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People in Film | Patricia Clarkson

Posted June 17, 2011 to photo album "People in Film | Patricia Clarkson"

The New Orleans-born actress finds a way to make every film she’s in better.

Patricia Clarkson: An Essential Character
Between New Orleans and New York
For Yale And Theater
Character Actor And Beyond
The Queen of Sundance
Big Films, Small Films, Character Part, Film Star
Character Actor And Beyond

Character Actor And Beyond

Clarkson in High Art

In 1986, Clarkson began her film career playing the wife of G-Man Eliott Ness (Kevin Costner) in Brian DePalma’s 1987 The Untouchables. Her smoky voice and radiant good looks brought her plenty of small roles in both television and film. She appeared regularly on TV dramas like “Murder One” and “Law and Order.” In 1987, she was cast opposite Clint Eastwood in The Dead Pool. That same year, her career changed for the better when first-time director Lisa Cholodenko cast her to play the ex-model, heroin-addicted German lesbian lover in her 1998 drama High Art. While such a role could’ve easily slid into a “Saturday Night Live” caricature, Clarkson molded the woman’s eccentricities to create an empathetic human figure. Robert Ebert noted in his review, “Patricia Clarkson succeeds in creating a complete, complex character without ever overplaying the stoned behavior (she's like Fassbinder's Petra von Kant on heroin instead of booze).” Clarkson told the Hollywood Interview a decade later, “That film changed everything for me. … I loved the part, although I’m not German, I’m not gay and I’ve never even smoked pot! But Lisa Cholodenko had faith in me that I would transform and that I understood Greta in some way.”