Dianne Wiest

Dianne Evelyn Wiest[1] (/wst/;[2] born March 28, 1946)[3] is an American actress. She has twice won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, for the Woody Allen films Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Bullets over Broadway (1994), and appeared in three other films by Allen; The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987), and September (1987). She also received an Academy Award nomination for Parenthood (1989), and won a Golden Globe Award for Bullets over Broadway.

Dianne Wiest
Wiest at the 1990 Academy Awards
Dianne Evelyn Wiest

(1946-03-28) March 28, 1946
Years active1970present

Wiest's other film appearances include Footloose (1984), The Lost Boys (1987), Bright Lights, Big City (1988), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Little Man Tate (1991), The Birdcage (1996), Practical Magic (1998), Dan in Real Life (2007), Synecdoche, New York (2008), Rabbit Hole (2010), and Sisters (2015). She won the 1997 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Road to Avonlea, and the 2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for In Treatment (2008–09). Her other television credits include Law & Order (2000–02), and the CBS comedy series Life in Pieces (2015–2019).

Early life

Wiest was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Her mother, Anne Stewart (née Keddie), was a nurse. Her father, Bernard John Wiest, was a college dean and former psychiatric social worker for the U.S. Army. Her mother was Scottish, from Auchtermuchty, while her father was an American of Croatian and German descent.[4][5] They met in Algiers.[6][7][8] Wiest has two brothers named Greg and Don. Her original ambition was to be a ballet dancer, but she switched her goal to theater in her senior year at Nurnberg American High School.[9] Wiest graduated from the University of Maryland in 1969 with a degree in Arts and Sciences.[10]



Wiest studied theater at the University of Maryland, leaving after her third term to tour with a Shakespearean troupe. Later, she had a supporting role in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of Ashes.[11] She also acted at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, CT, playing the title role in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. She was an understudy both off-Broadway and on Broadway, in Kurt Vonnegut's Happy Birthday, Wanda June in 1970.[12][13]

She made her Broadway debut in Robert Anderson's Solitaire/Double Solitaire, taking over in the role of the daughter in 1971.[14] She landed a four-year job as a member of the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.,[15] in such roles as Emily in Our Town, Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and leading roles in S. Ansky's The Dybbuk, Maxim Gorky's The Lower Depths and George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House.[4] She toured the USSR with the Arena Stage.[16] In 1976, Wiest attended the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and starred in leading roles in Amlin Gray's Pirates and Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film. At Joe Papp's Public Theater she took over the lead in Ashes, and played Cassandra in Agamemnon, directed by Andrei Şerban. In 1979, she originated the role of Agnes in Agnes of God in its first production in Waterford, Connecticut.[17]

She appeared in two plays by Tina Howe: Museum and The Art of Dining. In the latter, Wiest's performance as the shy and awkward author Elizabeth Barrow Colt won three off-Broadway theater awards: an Obie Award (1980), a Theatre World Award (1979–1980), and the Clarence Derwent Award (1980), given yearly for the most promising performance in New York theatre.[18][19][20][21]

On Broadway she appeared in Frankenstein (1981), directed by Tom Moore, portrayed Desdemona in Othello (1982) opposite James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer and co-starred with John Lithgow in Christopher Durang's romantic screwball comedy Beyond Therapy (1982), directed by John Madden.[14] (She played opposite Lithgow again in the Herbert Ross film Footloose. During the 1980s, she also performed in Hedda Gabler, directed by Lloyd Richards at Yale Repertory Theatre,[22] and in Harold Pinter's A Kind of Alaska (1984, Manhattan Theatre Club),[23] Lanford Wilson's Serenading Louie (1984),[24] and Janusz Glowacki's Hunting Cockroaches (1987, Manhattan Theater Club).[25] As Wiest became established as a film actress through her work in Woody Allen's films, she was less frequently available for stage roles. However, she did appear onstage during the 1990s, in In the Summer House, Square One, Cynthia Ozick's The Shawl, and Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare. In 2003, she appeared with Al Pacino and Marisa Tomei in Oscar Wilde's Salome. In 2005, she starred in Kathleen Tolan's Memory House. She also starred in a production of Wendy Wasserstein's final play Third (directed by Daniel Sullivan) at Lincoln Center.[26]

Recent New York theater roles include performances as Arkadina in an off-Broadway revival of The Seagull (opposite Alan Cumming's Trigorin) and as Kate Keller in a Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, opposite John Lithgow, Patrick Wilson, and Katie Holmes.[27] In 2009, Wiest appeared in the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in a dialogue with Katie Holmes celebrating the life of an American veteran seriously wounded in Iraq, José Pequeño.[28] Wiest spent September 2010 as a visiting teacher at Columbia University's Graduate Acting Program,[29] working with a group of 18 first-year MFA Acting students on selected plays by Anton Chekhov and Arthur Miller.

In 2016 she took on the role of "Winnie" in The Yale Repertory Theatre's production of Samuel Beckett's, Happy Days.[30] She reprised the role for Theatre for a New Audience in downtown Brooklyn, NY, in the spring of 2017[31] and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2019.[32]

Film and television

Her early screen roles include small roles in It's My Turn and I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can, both starring Jill Clayburgh in the lead roles. In 1984, she starred in Footloose, as the reverend's wife and Ariel's mother. Under Woody Allen's direction, Wiest won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Hannah and Her Sisters in 1987 and Bullets over Broadway in 1995.[15][33] She also appeared in three other Woody Allen films: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Radio Days (1987) and September (1987).[34]

She followed her first Oscar success with performances in The Lost Boys (1987) and Bright Lights, Big City (1988). She also starred with Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves and Martha Plimpton in Ron Howard's Parenthood, for which she received her second Oscar nomination. Other major film roles include Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990), Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate (1991) and The Birdcage (1996), Mike Nichols' remake of La Cage aux Folles.

On television, her performance on the series Road to Avonlea in 1989 brought her her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Dramatic Series. She received another nomination for her performance in the 1999 telefilm The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn, co-starring Sidney Poitier. She starred in the television mini-series The 10th Kingdom in 2000. From 2000 to 2002, Wiest portrayed interim District Attorney Nora Lewin in the long-running NBC crime drama Law & Order. She also played the character in two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the pilot episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Wiest starred alongside Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche in Dan in Real Life (2007) and had a key supporting role in Charlie Kaufman's 2008 film Synecdoche, New York. In 2008, she appeared as Gabriel Byrne's therapist, Gina Toll, on the HBO television series In Treatment, for which she received her second Emmy Award, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She received another nomination (in the same category) for the second season, in 2009, but did not win. She starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole (2010), which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. Wiest also co-starred in Lawrence Kasdan's 2012 comedy Darling Companion, alongside Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton.

Personal life

Wiest was in a relationship with her talent agent Sam Cohn (1929–2009) for many years.[35] She adopted two daughters: Emily (born 1987) and Lily (born 1991).[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 It's My Turn Gail as Diane Wiest
1982 I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can Julie Addison
1983 Face of Rage Rebecca Hammil
1983 Independence Day Nancy Morgan
1984 Falling in Love Isabelle
1984 Footloose Vi Moore
1985 The Purple Rose of Cairo Emma
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters Holly
1987 Radio Days Bea
1987 September Stephanie
1987 The Lost Boys Lucy Emerson
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Mrs. Conway
1989 Parenthood Helen Buckman
1989 Cookie Lenore Voltecki
1990 Edward Scissorhands Peg Boggs
1991 Little Man Tate Jane Grierson
1994 Bullets over Broadway Helen Sinclair
1994 Cops & Robbersons Helen Robberson
1994 The Scout Doctor H. Aaron
1995 Drunks Rachel
1996 The Associate Sally Dugan
1996 The Birdcage Louise Keeley
1998 Practical Magic Aunt Bridget 'Jet' Owens
1998 The Horse Whisperer Diane Booker
2001 I Am Sam Annie Cassell
2002 Merci Docteur Rey Elisabeth Beaumont
2005 Robots Lydia Copperbottom Voice only
2006 A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Flori Montiel
2007 Dedication Carol
2007 Dan in Real Life Nana Burns
2008 Passengers Toni
2008 Synecdoche, New York Ellen Bascomb/Millicent Weems
2009 Rage Miss Roth
2010 Rabbit Hole Nat
2011 The Big Year Brenda Harris
2012 Darling Companion Penny Alexander
2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green Ms. Crudstaff
2014 The Humbling Carol Stapleford
2015 Five Nights in Maine Lucinda
2015 Sisters Deana Ellis
2018 The Mule Mary Stone
TBA I Care a Lot Post-production
TBA Let Them All Talk Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Zalmen: or, The Madness of God Nina Television film[36]
1978 Great Performances: Out of Our Father's House Elizabeth Gertrude Stern Television film
1997 Road to Avonlea Lillian Hepworth TV series
1999 The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn Sarah McClellan Television film
2000 The 10th Kingdom The Evil Queen/Christine White Television miniseries
2000–02 Law & Order D.A. Nora Lewin Seasons 11 & 12: 48 episodes
2001 Law & Order: Criminal Intent D.A. Nora Lewin Episode: "One"
2001–02 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit D.A. Nora Lewin 2 episodes
2004 The Blackwater Lightship Lily Devereux Breen Television film
2004 Category 6: Day of Destruction Secretary of Energy Shirley Abbott Television miniseries
2008–09 In Treatment Dr. Gina Toll Season 1 & 2: 17 episodes
2008 The Return of Jezebel James Talia Tompkins 2 episodes
2014 The Blacklist Ruth Kipling Episode: "The Judge" (#57)
2015–19 Life in Pieces Joan Short Series regular


Year Title Role Theatre
1977 Agamemnon Cassandra Delacorte Theatre
1979 The Art of Dining Elizabeth Barrow Colt Joseph Papp Public Theatre
1981 Frankenstein Elizabeth Lavenza Palace Theatre
Hedda Gabler Hedda Gabler Yale Repertory Theatre
1982 Othello Desdemona Winter Garden Theatre
Beyond Therapy Prudence Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Three Sisters Masha Manhattan Theatre Club
1984 After the Fall Maggie Playhouse 91
A Kind of Alaska Deborah Manhattan Theatre Club
1997 One Flea Spare Mrs. Darcy Snelgrave The Public Theater
2003 Salome Herodias Ethel Barrymore Theatre
2005 Third Laurie Jameson Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre
2008-2009 All My Sons Kate Keller Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
2008 The Seagull Arkadina CSC Theatre
2011 The Cherry Orchard Madame Ranevskaya
2016-2019 Happy Days Winnie Yale Repertory Theatre
Theatre for a New Audience
Mark Taper Forum



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  3. Stated as being 44, at the time, in an interview published on January 15, 1991, see here
  4. Dianne Wiest biography. Film Reference.com.
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  8. "NewsLibrary Search Results". nl.newsbank.com.
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  13. Happy Birthday, Wanda June listing, Internet Off-Broadway Database listing Archived 2011-11-15 at the Wayback Machine. Internet Off-Broadway Database, accessed October 30, 2010
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  22. Gussow, Mel.Review: 'HEDDA GABLER' BY YALE REP". New York Times, March 11, 1981
  23. New York Magazine listing. New York Magazine, April 30, 1984
  24. Rich, Frank."Review:'Serenading Louie'. New York Times, February 3, 1984
  25. Rich, Frank.Review, 'Hunting Cockroaches'. New York Times, March 4, 1987
  26. Bacalzo, Dan. "Review: 'Third.
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  31. "Overview". 10 November 2010.
  32. "Happy Days". Center Theatre Group. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
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  35. Weber, Bruce (May 6, 2009). "Sam Cohn, Powerful Talent Broker, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
  36. "Zalmen: or, The Madness of God". 13 January 1975 via www.imdb.com.

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