Early life and 1980sParker was born August 2, 1964 in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the daughter of Caroline, who was of Swedish descent, and John Parker, a judge who served in the U.S. Army. Because of her father's career, Parker spent parts of her childhood in Tennessee and Texas, as well as internationally in Thailand, Germany and France. Parker majored in drama at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She then got her start in a bit part on the soap opera Ryan's Hope. In the late 1980s, Parker moved to New York, where she got a job measuring feet at ECCO. After a few minor roles, she made her Broadway debut in a 1990 production of Craig Lucas' Prelude to a Kiss, playing the lead role of Rita. She had moved with the production when it transferred from its origin Off-Broadway. She won the Clarence Derwent Award for her performance and was nominated for a Tony Award (although she did not play the role when the film was made). Parker also briefly dated her co-star Timothy Hutton during this time.
That same year, Parker was noticed by critics when she appeared in the movie adaptation of another Lucas play, Longtime Companion, one of the first movies to confront AIDS in the public arena. This role was followed by her appearance in 1991's Grand Canyon, which also starred Mary McDonnell, Danny Glover, Alfre Woodard and Kevin Kline. Parker's next film was Fried Green Tomatoes, alongside Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Kathy Bates and Cicely Tyson.
1990sParker maintained a strong theater presence in the early 1990s, but also built her reputation on the big screen, starring with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in The Client (1994); with John Cusack in Bullets Over Broadway (1994); and with Drew Barrymore and Whoopi Goldberg in Boys on the Side (1995), as a woman with AIDS. Her next role was in a movie adaptation of yet another Craig Lucas play, Reckless (1995), alongside Mia Farrow, followed by Jane Campion's The Portrait of a Lady (1996), which also starred Nicole Kidman, Viggo Mortensen, Christian Bale, John Malkovich and Barbara Hershey. In addition, she appeared alongside Matthew Modine in Tim Hunter's The Maker (1997).
Parker's theater career continued when she appeared in Paula Vogel's 1997 critical smash How I Learned To Drive, with David Morse. In the late 1990s, she appeared in several independent films including Let the Devil Wear Black and The Five Senses.
2001–2003In 2001, Parker appeared alongside Larry Bryggman in David Auburn's Proof on Broadway, for which she won a Tony Award. However, Parker again lost out when the play was made into a film and the role was given to Gwyneth Paltrow. During this period, she left the theater for three years to look for other roles: among them, Red Dragon and Pipe Dream (2002).
Next was a guest role on the NBC drama, The West Wing, as women's rights activist Amelia "Amy" Gardner, which soon became a recurring role as a love interest for Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman. For this role, Parker was nominated for both an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. During the fifth season, however, Parker became pregnant and her character was written out of the series after appearing in four episodes.
On December 7, 2003, HBO aired an epic six-and-a-half hour adaptation of Tony Kushner's acclaimed Broadway play Angels in America, directed by Mike Nichols. The miniseries—about a group of lost souls in New York during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s—was hailed with international critical acclaim. Parker played Harper Pitt, the Mormon Valium-addicted wife of a closeted lawyer, appearing full frontally nude. For her performance, Parker received Golden Globe and Emmy awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries.
2004–2006In 2004, Parker appeared in the comedy Saved!, and a TV movie called Miracle Run, based on the true story of a mother of two sons with autism, as well as appearing in Craig Lucas' Reckless on Broadway. Parker took the lead role that had been Mia Farrow's on screen. The production, directed by Mark Brokaw, earned Parker another nomination for a Tony Award for Best Actress in 2005.
Parker returned to The West Wing in several guest appearances in 2005 and 2006, the show's final season, portraying the Director of Legislative Affairs under the President-elect Matt Santos.
In 2005, Parker took on the lead role in the television series Weeds, a Showtime comedy-drama. Parker's character, Nancy Botwin, is a suburban mother who, following the death of her husband, decides to sell marijuana to make money, while also attempting to maintain her community reputation. She stars alongside Kevin Nealon, Alexander Gould, Hunter Parish, Elizabeth Perkins, and her Angels in America co-star Justin Kirk. The show currently ended its fifth season, and has been confirmed to return for a sixth season which starts August 16, 2010.
In November 2005, Parker was honored with an exhibition of her career at Boston University, where memorabilia from her career were donated to the University's library. Parker received the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy, given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, for her lead role in Weeds. In that category, she defeated the four leads of Desperate Housewives. She dedicated the award to the late John Spencer, best known for his work as Leo McGarry on The West Wing. After receiving the award, Parker stated: "I'm really in favor of legalizing marijuana. I don't think it's that controversial."
2007–presentIn March 2007, Parker played the lead role in the TV film The Robber Bride. Her next role, Zerelda Mimms, in the Andrew Dominik film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, opened in cinemas in September 2007. Parker appeared alongside Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell and Garret Dillahunt. In August 2007, Parker continued her role in the third season of Weeds. In July 2007, Parker was nominated for two Emmy Awards, one for Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie for playing Zenia Arden in The Robber Bride and the other for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Weeds.
In August 2007, she posed nude for an ad for the third season of Weeds. In the ad, she appears as Eve in the Garden of Eden, with a snake draped around her body and a cannabis leaf behind her ear.
On November 9, 2007, Parker was honored as the Entertainer of the Year by Out magazine at the Out 100 Awards, which were celebrated in New York City.
Parker appeared in 2008's The Spiderwick Chronicles and in off-Broadway's Playwrights Horizons in the New York premiere of Dead Man's Cell Phone, a new play by Sarah Ruhl, alongside Drama Desk Award Winner Kathleen Chalfant.
She filmed the Donna Vermeer film Les Passages alongside Julie Delpy. Following this, she returned to work on the fifth season of Weeds which the season finale aired in September 2009. In the spring of 2009, Parker took the lead role in the upcoming revival of the play Hedda Gabler, which opened to garner a series of bad reviews.
Parker will portray Sarah opposite Bruce Willis in the upcoming film, Red, an adaption of the comic book mini-series of the same name. The film is scheduled for worldwide release on October 22, 2010.
Personal lifeOn January 7, 2004, Parker gave birth to her first child, William Atticus Parker. The boy's father is actor Billy Crudup, whom Parker met during rehearsals when they co-starred onstage in a 1996 revival of the William Inge play Bus Stop. After nearly eight years together, the couple split when the actress was seven months pregnant.
In December 2006, Parker began dating actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom she met on the set of Weeds. In March 2007, Parker stated that the relationship was "going great." The two briefly split in June 2007, but later reconciled. On February 12, 2008, Parker and Morgan announced their engagement only to break up again in April 2008.
In September 2007, Parker adopted a baby girl, Caroline "Ash" Aberash Parker, from Ethiopia.
Since June 2009, she has been dating singer-songwriter Charlie Mars.
|1990||Prelude to a Kiss||Rita||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play|
|2000||Proof||Catherine||Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play|
|2004||Reckless||Rachel||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play|
|2009||Hedda Gabler||Hedda Tesman|
OtherParker has written for Esquire.
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