Patty Larceny

The career of Patricia Clarkson
By RYAN STEWART  |  July 6, 2006

060707_clarkson_main1
MARRIAGE IS TANTAMOUNT TO COMMUNISM: Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr. in Good Night and Good Luck.
When I started off on the "summer of schlubs," I made a couple of rules on where to draw the line between "veteran character actor/actress who has gone underappreciated" and "famous person." One of them was "no acting Oscar nominees allowed." Makes sense, if you think about it: five or six years ago, Chris Cooper, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, Virginia Masden, Laura Linney, and Catherine Keener would have been perfect people to celebrate in this space, but now they're all lead guests on Conan.

But I'm breaking the rule, because it seems like no matter how many times people talk about how great an actress Patricia Clarkson is, people still seem to have no idea who she is. And yes, even though she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar (quick, name the last five winners in this category!), she is still going to be the first "that gal" honoree in our summer rundown.

1. Olivia Harris
The Station Agent (2003)
She plays the grieving mother with marital troubles who befriends Fin (Peter Dinklage). Some, myself included, would contend that this wasn't that great of a movie. But so what?

2. Joy Burns
Pieces of April (2003)
Her performance as the mom dying from cancer earned her the Best Supporting Actress nomination. She's visiting her daughter April on Thanksgiving and relations, you'll gather, are a bit frosty. April, incidentally, is played by a pre-crazytrain Katie Holmes.

3. Patty Brooks
Miracle (2004)
She's the neglected wife of hockey coach Herb Brooks. It's a brutally stereotypical role, but to her credit, Clarkson doesn't mail it in.

4. Eleanor Fine
Far From Heaven (2002)
One of Julianne Moore's neighbors, she whispers horrible things about her relationship with Dennis Haysbert.

5. Samantha Walker
The Dead Pool (1988)
She's a reporter in the final Dirty Harry film. You know who else is in this? Jim Carrey. Look it up!

6. Catherine Ness
The Untouchables (1987)
Clarkson's experience as Elliot Ness's put-upon wife gave her plenty to draw from when playing Herb Brooks's put-upon wife. This was her film debut.

7. Melinda Moores
The Green Mile (1999)
As part of the "that guy" dream cast in this film, she plays the warden's ill wife. They bring John Coffey out of prison so he can heal her.

8. Sarah O'Connor
Six Feet Under (2002-05)
She's the aunt with the drug problem.

9. Shirley Wershba
Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
Married couples were not allowed to work together at CBS, which meant that she would have to keep her marriage to Robert Downey Jr. a secret. Ultimately, she's the one who kept her job.

10. Rosalind
Welcome to Collinwood (2002)
She's Luis Guzman's girlfriend. They're planning a heist together. But since he's still in jail, she has to find someone else to take up space in his cell.

 

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