Christine Lahti

Christine Ann Lahti[1] (born April 4, 1950) is an American actress and filmmaker. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1984 film Swing Shift. Her other film roles include ...And Justice for All (1979), Housekeeping (1987), Running on Empty (1988), and Leaving Normal (1992). For her directorial debut with the 1995 short film Lieberman in Love, she won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.

Lahti made her Broadway debut in 1980 as a replacement in Loose Ends, and went on to star in the Broadway productions of Present Laughter (1982) and The Heidi Chronicles (1989). An eight-time Golden Globe nominee and six-time Emmy Award nominee, she won a Golden Globe for the 1989 TV movie No Place Like Home, and won a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 1998 for her role as Kate Austin in the CBS series Chicago Hope (1995–99). She returned to Broadway in 2009 to star in God of Carnage. She also had a recurring role as Sonya Paxton in the NBC series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (2009–11), as Doris McGarrett in the CBS series Hawaii Five-0 (2012–16), and Laurel Hitchin in NBC's The Blacklist (2015–17).

Christine Lahti
Christine Lahti MFF 2016, cropped
Lahti at the 2016 Miami Film Festival
Christine Ann Lahti

April 4, 1950 (age 68)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
Years active1973–present
Thomas Schlamme (m. 1983)

Early life

Lahti was born in Birmingham, Michigan, the daughter of Elizabeth Margaret (née Tabar; 1920–1995),[2] a painter, homemaker, and nurse, and Paul Theodore Lahti (1919–2001),[3] a surgeon. She has three sisters, Carol, Catherine, and Linda, and two brothers, Paul Jr. and James Lahti.[4][5] Her paternal grandparents were Finnish immigrants[6][7] and her maternal grandparents were from Austria-Hungary. Lahti was raised in the Lutheran Church.[8]

Lahti studied Fine Arts at Florida State University and received her bachelor's degree in Drama from the University of Michigan, where she joined Delta Gamma sorority.


After college, Lahti headed to New York City in 1973, where she worked as a waitress and did commercials. Her breakthrough movie was ...And Justice for All (1979) with Al Pacino. An important role was in Running on Empty, a 1988 movie in which she and Judd Hirsch played the parents of a musically promising son; the family went underground to avoid the FBI after the parents had damaged a napalm factory, and they all must periodically move on short notice and assume new identities. She has also focused on television, beginning with her role in the made-for-TV adaptation of The Executioner's Song (1982). She appeared on Broadway in Wendy Wasserstein's seriocomic play, The Heidi Chronicles.

Lahti received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Swing Shift (1984), and won an Academy Award for Best Short Film, Live Action for Lieberman in Love (1995), in which she starred and directed. It was adapted from Lieberman in Love, a short story by W. P. Kinsella. Lahti won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award in 1998 for her role in Chicago Hope. Christine was in the bathroom when she won the third award and finally came to the stage following an attempt by show producer John Tinker to accept on her behalf and an interruptive riff by Robin Williams. In 1999, she presented with a piece of toilet paper attached to her shoe.

Christine Lahti1
At the Governor's Ball held after the 49th Annual Emmy Awards, 1997

In 2001, her first directorial feature-length film, My First Mister, was released. Starring Leelee Sobieski and Albert Brooks, the movie debuted with good reviews. In DVD commentary she applauds the work of her cast and crew, remarking "[I] was very lucky to have such a wonderful crew..." She said she felt regret that the film was rated R, for language, despairing that the movie might not be viewed by teens who would relate with the characters. Also, Lahti mentioned that she would have liked to have had more time to shoot different perspectives in order to facilitate story arc.

Lahti starred in the executive ADA role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Sonya Paxton while the character Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) was in appeals. She was in the first four episodes of the 11th season[9] and returned for the show's eighth episode, where she clashed with Alexandra Cabot.[10] Lahti later guest starred in the ninth and 17th episodes of the 12th season, where she reprised her role as Paxton. Her character was murdered in the 17th episode.

She returned to Broadway upon joining the cast of the Tony Award–winning play God of Carnage on November 17, 2009, replacing Marcia Gay Harden.[11] Both actresses had a few special appearances on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In September 2011, Lahti starred with Morgan Freeman in the Broadway debut of Dustin Lance Black's play, 8—a reenactment of the federal trial that overturned California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage—as Kris Perry.[12] In March 2012, she was featured with Jamie Lee Curtis and Jansen Panettiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The production was broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.[13][14]

Personal life

Lahti has been married to television director Thomas Schlamme since September 4, 1983. They have three children. She is active in political causes.[15]

Lahti and Schlamme live in Los Angeles with their children.

Since May 2005, Lahti has been a contributer at HuffPo.



Year Film Role Notes
1979 ...And Justice for All Gail Packer
1981 Whose Life Is It Anyway? Dr. Clare Scott
1981 Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains Aunt Linda
1984 Swing Shift Hazel New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1986 Desert Bloom Rose Chismore Uncredited
1986 Just Between Friends Sandy Dunlap
1987 Stacking Kathleen Morgan aka Season of Dreams
1987 Housekeeping Sylvie
1988 Running on Empty Annie Pope/Cynthia Manfield Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1989 Miss Firecracker Clara Archer
1989 Gross Anatomy Dr. Rachel Woodruff
1990 Funny About Love Meg Lloyd Bergman
1991 The Doctor Anne MacKee
Leaving Normal Darly Peters
1995 Lieberman in Love Shaleen Also director
Academy Award for Live Action Short Film
1995 The Four Diamonds Doctor and Queen Raptenahad
1995 Hideaway Lindsey
1996 Pie in the Sky Ruby
1999 Judgment Day: The Ellie Nesler Story Ellie Nesler
2001 My First Mister Mall Patron Also director
2003 Out of the Ashes Gisella Perl
2008 Smart People Nancy
2008 Yonkers Joe Janice
2009 Obsessed Reese
2010 Flying Lessons Carolyn Conway
2011 Petunia Felicia Petunia
2012 Touchback Thelma
2013 Hateship, Loveship Eileen
2014 Mania Days Sara
2015 The Steps Sherry
2015 Touched with Fire Sara
2016 Operator Beth Larsen
2017 Becks Ann


Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Harvey Korman Show Maggie Kavanaugh 5 episodes
1978 The Last Tenant Carol Television movie
1978 Dr. Scorpion Tania Reston Television movie
1980 The Henderson Monster Dr. Louise Casimir Television movie
1982 The Executioner's Song Brenda Television movie
1984 Single Bars, Single Women Elsie Television movie
1985 Love Lives On Marylin Television movie
1987 Amerika Alethea Milford 2 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1989 No Place Like Home Zan Cooper Television movie
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1991 Crazy from the Heart Charlotte Bain Television movie
1992 The Fear Inside Meredith Cole Television movie
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1995–99 Chicago Hope Dr. Kathryn Austin 97 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1996–97, 1999)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (1996–99)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (1996–98)
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series
1994 Frasier Laura Episode: "Author, Author"
1997 Hope Emma Percy Television movie
2000 An American Daughter Lyssa Dent Hughes Television movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
2001 Ally McBeal Sydney Gale Episode: "Queen Bee"
2002 Women vs. Men Dana Television movie
2002 The Pilot's Wife Kathryn Lyons Television movie
2003 Out of the Ashes Gisella Perl Television movie
2004 Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman Rose Television movie
2004–05 Jack & Bobby Grace McCallister 22 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
2006 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Martha O'Dell 3 episodes
2009 Operating Instructions H. Keller Television movie
2009–11 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sonya Paxton 7 episodes
2011 The Doctor Emily Campbell[16] Pilot
2012–16 Hawaii Five-0 Doris McGarrett 9 episodes
2015 Grace and Frankie Lydia Foster Episode: "The Funeral"
2015–17 The Blacklist Laurel Hitchin 10 episodes
2015–16 The Good Wife Andrea Stevens 2 episodes
2017–18 The Good Fight Andrea Stevens 2 episodes


Year Title Role Director(s) Venue
1980 Loose Ends Susan Alan Schneider Circle in the Square Theatre
1980 Division Street Dianah Tom Moore Ambassador Theatre
1981 Scenes and Revelations Helena Sheldon Epps Circle in the Square Theatre
1982–83 Present Laughter Joanna Lyppiatt George C. Scott Circle in the Square Theatre
1989–90 The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland Daniel Sullivan Plymouth Theatre
2009–10 God of Carnage Veronica Matthew Warchus Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
2017 Fucking A Hester Smith Jo Bonney Signature Theatre
2018 Gloria: A Life Gloria Steinem Diane Paulus Daryl Roth Theatre


  1. ^ "Schools, colleges grant undergraduate honors". The Michigan Daily. March 28, 1969. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Orlando Sentinel
  4. ^ "Christine Lahti Biography". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Funeral Notices — Tucson Citizen Morgue, Part 2 (1993–2009)". 1995-12-27. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  6. ^ "Lahti looks beyond mainstream for her roles as real women". Los Angeles Daily News. May 31, 1992. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  7. ^ "Intimate Portrait: Christine Lahti". March 16, 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-03-16. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  8. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (2003-04-10). "Showtime Examines Shoah Diva Doctor | Arts". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
  9. ^ "'SVU' scoop: Christine Lahti is the new ADA!". June 29, 2009. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
  10. ^ Ross, Robyn. "Christine Lahti Back for More Law & Order: SVU". Retrieved 2009-09-22.
  11. ^ Piepenberg, Erik (August 18, 2011). "Lahti, Birney Join the Cast of Adam Rapp's New Play". Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  12. ^ Kennedy, Mark (January 17, 2012). "'8,' Dustin Lance Black Gay Marriage Play, Goes National During 2012". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  13. ^ ""8": A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality". YouTube. March 3, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  14. ^ Gray, Stephen (March 1, 2012). "YouTube to broadcast Proposition 8 play live". Retrieved March 18, 2012.
  15. ^ "Celebrities Protest Killings in Mexico". LA Times/Reuters. February 15, 2004. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  16. ^ Wightman, Catriona (February 21, 2011). "'Californication' star joins CBS pilot". Digital Spy. Retrieved 30 September 2012.

External links

Chicago Hope

Chicago Hope is an American medical drama television series, created by David E. Kelley. It ran on CBS from September 18, 1994 to May 4, 2000. The series is set in a fictional private charity hospital in Chicago, Illinois.

Gross Anatomy (film)

Gross Anatomy is a 1989 American drama film directed by Thom Eberhardt and starring Matthew Modine, Daphne Zuniga, and Christine Lahti. It was released by Touchstone Pictures.

Hideaway (film)

Hideaway is a 1995 American horror film directed by Brett Leonard. It is based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Dean Koontz, and stars Jeff Goldblum, Alicia Silverstone, Christine Lahti, Jeremy Sisto, Alfred Molina and Rae Dawn Chong.

In the film, Goldblum plays a man who dies in a car accident, only to be revived two hours later. After being revived, he experiences frightening visions. He begins to understand that he has become psychically connected to a serial killer, and that by cutting himself, he can actually induce the visions and see through the killer's eyes. However, the vision works both ways, and the killer can also see through his eyes. Birmingham band Godflesh make a cameo appearance during one of the film's scenes.

Critical reception was largely negative, and Hideaway was not a financial success.

Hope (1997 film)

Hope is a 1997 American made-for-TV drama film, starring Christine Lahti, Jena Malone and Catherine O'Hara. It was written by Kerry Kennedy and directed by Goldie Hawn, in her directorial debut. The film was first aired at TNT on October 19, 1997. Hope was shoot entirely on Texas.

Housekeeping (film)

Housekeeping is a 1987 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Bill Forsyth and starring Christine Lahti, Sara Walker, and Andrea Burchill. Based on the 1980 novel Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, the film is about two young sisters growing up in Idaho during the 1950s. After being abandoned by their mother and raised by elderly relatives, the sisters are looked after by their eccentric aunt whose unconventional and unpredictable ways affect their lives. Filmed on location in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, Housekeeping won two awards at the 1987 Tokyo International Film Festival.

Just Between Friends

Just Between Friends is a 1986 American drama film about two women whose friendship is tested by tragedy. The film was written, produced and directed by Allan Burns, and it stars Mary Tyler Moore, Ted Danson, and Christine Lahti.

Leaving Normal (film)

Leaving Normal is a 1992 American comedy-drama road film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Christine Lahti and Meg Tilly. Written by Ed Solomon, the film is about the cross country adventure of two women and the hardships and characters they encounter.

Lieberman in Love

Lieberman in Love is a 1995 American short film directed by Christine Lahti. It won an Academy Award in 1996 for Best Short Subject.A short story by W. P. Kinsella, "Lieberman in Love", was the basis for the film. The Oscar win came as a surprise to the author, who, watching the award telecast from home, had no idea the film had been made and released. He had not been listed in the film's credits, and was not acknowledged by director Christine Lahti in her acceptance speech. A full-page advertisement was placed in Variety apologizing to Kinsella for the error.

My First Mister

My First Mister is a 2001 film written by Jill Franklyn and directed by Christine Lahti. The film is the story of an alienated teen (Leelee Sobieski) who forms an unlikely friendship with a lonely clothing store manager (Albert Brooks). The film co-stars Carol Kane, Michael McKean, John Goodman, and Desmond Harrington.

Pie in the Sky (1996 film)

Pie in the Sky is a 1996 American romantic comedy film about a young man obsessed with traffic gridlock who falls in love with an avant-garde dancer. The film was written and directed by Bryan Gordon, and stars Josh Charles, Christine Lahti, John Goodman, and Anne Heche.

Running on Empty (1988 film)

Running on Empty is a 1988 drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti, and Martha Plimpton. It was produced by Lorimar Television. It is the story of a counterculture couple on the run from the FBI, and how one of their sons starts to break out of this fugitive lifestyle.

Phoenix was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film; Naomi Foner was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Phoenix was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the Golden Globes; Lahti was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress. The film was nominated for Best Director and Best Motion Picture (Drama), and it won a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. Plimpton was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture. In a backstage interview on March 21, 1989, at the 61st Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon, Phoenix expressed his wishes for the film to have a sequel.The film marked the second time that Phoenix and Plimpton played romantic interests, having co-starred in the film The Mosquito Coast two years earlier.

Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

The Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series is an award given by the Screen Actors Guild to honor the finest acting achievements in Dramatic Television.

Swing Shift (film)

Swing Shift is a 1984 American romantic drama war film directed by Jonathan Demme and produced by and starring Goldie Hawn with Kurt Russell. It also stars Christine Lahti, Fred Ward and Ed Harris, Belinda Carlisle, and Holly Hunter (in one of her first movie roles).

The film received critical acclaim with, Lahti receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but was a box office bomb, grossing just $6.6 million against its $15 million budget.

The Country Girl (1950 play)

The Country Girl is a 1950 dramatic play by American playwright Clifford Odets which was subsequently adapted as a film of the same name in 1954.

Uta Hagen played the title role of Georgie Elgin in its original production, with Paul Kelly as her husband Frank, and Steven Hill as theatre director Bernie Dodd. The production was directed by Odets, and ran for 30 weeks, accumulating 235 performances, from November 10, 1950 to June 2, 1951. Hagen received a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, and set designer Boris Aronson won for Best Scenic Design. The play was subsequently remounted on Broadway twice, in 1972 with Maureen Stapleton and Jason Robards, and in 2008, with Frances McDormand and Morgan Freeman. It was also produced twice Off-Broadway, in 1984, with Christine Lahti and Hal Holbrook, and in 1990, with Karen Allen and David Rasche.The play was produced for television twice, in 1974 with Georgie Elgin played by Shirley Knight, and in 1982 by Faye Dunaway.

The Fear Inside (film)

The Fear Inside is a 1992 thriller/drama television film starring Christine Lahti, Dylan McDermott and Jennifer Rubin, directed by Leon Ichaso. The film first aired on August 9, 1992 on the Showtime Cable Network.

The film was nominated for two CableACE awards, one being "Actress in a Movie or Miniseries" (Christine Lahti), and the other being "Directing a Movie or Miniseries" (Leon Ichaso).

Touched with Fire (film)

Touched with Fire is a 2015 American drama film directed and written by Paul Dalio and starring Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne and Bruce Altman. The film is about two bipolar poets who meet in a psychiatric hospital and fall in love. The film was released on February 12, 2016, by Roadside Attractions.

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