Frances Louise McDormand (born June 23, 1957) is an American actress. She is one of the few performers who have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting, with an Academy Award for Fargo (1996), a Tony Award for the Broadway play Good People (2011), and an Emmy Award for the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2014).
She has been married to filmmaker Joel Coen since 1984 and has starred in various films by the Coen brothers, including Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Burn After Reading (2008), and Hail, Caesar! (2016). She was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Mississippi Burning (1988), Almost Famous (2000), and North Country (2005). Her other films include Short Cuts (1993), Primal Fear (1996), Wonder Boys (2000), Something's Gotta Give (2003), and The Good Dinosaur (2015).
McDormand made her Broadway debut in the 1984 revival of Awake and Sing, and received a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Stella Kowalski in the 1988 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. She returned to Broadway for the first time in 20 years to star in the 2008 revival of The Country Girl, leading to a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Play.
McDormand was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was adopted at one-and-a-half years of age by a couple originally from Canada – Noreen E. (Nickleson), a registered nurse and receptionist, and Vernon W. McDormand, a Disciples of Christ pastor. She has said that her biological mother may have been one of the parishioners at Vernon's church. She has a sister, Dorothy A. McDormand, who is an ordained Disciples of Christ minister and chaplain, as well as another sibling, both of whom were adopted by the McDormands, who had no biological children. As her father specialized in restoring congregations, he frequently moved their family, and they lived in several small towns in Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, before settling in Monessen, Pennsylvania, where she graduated from Monessen High School in 1975. McDormand attended Bethany College in West Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in theater in 1979. In 1982, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. She was a roommate of actress Holly Hunter at the time.
McDormand's first professional acting job was in Trinidad and Tobago, performing in a play written by Derek Walcott and funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Her film debut was in the 1984 Coen brothers first film, Blood Simple. In 1987, she appeared as the wacky friend Dot in the hit film Raising Arizona, starring Holly Hunter and Nicolas Cage. In addition to her early film roles, McDormand played Connie Chapman in the fifth season of the television police drama Hill Street Blues. In 1988, she played Stella Kowalski in a stage production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. McDormand is an associate member of the experimental theater company The Wooster Group.
After appearing in several theatrical and television roles during the 1980s, McDormand gradually gained renown and critical acclaim for her dramatic work in film. In 1988, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Mississippi Burning. In 1996, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as police chief Marge Gunderson in Fargo. In 2000, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of an overbearing mother in Almost Famous. For her role in Wonder Boys (2000), she won Best Supporting Actress from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. In 2006, McDormand received her fourth nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in North Country (2005). The same year she won an Independent Spirit Award for her supporting role in Nicole Holofcener's dark comedy Friends with Money (2006). She also voiced the role of the principal Melanie Upfoot in the Simpsons episode "Girls Just Want to Have Sums", which aired on April 30, 2006.
In 2008, McDormand starred in the films Burn After Reading and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. She then appeared in the action movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon, playing the US government's National Intelligence Director, alongside her Burn After Reading co-star John Malkovich. She returned to the stage in the David Lindsay-Abaire play Good People, in a limited engagement on Broadway from February 8, 2011 to May 29, 2011. Her performance earned her the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. In the animated film Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012), she voiced Capitain Chantel Dubois and also sang a version of the French song "Non, je ne regrette rien".
McDormand starred in Promised Land with Matt Damon, filmed in April 2012 and released on December 28, 2012. In November 2014, HBO telecast a four-part mini-series based upon the series of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge, co-produced by and starring McDormand. The role won her the Primetime Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. With her Emmy win, McDormand became the 12th actress in history to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, for competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award wins in the acting categories.
McDormand has been married to director Joel Coen since 1984, and the two adopted a son from Paraguay, Pedro McDormand Coen, in 1994. They live in New York City.