Dianne Wiest: Wikis


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Dianne Wiest

Wiest in 1990
Born March 28, 1948 (1948-03-28) (age 61)
Kansas City, Missouri
United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1970–present

Dianne Wiest (born March 28, 1948) is an American actress. She has had a successful career on stage, television, and film, and has won two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. Wiest has also been nominated for a BAFTA Award.


Early life

Wiest was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Her father was a college dean and former psychiatric social worker for the U.S. Army, and her Scottish-born mother, Anne, worked as a nurse; her parents met in Algiers.[1][2] She has two brothers: Greg and Don Wiest. Wiest's original ambition was to be a ballerina, but in late high school she switched her goal to theatre. She made her film debut in It's My Turn (1980),[3] but did not establish herself as a film actress until her work for Woody Allen in the 1980s.

Stage career

Wiest studied theatre at the University of Maryland, leaving after her third term to tour with a Shakespearean troupe. Later, she had a supporting role in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of Ashes.[3] She also acted at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT, playing the title role in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. She also understudied a role off-Broadway, in Kurt Vonnegut's Happy Birthday, Wanda June at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

She made her Broadway debut in Robert Anderson's Solitaire/Double Solitaire, taking over in the role of the daughter in 1971.[4] She landed a four-year job as a member of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.,[5] in such memorable roles as Emily in Our Town, Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and leading roles in S. Ansky's The Dybbuk, Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths and Shaw's "Heartbreak House."[1] She toured the USSR with the Arena Stage Company.

In 1976, Wiest went to the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and starred in leading roles in Amlin Gray's Pirates and Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film. At Joe Papp's Public Theatre she took over the lead in Ashes, and played Cassandra in Agamemnon, directed by Andrei Şerban.

She appeared in two plays by Tina Howe: Museum and the The Art of Dining. In the latter, Wiest's performance as the shy and awkward authoress Elizabeth Barrow Colt won every off-Broadway theatre award: an Obie Award, a Theatre World Award, and the Clarence Derwent Award, given yearly for the most promising performance in New York theatre.

In early 1980, she appeared on Broadway in Frankenstein, directed by Tom Moore, portrayed Desdemona in Othello opposite James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer and co-starred with John Lithgow in Christopher Durang's romantic screwball comedy Beyond Therapy, directed by John Madden. (A few years later she played opposite Lithgow again in the Herbert Ross film Footloose).

During this time in the 1980s, she received acclaim for her performances in Hedda Gabler, directed by Lloyd Richards at Yale Repertory Theatre, and in Harold Pinter's A Kind of Alaska, Janusz Glowacki's Hunting Cockroaches, and Lanford Wilson's Serenading Louie.

As Wiest became established as a film actress through her work in Woody Allen's films, she was less frequently available for stage roles. However, she managed to appear onstage the 1990s, in In the Summer House, Square One, Cynthia Ozick's The Shawl, and Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare.

In 2003, she appeared with Al Pacino and Marisa Tomei in Oscar Wilde's Salome. In 2005, she starred in Kathleen Tolan's Memory House. She also starred in a production of Wendy Wasserstein's final play Third (directed by Daniel Sullivan) at Lincoln Center.

Her most recent New York theater roles includes performances as Arkadina in an off-Broadway revival of The Seagull (opposite Alan Cumming's Trigorin) and as Kate Keller in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, opposite John Lithgow, Patrick Wilson, and Katie Holmes.[6] In 2009, Wiest appeared in the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in a dialogue with Katie Holmes celebrating the life of an American veteran seriously wounded in Iraq, José Pequeño.[7]

Film and television

Under Woody Allen's direction, Wiest won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Hannah and Her Sisters in 1987 and the same award again for Bullets Over Broadway in 1995.

She also acted in three other Woody Allen films: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987) and September (1987).

Her early screen roles include small roles in It's My Turn and I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can, both starring Jill Clayburgh in the lead roles.

In 1984, she starred in the blockbuster hit Footloose, as the reverend's wife.

She followed her first Oscar success with performances in The Lost Boys (1987) and Bright Lights, Big City (1988). She also starred with Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves and Martha Plimpton in Ron Howard's Parenthood, for which she received her second Oscar nomination.

In 1990, Wiest starred in Edward Scissorhands. She worked with Woody Allen once again, in 1994, for Bullets Over Broadway, a comedy set in 1920s New York City, winning her second Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Helen Sinclair, a boozy, glamorous, and loud star of the stage.

Other major film roles include Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate (1990) and The Birdcage (1996), Mike Nichols' remake of La Cage aux Folles.

On television, her performance on the series Road to Avonlea, in 1989, garnered her her first Emmy Award, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. She received another nomination for her performance in the 1999 telefilm The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, co-starring Sidney Poitier. She starred in the television mini-series The 10th Kingdom in 2000.

From 2000 to 2002, Wiest portrayed interim District Attorney Nora Lewin in the long-running NBC crime drama Law & Order.

Wiest starred alongside Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche in Dan in Real Life (2007) and had a key supporting role in Charlie Kaufman's 2008 film Synecdoche, New York.

In 2008, she appeared as Gabriel Byrne's therapist, Gina Toll, on the HBO television series In Treatment, for which she received her second Emmy Award, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Seres. She received another nomination (in the same category) for the second season, in 2009, but did not win.

Personal life

Wiest graduated from the University of Maryland in 1969 with a degree in Arts and Sciences.[8]

She was in a long-term relationship with a New York talent agent, Sam Cohn, for many years.[9]

Dianne Wiest has two adopted daughters, Emily (b. 1987) and Lily (b. 1991).


Year Film Role Other notes
1980 It's My Turn Gail as Diane Wiest
1982 I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can Julie Addison
1983 Face of Rage Rebecca Hammil
Independence Day Nancy Morgan
1984 Falling in Love Isabelle
Footloose Vi Moore
1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo Emma
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters Holly Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
1987 Radio Days Bea Nominated – BAFTA Award
September Stephanie
The Lost Boys Lucy Emerson
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Mother
1989 Parenthood Helen Buckman Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Cookie Lenore
1990 Edward Scissorhands Peg
1991 Little Man Tate Jane Grierson
1994 Bullets Over Broadway Helen Sinclair Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture
Cops and Robbersons Helen Robberson
The Scout Doctor H. Aaron
1995 Drunks Rachel
1996 The Associate Sally Dugan
The Birdcage Louise Keeley Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1998 Practical Magic Aunt Bridget 'Jet' Owens
The Horse Whisperer Diane Booker
2000 The 10th Kingdom The Evil Queen TV mini-series
2000-2002 Law & Order D.A. Nora Lewin Twice nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
2001 I Am Sam Annie Cassell
2002 Merci Docteur Rey Elisabeth Beaumont
2004 The Blackwater Lightship Lily TV
2004 Category 6: Day of Destruction Secretary of Energy Shirley Abbott TV mini-series
2005 Robots Mrs. Copperbottom
2006 A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Flori
2007 Dedication Carol
Dan in Real Life Nana Burns
2008 In Treatment Dr. Gina Toll Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series (2008)

Nominated - Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series (2009)
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (2009)

Passengers Toni
Synecdoche, New York Ellen Bascomb/Millicent Weems
2009 Rage Miss Roth
2010 Rabbit Hole Post-production


  1. ^ a b Dianne Wiest biography. Film Reference.com.
  2. ^ Dianne Wiest Makes Neurosis A Success Story - New York Times
  3. ^ a b Dianne Wiest Profile. E!Online.
  4. ^ Dianne Wiest at the Internet Broadway Database
  5. ^ Dianne Wiest Biography. Yahoo! Movies.
  6. ^ ‘’The New York Times’’ “Two Fathers Are Learning Lessons of ‘All My Sons’.” Cohen, Patricia. Nov.12,2008.
  7. ^ http://www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/features/families.html
  8. ^ The Women of Maryland: Alumni Who Have Made A Difference. University of Maryland Women Alumni.
  9. ^ Weber, Bruce (May 6, 2009). "Sam Cohn, Powerful Talent Broker, Dies at 79". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/arts/07cohn.html. Retrieved May 7, 2009.  

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