie Carter
Co-starred in a remake of the Wes Craven thriller, "The Hills Have Eyes"