Jayne Houdyshell

Stage actress Jayne Houdyshell worked steadily in theater productions throughout America before vaulting to fame as the formidable mother in Lisa Kron's drama "Well," which led to starring roles in "Fish in the Dark" and "The Humans," among other plays. Born in Topkea, Kansas on September 25, 1953, she fell in love with acting as a high school student and pursued her theatrical training during a single year at a liberal arts college in her home state. Houdyshell then honed her focus on acting at the Academy of Dramatic Art at Oakland University in Michigan, from which she graduated with honors before performing in regional theaters throughout the United States. By the 1980s, she had relocated to New York and appeared in productions by some of the most prestigious theater companies in the United States, including the Steppenwolf Theater, Yale Repertory Theater and American Conservatory Theater. Houdyshell made her screen debut in a 1999 episode of "Third Watch" (NBC, 1999-2005), and subsequently logged minor roles in features like "Maid in Manhattan" (2002) and "Garden State" (2004), as well as numerous episodic series. Her breakout year came in 2004 with her turn as playwright Lisa Kron's semi-invalid but mentally sharp mother in the Off-Broadway debut of the drama "Well." Houdyshell won an Obie and Theater World Award for her performance, and followed the play to Broadway in 2006, where she received a Tony nomination. Her success in "Well" led to appearances in several major Broadway productions, including "Wicked" in 2006 and "Follies" in 2011, for which she received her second Tony nomination. Her screen appearances also grew in stature, and included a recurring role as a judge on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) and the Nurse - a role she had played in a 2013 Broadway production - in Don Roy King's adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet" (2014). Her high-profile theater run continued the following year with a co-starring role opposite Larry David in his comedy "Fish in the Dark" (2015) and the Pulitzer Prize-nominated "The Humans" (2016), for which she received her third Tony nomination, as well as nods from the Drama League Awards, Outer Critics Circle, New York Drama Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards.