Like many performers of international heritage, Italian-Brazilian actress Morena Baccarin found herself frequently cast as exotic figures rather than real people; she was an interstellar courtesan on Joss Whedon's "Serenity" (Fox, 2002) and alluring but deadly aliens on "Stargate SG-1" (Showtime/SyFy, 2001-07) and "V" (ABC, 2009-2011). These and other similar roles gave Baccarin a fan base built primarily around her physical appeal, but after nearly a decade of hard work in episodic television, the actress landed her breakout role as a POW's wife on "Homeland" (Showtime, 2011- ). The critically acclaimed drama offered a stellar display of Baccarin's acting ability in her difficult role as a woman who, after having grieved and moved on following the death of her soldier husband, was faced with rebuilding her life again after his rescue from an Al Qaeda prison. The critical acclaim that followed her sympathetic turn was ample proof that Morena Baccarin's best work was yet to be seen.
Born June 2, 1979 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Morena Baccarin was the daughter of Italian journalist Fernando Baccarin and Brazilian actress Vera Setta. At the age of seven, she moved with her family to New York City after her father had been transferred to the Brazilian TV network Globo's headquarters located there. Baccarin attended the New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies, where one of her classmates was future "Homeland" co-star Claire Danes. From there, she joined the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art & Performing Arts before entering Julliard. While studying theater at the latter, she was among the subjects profiled for a 2003 episode about the school on "American Masters" (PBS, 1986- ).
Baccarin made her screen debut in "Perfume" (2001), an improvised comedy about the fashion world. From there, she took the lead in the independent feature "Way Off Broadway" (2001) before returning to a more decorative role in "Roger Dodger (2002). During this period, Baccarin kept her hand in the New York theater scene, most notably as Natalie Portman's understudy and co-star in a Central Park production of "The Seagull." In 2002, she relocated to Los Angeles, where producer Joss Whedon provided her with a star-making turn as Inara Serra, a courtesan aboard a spaceship populated by outcasts on "Firefly" (Fox, 2002-03). Though short-lived, the science fiction series attracted a dedicated following, which in turn led to her casting in several genre-related titles.
She reunited with her "Firefly" cast for a supporting turn in "Serenity" (2005), a big-screen adaptation of the Whedon-produced series, before moving on to voice the DC heroine Black Canary on "Justice League Unlimited" (Cartoon Network, 2004-06). The producers of "Stargate SG-1" (Showtime/SyFy, 2001-07) were fans of Baccarin's role on "Firefly" and cast her on their show as Adria, a genetically advanced human bred by the series' chief antagonists, the Ori, to lead an assault against humanity. Numerous TV guest appearances - most trading on her exotic features for romantic storylines - soon followed, as well as a minor turn in "Death in Love" (2008), a psycho-thriller about the complicated lives of a concentration camp survivor (Jacqueline Bisset) and her sons (Lukas Haas and Josh Lucas). She reunited with Lucas for another supporting role in the thriller "Stolen" (2009) before returning to the New York stage for "Our House," a television industry satire at Playwrights Horizon.
That same year, she was cast as Anna, the leader of a seemingly benevolent alien force that arrived on Earth on the rebooted series, "V" (ABC, 2009-2011). Baccarin's face was used extensively in promotions for the series, which followed the plotline of the original 1983 miniseries (NBC) of the same name, with Baccarin secretly leading an invasion force of reptilian humanoids bent on world domination. Though heavily touted, "V" failed to secure a substantial following, and was canceled by the network in 2011. A campaign to revive the series, supported by Baccarin, soon followed. She soon moved to Showtime, where she joined fellow Julliard alum Claire Danes on "Homeland" as the wife of a former Iraq War POW (Damian Lewis) suspected of being a terrorist by an unorthodox CIA officer (Danes). Baccarin played Lewis' wife who, having endured the emotional upheaval of losing her husband in combat, found herself deeply conflicted over his return. For her work on the show, Baccarin received the best reviews of her career to date and a chance to showcase something other than her exotic good looks. After her story arc on "Homeland" came to a close, Baccarin appeared on legal drama "The Good Wife" (CBS 2009-16) and superhero story "The Flash" (CW 2014- ) before joining the cast of quirky Batman origin story "Gotham" (Fox 2014- ) as Dr. Leslie Thompkins, surrogate mother figure for the young orphan Bruce Wayne.
By Paul Gaita
Cast (Feature Film)
Played struggling actress Rebecca in the ensemble dramedy "Way Off Broadway"
Landed first movie role in director Michael Rymer's largely improvisational "Perfume"
Played high-class call girl Inara on cult favorite sci-fi series "Firefly" (Fox)
Played recurring role on "Still Life" (Fox)
Provided the voice of Black Canary on multiple episodes of the animated series "Justice League Unlimited" (Cartoon Network)
Reprised role as Inara in Joss Whedon's "Serenity," a feature spin-off of "Firefly" series
Played the adult version of Adria, a recurring villain on the tenth season of "Stargate SG-1" (Sci Fi Channel)
Guest starred on three episodes of "The O.C." (Fox)
Reprised her role as Adria in "Stargate: The Ark of Truth" (released direct-to-video)
Cast as Anna, the leader of the Visitors on ABC's remake of "V"
Played the wife of former P.O.W. Nicholas Brody on Showtime's "Homeland"
Co-starred in Michael Rosenbaum's indie comedy "Back in the Day"
Played CIA agent Karen Walker in Paul Feig's action comedy "Spy"
Co-starred as Dr. Leslie Thompson on Fox's "Gotham"