Lydia Susanna Hunter (born April 2, 1945), better known by her stage name Linda Hunt, is an American film, stage, and television 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.
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 held since the 2009 debut, for which she has received two Teen Choice Awards. She is also the narrator in the God of War video game franchise.
Hunt was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and raised in Westport, Connecticut. She is one of the two daughters of Raymond Davy Hunter, vice president of Harper Fuel Oil on Long Island, and Elsie Doying Hunter, a piano teacher who taught at the Westport School of Music and accompanied the Saugatuck Congregational Church choir. Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now part of DePaul University).
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. In her screen test, Hunt wore a hairpiece, a fake moustache, and "paste-on pieces above her eyes to [appear] Oriental". 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." In her 1986 interview with the Bomb magazine, Hunt remarked that Billy Kwan "is supra-personal [with] layers of sexual ambiguity[.]"
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. 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. 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. 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.”.
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, and Barrett Foa.
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, 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 includes also the character of Management in Carnivàle, and the protogenoi Gaia, who serves as the narrator in the God of War series of video games. She narrated the introductory film at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and has also been heard in various commercials of the late 1990s for Tylenol.
Hunt narrated the PBS Nature special entitled Christmas in Yellowstone. She also narrated the National Geographic documentary The Great Indian Railway.
Hunt is 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 m) tall. In high school, she was diagnosed as having hypopituitary dwarfism.
Since 1987 Hunt has lived in Los Angeles with her wife Karen Klein, whom she married in 2008. Hunt is an ambassador for the Best Friends Animal Society.God of War as Narrator
God of War II as Gaia/Narrator
God of War: Chains of Olympus as Narrator
God of War III as Pre-title screen credits Narrator
God of War: Ghost of Sparta as Narrator
God of War: Ascension as Narrator