Marcia Gay Harden is an American actress best known for her Academy-award winning role in the 2000 feature film Pollock, as well as for her Oscar-nominated role in Mystic River, in 2003.
She also has a starring role as Diane Buckley, Pete's first wife, an intense overachiever, the mother of teenagers Hillary and Warren, and a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who won the silver medal in the 1988 Olympics for the 100-metre breaststroke, in the television sitcom Trophy Wife.
Her character portraits have been described by critics as "searing," "heartbreaking," "inventive," "astonishing," "authentic" and "sensuous."
From the glamorous Ava Gardner in Sinatra to artist Lee Krasner in Pollock (for which she won Best Supporting Actress Oscar) to the down and out Celeste in Mystic River (another Academy Award nomination), Harden has created a signature style based in character transformation in such films as Miller's Crossing, The First Wives Club, Meet Joe Black, Mona Lisa Smile, The Hoax and Used People.
Harden recurs in Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom on HBO, and appears in Elsa & Fred, starring the legendary Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, as well as CBS Films' Get a Job, with Bryan Cranston, Anna Kendrick and John Cho. She also appears in The Wine of Summer and The Librarian, which she shot in Costa Rica.
Harden has chosen a life away from mainstream Hollywood, crossing between independent and studio films, and television and theatre. In 2011 she reprised the role she originated on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning play God of Carnage, along with the original cast, in a tremendously successful stage run at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.
In 2009 it was her exceptional Broadway performance in this role that garnered her the Best Actress Tony Award. Her fellow-nominated co-stars in the play included James Gandolfini, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels.
In addition she received an Outer Circle Critics Award as well as nominations from the Drama Desk and Drama League for her performance.
That same year she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.
Other nominations include a Tony nomination for Tony Kushner's Angels in America (she won the Drama Desk and Theatre World Awards), an Emmy nomination for her guest appearance on Law & Order: SVU and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for American Gun.
Television appearances include Lifetime's The Amanda Knox Story, a reprise of her Emmy-nominated role on Law & Order: SVU and co-starring in the FX drama Damages, with William Hurt and Glenn Close.
Additional films include If I Were You, co-starring Aidan Quinn, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, with Peter Gallagher and Ellen Burstyn, and Detachment, opposite Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks and Lucy Liu.
She also co-starred in Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, Whip It, with her daughter, Eulala Scheel, in The Maiden Heist with William H. Macy, Morgan Freeman and Christopher Walken, Canvas, Rails and Ties, Stephen King's The Mist (for which she won a Saturn Award,) Sean Penn's Into the Wild and The Christmas Cottage with Peter O'Toole.
Harden graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in Theatre and an MFA from the Graduate Acting program at New York University.
Her nephew and niece, Sander and Audrey Harden, died in Astoria, New York of severe burns from a house fire, along with her former-sister-in-law, Rebecca.