Linda Hunt

Linda Hunt Headshot

Actress

Birth Name: Lydia Susanna Hunter

Birth Date: April 2, 1945

Age: 79 years old

Birth Place: Morristown, New Jersey

Despite her diminutive 4-foot, 9-inch frame, actress Linda Hunt emerged as a prominent, Oscar-winning performer in only her second film, playing doomed Chinese-Australian photojournalist Billy Kwan in Peter Weir's "The Year of Living Dangerously" (1982), which marked the first time in Academy Award history that an actor won for playing a character of the opposite sex. Her triumphant win led to a Tony-nominated performance in Arthur Kopit's "End of the World" (1983) and a supporting role as a saloon keep in the revisionist Western, "Silverado" (1985), though opportunities later became few and far between.

While she logged numerous film and television roles over the years, including a long-running recurring role as a judge on "The Practice" (ABC, 1996-2004), Hunt developed a second career as a busy voiceover artist. She lent her surprising baritone as a narrator on environmental specials, while voicing characters in both video games - most notably on the "God of War" series - and various animated projects like Disney's "Pocahontas" (1995). By the time she was seen with regularity on such hit procedurals as "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09) and "NCIS: Los Angeles" (2009- ), Hunt was a familiar presence in several different mediums; a testament to both her talent and her ability to overcome the odds.

Born on April 2, 1945, in Morristown, NJ, Hunt moved to Westport, CT with her family while still an infant. Burdened with a host of health problems since birth, Hunt was misdiagnosed with cretinism at six months of age. While in her teens, she was correctly diagnosed with hypo-pituitary dwarfism, a condition in which the pituitary gland fails to release enough growth hormone. Ironically, or perhaps consequently, Hunt grew up an unusual overachiever, undaunted by her condition.

She took her first stab at acting at age 12 while performing in a production of "Flibbertigibbet" at Westport's famed Silver Nutmeg Theater. Hunt moved to New York in the mid-1960s, where she found consistent work in summer stock theater. Concerned that her unusual physical type would limit her future as an actress, Hunt initially focused on becoming a stage director. But the lure of acting proved too powerful to resist, so in 1969, Hunt returned to Westport to study acting under dramatic coach, Robert Lewis.

In the early 1970s, Hunt began a longtime association with the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven. Her one-woman show based on the life of Joan of Arc won the actress rave reviews and even flickers of interest from Broadway. A year later, Hunt went to New York City and made her off-Broadway debut as the Player Queen in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Hamlet" in Central Park. This led to Hunt's first major role as the Irish maid Nora in a 1973 production of Eugene O'Neill's play, "Ah, Wilderness!"

Originally directed by Arvin Brown for the Long Wharf Theatre, the play eventually moved to the Circle-in-the-Square Theatre along the Great White Way in New York, where it was taped for airing as a PBS special, "Theater In America" (1976). Hunt's screen career began in the late 1970s, when she made her television debut in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of Arthur Miller's "Fame" (CBS, 1979). Adapted for the screen by the playwright himself, it was noteworthy that Miller specifically created Hunt's role of Mona with the actress in mind.

The following year, Hunt made her official big screen debut in Robert Altman's bloated and ultimately failed musical, "Popeye" (1980). Cast in a small supporting role as the feisty Mrs. Oxheart, Hunt's appearance was a fortunately forgettable cameo lost in an even more forgettable film that dogged stars Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall for years to come. Her next film, however, permanently changed her career. Tapped to co-star in the controversial drama "The Year of Living Dangerously," Hunt joined burgeoning young actors Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver in director Peter Weir's complex drama.

Based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Koch, the film told the complicated tale of an Australian journalist caught at the center of a foreign country's political overthrow. Based on the real-life events of the attempted 1965 coup of Jakarta by Indonesia's Communist party, "Dangerously" earned Hunt an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Eurasian photographer, Billy Kwan. The first actor to ever win an Oscar for playing a role of the opposite gender, Hunt's record stood untouched until 1999, when Hilary Swank won an Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry."

Despite her formidable talent, however, Hunt hit the proverbial glass ceiling. Though she remained consistently employed on stage - even winning two Obies and a Tony nomination in the 1980s and 1990s - the pedigree of her film work had slipped. Still, Hunt's presence in movies managed to endure throughout this period. Among her higher profile roles were supporting turns in such critical favorites as "Silverado" (1985), in which she played Stella, a genial saloon proprietor, and the blockbuster comedy, "Kindergarten Cop" (1990), portraying a school principle disapproving of a rough-and-tumble cop (Arnold Schwarzenegger) going undercover as a kindergarten teacher to capture a wanted fugitive.

In 1993, Hunt briefly returned to television, starring in the ill-fated space opera, "Space Rangers" (CBS, 1993), which was cancelled after just six episodes. After a brief dormancy in the mid-to late 1990s, during which time she only appeared in the horror dud, "The Relic" (1997), Hunt's career underwent something of a renaissance when she turned to television. In 1997, Hunt created the role of Judge Zoey Hiller on David E. Kelly's long-running legal dramedy, "The Practice." A favorite recurring character for the show's fans, Hunt reprised the role more than two dozen times before the show finally adjourned its run.

In 2003, Hunt joined the cast of the HBO drama "Carnivale" (HBO, 2003-05) for a 10-episode run as the mysterious voice of Management. In 2005, actress Hunt added an unlikely new credit to her resume: video game icon. As the resonant, authoritative voice of the Narrator for the award-winning "God of War" video game series, Hunt gained a whole new generation of fans unfamiliar with her acting work. Hunt reprised the voiceover role for the game's sequel, "God of War 2."

Following a long vacation away from features, Hunt finally returned to the big screen with the blended family comedy "Yours, Mine, and Ours" (2005), starring Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo. While her role was hardly much of a challenge for the actress, the movie did at least allow Hunt a rare opportunity to flex her comedic muscles. Her next project continued in the same vein, as Dr. Mittag-Leffler in director Marc Forster's twisted comedy, "Stranger than Fiction" (2006) starring Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson.

After building a second career voicing narration for numerous PBS specials, including "Secrets of the Ocean Realm" (1997), "Woodrow Wilson" (2002) and "Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State" (2004), Hunt joined the cast of the successful spin-off series, "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS, 2009- ), playing OSP Operations Manager Henrietta Lange.

Credits

Solo: A Star Wars StoryStream

Voice
Lady Proxima
Movie
2018
69%

Tasmania: Land of the Devils

Narrator
Show
2015

ScorpionStream

Guest Star
Series
2014
61%

The Polio Crusade

Narrator
Show
2010

Sacred Earth

Narrator
Show
2010

NCIS: Los AngelesStream

Actor
Henrietta "Hetty" Lange
Series
2009

The Crooked Eye

Voice
Show
2009

California's Lost Tribes

Narrator
Show
2006

The Price of Renewal

Narrator
Show
2006

California and the American Dream

Narrator
Show
2006

The UnitStream

Guest Star
Series
2006
84%

Stranger Than FictionStream

Actor
Dr. Mittag-Lefler
Movie
2006
73%

The Singing Revolution

Narrator
Movie
2006

Nip/TuckStream

Guest Star
Voice of Authority
Series
2003
74%

Without a TraceStream

Guest Star
Series
2002

Dragonfly

Actor
Sister Madeline
Movie
2002

Island of the Sharks

Narrator
Movie
1999

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

Voice
Grandmother Willow
Movie
1998

Out of the Past

Narrator
Movie
1998

Secrets of the Ocean Realm

Narrator
Show
1997

The PracticeStream

Guest Star
Series
1997

The RelicStream

Actor
Dr. Ann Cuthbert
Movie
1997
37%

Eat Your Heart Out

Actor
Kathryn
Movie
1997

Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End

Narrator
Movie
1997

Amazon

Narrator
Movie
1997

The Living Edens

Narrator
Show
1996

PocahontasStream

Voice
Grandmother Willow
Movie
1995
54%

Ready to WearStream

Actor
Regina Krumm
Movie
1994
24%

Space Rangers

Actor
Show
1993

De Mano en Mano, 20 Dólares

Actor
Movie
1993

Twenty Bucks

Actor
Angeline
Movie
1993

Ishi: The Last Yahi

Narrator
Movie
1992

Rain Without Thunder

Actor
Atwood Society Director
Movie
1992

If Looks Could Kill

Actor
Ilsa Grunt
Movie
1991

Kindergarten CopStream

Actor
Miss Schlowski
Movie
1990
53%

She-DevilStream

Actor
Hooper
Movie
1989
48%

The Room Upstairs

Actor
Mrs. Sanders
Movie
1987

Basements

Actor
Rose
Movie
1987

Waiting for the Moon

Actor
Alice B. Toklas
Movie
1987

SilveradoStream

Actor
Stella
Movie
1985
78%

Eleni

Actor
Katina
Movie
1985

DuneStream

Actor
Shadout Mapes
Movie
1984
44%

The Year of Living DangerouslyStream

Actor
Billy Kwan
Movie
1982
88%

CBS News Sunday Morning

Guest
News
1979

Fame

Actor
Mona
Movie
1978

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