Date of Birth: 14 August 1959, La Jolla, California, USA
Height: 5′ 4½” (1.64 m)
Marcia Gay Harden was born on August 14, 1959, in La Jolla, California, the third of five children. Her mother, Beverly (Bushfield), was a homemaker, and her father, Thad Harold Harden, was in the military. The family relocated often — she first became interested in the theater when the family was living in Greece, and she had attended plays in Athens. Harden began her college education at American universities in Europe and returned to the US to complete her studies at the University of Texas in 1983; went on to earn an MFA at NYU, and, thereafter, embarked on her acting career.
Although she had acted in a movie as early as 1986, in the little-known The Imagemaker (1986), her first mainstream role, coming alongside some TV movie work, was as a sultry femme fatale in the Coen Brothers’ cleverly offbeat homage to the gangster movie, Miller’s Crossing (1990). Harden received good reviews for her sultry performance as Verna, a seductive, trouble-making moll. Harden thereafter worked steadily in supporting roles, including the portrayal of Ava Gardner in Sinatra (1992), a television biopic about Frank Sinatra. Harden also worked in the theater and, in 1993, was part of the Broadway cast of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America”, playing Harper, the alienated wife of a closeted gay man. It was a demanding dramatic role, and Harden won acclaim for her work, including a Tony award nomination. She returned to movie making in the mid-1990s, continuing to turn in superb supporting performances in films and television.
Harden’s road to success was a long one, her work generally being overlooked because the productions were either critically panned or ignored by audiences. However, it was just a matter of time before Harden got a chance to truly show her quality on-screen, and that time came in 2000, with Ed Harris’s Pollock (2000), in which she played Lee Krasner, artist and long-suffering wife of Jackson Pollock. Harden’s performance was deeply moving and unforgettable and earned her the Oscar and New York Film Critic’s Circle awards for best supporting actress. Continuing to work prolifically in features and television, she earned another Oscar nomination in 2003 for her supporting role in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River (2003), Harden having earlier worked with Eastwood in 2000’sSpace Cowboys (2000).
Harden’s work often makes otherwise mediocre productions worth watching, fully inhabiting any character she portrays. She married Thaddaeus Scheel, with whom she worked on The Spitfire Grill (1996), in 1996 and the couple have three children, a daughter Eulala Scheel and twins Julitta and Hudson.
- Listed as one of twelve “Promising New Actors of 1990” in John Willis’ Screen World, Vol. 42.
- Her father, brother, and husband are all named Thaddaeus.
- Graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. in theater (1980) and earned an MFA from the graduate theater program at New York University.
- On December 15, 2003, her young nephew and niece were killed in a tragic fire. The deaths occurred when the Queens, New York, apartment, owned by her former sister-in-law, went up in flames after a burning candle set a sofa on fire. Her ex-sister-in-law also later died from injuries received in the fire.
- She was the first University of Texas at Austin graduate to win an Oscar. She won for Best Supporting Actress in 2001 for Pollock (2000). The second UT grad to win wasRenée Zellweger in 2004.
- Achieved a degree of notoriety for making the rounds of the spring 2004 awards ceremonies while near-term with twins. When asked about all of the talk her hugely-pregnant figure was generating, she was quoted as saying that, when it comes to pregnancy, when you’ve got it, flaunt it.
- Graduated from Surrattsville Sr. High in Clinton, Maryland (1976). Laura Wright also graduated from Surrattsville H.S., but in 1988.
- Was nominated for Broadway’s 1993 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role – Play) for Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.”
- When she first saw her future husband on the set of The Spitfire Grill (1996), she asked her co-star, Ellen Burstyn, her opinion of him. Ellen didn’t think he was Marcia’s type. Fortunately, Marcia didn’t take her advice. Ellen became godmother of Marcia’s three children.
- MFA in Acting – New York University, Tisch School of the Arts (1988).
- Inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in March 2005 in Austin, Texas.
- Since the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) started giving out competitive awards, in 1994, she is the only performer to win an Academy Award without being nominated for the same performance at the SAG.
- She was awarded the 2009 Tony Award for Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for “God of Carnage” on Broadway in New York City.
- Ms. Harden was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2008.
- A close friend of Shohreh Aghdashloo.
- She was the 2010 Spring Commencement speaker at the University of Texas at Austin.
- Filed for divorce from her husband Thaddaeus Scheel after 15 years of marriage [February 2012].
- Gave birth to twins (her second and third child) at age 44, a son Hudson Scheel Harden and a daughter Julitta Dee Scheel on April 22, 2004. Children’s father is her ex-husband, Thaddaeus Scheel.
- Gave birth to her first child at age 39, a daughter Eulala Grace Scheel (aka Eulala Scheel) in September 1998. Child’s father is her ex-husband, Thaddaeus Scheel.
- Her daughter, Eulala Scheel, played her daughter in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure (2005) and in Whip It (2009).
- She, Marisa Tomei, Russell Crowe and Adrien Brody are the only actors to win an Oscar without being awarded for the same performance in none of its predecessor awards (Golden Globe, Critics Choice Awards, SAG and BAFTA), she and Marisa Tomei were not even nominated for those awards for their performance in Pollock (2000) and My Cousin Vinny (1992), and Crowe’s only award for Gladiator (2000) before the Oscar was the Critics Choice award.
- Was the 118th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Pollock (2000) at The 73rd Annual Academy Awards (2001) on March 25, 2001.