Family & Companions
An intelligent, theatrically trained actress, Blair Brown already had an impressive list of credits by the time she achieved fame as the devoted wife of William Hurt in the bizarre "Altered States" (1980). She earned a Golden Globe nomination opposite John Belushi in "Continental Divide" (1981) and a Golden Globe nomination as well as a BAFTA nomination for playing the iconic Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in the miniseries "Kennedy" (NBC, 1983). At the peak of her powers, she earned five Emmy nominations as the titular star of "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC, 1987-88; Lifetime, 1989-1991), a groundbreaking dramedy about an independent-minded divorceé. She won a 2000 Tony for her role in the physics-themed Broadway drama "Copenhagen" and essayed memorable supporting roles in the Johnny Depp thriller "The Astronaut's Wife" (1999), the Clint Eastwood action adventure "Space Cowboys" (2000) and Lars von Trier's "Dogville" (2003). She earned excellent reviews for her return to series television as Nina Sharp, the mysterious executive director of Massive Dynamic on the parallel universe series "Fringe" (FOX, 2008-13). An immensely respected veteran of stage, television and film, Blair Brown embodied intelligent, quirky women and proved a fascinating addition to any genre or medium.
Born April 23, 1947 in Washington, DC, Bonnie Blair Brown pursued theater across the United States border, where she trained for three years at the National Theatre School of Canada. A role in the revue "Love and Maple Syrup" in Ottawa led to several years of employment with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Company and other regional theaters, honing her craft in such stage productions as "The Merchant of Venice," "A Doll's House" and "The Crucible." She landed a small role in the Oscar-winning drama "The Paper Chase" (1973) and recreated her stage role of Lady Teazle in "The School for Scandal" for "Theater in America" (PBS, 1975) before finding work with the New York Shakespeare Festival in "The Comedy of Errors" in Central Park and in "The Threepenny Opera" on Broadway.
She was cast in several acclaimed TV productions, ranging from the NBC miniseries "Captains and the Kings" (1976), where she met her longtime boyfriend, actor Richard Jordan, to the award-winning "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years" (ABC, 1977). That same year, she landed her first film lead in "The Choirboys" (1977) but truly came into her own as a leading lady as the ferociously devoted wife to William Hurt in the trippy "Altered States" (1980). One of her best screen roles was as a take-charge naturalist romanced by a newspaper reporter (John Belushi) in the romantic comedy "Continental Divide" (1981), for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. Made-for-TV movies offered the actress an excellent showcase, winning her plaudits for her work as the vulnerable, overwhelmed mother of a murderous child in the remake of "The Bad Seed" (ABC, 1985) and nominations for a Golden Globe and BAFTA for her turn as Jackie Kennedy in the 1983 NBC miniseries "Kennedy."
Brown's biggest claim to fame came as the star of the groundbreaking dramedy "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC, 1987-88; Lifetime, 1989-1991), which followed the titular New Yorker, a warm-hearted, independent but aimless divorceé. For her charming portrayal of the quirky Dodd, Brown earned five Emmy nominations as well as the opportunity to direct two episodes of the series. She was romantically linked to David Hare, who wrote the leading role of Lillian Hempel in "Strapless" (1989) for her. He also penned the stage play "The Secret Rapture" for her as well. The actress played the first female general who runs for the U.S. presidency in "Majority Rule"" (Lifetime, 1992) and returned to Broadway to star in Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" and to play the supporting role of Frau Schneider in the revival of "Cabaret."
Back on television, she appeared in "A Season in Purgatory" (CBS, 1996) and "The Ultimate Lie" (NBC, 1996) before returning to series TV as a no-nonsense U.S. attorney on the short-lived "Feds" (CBS, 1997). On the big screen, Brown played important supporting roles in the Johnny Depp/Charlize Theron thriller "The Astronaut's Wife" (1999) and in the Clint Eastwood/Tommy Lee Jones action adventure "Space Cowboys" (2000). She won a Tony for her role in the challenging, physics-themed Broadway drama "Copenhagen," but spent much of the subsequent decade collecting small credits in everything from Lars von Trier's "Dogville" (2003) and Kevin Bacon's "Loverboy" (2005) to "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ). Brown also embarked on a lucrative side career in narration, serving as the voice of many specials, including several "American Experience" (PBS, 1988- ) installments. Critics and longtime fans alike were thrilled to see her accept the juicy role of Nina Sharp, the executive director of Massive Dynamic on the genre-bending, sci-fi thriller "Fringe" (Fox, 2008-13). As a mysterious, cutthroat businesswoman who lost an arm attempting to prevent Walter (John Noble) from crossing over into a parallel universe, Brown delivered a layered, magnetic performance on the cult series.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
TV acting debut, the Guthrie staging of "The School for Scandal" (aired on PBS)
Moved to NYC
Co-starred in the NBC miniseries "Captains and the Kings"
NY stage debut in "The Threepenny Opera" at Lincoln Center
Screen debut, "The Choirboys"
Appeared at the Arena Theater in David Hare's "Plenty"
First starring film role, "Altered States"
Played leading lady to John Belushi in the feature comedy "Continental Divide"
Portrayed Jacqueline Kennedy in the NBC miniseries "Kennedy"
Played the unsuspecting mother of a murderous child in the small screen remake of "The Bad Seed" (ABC)
Starred the series, "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" (NBC, 1987-1988; Lifetime, 1989-1991)
Directed by Hare in "Strapless"; role was written expressly for her by Hare
Played the leading role in the Off-Broadway production of "The Secret Rapture"; written by David Hare
Last feature for six years, "Passed Away"
Cast as the first woman to lead troops into combat in the Lifetime TV-movie "Majority Rule"
Debut as TV producer on the NBC movie "Moment of Truth: To Walk Again"; also co-starred
Co-starred in the Broadway production of Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia"
Hosted the National Public Radio series "The Poet's Voice"
With Toukie Smith, co-hosted the Lifetime talk show "Talk It Over"
Played the matriarch of a wealthy family in the CBS miniseries "A Season in Purgatory"
Starred as the mother of a murder victim in the based-on-fact Lifetime movie "Convictions"
Returned to series TV as co-star of the short-lived CBS drama series "Feds"
Succeeded Mary Louise Wilson as Frau Schneider in the acclaimed revival of the stage musical "Cabaret"
Starred opposite Christopher Walken in the NYC stage musical "James Joyce's The Dead"
Returned to feature films in a supporting role in "The Astronaut's Wife"
Played Gertrude in Campbell Scott's TV version of "Hamlet" (Odyssey)
Won a Tony Award for her performance as the female lead in Michael Frayn's play "Copenhagen"
Cast as Desiree in the Kennedy Center production of "A Little Night Music"
Played the lead role in "The Clean House," by playwright Sarah Ruhl
Co-starred with Kyra Sedgwick in the Kevin Bacon directed "Loverboy"; premiered at Sundance (lensed 2003)
Appeared in the murder drama, "Dark Matter" loosely based on the 1991 University of Iowa shootings
Cast as Nina Sharp in the FOX drama "Fringe"