Laura Elizabeth Metcalf (born June 16, 1955) is an American actress. The recipient of numerous acting awards and nominations, she has won three Primetime Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, and has been nominated at the Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards in her 40+ year career.
Metcalf began her career with the Steppenwolf Theater Company and frequently works in Chicago theater, including the 1983 revival of Balm in Gilead. From 1988 to 1997 and in 2018, Metcalf played the role of Jackie Harris on the ABCsitcom Roseanne, for which she won three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1992–1994). She also was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards. A ten-time Emmy Award nominee, Metcalf's television credits include 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Norm Show, Frasier, Desperate Housewives, and The Big Bang Theory. From 2013 to 2015, she played a leading role of Dr. Jenna James in the HBO comedy series Getting On, for which she received critical acclaim and a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
For her stage performances and work on Broadway, Metcalf has received five Tony Award nominations, winning Best Actress in a Play in 2017 for her performance in A Doll's House, Part 2 and Best Featured Actress in a Play for the 2018 revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women. She starred as Mary Tyrone in a London production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night at the Apollo Theatre in 2012. She has also received a Theatre World Award and two Obie Awards for her Off-Broadway work.
Metcalf has starred in numerous films, including Desperately Seeking Susan(1985), Uncle Buck (1989), Internal Affairs (1990), Pacific Heights (1990), JFK (1991), A Dangerous Woman (1993), Leaving Las Vegas (1995), Dear God (1996), Scream 2 (1997), and Meet the Robinsons (2007). She also voiced the role of Mrs. Davis in the acclaimed Toy Story film series. In 2017, Metcalf received critical acclaim for her performance in Greta Gerwig's comedy-drama film Lady Bird, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a SAG Award, and a BAFTA Award.
Metcalf was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the eldest of three children. She, her brother James and her sister Linda were raised in Edwardsville, Illinois, which she has said "isn't anywhere near a theatre." Her father, James, was the budget director at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville at the time of his sudden death in 1984. Her mother, Libby, was a librarian. Her great-aunt was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Zoë Akins. She is an alumna of Illinois State University, class of 1976.
Metcalf, who worked as a secretary while in college, said she enjoyed seeing a pile of paper in the to-do box on one side of her desk move over to the completed side by the end of the day. She was often so focused on her work she missed lunch. She originally majored in German, thinking she could work as an interpreter, and then in anthropology before accepting that majoring in theatre was her true passion. She has said that theatre work also involves interpreting and studying human behavior. She has described herself as hideously shy, and yet she found the courage to audition for a few plays in high school and was "hooked". She initially did not choose acting as a career because it was unlikely to lead to regular work.
Metcalf attended Illinois State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theater in 1976. While at ISU, she met fellow theater students, among them John Malkovich, Glenne Headly, Joan Allen, Terry Kinney, and Jeff Perry, the latter two of whom, along with Perry's high school classmate Gary Sinise, went on to establish Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Metcalf began her professional career at Steppenwolf, of which she was a charter member. Metcalf went to New York to appear in an Off-Broadway Steppenwolf production of Balm in Gilead at Circle Repertory in 1984 for which she received the 1984 Obie Award for Best Actress and a 1984–85 Theatre World Award (for best debut in a Broadway or Off-Broadwayperformance). Metcalf was praised for her performance as Darlene, and was specifically singled out for her twenty-minute act two monologue. Chicago critic Richard Christiansen said of her performance:
Metcalf relocated to New York City and began to work in both film and theater, including such productions as David Mamet's November on Broadway in 2008.
Through June 2009, Metcalf starred with French Stewart in Justin Tanner's play, Voice Lessons, in Hollywood before beginning rehearsals to play Kate Jerome in the Broadway revival of Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, directed by David Cromer. The former production's run, however, lasted for 9 performances in October 2009, while the latter was canceled prior to opening.
Voice Lessons, however, with its original cast intact, went on to three more runs—one Off-Broadway in May 2010, another in Hollywood in May 2011, and another in Chicago in May 2016.
In September 2010, Metcalf returned to Steppenwolf and starred in Lisa D'Amour's play, Detroit.
In March 2011, she appeared Off-Broadway in The Other Place by Sharr White. She won the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Lead Actress, and the 2011 Obie Award, Performance for The Other Place.
In 2012, Metcalf joined David Suchet in a West End production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, for which she was nominated for the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress.
The Other Place transferred to Broadway in 2013, with Metcalf reprising her role and earning Tony and Drama League nominations. She starred with her real-life daughter, Zoe Perry.
In October 2013, Metcalf performed with Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated, by Bruce Norris at the Off-Broadway Mitzi Newhouse Theater of Lincoln Center.She was nominated for the 2014 Lucille Lortel Award, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play; the 2014 Drama League Award, Distinguished Performance; and the 2014 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Actress in a Play for Domesticated.
She was then cast in the role of Annie Wilkes in the Broadway production of Stephen King's Misery, opposite Bruce Willis. The play premiered on November 15, 2015. It received mixed reviews from critics, however Metcalf's performance was widely acclaimed. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, her third Tony nomination overall.
Metcalf returned to Broadway in A Doll's House, Part 2 by Lucas Hnath, which opened in April 2017. She received critical acclaim for her performance and earned nominations for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, and the Outer Critics Circle Award, winning the Tony Award.
Metcalf returned to Broadway in the 2018 revival of Three Tall Women. She won her second consecutive Tony Award, this time for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Television and film
Metcalf has performed in roles that range from very large to very small in many films, including Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), Making Mr. Right, Miles from Home, Internal Affairs, Stars and Bars, Beer League, Mistress, A Dangerous Woman, Uncle Buck, Blink, The Secret Life of Houses, Treasure Planet, Toy Story, Runaway Bride, Bulworth, Meet the Robinsons, Georgia Rule, Fun with Dick and Jane, Leaving Las Vegas, Scream 2, Stop Loss, and Hop.
Metcalf has often appeared against type in both film and television; in JFK(1991), she played a dramatic role as one of Jim Garrison's chief investigators. She appeared as the murderous mother of Billy Loomis in the horror film Scream 2 (1997); and portrayed real-life Carolyn McCarthy in the television movie The Long Island Incident (1998).
Metcalf has appeared in several television series, including being a cast member for a single episode of Saturday Night Live—the final episode of the show's tumultuous 1980–1981 season. In 1981, she appeared as a feature player on the first Dick Ebersol-produced episode of Saturday Night Livefollowing the firing of Jean Doumanian. She appeared in a Weekend Updatesegment about taking a bullet for the President of the United States. Because of the sketch show's severe decline in quality at the time and the 1981 Writers Guild of America strike, the show was put on hiatus for retooling. Metcalf was never asked back to be a cast member.
Metcalf is perhaps best known for her role as Jackie Harris, the multiple-careered, low self-esteemed, amiable sister of the title character, in the hit series Roseanne. Her performance garnered three consecutive Emmy Awards. Roseanne originally ran from 1988 to 1997. On April 28, 2017, it was announced that a revival of Roseanne was in the works and that Metcalf along with most of the original cast and some of the producers would return for the limited series that was being shopped around with ABC and Netflix the frontrunners to land the show. On May 16, 2017 it was confirmed that eight episodes would air mid-season in 2018 on ABC. On May 29, 2018, in the wake of racist remarks made by Barr on Twitter regarding Valerie Jarrett (an advisor of former president Barack Obama), ABC cancelled the revival after a single season. Metcalf appeared as Jackie over the show's entire run.Metcalf reprised her role in The Conners, a spinoff of Roseanne without Barr's involvement which premiered in fall 2018.
She subsequently appeared with Norm Macdonald on The Norm Show (or Norm), which ran for three seasons (1999–2001), and was also a regular character on the 2003 Nathan Lane series Charlie Lawrence, which was cancelled after the airing of two episodes. Metcalf has made guest appearances on Absolutely Fabulous, Malcolm in the Middle, My Boys, Dharma & Greg, Frasier, The Big Bang Theory, Without a Trace, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Monk. She was nominated for the Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series for both of the latter two listed roles.
Metcalf took a recurring role on Desperate Housewives—for which she received Emmy (also in the category Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series) and Satellite Award nominations— and also appeared alongside her ex-husband Jeff Perry in an episode of Grey's Anatomy. In fall 2008, Metcalf starred in the CW dramedy Easy Money, as the matriarch of a family of loan sharks. The series was canceled after three episodes.
Metcalf starred in HBO comedy series Getting On during its run from 2013–15. Alongside this role, she was the lead actress in the short-lived CBS sitcom The McCarthys (2014–15).
In 2017, Metcalf received critical acclaim for her performance in Lady Bird, a comedy-drama film directed by Greta Gerwig. For her performance, she was nominated for numerous awards, including the Golden Globe Award, the SAG Award, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 1983, Metcalf married Jeff Perry, co-founding member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. They had a daughter, Zoe Perry, in 1983. They divorced in 1992.
Metcalf later began a relationship with Matt Roth, the Roseanne co-star who played her abusive boyfriend, Fisher. By November 1993 they had a son, Will, and eventually married. They also worked together on occasion in the 1994 feature film thriller Blink and the 1998 drama Chicago Cab, they also appeared together in an episode of Desperate Housewives. Their daughter, Mae Akins, was born in 2005 via surrogate. They had a second son, Donovan, whom they fostered at six years old in 2006 and permanently adopted. On November 26, 2008, Metcalf and Roth separated. In September 2011, Roth filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. In May 2014, the divorce was finalized.
Metcalf has self-disclosed as a workaholic and that she is hard on herself during rehearsals. She has often said that she prefers theatre over other acting mediums as it is where she feels most comfortable.
She has also appeared in commercials for Plan USA, a humanitarian organization which helps children in need around the world.
|1978||A Wedding||Maid||Uncredited role|
|1985||Desperately Seeking Susan||Leslie Glass|
|1987||Making Mr. Right||Sandy|
|1988||Stars and Bars||Melissa|
|1988||The Appointments of Dennis Jennings||Emma||Short film|
|1988||Miles from Home||Exotic Dancer|
|1989||Uncle Buck||Marcie Dahlgren-Frost|
|1990||Internal Affairs||Amy Wallace|
|1990||Pacific Heights||Stephanie MacDonald|
|1993||A Dangerous Woman||Anita Bell|
|1994||The Secret Life of Houses||Ann|
|1995||Leaving Las Vegas||Landlady|
|1995||Toy Story||Mrs. Davis||Voice role|
|1996||Dear God||Rebecca Frazen|
|1997||U Turn||Bus Station Clerk|
|1997||Chicago Cab||Female Ad Exec|
|1997||Scream 2||Debbie Salt / Mrs. Loomis|
|1999||Runaway Bride||Betty Trout||Uncredited role|
|1999||Toy Story 2||Mrs. Davis||Voice role|
|2000||Timecode||Dava Adair||Scenes deleted|
|2002||Treasure Planet||Sarah Hawkins||Voice role|
|2005||Fun with Dick and Jane||Phyllis||Uncredited role|
|2006||Steel City||Marianne Karn|
|2006||Beer League||Mrs. DeVanzo|
|2007||Meet the Robinsons||Lucille Krunklehorn-Robinson||Voice role|
|2007||Georgia Rule||Paula Richards|
|2010||Toy Story 3||Mrs. Davis||Voice role|
|2017||Lady Bird||Marion McPherson|
|2019||Toy Story 4||Mrs. Davis||Voice role|
|1981||Saturday Night Live||Weekend Update Reporter||Episode: "Jr. Walker & the All-Stars"|
|1985||The Execution of Raymond Graham||Carol Graham||Television film|
|1986||The Equalizer||Theresa||Episode: "No Conscience"|
|1988–97, 2018||Roseanne||Jackie Harris||228 episodes|
|1988||Saturday Night Live||"Laurie Has A Story"||Episode: "Matthew Broderick/The Sugarcubes"|
Episodes: "Research and Destroy" and "Forbidden Fruit"
|1997||King of the Hill||Cissy Cobb||Voice role|
Episode: "Peggy the Boggle Champ"
|1997||The Eddie Files||Special Agent Hicks||Episode: "Decimals – The Fake Money Caper"|
|1997||Life with Louie||Miss Kinney||Voice role|
Episode: "The Kiss Is the Thing"
|1997||Dharma & Greg||Spyder||Episode: "Instant Dharma"|
|1998||Always Outnumbered||Halley Grimes||Television film|
|1998||The Long Island Incident||Carolyn McCarthy||Television film|
|1998||3rd Rock from the Sun||Jennifer Ravelli||3 episodes|
|1999||Balloon Farm||Casey Johnson||Television film|
|1999–2001||The Norm Show||Laurie Freeman||54 episodes|
|2000–11||God, the Devil and Bob||Donna Allman||Voice role|
|2002||Two Families||Unsold pilot|
|2003||Phil at the Gate||Teddy Duffy||Unsold pilot|
|2003||Charlie Lawrence||Sarah Dolecek||7 episodes|
|2004||Malcolm in the Middle||Susan||Episode: "Lois's Sister"|
|2004||Frasier||Nanny G||Episode: "Caught in the Act"|
|2004||Absolutely Fabulous||Crystalline||Episode: "White Box"|
|2005||Without a Trace||Susan Hopkins||Episode: "A Day in the Life"|
|2006||Monk||Cora||Episode: "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head"|
|2006||Grey's Anatomy||Beatrice Carver||Episode: "The Name of the Game"|
|2006||Desperate Housewives||Carolyn Bigsby||4 episodes|
|2006||My Boys||Aunt Phyllis||Episode: "When Heroes Fall from Grace"|
|2007||The Virgin of Akron, Ohio||Lydia||Pilot episode|
|2007||Raines||Alice Brody||Episode: "Reconstructing Alice"|
|2007–present||The Big Bang Theory||Mary Cooper||Recurring role; 14 episodes|
|2008–09||Easy Money||Bobette Buffkin||8 episodes|
|2009||The Farm||Warden Margaret Elder||Unsold pilot|
|2013||The Goodwin Games||Dr. Richland||2 episodes|
|2013–15||Getting On||Jenna James||Series regular; 18 episodes|
|2014||Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories||Gabrielle||Episode: "Baby"|
|2014–15||The McCarthys||Marjorie McCarthy||Series regular; 15 episodes|
|2016||Horace and Pete||Sarah||Episode #1.3|
|2017||Portlandia||Jill||Episode: "Friend Replacement"|
|2017||Playing House||Leslie Rollins||Episode: "You Wanna Roll with This"|
|2017||The Accidental Wolf||Ram||Episode: "Bradley"|
|2018||American Dad!||Elizabeth Hadley||Voice role|
Episode: "Shell Game"
|2018||Supergirl||Mary McGowan||Episode: "Schott Through the Heart"|
|2018||The Conners||Jackie Harris||10 episodes|