Not many Oscar-winning actors currently have two new films in release and three TV series either currently streaming or about to bow. But since her feature debut in The Imagemaker in 1986 followed by her auspicious lead role in The Coen Brother’s Miller’s Crossing in 1990, Marcia Gay Harden has bounced from film to TV—and occasionally stage—in a plethora of projects that show off her extraordinary gifts for creating varied and eclectic characters.
Born in California, Harden earned a graduate acting MBA at New York University and almost instantly begin working in all three mediums. After dazzling moviegoers as the seductive Verna in Miller’s Crossing, she embodied the great Ava Gardner in the TV biopic Sinatra and then made a most indelible impression onstage creating the unforgettable role of Harper in Tony Kushner’s epic 2-part stage play Angels in America on Broadway in 1992 and 1993, receiving her first Tony nomination in the process.
Throughout the ‘90s, Harden continued to dazzle in various supporting roles in films like Late for Dinner, Used People, The First Wives Club, and Space Cowboys as well as in a host of TV projects.
In 2000, she played the role of the supportive but fierce painter Lee Krasner in Ed Harris’s Pollock, earning a surprise Academy Award nomination with nary a precursor and then stunning pundits by winning the award. Three years later, she received her second Oscar nomination in a heartbreaking turn as Tim Robbin’s troubled wife in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River.
The ubiquitous thesp would go on to appear in numerous TV series and movies, most notably The Education of Max Bickford, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Emmy nomination), The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (Emmy nomination), The Newsroom, Damages, How to Get Away with Murder, Barkskins, and The Morning Show (current Emmy nominee). Most recently, she showed off her comic chops in Uncoupled opposite Neil Patrick Harris on Netflix and will be starring in the upcoming CBS series So Help Me Todd.
In addition to Angels in America, her stage credits include Sam Shepard’s Simpatico, Chekov’s The Seagull, and Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, which brought her a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress.
Onscreen, Harden has appeared in a slew of studio and indie works, usually stealing all her scenes in films as varied as Mona Lisa Smile, The Dead Girl, The Hoax, Into the Wild, The Mist, Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, The Maiden Heist, Detachment, Grandma, and The Fifty Shades Trilogy.
Harden also penned a critically-acclaimed memoir The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers in 2018.
She is currently starring in Nick Hamm’s deeply affecting Gigi & Nate, playing the mother of a son whose life is forever altered by a near-fatal accident. The film opens in theaters on September 2, 2022.
And she will also co-star, opposite Jon Hamm in the upcoming Greg Mottola movie Confess, Fletch.
Awards Daily had the pleasure of chatting with Marcia about her truly remarkable career.