Connie Nielsen

A talented actress whose formidable onscreen persona saw her specializing in cool, competent women, Connie Nielsen was more interested in honing her craft than in becoming a celebrity. The Danish actress received her start in French and Italian projects, but broke through internationally with a small role as Al Pacino's evil temptress sidekick in "The Devil's Advocate" (1997). She notched memorable supporting roles in "Rushmore" (1998), "Soldier" (1998) and "Mission to Mars" (2000) before landing the female lead of the Oscar-winning "Gladiator" (2000) opposite Russell Crowe. Her searing turn as the proud-but-powerless Lucilla, older sister of the corrupt emperor (Joaquin Phoenix) earned her raves, and she used her newfound fame to springboard into art house films with leading roles in the Robin Williams thriller "One Hour Photo" (2002) and the challenging "Demonlover" (2002). Nielsen won the Danish equivalent of the Oscar for her starring role in the drama "Brødre" ("Brothers") (2004), which was remade into an American film in 2009. Consistently cast as tough, powerful women, Nielsen memorably filled in during the maternity leave of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) star Mariska Hargitay and co-starred in political drama "Boss" (Starz 2011-12) and Kevin Bacon serial killer drama "The Following" (Fox 2013-15), while co-starring in films as varied as Lars von Trier's controversial "Nymphomaniac" (2013) and comic book blockbuster "Wonder Woman" (2017). Almost too talented a chameleon, Nielsen disappeared so completely into her characters that she never achieved widespread mainstream fame, but was universally hailed for the gravity she brought to every performance.