Melissa Leo

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Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Leo at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
BornMelissa Chessington Leo
(1960-09-14) September 14, 1960 (age 54)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1984–present
Children2
Website
www.melissaleo.com
 
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Melissa Leo
Melissa Leo at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Leo at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
BornMelissa Chessington Leo
(1960-09-14) September 14, 1960 (age 54)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1984–present
Children2
Website
www.melissaleo.com

Melissa Chessington Leo (born September 14, 1960) is an American actress. After appearing on several television shows and films in the 1980s, her breakthrough role came in 1993 as Det. Sgt. Kay Howard on the television series Homicide: Life on the Street for the show's first five seasons from 1993 to 1997. She was also previously been a regular on the television shows All My Children and The Young Riders. Her breakthrough film role was in the 2003 film, 21 Grams as Marianne Jordan. She was also in the 2013 film Oblivion, starring as NASA Ground Control correspondent Sally.

Following several films, Leo received critical acclaim and national attention for her performance as Ray Eddy in the 2008 film Frozen River, earning several nominations and awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Leo earned several awards for her role as Alice Ward in the 2010 film, The Fighter, including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Leo recently stared on the main cast of the HBO television series Treme in the role of Antoinette "Toni" Bernette.

Personal life[edit]

Leo was born in Manhattan, New York City.[1] She is the daughter of Peggy (née Chessington), a California-born teacher, and Arnold Leo III, an editor at Grove Press, fisherman, and spokesman for the East Hampton Baymen's Association.[2][3][4][5] Leo was raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and spent summers at her father's house in Springs, a section of East Hampton, N.Y.[1] She is a former resident of Putney, Vermont[6] and now lives in Stone Ridge, New York.[7] She has a son with actor and former boyfriend John Heard named John "Jack" Matthew Heard (born 1987) and years later adopted Adam (born 1984).

Career[edit]

Leo's acting debut came in 1984, for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy at the Daytime Emmy Awards/12th Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Ingenue/Woman in a Drama Series for All My Children. Following this, Leo appeared in several films, including the lead role as a strait-laced girl named Cookie who succumbed to prostitition in "Streetwalkin," A Time of Destiny, Last Summer in the Hamptons, and Venice/Venice. She also had several appearances on television, most notably her role as Det. Sgt. Kay Howard on Homicide: Life on the Street until 1997. Three years later she reprised her role in the television movie, Homicide: The Movie. After a brief hiatus from acting, Leo's breakthrough came three years later in the Alejandro González Iñárritu film, 21 Grams released to critical acclaim. Leo appeared in a supporting role alongside Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro and Clea DuVall. Leo shared a "Best Ensemble Acting" award from the Phoenix Film Critics Society in 2003 and the runner-up for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Supporting Actress.

Leo in January 2006

Leo appeared in supporting roles throughout the 2000s including the film Hide and Seek, the independent film American Gun, both in 2005, and a minor role in the comedy Mr. Woodcock. In 2006, she won the Bronze Wrangler at the Western Heritage Awards for Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada shared with Tommy Lee Jones who also produced the film. In 2008, she won the Maverick Actor Award and also the Best Actress award at the Method Fest for Lullaby (2008).

That same year Leo earned critical praise for her performance in the film Frozen River, winning several including the Best Actress award from the Independent Spirit Awards, the Spotlight award from the National Board of Review and Best Actress nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Academy Awards. Critic Roger Ebert backed her for a win, stating, "Best Actress: Melissa Leo. What a complete performance, evoking a woman's life in a time of economic hardship. The most timely of films, but that isn't reason enough. I was struck by how intensely determined she was to make the payments, support her two children, carry on after her abandonment by a gambling husband, and still maintain rules and goals around the house. This was a heroic woman."[8]

Following Frozen River, Leo continued to appear in several independent films and had a minor role in the 2008 film Righteous Kill with Al Pacino and her Hide and Seek co-star, Robert De Niro. Leo appeared in a series of films throughout 2009, including According to Greta, the title character in Stephanie's Image, True Adolescents and Veronika Decides to Die.

In 2010, Leo received fame for her role in David O. Russell's The Fighter. Rick Bentley of The Charlotte Observer said "Both actors (Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale) are very good, but they get blown off the screen by Melissa Leo, who plays their mother, Alice Ward. Leo's Oscar-worthy portrayal of Alice as a master manipulator goes beyond acting to a total transformation."[9] Roger Ebert referred to it as a "teeth-gratingly brilliant performance." Leo and several of the film's actors including her co-star Amy Adams and Bale were nominated. For her performance Leo received several awards, including the Golden Globe, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, Screen Actors Guild and culminating in her winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. While accepting her Oscar, Leo said "When I watched Kate [Winslet] two years ago, it looked so fucking easy!" She apologized afterwards for using profanity, admitting that it was "a very inappropriate place to use that particular word...those words, I apologize to anyone that they offend."[10][11]

Prior to her win Leo had created some controversy by attempting to self promote her Oscar campaign rather than rely on the marketing department of the studio. Leo personally bought ad space in Hollywood trade publications which was initially thought might backfire in a similar manner to previous Oscar contenders Chill Wills and Margaret Avery.[12]

Following her Oscar win, Leo appeared in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce alongside Kate Winslet, Evan Rachel Wood and Guy Pearce. Her performance garnered an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Her next projects include the satirical horror film Red State, the independent comedy Predisposed with Jesse Eisenberg currently in pre-production[13] and the crime thriller The Dead Circus based on the novel by John Kaye with Michael C. Hall and James Marsden currently in development.[14] She guest-starred in an episode of the hit FX comedy Louie, which garnered her an Emmy win for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Leo recently appeared in the action-thriller Olympus Has Fallen as the Secretary of Defense held hostage by terrorists in the White House and Oblivion as the main antagonist. Most recently, Leo can be seen in a major role in Prisoners and in a minor role in The Equalizer.

Filmography[edit]

Film and television (regular cast)
YearTitleRoleNotes
1984All My ChildrenLinda WarnerContract cast member (1984–1985)
Nominated—Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series (1985)
1985AlwaysPeggy
1985Streetwalkin'Cookie
1985Silent WitnessPatti MullenTV movie
1986Deadtime StoriesJudith "MaMa" Baer
1988Time of Destiny, AA Time of DestinyJosie Larraneta
1989The Young RidersEmma ShannonMain cast member season 1: 24 episodes
1989Nasty BoysKatie MorriseyTV
1990The Bride in BlackMary MargaretTV
1991Carolina SkeletonsCassieTV
1992Immaculate Conception[15]Hannah
1992Venice/VenicePeggy
1993Ballad of Little Jo, TheThe Ballad of Little JoBeatrice Grey
1993Homicide: Life on the StreetDet. Sgt. Kay HowardTelevision series, main cast member seasons 1–5 (1993–1997): 77 episodes
1994GardenElizabeth
1995Last Summer in the HamptonsTrish
1995In the Line of Duty: Hunt for JusticeCarol ManningTV
1997Under the BridgeKathy
1999The 24 Hour WomanDr. Suzanne Pincus
1999Code of EthicsJo DeAngelo
2000Homicide: The MovieDet. Sgt. Kay HowardTV
2000Fear of FictionSigrid Anderssen
200321 GramsMarianne JordanPhoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
2004First BreathDetective Waxman
2004From Other WorldsMiriam
2005Hide and SeekLaura
2005RunawayLisa Adler
2005No ShoulderRuth
2005PatchMaelynn
2005Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, TheThe Three Burials of Melquiades EstradaRachelBronze Wrangler Award for Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture
2005American GunLouise
2005ConfessAgnes Lessor
2006Stephanie DaleyMiri
2006The Limbo RoomKC Collins
2006Hollywood DreamsAunt Bee
2006House is Burning, TheThe House is BurningMrs. Miller
2006Falling ObjectsHelga
2007BombSharon
2007Midnight SonRita
2007Black IrishMargaret McKay
2007Cake Eaters, TheThe Cake EatersCeci
2007Racing DaylightSadie Stokes/Anna Stokes
2007I Believe in AmericaSoto
2007Mr. WoodcockSally Jansen
2007One NightWendy
2008Frozen RiverRay EddyCentral Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Film Artist
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor
Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
Marrakech International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
San Sebastián International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award for Best Actress
Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Women Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
2008Alphabet Killer, TheThe Alphabet KillerKathy Walsh
2008LullabyStephanieMethod Fest Independent Film Festival Award for Best Actress
2008Night of the Living Jews[16]Jewish Mother zombieLow budget film
2008Santa MesaMaggie
2008Ball Don't LieGeorgia
2008This is a Story About Ted and AliceAlice
2008Righteous KillCheryl Brooks
2008PredisposedPenny
2009According to GretaKaren
2009Stephanie's ImageStephanie
2009True AdolescentsSharon
2009Veronika Decides to DieMari
2009Dear Lemon LimaMrs. Howard
2009Don McKayMarie
2009Everybody's FineColleen
2010TremeToni BernetteMain cast member: season 1 – present
2010Welcome to the RileysMrs. Lois Riley
2010Dry Land, TheThe Dry LandMartha
2010The Space BetweenMontineBest New York Narrative - Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival
2010Fighter, TheThe FighterAlice WardAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Ensemble
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Capri Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Online for Best Supporting Actress
North Texas Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Central Ohio film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards for Best Ensemble
2010ConvictionNancy Taylor
2011Red StateSarah Cooper
2011The Sea Is All I KnowSaraCalifornia Independent Film Festival Slate Award for Best Actress
Rhode Island International Film Festival Grand Prize Award for Best Actress
2012FlightEllen Block
2012Why Stop NowPenny Bloom
2013Olympus Has FallenRuth McMillan
2013OblivionSally
2013Lee Daniels' The ButlerMamie EisenhowerScenes deleted
2013PrisonersHolly Jones
2013Call Me Crazy: A Five FilmRobinA Lifetime Original Movie
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2013Charlie CountrymanCharlie's mother
2014The Angriest Man in BrooklynBette Altmann
2014The EqualizerSusan Plummer
2014I Fought the LawAlice McMillanpre-production

Television mini-series and guest appearances[edit]

Film and television (short term roles)
YearTitleRoleNotes
1985The EqualizerIrina Dzershinsky1 episode, "The Defector"
1987Spenser: For HireMary Hamilton1 episode, "Mary Hamilton"
1988Miami ViceKathleen Gilfords1 episode, "Bad Timing"
1989Gideon OliverRebecca Hecht1 episode, "Kennonite"
1993, 2002, 2008Law & OrderAlice Sutton / Sherri Quinn / Donna Cheponis3 episodes, "Sweeps", "Who Let the Dogs Out?", and "Personae Non Grata"
1994ScarlettSuellen O'Hara BenteenTV mini-series
1998LegacyEmma Bradford2 episodes, "Emma" and "The Search Party"
2004Veronica MarsJulia Smith1 episode, "Meet John Smith"
2004CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationSybil Perez1 episode, "Harvest"
2005Law & Order: Criminal IntentMaureen Curtis1 episode, "The Good Child"
2005The L WordWinnie Mann3 episodes, "Luminous", "Loyal", and "Lacuna"
2006SharkElizabeth Rourke1 episode, "Pilot"
2007Criminal MindsGeorgia Davis1 episode, "No Way Out"
2007Cold CaseTayna Raymes '94–'071 episode, "Thrill Kill", 2007
2011Mildred PierceLucy GesslerTV mini-series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
2012LouieLaurie1 episode, "Telling Jokes/Set Up"
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominated -Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Post (2009-02-19). "Veteran Actors, First Time Nominees". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Actress up for Oscar has longtime ties to Hamptons". Newsday.com. 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  3. ^ "Melissa Leo Biography (1960–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  4. ^ Mother's California birth stated on the 68th Golden Globe Awards, January 16, 2011
  5. ^ Ingrassia, Michele (January 25, 1990). "The Unlikely Bayman Arnold Leo forsook Manhattan years ago for the East End. Today, he's the single most powerful voice for that endangered species, the Long Island fisherman". Newsday. 
  6. ^ "Burlington Free Press – Vermonter Nominated". Burlington Free Press. January 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Nebraska threads woven into red carpet". Omaha.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (2011-04-23). "Elevating the Oscar winners, Part #3: Best Leading Actress". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ Posted: Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 (2010-12-18). "Cast puts punch in scrappy 'Fighter'". CharlotteObserver.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  10. ^ Liz Kelly (February 27, 2011). "Melissa Leo drops F-bomb in Oscar Acceptance Speech". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  11. ^ Vancouver Sun and wire services (February 27, 2011). "OSCARS: F-Bomb mars speech; Toy Story 3, In a Better World, Christian Bale, Social Network. King's Speech take awards". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  12. ^ Melissa Leo's 'rogue' Oscar campaign. The Week (2011-02-11). Retrieved on 2013-07-13.
  13. ^ Vancouver Sun and wire services (March 2, 2011). "Jesse Eisenberg to play Melissa Leo’s son in "Predisposed". Up and Comers. Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  14. ^ Jay A. Fernandez (March 3, 2011). "What Oscar Winners Are Doing Next". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ Movie at IMDb
  16. ^ Night of the Living Jews – Credits on official website.

External links[edit]