Laura Elizabeth "Laurie" Metcalf (born June 16, 1955) is an American actress. She is most widely known for her performance as Jackie Harris on the ABC sitcom Roseanne and has also had series television roles as Carolyn Bigsby on Desperate Housewives and Mary Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. Her motion picture roles include the voice of Mrs. Davis in the Toy Story film series and the character Debbie Loomis/Debbie Salt in Scream 2, as well as roles in such critically acclaimed films as Making Mr. Right, JFK, and Mistress. Metcalf frequently works in Chicago theater, where she is well known for her performance in the 1983 revival of Lanford Wilson's play Balm in Gilead. She has also appeared in commercials for Plan USA, a humanitarian organization which helps children in need around the world.
She is a three-time Emmy Award winner, and has been nominated four other times, as well as having been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, two Tony Awards, a Satellite Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Metcalf has won both a Theatre World Award and two Obie Awards for her work on the stage, and recently starred as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, with David Suchet, Kyle Soller and Trevor White. This production was performed at London's Apollo Theatre until August 18, 2012. In early 2013, she was critically acclaimed for her Tony-nominated performance as Juliana Smithton in Sharr White's The Other Place on Broadway, a role she originated off-Broadway in 2011 and for which she won an Obie. In later 2013, she starred in the Broadway play "Domesticated" with Jeff Goldblum and she currently stars in the HBO series Getting On. In December 2013, she was cast as the mother character Marjorie McCarthy in the new CBS pilot comedy The McCarthys.
Metcalf was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the eldest of three children, with her brother James, and sister Linda, and was 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, and her mother, Libby, was a librarian. Her great-aunt was the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright ZoÃ« Akins. Metcalf is an alumna of Illinois State University, class of 1976. She worked as a "damn good" secretary while in college and thoroughly 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, as she often zoned in on the task at hand and worked through 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, and has said that theatre work also involves the interpreting and studying human behavior. She has described herself as hideously shy, yet found the courage to audition for a few plays in high school and was "hooked", yet never considered acting as a career because of the unlikelihood of it actually leading to regular work. She liked bike riding as a child.
Metcalf attended Illinois State University and obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Theater in 1977. 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. In 1983, Metcalf went to New York to appear in a Steppenwolf production of Balm in Gilead, for which she received the 1984 Obie Award for Best Actress and a 1984-1985 Theatre World Award (for best debut in a Broadway or Off-Broadway performance). Metcalf was showered with praise for her performance as "Darlene", and was specifically singled out for her tour de force twenty-minute Act Two monologue.
Thereafter, Metcalf relocated to Manhattan and began to work in both film and theater, including such productions as David Mamet's November.
Through the end of 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 but one week, while the latter was canceled prior to opening. Voice Lessons, however, with its original cast intact, went on to two more runs - one Off-Broadway in May 2010, and another in Hollywood in May 2011.
In September 2010, Metcalf returned to Steppenwolf and starred in Lisa D'Amour's play, Detroit. In the Spring of 2011, she began work on an Off-Broadway play, The Other Place by Sharr White.
In 2012, Metcalf joined British actor David Suchet in a British stage production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night.
She performed in The Other Place again in 2013, this time on Broadway and earning a Tony nomination. She starred with her real life daughter, Zoe Perry. In October 2013, Metcalf performed with Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated, by playwright Bruce Norris at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater of Lincoln Center. She has also been cast in the role of Annie Wilkes in the upocoming broadway production of Stephen King's Misery.
Television and film
Metcalf has performed in roles that range from very large to very small in many films, including Desperately Seeking Susan, 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, 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, and portrayed real-life Carolyn McCarthy in the television movie The Long Island Incident.
Metcalf has appeared in several television series, including being a cast member for a single episode of Saturday Night Live â" 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 Live following the firing of Jean Doumanian. She appeared in a Weekend Update segment 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", the multiple-careered, low self-esteemed, amiable sister of the title character in the hit series Roseanne. Her performance garnered her three consecutive Emmy Awards. Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997, and Laurie appeared as Jackie over the show's entire run.
She subsequently appeared with Norm Macdonald on The Norm Show (or Norm), which ran for three seasons, 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.
She took a recurring role on Desperate Housewives â" for which she received an Emmy (also in the category Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series) and a Satellite Award nomination â" 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.
In 2013 she starred in HBO's Getting On.
In 1983, Metcalf married Jeff Perry, co-founding member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. They had a daughter, Zoe, in 1984, and later 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, as 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 6 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 they officially divorced.
She enjoys doing yoga before a performance and practices all of her lines out loud before a show. She also enjoys playing Bananagrams and not wearing makeup. She has self-disclosed as a workaholic and that she is hard on herself during rehearsals. She has often said that she prefers theatre to any acting medium as it is where she feels most comfortable.
Awards and nominations
- Laurie Metcalf at the Internet Movie Database
- Laurie Metcalf at the Internet Broadway Database
- Laurie Metcalf at the Internet Off-Broadway Database