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Mary-Louise Parker was born on August 2, 1964 in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She is a Tony-, Emmy-, and two-time Golden Globe-winning actress, known for her TV roles on NBC's The West Wing, Showtime's Weeds, and HBO's TV adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, alongside film appearances in The Spiderwick Chronicles, RED, and RED 2.
Parker attended Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona, and studied drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, graduating in 1986. After moving to New York in the late 1980s, her first notable stage role came courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club, where she appeared in the 1989 production of The Art of Success at New York City Center. The following year she landed the role of Rita in Craig Lucas' Prelude to a Kiss, which transferred to Broadway in April 1990 and marked her Broadway debut. She received both the Theatre World Award and Clarence Derwent Award for her performance, alongside her first Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. She would continue to appear regularly off Broadway in the 1990s in shows such as Babylon Gardens (1991), Four Dogs and a Bone (1993), and How I Learned to Drive (1997), winning her first Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards. She also appeared in Communicating Doors (1998) and starred as Cherie in the 1996 Broadway revival of Bus Stop at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
In 2000, she garnered rave reviews for her portrayal of Catherine in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Proof, winning her second Lucille Lortel Award and her first Drama Desk Award in the process. The production would move to Broadway, playing the Walter Kerr Theatre from October 2000 through January 2001, and ultimately led to Parker winning her first Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. In the fall of 2004, she starred as Rachel in the Broadway premiere of Craig Lucas' Reckless, leading to yet another Tony Award nomination in 2005, and in the spring of 2008, she starred as Jean in Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone at Playwrights Horizons. She returned to Broadway to lead the cast of the 2009 Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler at the American Airlines Theatre and the 2013 Manhattan Theatre Club premiere of Sharr White's The Snow Geese at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. In the summer of 2015, she would once again return to Manhattan Theatre Club to star in Simon Stephens' Heisenberg at New York City Center, which would be remounted on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre from September through December 2016. Parker returned to the New York stage to star as Bella in the Broadway premiere of Adam Rapp's The Sound Inside, playing Studio 54 from September 14, 2019, through January 12, 2020.
Parker has also enjoyed a prolific career on the small screen, debuting on the soap opera Ryan's Hope in 1975. One of her most notable television credits is in the recurring role of Amy Gardner on NBC's The West Wing; Parker appeared in 23 episodes between 2001 and 2006 and earned her first Emmy Award nomination in 2002. Her credits also include an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning portrayal of Harper Pitt in HBO's acclaimed adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America (2003), her 2007 Emmy-nominated turn in The Robber Bride, and her leading role of Nancy Botwin on Showtime's Weeds, in which she starred in 102 episodes between 2005 and 2012, winning a Golden Globe in 2006 and receiving a further three Golden Globe and three Emmy Award nominations along the way. Her recent TV credits include The Blacklist on NBC, When We Rise on ABC, Billions on Showtime, and Mr. Mercedes on Audience.
Parker's film appearances include Grand Canyon (1991), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Client (1994), Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Boys on the Side (1995), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), The Maker (1997), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), and R.I.P.D. (2013). She also starred as Sarah Ross opposite Bruce Willis in the 2010 action film RED and its sequel RED 2 in 2013.
Parker now reprises her performance in How I Learned to Drive in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama's Broadway premiere, starring as Li'l Bit opposite fellow original Off-Broadway cast member David Morse.