Michelle Forbes

Michelle Forbes Headshot

Actress

Birth Name: Michelle Renee Forbes Guajardo

Birth Date: January 8, 1965

Age: 59 years old

Birth Place: Austin, Texas

A striking presence on television and in the occasional feature since the late 1980s, actress Michelle Forbes gave memorable turns as steely but often flawed women of power on such series as "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-14), "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-99), and "24" (Fox, 2001-2010). Tall, raven-haired, and blessed with a distinctively husky voice, Forbes made lasting impressions on viewers, beginning with her turn as cult favorite Ensign Ro Laren on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994).

Critically acclaimed assignments like "Homicide" led to major roles on high-profile shows like "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi Channel, 2003-09), where she played the ruthless Admiral Helena Cain, and on "True Blood" as the supernatural hedonist Maryanne. When Forbes landed the plum role of a mother of a murdered young girl on AMC's "The Killing" (AMC 2011-13; Netflix, 2014), she suddenly found herself a critical darling. Decades of hard work paid off for Forbes, who was among the most respected character actresses of her generation.

Born Michelle Renee Forbes Guajardo in Austin, TX, on Jan. 8, 1965, her first love was ballet, but after studying at the Performing Arts High School in Houston, she shifted her attention to acting. At 16, she left home to begin her career, soon signing with the William Morris Agency for representation. In 1987, she landed her first major role as the brilliant but troubled psychiatrist Dr. Sonni Wells on "Guiding Light" (CBS, 1952-2009). Traumatized by the childhood death of her sister, Dr. Wells assumed her sibling's identity, which allows her to commit all manner of atrocities that, in turn, besmirched her "good" sister's reputation. Forbes earned a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for her performance before departing the soap opera in 1990.

She then divided her time between off-Broadway theater and guest appearances on television series, most notably "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as a distraught daughter who attempted to convince her father (David Ogden Stiers) to accept their civilization's rule that individuals must commit ritual suicide upon reaching the age of 60. Her performance received solid reviews from fans and critics alike, and producers soon set about to create a recurring character for her on the series. Forbes was introduced as Ensign Ro Laren in the fifth season of "The Next Generation," and despite only eight appearances on the series, became a popular figure among fans.

A headstrong member of the perennially oppressed alien race known as the Bajorans, Ro arrived on the Enterprise with a troubled past, having been court-martialed for disobeying orders on a mission. Over the course of her appearances, Ro learned to work with other crewmembers and eventually took part in several significant adventures before departing the show in its seventh season by joining a rebel force that fought against the Cardassians, her people's sworn enemies. In reality, Forbes was offered a chance to join "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (syndicated, 1993-99) and "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001), but turned down both, citing her reluctance to sign on to a series.

Despite major roles in independent features like "Kalifornia" (1993) and the cult favorite "Swimming with Sharks" (1994), Forbes was unable to generate much traction with her movie career; instead balancing subsequent turns in largely unseen efforts like the Jason Alexander-directed "Just Looking" (1995) and John Carpenter's "Escape from L.A." (1997). In 1996, she relented on her previous stand on becoming a series regular by joining the cast of "Homicide: Life on the Street" during its fifth season.

Forbes' character, Dr. Julianna Cox, was the chief medical examiner at the Baltimore city morgue, and immediately established herself as a worthwhile addition to the show's cast of sharply defined, complex characters. A flinty, no-nonsense doctor with no compunction about firing employees for incompetence, she also displayed a personable side that sat well with the show's detective heroes. However, she possessed her share of demons as well, burying her sadness and stress in alcohol and meaningless sex. Cox was fired at the end of the show's sixth season after refusing to tamper evidence that would implicate a city worker in vehicular manslaughter, which also ended Forbes' tenure with the series, though she returned briefly for the 2000 TV movie "Homicide: The Movie" (NBC), which brought the celebrated series to a close.

Television soon became Forbes' primary showcase, and the exposure from "Homicide" allowed her to attain substantial parts on several well-regarded series. Peter Berg cast her as a psychiatrist and expectant mother in his controversial and short-lived drama "Wonderland" (ABC, 2000), which took place in a mental institution. Only two episodes of the series were broadcast, and were followed by recurring guest stints on "The District" (CBS, 2000-04) and "24," the latter of which cast her as presidential advisor Lynne Kresge, who tried to stop an attempt to remove the Commander in Chief (Dennis Haysbert).

The character of Kresge set in motion a string of similar roles for Forbes: tough government and military operatives who occasionally bent the rules for their own purposes. She was a sinister intermediary to the vice president on "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09), then an undercover agent in the unaired pilot for "Global Frequency" (The WB), based on the graphic novel of the same name.

During this prolific period, her most high-profile figure of this type was Admiral Helena Cain on the revamped "Battlestar Galactica." Traumatized at an early age by the series' robotic villains, the Cylons, Cain grew into a dogged warrior whose thirst for vengeance made all other considerations secondary, including the lives of those around her. Cain eliminated all who opposed her during her brief run on the series before being herself murdered by her lover, a Cylon (Tricia Helfer) posing as a crew member. Forbes as Cain was top-billed in the TV movie "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" (Sci-Fi Channel, 2007), which expanded upon the events in Cain's storyline as well as serving as a bridge to the show's fourth season.

While tackling these tough-minded roles, Forbes also explored more nuanced characters in somewhat lesser known programs on both sides of the Atlantic. She learned British sign language in just seven days to play the deaf wife of detective Ken Stott on the BBC One series "Messiah" (2001-08) and the long-suffering spouse of conflicted therapist Gabriel Byrne in the first season of HBO's "In Treatment" (2008-2010).

In the Canadian series "Durham County" (The Movie Network, 2007-10), she played a love interest for the show's lead, homicide detective Mike Sweeney (Hugh Dillon), who discovered that she had a murderous past of her own. And in the second season of "True Blood," she gave an alluring turn as Maryann Forrester, a social worker who was a secret devotee of the Greek god Dionysus, and takes control of the citizens of Bon Temps in an attempt to bring the ancient deity to life. The latter earned her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination as part of an ensemble, as well as a Special Achievement Award from the Satellite Awards in 2009.

In 2011, Forbes played the mother of a murdered young girl who struggled to deal with her grief on AMC's "The Killing" (AMC 2011-13; Netflix, 2014), a role that earned her an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Credits

Big SkyStream

Guest Star
Margaret Kleinsasser
Series
2020

TreadstoneStream

Actor
Ellen Becker
Series
2019
47%

New AmsterdamStream

Guest Star
Dr. Veronica Fuentes
Series
2018

ColumbusStream

Actor
Maria
Movie
2017
96%

GeminiStream

Actor
Jamie
Movie
2017
71%

Say You Will

Actor
Janis Nimitz
Movie
2017

Berlin StationStream

Actor
Valerie Edwards
Series
2016

PowersStream

Actor
Janis Sandusky/Retro Girl
Series
2015

The ReturnedStream

Actor
Helen Goddard
Series
2015
67%

Rake

Guest Star
Lucy Marks
Show
2014

Orphan BlackStream

Guest Star
Dr. Marian Bowles
Series
2013
93%

The Hunters

Actor
Jordyn Flynn
Movie
2013

Dear Sidewalk

Actor
Paige
Movie
2013

Highland Park

Actor
Sylvia Howard
Movie
2013

Chicago FireStream

Guest Star
Gail McLeod
Series
2012

The KillingStream

Actor
Series
2011
68%

Diplomacy

Actor
U.S. Secretary of State
Movie
2009

True BloodStream

Actor
Maryann Forrester
Series
2008
68%

True BloodStream

Guest Star
Maryann Forrester
Series
2008
68%

In TreatmentStream

Actor
Kate
Series
2008
90%

In TreatmentStream

Guest Star
Kate Weston
Series
2008
90%

Battlestar Galactica: RazorStream

Actor
Admiral Helena Cain
Movie
2007

Unthinkable

Actor
Jamie McDowell
Movie
2007

After the Attack

Self
Show
2006

Prison BreakStream

Guest Star
Samantha Brinker
Series
2005
61%

The Inside

Guest Star
Show
2005

Battlestar GalacticaStream

Guest Star
Admiral Helena Cain
Series
2005
95%

Boston LegalStream

Guest Star
Juliette Monroe
Series
2004
86%

LostStream

Guest Star
Karen Decker
Series
2004
86%

Messiah: The Promise

Actor
Susan Metcalfe
Show
2004

Messiah III: The Promise

Actor
Movie
2004

Dandelion

Actor
Mrs. Voss
Movie
2004

Messiah 2: Vengeance Is Mine

Actor
Susan Metcalfe
Show
2003

Mesias 2: La Venganza es Mía

Actor
Susan Metcalfe
Movie
2003

Messiah 2: Vengeance Is Mine

Actor
Susan Metcalfe
Movie
2003

FastlaneStream

Guest Star
Series
2002
47%

Johnson County War

Actor
Rory Hammett
Show
2002

Los Hermanos Hammett

Actor
Movie
2002

Johnson County War

Actor
Rory Hammett
Movie
2002

American Girl

Actor
Madge Grubb
Movie
2002

24Stream

Actor
Lynn Kresge
Series
2001
87%

24Stream

Guest Star
Lynn Kresge
Series
2001
87%

AliasStream

Guest Star
Dr. Maggie Sinclair
Series
2001
86%

Messiah

Actor
Show
2001

Perfume

Actor
Francene
Movie
2001

The District

Guest Star
Series
2000

Wonderland

Actor
Dr. Lyla Garrity
Series
2000

Bullfighter

Actor
Mary
Movie
2000

Homicide: The Movie

Actor
Dr. Julianna Cox
Movie
2000

Brimstone

Guest Star
Series
1998
35%

Escape from L.A.Stream

Actor
Brazen
Movie
1996
54%

The Prosecutors

Actor
Dist. Atty. Rachel Simone
Movie
1996

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Series
1995

Black Day Blue Night

Actor
Rinda Woolley
Movie
1995

The Road Killers

Actor
Helen
Movie
1995

Just Looking

Actor
Mary
Movie
1995

The Buddy Factor

Actor
Dawn Lockard
Movie
1994

Homicide: Life on the Street

Actor
Series
1993
91%

KaliforniaStream

Actor
Carrie Laughlin
Movie
1993
58%

Love Bites

Actor
Nerissa
Movie
1992

SeinfeldStream

Guest Star
Julie
Series
1989
89%

Star Trek: The Next GenerationStream

Guest Star
Ensign Ro Laren
Series
1987
92%

Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0

Guest Star
Show
1987

Guiding Light

Actor
Sonni Carrera
Soap
1952

News aboutMichelle Forbes

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