Linda Hunt

Lydia Susanna Hunt (born April 2, 1945), better known by her stage name Linda Hunt, is an American actress. After making her film debut playing Mrs. Oxheart in Popeye (1980), Hunt's breakthrough came playing the male character Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first person to win an Oscar portraying a character of the opposite sex.

Linda Hunt
Linda Hunt in September 2015
Lydia Susanna Hunt

(1945-04-02) April 2, 1945
ResidenceHollywood, California, U.S.
Alma materInterlochen Center for the Arts
Goodman School of Drama
Years active1976–present
Height1.45 m (4' 9" ft)
Karen Kline (m. 2008)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress (1983)

She has had great success in films such as The Bostonians (1984), Dune (1984), Silverado (1985), Eleni (1985), Waiting for the Moon (1987), She-Devil (1989), Kindergarten Cop (1990), If Looks Could Kill (1991), Rain Without Thunder (1992), Twenty Bucks (1993), Younger and Younger (1993), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Relic (1997), Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), Dragonfly (2002), Yours Mine and Ours (2005), and Stranger than Fiction (2006).

Hunt has also had a successful television career. She played Rose in the television movie Basements (1987) and narrated in the television movie The New Chimpanzees. She guest-starred on Hallmark Hall of Fame in both 1978 and 1987, Space Rangers in 1993, Carnivale in both 2003 and 2005, Without a Trace in 2008, The Unit in 2008, and Nip/Tuck in 2009. From 1997 to 2002, Hunt played the recurring role of Judge Zoey Hiller on The Practice. She currently portrays Henrietta "Hetty" Lange on the CBS television series NCIS: Los Angeles, a role she has played since 2009, for which she has received two Teen Choice Awards. She is also the narrator for the Greek era of the God of War video game franchise.

Early life

Hunt was born on April 2, 1945, in Morristown, New Jersey. Her father, Raymond Davy Hunt (1902–1985), was vice president of Harper Fuel Oil. Her mother, Elsie Doying Hunt (1903 – c. 1994), was a piano teacher who taught at the Westport School of Music, and performed with the Saugatuck Congregational Church Choir in Westport, Connecticut, where Hunt was raised.[2] She has one sibling, an older sister named Marcia (born 1940). [3] Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy[4] and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, Illinois, which is now part of DePaul University.[5][6]



Hunt's film debut in 1980 was in Robert Altman's musical comedy Popeye. Two years later, she co-starred as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously, Peter Weir's film adaptation of the novel of the same name. For her role as the male Chinese-Australian photographer Billy Kwan, Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983, becoming the first person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex. In addition, the character was Asian and had the condition of dwarfism.[7] In her screen test, Hunt wore a hairpiece, a fake moustache, and "paste-on pieces above her eyes to [appear] Asian". To accomplish the role during production, Hunt shortened "her hair and dye[d] it black[,] wore padding around her waist, shaved her eyebrows, and carried something in her shirt pocket."[8] In her 1986 interview with the Bomb magazine, Hunt remarked that Billy Kwan "is supra-personal [with] layers of sexual ambiguity[.]"[9]

Hunt also played a nurse in She-Devil (1989) and the austere school principal opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop in 1990. Hunt played the assassin Ilsa Grunt in If Looks Could Kill (1991) opposite Richard Grieco and Roger Rees.


Hunt was a well-known stage actress before she entered film and television. She made her Broadway debut in a 1975 production of Ah, Wilderness.[10] She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her work in the 1984 play End of the World. She also received two ensemble Obie Awards for her work Off-Broadway in Top Girls and A Metamorphosis in Miniature.[11] She created the role of Aunt Dan in Wallace Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon. She was a member of the Long Wharf Theatre Company in Connecticut. There she played the Player Queen in a production of Hamlet, among other roles. She portrayed Sister Aloysius in the Pasadena Playhouse production of John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt. She was praised for her performance as the title character in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children.[12] Hunt also appeared as Pope Joan in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls when London's Royal Court Theatre's production was staged at the Public Theater in New York. In an interview with writer Craig Gholson and actor Vincent Caristi, Hunt discussed her experience acting in theatre, "Acting onstage is like an explosion each night. And what comes in at you all the time as you are trying to . . . create something which is a tremendous act of organization and concentration.".[9]


Her television appearances include recurring roles as Judge Zoey Hiller on David E. Kelley's series The Practice and as Dr. Claire Bryson on Without a Trace. She has narrated several installments of The American Experience on PBS. Since 2009, she has co-starred as Operations Manager Henrietta "Hetty" Lange, on the CBS show NCIS: Los Angeles with Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen, Miguel Ferrer and Barrett Foa.

Voice work

Hunt has a rich, resonant voice, which she has used in numerous documentaries, cartoons, and commercials. She is the on-air host for City Arts & Lectures, a radio program recorded by KQED public radio at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco,[13] a program that presents interviews with celebrated writers, artists, and thinkers addressing contemporary ideas and values, often discussing the creative process. Hunt was chosen by Walt Disney Feature Animation to lend her enigmatic speaking and singing voice to Grandmother Willow in the animated musical film Pocahontas and its direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.

Her voice work also includes the character of Management in Carnivàle, and the narrator for the Greek era of the God of War series of video games, in which she also voiced the Titan Gaia in 2007's God of War II (in that game, Gaia and the narrator were the same person). She narrated the introductory film at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and has also been heard in various commercials of the late 1990s for Tylenol.

Hunt narrated the PBS Nature special entitled Christmas in Yellowstone.[14] She also narrated the National Geographic documentary The Great Indian Railway.

Personal life

Hunt has been in a relationship with psychotherapist Karen Kline[15] since 1978. The two were married in 2008. They currently reside in a historic neighborhood in Hollywood, California, with their pet dogs, in an early 20th century American Craftsman style home.[16][17][18]

As a teenager, Hunt was diagnosed as having hypopituitary dwarfism. Hunt stands 4 feet 9 inches (145 cm) tall.[19] Hunt also has Turner Syndrome. [20]

Hunt is an ambassador for the Best Friends Animal Society.[21]

In July 2018 People magazine reported that she had been involved in a multi-car accident in Los Angeles. The accident resulted in Hunt taking most of a year off from NCIS: Los Angeles.


Year Film Role Notes
1980 Popeye Mrs. Holly Oxheart
1982 The Year of Living Dangerously Billy Kwan Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (tie with Mia Farrow for Zelig)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Australian Film Institute Jury Prize (shared with Peter Weir)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1984 Dune Shadout Mapes
The Bostonians Dr. Charlotte Prance
1985 Eleni Katina
Silverado Stella
1987 Waiting for the Moon Alice B. Toklas
1989 She-Devil Hooper
1990 Kindergarten Cop Miss Ingrid Schlowski
Carmilla Narrator
1991 If Looks Could Kill Ilsa Grunt
1992 Rain Without Thunder Atwood Society Director
1993 Younger and Younger Frances
Twenty Bucks Angeline
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Regina Krumm National Board of Review Award for Best Acting Ensemble
1995 Pocahontas Grandmother Willow Voice
1997 The Relic Dr. Ann Cuthbert
Eat Your Heart Out Kathryn
1998 Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World Grandmother Willow Voice
2002 Dragonfly Sister Madeline
2005 Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution' Narrator Voice
Yours, Mine and Ours Mrs. Edna Munion
The Great Transatlantic Cable Narrator
2006 Stranger Than Fiction Dr. Jill Mittag-Leffler
2007 The Singing Revolution Narrator
2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story Lady Proxima Voice

Video games

Television credits

Year Title Role Notes
1976 Great Performances Nora 1 episode
1978 Fame Mona
1987 American Playhouse Alice B Toklas 1 episode
Basements Rose Hudd Segment: "The Room"—director: Robert Altman
The Room Upstairs Mrs. Felicia Sanders TV movie
1993 Space Rangers Commander Chenault
1997–2002 The Practice Judge Zoey Hiller 24 episodes
1998–2006 The American Experience Narrator
2003 Before We Ruled the Earth Narrator
2003–2005 Carnivàle Management—voice 9 episodes
2006 Nature Narrator Episode: "Christmas in Yellowstone"
2007 The Unit Dr. Eudora Hobbs 2 episodes
2008 Without a Trace Dr. Claire Bryson 3 episodes
2009–present NCIS: Los Angeles Henrietta "Hetty" Lange Starring Role
2011, 2012 Teen Choice Awards Herself Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actress Action
2014 Scorpion Henrietta "Hetty" Lange Episode: "True Colors"


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Hamlet Player Broadway
1975 Ah, Wilderness! Norah Broadway
1983 Little Victories N/A Broadway
Top Girls Pope Joan / Louise
1984 End of the World Audrey Wood Broadway
1985 Aunt Dan and Lemon Aunt Dan Broadway

See also


  1. "Linda Hunt". Archived from the original on April 20, 2007.
  2. "Linda Hunt Biography". Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  3. "Family for Linda Hunt". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  4. Hanson, Byron. "From the Archives with Byron Hanson: February 2010". Interlochen Center for the Arts. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  5. Lacob, Jace (September 26, 2011). "The Cult of Linda Hunt". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  6. "The Theatre School: History". DePaul University. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  7. Chung, Philip W (November 28, 2008). "The 25 Most Infamous Yellow Face Film Performances". AsianWeek. Archived from the original on March 15, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  8. Unger, Bertil (January 15, 1986). "Size Is Small Problem for Hunt". New Straits Times.
  9. Hunt, Linda (Summer 1986). "BOMB Magazine — Linda Hunt by Craig Gholson". Bomb (Interview). Interviewed by Vincent Caristi and Craig Gholson. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013.
  10. End of the World accessed 11/23/2016
  11. Linda Hunt Awards Internet Broadway Database accessed 11/23/2016
  12. Rich, Frank (January 29, 1984). "Theater: Mother Courage in Boston". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  13. Nourse Theater
  14. "Full Documentary Films Yellowstone National Park National Geographic Documentary". YouTube. May 6, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  15. "Linda Hunt Biography, Celebrity Facts and Awards". TV Guide. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  16. "Linda Hunt". Fatctoidz. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  17. Ocamb, Karen (August 10, 2008). "WeHo Marriages Go On". The BILERICO Project. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  18. Keveney, Bill (November 15, 2010). "Linda Hunt: A 4-foot-9 force of nature on 'NCIS: LA'". USA Today. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  19. Buchalter,Gail. "There are Always Answers" Parade Magazine, 1991,6938803
  21. "Acclaimed Ambassadors – Linda Hunt". Best Friends Animal Society. Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
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