Frances McDormand

Frances Louise McDormand (born Cynthia Ann Smith, June 23, 1957) is an American actress. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards (Primetime), and a Tony Award, making her one of the few performers to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting. She has also won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards.

McDormand was educated at Bethany College and Yale University. She has starred in a number of films by the Coen brothers, including Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Burn After Reading (2008), and Hail, Caesar! (2016). For playing Marge Gunderson in Fargo, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her other film roles include Mississippi Burning (1988), Almost Famous (2000), and North Country (2005), all earning her nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2017, she starred as a hardened woman seeking justice for her daughter's murder in the crime-drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which won her a second Academy Award for Best Actress, among others.

McDormand made her Broadway debut in a 1984 revival of the drama Awake and Sing!, and received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her acclaimed performance as Stella Kowalski in a 1988 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. She returned to Broadway in 2008 with a revival of The Country Girl, leading to a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Play. In 2011, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing a troubled single mother in Good People. On television, McDormand played the titular protagonist in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2014), which won her the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.

Frances McDormand
Frances McDormand 2015 (cropped)
Cynthia Ann Smith

June 23, 1957 (age 61)
ResidenceNew York, New York, U.S.
Years active1982–present
Joel Coen (m. 1984)
AwardsFull list

Early life

McDormand was born Cynthia Ann Smith in Gibson City, Illinois.[1] She was adopted at one and a half years of age by Noreen (Nickelson) and Vernon McDormand and renamed Frances Louise McDormand.[1] Her adoptive mother was a nurse and receptionist while her adoptive father was a Disciples of Christ pastor; both were originally from Canada.[2][3] McDormand has said that her biological mother, to whom she proudly referred, along with herself, as "white trash," may have been one of the parishioners at Vernon's church.[1][4] She has a sister, Dorothy A. "Dot" McDormand, who is an ordained Disciples of Christ minister and chaplain,[5] as well as another sibling, both of whom were adopted by the McDormands, who had no biological children.

Because her father specialized in restoring congregations,[4] he frequently moved their family, and they lived in several small towns in Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee,[6] before settling in Monessen, Pennsylvania, where McDormand graduated from Monessen High School in 1975. She attended Bethany College in West Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater in 1979. In 1982, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama. She was a roommate of actress Holly Hunter while living in New York City.


McDormand's first professional acting job was in Derek Walcott's play In a Fine Castle also known as The Last Carnival, which was funded by the MacArthur Foundation and performed in Trinidad. In 1984 she made her film debut in Blood Simple, the first film by the Coen brothers. In 1987, she appeared as the wacky friend Dot in Raising Arizona, starring Holly Hunter and Nicolas Cage. In addition to her early film roles, McDormand played Connie Chapman in the fifth season of the television police drama Hill Street Blues. In 1988, she played Stella Kowalski in a stage production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. McDormand is an associate member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group. In 2002, "the game and talented" McDormand performed as Oenone in the Wooster Group's production of an "exhilarating dissection" of Racine's tragedy Phèdre entitled "To You, the Birdie!," at Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York.[7]

After appearing in several theatrical and television roles during the 1980s, McDormand gradually gained renown and critical acclaim for her dramatic work in film.[8] In 1988, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Mississippi Burning. Cast alongside Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, McDormand was singled out for praise, with Sheila Benson, in her review for the Los Angeles Times, writing, "Hackman's mastery reaches a peak here, but McDormand soars right with him. And since she is the film's sole voice of morality, it's right that she is so memorable."[9] In 1996, she won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as a pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo, written and directed by the Coen brothers.[10] Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert called Fargo "one of the best films I've ever seen" and felt that McDormand "should have a lock on an Academy Award nomination with this performance, which is true in every individual moment, and yet slyly, quietly, over the top in its cumulative effect."[11]

In 2000, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of an overbearing mother in Almost Famous. For her role in Wonder Boys (2000), she won Best Supporting Actress from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. In 2006, McDormand received her fourth nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in North Country (2005). The same year she won an Independent Spirit Award for her supporting role in Nicole Holofcener's dark comedy Friends with Money (2006).[12] She also voiced the role of the principal Melanie Upfoot in the Simpsons episode "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", which aired on April 30, 2006.

In 2008, McDormand starred in the films Burn After Reading and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. She then appeared in the action movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon, playing the US government's National Intelligence Director, alongside her Burn After Reading co-star John Malkovich. She returned to the stage in the David Lindsay-Abaire play Good People, in a limited engagement on Broadway from February 8, 2011 to May 29, 2011.[13][14] Her performance earned her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.[15] In the animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012), she voiced Capitain Chantel Dubois and also sang a version of the French song "Non, je ne regrette rien".

McDormand starred in Promised Land with Matt Damon, filmed in April 2012 and released on December 28, 2012.[16] In November 2014, HBO telecast a four-part mini-series based upon the series of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge, co-produced by and starring McDormand.[17] The role won her the Primetime Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. With her Emmy win, McDormand became the 12th actress in history to achieve the "Triple Crown of Acting", for competitive Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award wins in the acting categories.

McDormand starred in the 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, for which she won her second Academy Award for Best Actress (her statuette was stolen briefly following the awards ceremony),[18] the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama,[19] and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Personal life

McDormand has been married to director Joel Coen since 1984, and they adopted a son from Paraguay, Pedro McDormand Coen, in 1995.[20] They live in New York City and also own a residence in Bolinas, California.[21][22]

See Also


  1. ^ a b c Grannan, Katy (October 3, 2017). "Frances McDormand's Difficult Women". The New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "Naked ambition". The Age. Australia.
  3. ^ "Rev Vernon Weir McDormand (1922 - 2011)".
  4. ^ a b "Naked ambition". The Age. Melbourne. October 25, 2003. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  5. ^ "Disciples "PK" wins best actress' award. Disciples News Service Release. 31 March 2007". Archived from the original on March 2, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  6. ^ "I'd love to play a psycho killer. 26 January 2001". The Guardian. London. February 14, 2001. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  7. ^ Ben Brantley (2002). "Theater Review: Racine's Pale Queen, Struggling With Racket Sports". The New York Times. February 19, 2002.
  8. ^ "Story Medium". Imagine Fashion. Interview with Frances McDormand (2011).
  9. ^ Benson, Sheila (December 18, 1988). "RCritic's Notebook: Some 'Burning' Questions". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  10. ^ Cameron Crowe, Frances McDormand interview, Interview Magazine, October 2000.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 8, 1996). "Fargo". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  12. ^ ""Little Miss Sunshine" pulls up to take the crown at 2007 Film Independent's Spirit Awards". Film Independent Spirit Awards. February 24, 2007. Archived from the original on February 27, 2007. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
  13. ^ Jones, Kenneth." 'Good People', Play of Aspiration and Escape, With Frances McDormand and Tate Donovan, Begins on Broadway" Archived February 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, February 8, 2011
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Broadway's 'Good People' Gets Final Extension, Shifting Dates of 'Master Class'" Archived May 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Playbill, March 22, 2011
  15. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Gans, Andrew."2011 Tony Nominations Announced; 'Book of Mormon' Earns 14 Nominations" Archived September 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, May 3, 2011
  16. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (December 31, 2012). "Matt Damon Exposes Fracking in Promised Land". The Progressive.
  17. ^ Bruni, Frank (October 15, 2014). "Frances McDormand, True to Herself in HBO's Olive Kitteridge". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Melas, Chloe (March 5, 2018). "Frances McDormand's Oscar stolen (and returned)". CNN Entertainment. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  19. ^ Grobar, Matt (January 7, 2018). "'Three Billboards' Star Frances McDormand Expresses Gratitude For Tectonic Shift In Entertainment Industry". Deadline. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Durbin, Karen (March 2, 2003). "The Prime Of Frances McDormand". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  21. ^ "Going coastal / Is the elusive bohemian enclave of Bolinas getting a bit glossier?". Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  22. ^ Bruni, Frank (October 15, 2014). "A Star Who Has No Time for Vanity". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2017.

External links

Burn After Reading

Burn After Reading is a 2008 black comedy film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film stars George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, and Brad Pitt. The film had its premiere on August 27, 2008, opening at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. It was released in the United States on September 12, 2008, and in the United Kingdom on October 17, 2008.

City by the Sea

City by the Sea is a 2002 film starring Robert De Niro, James Franco, Eliza Dushku, Frances McDormand and William Forsythe. It deals with the family problems of a wayward youth and is set against a man trying to break free of his past. It was directed by Michael Caton-Jones. It is based on the story of Vincent LaMarca.

Crazy in Love (film)

Crazy in Love is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Martha Coolidge and written by Gerald Ayres. It is based on the 1988 novel Crazy in Love by Luanne Rice. The film stars Holly Hunter, Gena Rowlands, Bill Pullman, Julian Sands, Herta Ware and Frances McDormand. The film premiered on TNT on August 10, 1992.

Fargo (film)

Fargo is a 1996 black comedy-crime film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Frances McDormand stars as Marge Gunderson, a pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating roadside homicides that ensue after a desperate car salesman (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in order to extort a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell).

Fargo premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, where Joel Coen won the festival's Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director Award) and the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or. A critical and commercial success, Fargo received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. McDormand received the Best Actress Oscar, and the Coens won in the Best Original Screenplay category.

The film was selected in 2006 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"—one of only six films so designated in its first year of eligibility. In 1998, the American Film Institute named it one of the 100 greatest American films in history. A Coen-produced FX television series of the same name, inspired by Fargo and taking place in the same fictional universe, premiered in 2014 and was critically acclaimed.

Frances McDormand filmography

The following is the filmography of American actress Frances McDormand.

Good People (play)

Good People is a 2011 play by David Lindsay-Abaire. The world premiere was staged by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City. The production was nominated for two 2011 Tony Awards – Best Play and Best Leading Actress in a Play (Frances McDormand), with the latter winning.

Gotham Independent Film Awards 1998

The 8th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, presented by the Independent Filmmaker Project, were held on September 23, 1998 and were hosted by Stanley Tucci. At the ceremony, Sidney Lumet was honored with a Career Tribute, Frances McDormand received the Actor Award, Richard LaGravenese was given the Writer Award and David V. Picker was awarded the Producer/Industry Executive Award.

Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead

The Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead is one of the annual Independent Spirit Awards.

With two wins, Frances McDormand and Julianne Moore are the most awarded females in this category, while with 4 nominations Michelle Williams is the most nominated female in this category.

Laurel Canyon (film)

Laurel Canyon is a 2002 American drama film written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko. The film stars Frances McDormand, Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Natascha McElhone, and Alessandro Nivola.

List of accolades received by Almost Famous

This is a list of awards and nominations received by Almost Famous.

List of awards and nominations received by Frances McDormand

The following is a list of awards and nominations received by American actress Frances McDormand. She was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Mississippi Burning, Almost Famous, and North Country. She is also one of the few performers who have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting, with Academy Awards for Fargo and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, a Tony Award for the Broadway play Good People, and an Emmy Award for the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a 2008 romantic comedy film directed by Bharat Nalluri, starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams. The screenplay by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy is based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Winifred Watson. The novel had been adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2001, read by Maureen Lipman.

Mississippi Burning

Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime thriller film directed by Alan Parker. The script by Chris Gerolmo is loosely based on the 1964 Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner murder investigation in Mississippi. The film stars Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe as two FBI agents assigned to investigate the disappearance of three civil rights workers in fictional Jessup County, Mississippi. The investigation is met with hostility by the town's residents, local police, and the Ku Klux Klan.

Gerolmo began working on the original script in 1985, after researching the 1964 murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. He and producer Frederick Zollo took the script to Orion Pictures, and Parker was subsequently hired by the studio to direct the film. Both the writer and director had disputes over the script, which resulted in Orion allowing Parker to make uncredited rewrites. Principal photography commenced in March 1988 and concluded in May of that year with a budget of $15 million. The film was shot in a number of locations in Mississippi and Alabama.

Upon release, Mississippi Burning was embroiled in controversy; it was criticized by African-American activists involved in the civil rights movement and the families of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner for its fictionalization of history. Critical reaction was mixed at the time, though the performances of Hackman, Dafoe, and Frances McDormand were generally praised. Mississippi Burning grossed $34.6 million in North American box-office revenue. The film received seven Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Cinematography.

Nomadland (film)

Nomadland is an upcoming American drama film, written and directed by Chloé Zhao. It stars Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May and Charlene Swankie.

North Country (film)

North Country is a 2005 American drama film directed by Niki Caro, starring Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, Richard Jenkins, Michelle Monaghan, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson, and Sissy Spacek. The screenplay by Michael Seitzman was inspired by the 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler, which chronicled the case of Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Company.

Olive Kitteridge (miniseries)

Olive Kitteridge is a 2014 four-hour American miniseries based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Elizabeth Strout. Set in Maine, the HBO miniseries features Frances McDormand as the title character, Richard Jenkins as Olive's loving husband Henry Kitteridge, Zoe Kazan as Denise Thibodeau, and Bill Murray as Jack Kennison. The miniseries is divided into four parts, each depicting a certain point of time in the novel.Olive Kitteridge debuted in the United States on November 2, 2014, on the American premium TV network HBO, which aired the show's first two episodes back-to-back that evening; the third and fourth episodes aired back-to-back the following evening. The miniseries was shown in a similar format in the United Kingdom on Sky Atlantic, on December 14 and December 15, 2014. It premiered in Australia on showcase from 13 January 2015. At the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards, the miniseries won eight awards including Outstanding Limited Series.

The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch is an upcoming American drama film, written and directed by Wes Anderson. It stars Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Kate Winslet, and Benicio del Toro.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a 2017 dark comedy crime-drama film written, directed, and produced by Martin McDonagh and starring Frances McDormand as a woman who rents three billboards to call attention to her daughter's unsolved rape and murder. Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage appear in supporting roles. It was released in the United States in November 2017 and in the United Kingdom in January 2018 by Fox Searchlight Pictures and grossed $159 million worldwide.

At the 90th Academy Awards, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was nominated for seven awards and won Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell). At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, it won Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Drama (McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Rockwell), and Best Screenplay. It won three SAG Awards, including Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and five BAFTA Film Awards, including Best Film and Outstanding British Film.

West Park, New York

West Park is a hamlet on the west side of the Hudson River in the Town of Esopus, Ulster County, New York, United States. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the area became attractive to the well-to-do seeking second homes because it provided privacy, clean water and relatively inexpensive property.

Some notable residents included: John Jacob Astor, General Daniel Butterworth (before he moved to Cold Spring), Robert Pell, John Burroughs, Col. Oliver Hazard Payne, John Jewell Smith and later his daughter Hilda Worthington Smith, and show business celebrities Connie Ray, Joe Langworth, Peter Dinklage, Blair Ross and Frances McDormand.


Holy Cross Monastery, an Anglican monastery of the Order of the Holy Cross, is located in West Park, as is the Cabrini home founded by Saint Frances Cabrini.

In addition to Holy Cross Monastery, the John Burroughs Cabin and John Burroughs Riverby Study are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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