Patricia Davies Clarkson (born December 29, 1959) is an American actress who has been a strong, steady supporting presence in Hollywood for over twenty years. Although she is only rarely a leading lady, usually taking character parts, her consistently excellent performances and tremendous versatility ensure that she is and continues to be in high demand for roles of all kinds.
And yet, despite her popular image as elegant and reserved, Clarkson is, in her own words, "far more unpredictable and nutty" than most people expect. This allows her to inhabit her characters effortlessly and believably, no matter the role; she can play abusive mother Margaret White in Carrie, then turn around and portray steadfast, supportive coach's wife Patti Brooks in Miracle and be equally believable in both. She made her critically-lauded debut in The Untouchables (1987) opposite Kevin Costner, but her breakthrough role didn't come until nine years later, when she earned raves as drug-addicted lesbian Greta in High Art (1998). Since then she has also lent her talents to films like Easy A, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Shutter Island, Good Night, and Good Luck., The Green Mile, and Jumanji, and to television shows like Frasier and Parks and Recreation.
That common perception of elegance, however, is not too far off the mark. Though she has never been an A-list star, her old-world, old-Hollywood sophistication, unique and effortless talent, and whiskey voice are a throwback to actresses like Bette Davis and Clarkson's idol Ingrid Bergman. An odd but wonderful mix of careworn Southern eccentricity and Forties glamour, Clarkson is a class act and a sought-after actress who is well-respected by her peers, critics, and the public alike, and who is a tremendous asset to every project she joins.