Joan Allen (born August 20, 1956) is an American actress. She worked in theatre, television and film during her early career, and achieved recognition for her Broadway debut in Burn This, winning a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play in 1989.
She has received three Academy Award nominations; she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Nixon (1995) and The Crucible (1996), and for Best Actress for The Contender (2000).
Her other films include Face/Off (1997), Pleasantville (1998), The Notebook, The Bourne Supremacy (2004) and The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
Allen, the youngest of four children, was born in Rochelle, Illinois, the daughter of Dorothea Marie (née Wirth), a homemaker, and James Jefferson Allen, a gas station owner. She has an older brother, David, and two older sisters, Mary and Lynn. Allen attended Rochelle Township High School, and was voted most likely to succeed. She transferred to Northern Illinois University in 1976, where she graduated with a BFA in Theatre Performance.
Allen began her performing career as a stage actress and on television before making her film debut in the movie, Compromising Positions (1985). She has been a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble since 1977.
In 1989, Allen won a Tony Award for her Broadway debut performance in Burn This. She also starred in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Heidi Chronicles.
She received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her roles as Pat Nixon in Nixon (1995) and as Elizabeth Proctor, a woman accused of witchcraft, in The Crucible (1996). She was also nominated for Best Actress for her role in The Contender (2000), in which she played a politician who becomes the object of scandal.
She had starring roles in the drama The Ice Storm directed by Ang Lee and the action thriller Face/Off directed by John Woo, both released in 1997, as well as in the comedy Pleasantville (1998).
In 2001, Allen starred in the mini-series The Mists of Avalon on TNT and earned an Emmy nomination for the role. In 2005, she received many positive notices for her leading role in the comedy/drama The Upside of Anger, in which she played an alcoholic housewife.She played CIA Department Director Pamela Landy in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Allen appeared in a remake of the film Death Race, playing a prison warden.
On November 6, 2008, TV Guide reported that Allen would star as Georgia O’Keeffe in Lifetime Television’s biopic chronicling the artist’s life.
Allen returned to Broadway in March 2009 when she played the role of Katherine Keenan in Michael Jacobs' play Impressionism opposite Jeremy Irons at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
In 1990, Allen married actor Peter Friedman. The couple separated in 2002, but live close to each other to share time with their daughter, Sadie, born in 1994. She has a Boston Terrier named Pippie.
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