Joan Allen was born on August 20, 1956, in Rochelle, Illinois. She began her professional career at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. On Broadway, she received a Tony for her performance in Burn This (1987), and was nominated in the same category for The Heidi Chronicles (1989). Allen's first film was Compromising Positions (1985), followed by several other critically acclaimed film performances.
Actress Joan Allen was born on August 20, 1956, in Rochelle, Illinois. Allen attended Rochelle Township High School, where she studied drama, failed at cheerleading and was voted most likely to succeed. Along with Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf and John Malkovich, Allen is one of the founding members of Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she began her professional career. She studied theater at Eastern Illinois University.
On Broadway, Allen received a Tony Award for her performance opposite John Malkovich in Lanford Wilson's Burn This (1987), and was nominated in the same category for The Heidi Chronicles (1989). Off-Broadway, she won an Obie for her starring role in The Marriage of Bette & Boo. She reprised her Steppenwolf Theatre role in And A Nightingale Sang, receiving the Clarence Derwent, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards.
Allen's first film was Compromising Positions (1985), followed by Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), starring Kathleen Turner; Tucker: A Man and His Dream (1988), starring Jeff Bridges; and Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993).
In 2001, Allen starred with Anjelica Huston in the television miniseries The Mists of Avalon, based on the bestselling novel about the women behind King Arthur.
Academy Award Nominations
In 1996, Allen dropped 10 pounds to star opposite Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone's Nixon, where her eerily accurate portrayal of Pat Nixon won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She received her second consecutive Best Supporting Actress nomination in 1997 for Arthur Miller's The Crucible, also featuring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.
In 1997, Allen starred in John Woo's thriller, Face/Off (1997), with John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, and in Ang Lee's poignant drama, The Ice Storm, with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. In 1998, she appeared in Pleasantville as Betty Parker, a June Cleaver-esque housewife whodiscovers her true self.
Allen garnered more critical praise, along with her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, for her performance in The Contender (2000). She played a vice presidential hopeful whose sexual past is questioned publicly by a conservative senator, played by Gary Oldman. Jeff Bridges also co-starred in the film.
Allen has a daughter, Sadie, from her marriage to actor Peter Friedman. She travels back to her hometown of Rochelle, Illinois, every summer to spend time working with aspiring actors and actresses.
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