Frances McDormand

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Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand, cropped.jpg
McDormand on the set of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in 2007
Born(1957-06-23) June 23, 1957 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Joel Coen (m. 1984)
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Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand, cropped.jpg
McDormand on the set of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in 2007
Born(1957-06-23) June 23, 1957 (age 57)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Joel Coen (m. 1984)

Frances Louise McDormand[1] (born June 23, 1957) is an American actress. She has won an Academy Award and a Tony Award. She married director and writer Joel Coen in 1984 and has starred in several of the Coen brothers' films, including Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996) which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) and Burn After Reading (2008).

McDormand is also a three-time nominee of the Academy Award For Best Supporting Actress for her performances in Mississippi Burning (1988), Almost Famous (2000) and North Country (2005). Her other films include Short Cuts (1993), Primal Fear (1996), Wonder Boys (2000) and Something's Gotta Give (2003). She has also been nominated for four Golden Globes, three BAFTA Awards,[2] and an Emmy Award.

She made her Broadway debut in 1984 in the play Awake and Sing. In 1988, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. She returned to Broadway for the first time in twenty years in 2008 to star in the revival of The Country Girl and received a Drama Desk nomination. In 2011, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Margi Walsh in Good People.

Early life[edit]

McDormand was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was adopted by a Canadian-born couple – Noreen E. (Nickleson), a registered nurse and receptionist, and Vernon W. McDormand, a Disciples of Christ pastor.[3] She has said that her biological mother may have been one of the parishioners at Vernon's church.[4] She has a sister, Dorothy A. McDormand, who is an ordained Disciples of Christ minister and chaplain,[5] as well as another sibling, both of whom were adopted by the McDormands, who had no biological children.

As her father specialized in restoring congregations,[4] he frequently moved their family, and they lived in several small towns in Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee,[6] before settling in Monessen, Pennsylvania, where she graduated from Monessen High School in 1975. McDormand attended Bethany College in West Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in theater in 1979. In 1982, she earned an Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. She was a roommate of Holly Hunter at the time.


Her first professional acting job was in Trinidad and Tobago, performing in a play written by Derek Walcott and funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

McDormand's film debut was in the 1984 Coen brothers first film, Blood Simple. In 1985, they, Holly Hunter, and director Sam Raimi shared a house in The Bronx.[citation needed] In 1987, she appeared as the wacky friend Dot in the hit film Raising Arizona, starring Holly Hunter and Nicolas Cage. In addition to her early film roles, McDormand played Connie Chapman in the fifth season of the television police drama Hill Street Blues. In 1988, she played Stella Kowalski in a stage production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. McDormand is an associate member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group.

McDormand appeared in several theatrical and television roles during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. She has gained renown and critical acclaim for her dramatic work,[7] and is a respected actress, having been nominated for Academy Awards four times. In 1988, she was nominated for a Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Mississippi Burning; in 1996, she won the Academy award for Best Actress for her performance as police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo; in 2000, she earned her third nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of an overbearing mother in Almost Famous. Also for Almost Famous, she won the Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, San Diego Film Critics Society, Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the Florida Film Critics Circle. For her role in Wonder Boys (2000), she won Best Supporting Actress from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

In 2006, McDormand received her fourth nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 2005's North Country, although she lost to Rachel Weisz. She also had a role in the film Friends with Money, a dark comedy co-starring Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, and Joan Cusack, and directed by Nicole Holofcener. She received an Independent Spirit Award for her role in Friends with Money. She also voiced the role of the lady principal Melanie Upfoot in the Simpsons episode "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", which aired on April 30, 2006. McDormand has recently starred in the films Burn After Reading and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

McDormand starred in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the sequel after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. She played the US government's National Intelligence Director, alongside Burn After Reading co-star John Malkovich. She returned to the stage in the David Lindsay-Abaire play Good People, in a limited engagement on Broadway from February 8, 2011 to May 29, 2011.[8][9] Her performance earned her a Tony Award win for Best Leading Actress in a Play.[10]

In the animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, she voiced Capitain Chantal Dubois and also sang a version of the French song "Non, je ne regrette rien". She also starred in Promised Land with Matt Damon, filmed in April 2012 and released on December 28, 2012.[11]

In November, 2014, HBO telecast a four-part mini-series based upon the series of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge, co-produced by and starring McDormand.[12]

Personal life[edit]

McDormand has been married to director Joel Coen since 1984, and the two adopted a son from Paraguay, Pedro McDormand Coen, in 1994. They live in New York City.



1984Blood SimpleAbby
1985Scandal SheetTelevision film
1986Vengeance: The Story of Tony CimoBrigetteTelevision film
1987Raising ArizonaDot
1988Mississippi BurningMrs. Pell
1989ChattahoocheeMae Foley
1990Miller's CrossingMayor's SecretaryUncredited
1990DarkmanJulie Hastings
1990Hidden AgendaIngrid Jessner
1991Butcher's Wife, TheThe Butcher's WifeGrace
1991Barton FinkStage ActressVoice
1992Passed AwayNora Scanlan
1992Sôsei kishi GaiâsuPool GirlVoice
English version
1992Crazy in LoveClareTelevision film
1993Short CutsBetty Weathers
1994Bleeding HeartsWoman on Television
1995The Good Old BoysEve CallowayTelevision film
1995Beyond RangoonAndy Bowma
1996Primal FearDr. Molly Arrington
1996Plain PleasuresShort film
1996FargoMarge Gunderson
1996Lone StarBunnyLone Star Film & Television Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996Hidden in AmericaGusTelevision film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
1997Paradise RoadDr. Verstak
1998MadelineMiss Clavel
1998Talk of AngelsConlon
1998Johnny SkidmarksAlice
2000Wonder BoysDean Sara Gaskell
2000Almost FamousElaine Miller
2001Man Who Wasn't There, TheThe Man Who Wasn't ThereDoris CraneNominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2001UpheavalAnneShort film
2002City by the SeaMichelle
2002Laurel CanyonJane
2003Something's Gotta GiveZoe Barry
2004Last NightMarit SuchShort film
2005AEon FluxÆon FluxThe Handler
2005Precinct HollywoodNarrator
2005North CountryGlory Dodge
2006Friends with MoneyJaneIndependent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
2008Miss Pettigrew Lives for a DayGuinevere Pettigrew
2008Burn After ReadingLinda Litzke
2011Transformers: Dark of the MoonCharlotte Mearing
2011This Must Be the PlaceJane
2012Moonrise KingdomMrs. Bishop
2012Madagascar 3: Europe's Most WantedCaptain Chantal DuboisVoice
2012Promised LandSue Thomason
2014Every Secret ThingProducer
2015The Good DinosaurMommaVoice
2016Hail, Caesar!


1985Hill Street BluesConnie Chapman6 episodes
1985HunterNina SloanEpisode: "The Garbage Man"
1986Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight ZoneAmanda StricklandSegment: "Need to Know"
1986Spenser: For HireMaryEpisode: "A Day's Wages"
1987Leg WorkWillie Pipal7 episodes
2001State of GraceNarrator / Adult HannahUnknown episodes
2006Simpsons, TheThe SimpsonsMelanie UpfootVoice
Episode: "Girls Just Want to Have Sums"
2014Olive KitteridgeOlive KitteridgeTV Miniseries
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Pending—Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film


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