A contemporary equivalent to actress Jean Seberg, Kim Dickens developed a reputation playing daunting and sexually powerful women on television and in film. Appearing in a wide array of roles for the better part of a decade, Dickens finally earned her due as a prostitute-turned-madam on the critically acclaimed Western series "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06). Before giving that breakthrough performance, she gave notable turns as Vincent Gallo's tomboyish girlfriend in "Palookaville" (1996), a Janis Joplin-like singer in "Things Behind the Sun" (Showtime, 2001) and a spurned wife in the drama "The House of Sand and Fog" (2003). But it was her turn on "Deadwood" that broadened her appeal and offered her better opportunities, including noted recurring roles on "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010) and "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-2011). After returning as a leading player on another critically acclaimed series, "Treme" (HBO, 2010- ), Dickens affirmed her status as one of Hollywood's more respected character actresses.
Born on June 18, 1965 in Huntsville, AL, Dickens graduated from Lee High School before attending Vanderbilt University, where she made her stage debut in a student production of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago." She went on to study her craft at the Lee Stasberg Theatre and Film Institute and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. After working in regional theater and performing summer stock, Dickens was featured as a model for Calvin Klein's spring collection in 1994, before making her television movie debut in "Voice from the Grave: From the Files of 'Unsolved Mysteries'" (NBC, 1996). From there, she made her feature debut as Vincent Gallo's love interest in the notable indie comedy "Palookaville" (1996) and reunited with the actor in Kiefer Sutherland's feature directorial debut "Truth or Consequences, N.M." (1997). Following a turn as a vengeance-seeking daughter in "Zero Effect" (1998), Dickens more than held her own opposite Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin in "Mercury Rising" (1998).
During this time, Dickens gained a foothold on the small screen with roles in TV movies like "Two Mothers for Zachary" (ABC, 1996) and "Heart Full of Rain" (CBS, 1997), while also landing guest spots on "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002) and "Swift Justice" (UPN, 1996). After a supporting role in Alfonso Cuaron's interpretation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" (1998) and a small part in the straight-to-video release "The White River Kid" (1999), she made an appearance as an eccentric veterinarian in the poorly-received horror flick, "Hollow Man" (2000), starring Kevin Bacon and Elisabeth Shue. Dickens continued performing admirably in smaller roles, appearing in the supernatural thriller "The Gift" (2000) and as a spurned wife in the dark character drama "The House of Sand and Fog" (2003), starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly. Finally able to land a starring role, Dickens played an up-and-coming singer living a Janis Joplin-like existence in "Things Behind the Sun" (Showtime, 2001), directed by noted indie helmer Allison Anders. She returned to television with a regular gig as a rookie FBI agent on the detective series, "Big Apple" (CBS, 2001), but network axed the show after less than a month on the air.
Dickens followed up with another regular gig on a short-lived series, "Out of Order" (Showtime, 2003), which focused on a Hollywood screenwriting couple who finds their marriage is in trouble because of drugs, depression and extra-marital affairs. Tapped by "Big Apple" creator David Milch, Dickens finally earned her due on an acclaimed series when she was cast to play a prostitute-turned-whorehouse madam on the award-winning revisionist Western series, "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06). Alongside a cast that included Timothy Olyphant as violence-prone sheriff Seth Bullock, Robin Weigert as foul-mouthed Calamity Jane, and Ian McShane as murderous saloon owner Al Swearengen, "Deadwood" was hailed by critics for its profane but lyrical look at the South Dakota gold-mining town that struggles to keep out the feds while reaping the rewards of lucrative gold strikes. As Joanie Stubbs, Dickens' emotionally scarred character breaks away from the hold of her former employer, Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe) to start her own high-class whorehouse while developing a bond with Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie), a former friend of Wild Bill Hickcok (Keith Carradine). Despite critical acclaim and a loyal following, HBO abruptly canceled the series, shocking both fans and actors who never saw the cancelation coming.
Back on the big screen, Dickens played the ex-wife of a Big Tobacco lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart) in Jason Reitman's satirical comedy "Thank You for Smoking" (2006), before landing a recurring role as a divorcée conned by grifter Sawyer (Josh Holloway) on several 2008 episodes of "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010). From there, she had a recurring role as the estranged mother of the shy and stammering Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) on "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006-2011) while making a 2009 guest appearance on the high-concept, but short-lived "FlashForward" (ABC, 2009-2010). Returning to the big screen, Dickens had supporting turns opposite Oscar winner Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side" (2009) and in the underwhelming remake of "Footloose" (2011). But it was on television that she found her most promising work, as Dickens has a leading role as a chef trying to keep her New Orleans restaurant open in the wake of Hurricane Katrina on David Simon's critically acclaimed "Treme" (HBO, 2010- ), which recounted the struggles of a wide swath of people attempting to rebuild their lives and city after the devastating storm.
By Shawn Dwyer
Cast (Feature Film)
Featured as a model in Calvin Klein's spring collection
Made feature debut playing Vincent Gallo's love interest in "Palookaville"
TV-movie debut, NBC's "Voice from the Grave: From the Files of 'Unsolved Mysteries'"
Re-teamed with Gallo in Kiefer Sutherland's feature directorial debut, "Truth or Consequences, N.M."
Cast as Rick Schroder's former girlfriend in the CBS movie "Heart Full of Rain"
Starred opposite Bruce Willis in the Harold Becker-directed thriller "Mercury Rising"
Played Maggie, Finn's (played by Ethan Hawke) sister, in an update of the Charles Dickens' classic "Great Expectations"
Cast opposite Ben Stiller and Bill Pullman as the mysterious and elusive suspect, Gloria, in the Jake Kasdan directed "Zero Effect"
Briefly seen as Cate Blanchett's pal in "The Gift"
Had featured role as one of the scientists in "The Hollow Man"
Cast as FBI agent Sarah Day in David Milch's critically lauded, but short-lived CBS drama "Big Apple"
Starred as a rising rock star suffering from post-traumatic rape syndrome in "Things Behind the Sun"; earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead
Cast in Showtime's short-lived series "Out of Order"
Had a small yet well received role in the Academy Award nominated "The House of Sand and Fog"
Played a heroin addict in "Goodnight, Joseph Parker" with Debi Mazar and Paul Sorvino
Cast as Joanie Stubbs, the Madame of the Bella Union, in David Milch's critically acclaimed HBO series "Deadwood"
Portrayed the ex-wife of Tobacco's chief spokesman, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) in Jason Reitman's satirical comedy "Thank You for Smoking"
Played Cassidy Phillips, the divorcée who was conned by Sawyer, on ABC's "Lost"
Had a recurring role as Shelby Saracen on NBC's "Friday Night Lights"
Cast as Ms. Boswell, one of Oher's teachers, in the Oscar nominated film "The Blind Side"
Played Janette Desautel, a hardworking chef in post-Katrina New Orleans, in the HBO series "Treme"
Landed a recurring role on "Sons of Anarchy"
Cast as Kate Baldwin on "House of Cards"
Was the main character on "Walking Dead" spinoff series "Fear the Walking Dead"; character killed off in season four
Played a minor role in "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"
Played Emma Borden in Lizzie Borden biopic "Lizzie"
Reprised role of Joanie Stubbs in HBO's long-gestating "Deadwood" film