You know who Marcia Gay Harden is, but you might not know her name. Her work has spanned over films, television and Broadway, and she turns 54 today. Harden's versatility is always evident if you look at her filmography. Her ability to blend fragility and strength is why she is one of my favorite actresses.
The first time I saw Harden was in 1996's hit comedy The First Wives' Club. She played Diane Keaton's therapist who was trying to give Keaton's abandoned, mousy Manhattanite a stronger voice. All the while she was sneaking around with Keaton's husband.
I remember when Harden won her Academy Award for her role as Jackson Pollock's supportive wife, Lee Krasner, in Ed Harris's Pollock. Kate Hudson was the odds on favorite to win for Almost Famous, but I was bowled over Harden's performance. It was the first time my dad and I saw anything at the Regent Square Theater, and when she won, I jumped off the couch. It was one of the first major surprises I ever saw while watching the Oscars.
If you ask me, the Academy made the right decision. What has Kate Hudson done for you lately?
Her performance in Mona Lisa Smile makes the movie worth watching. She's traditional and fussy whereas Julia Roberts is forward-thinking and free-spirited.
Harden's performance as Tim Robbins' wife in Clint Eastwood's Mystic River garnered her second Academy Award nomination. Celeste Boyle becomes increasingly suspicious that her husband (Robbins) is the man who killed Sean Penn's daughter. You just want to hug shake her at the same time.
The Dead Girl features an amazing female ensemble. In addition to Harden and Kerry Washington, you have Brittany Murphy, Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, James Franco, Piper Laurie, and Mary Steenburgen. The scenes between Harden and Washington are great.
My favorite performance of Harden's, though, is in Frank Darabont's The Mist. The Stephen King adapted monster flick centers on a group of people holed up in a supermarket after a mysterious mist covers their small town. Harden's Mrs. Carmody is a Bible-thumping nutjob who takes charge of half of the market's occupants as creatures attack the outside. There might be otherwordly creatures trying to get in, but Mrs. Carmody is the real terror. She spouts off Bible verses and, at one point, tries to sacrifice a young boy to appease God. It's a terrifying performance that would have gotten completely cartoonish and out of control in the hands of a less actress. Harden should have received an Oscar nomination for this performance. Bitch was crazy!
I had no idea that Harden originated the role of Harper in Angels in America on Broadway.
Harden a Tony Award for her role in God of Carnage in 2009.
Harden has been popping up on television as well. She has done a slew of television movies, as well as guest spots on Body of Proof and Law and Order: SVU. Most recently, she joined the cast of HBO's The Newsroom. It will great to see her square off against Jeff Daniels.
So, here's to you Marcia Gay Harden!!! You've tackled almost every facet of acting, and you are fabulous doing it. At 54, you're still beautiful as ever!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARCIA GAY HARDEN!!!