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Jane Adams Biography


Home > Actresses > A > Adams, Jane > Biography


Birth Name: Jane Adams
Born: 04/01/1965
Birth Place: Washington, Washington D.C., USA


Born April 1, 1965, in Washington D.C., Adams grew up mainly outside of Seattle, WA, where she first became involved in school and local theater productions as a teenager. While a political science major at the University of Washington, Adams continued to appear on stage and took drama courses at Seattle's Cornish College of the Arts. When she decided to focus on acting as a professional pursuit, Adams moved to New York City and earned a drama degree from the Juilliard School while building up her resume with performances at venues including Playwrights' Horizons Theater. Adams was cast as Michael J. Fox's love interest on two episodes of the NBC sitcom "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-89), and within a year, she appeared on movie screens as a doctor-in-training who engages in an awkward romance with a fellow student in "Vital Signs" (1990). In 1991, Adams earned critical kudos for her Broadway debut as a 29-year-old virgin in the Paul Rudnick comedy "I Hate Hamlet," after which she had an extended stage run in a National Actors Theater production of "The Crucible." Adams landed her big career break playing a murder suspect in Stephen Daldry's imaginatively staged revival of J.B. Priestley's "An Inspector Calls" in 1994 - a performance that put her on the map and earned both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award.

That same year, the doe-eyed actress made an impact on independent film audiences with her portrayal of bohemian artist Ruth Hale in the literary biopic "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" (1994), an Independent Spirit nominee for Best Film from director Alan Rudolph. In her first Hollywood production, Adams displayed her comedic gifts as Diane Keaton's gynecologist in "Father of the Bride II" (1995), then joined the ensemble of Robert Altman's paean to his hometown, "Kansas City" (1996). A profile-building run of television work followed, with Adams spending one season playing the neurotic sister of heroine Kimberly Williams on the short-lived cult favorite, "Relativity" (ABC, 1996-97), before going on to a leading role in the historical miniseries, "Liberty, The American Revolution" (PBS, 1997). The demise of that show led to a banner year for Adams on the big screen, where she gave a bravura turn as the naive youngest of a trio of sisters in "Happiness" (1998), Todd Solondz's take on the dark side of suburbia. Cast as the ironically named Joy, Adams beautifully projected her character's childlike vulnerability, garnering sympathy from viewers and helping the film win a National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble.

Small supporting roles in Nora Ephron's "You've Got Mail" (1998) and Lawrence Kasdan's "Mumford" (1999) followed, and in 2000, Adams charmed with her performance as a very pregnant cocktail waitress in the gem "The Wonder Boys" (2000), a Golden Globe nominee for Best Drama starring Michael Douglas as a troubled college professor. Her profile continued to rise with a leading role as the gentle schoolteacher sister of Janet McTeer's feisty and self-centered musicologist in "Songcatcher" (2000), which took home a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Later that year, TV viewers exalted in Adams' finely calibrated, recurring role as a neurotic plastic surgeon who embarks on an ill-fated love affair with Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) on the NBC sitcom, "Frasier." Adams again proved to be a scene-stealer with her performance as a fragile actress and overwhelmed new mother in the ensemble "The Anniversary Party" (2001), from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming. The revered indie film earned several Independent Spirit Awards, and Adams was singled out with a Chlotrudis Award nomination of her own.

Adams spent a month on primetime in the fall of 2001, playing one of three estranged daughters of a retired U.S. Senator on the short-lived drama "Citizen Baines" (CBS, 2001). Her small role as the randy assistant to the dean of Stanford University (Harold Ramis) in "Orange County" (2002) was followed by Adams' return to the New York stage in productions of "Enchanted April" and "Match." She had a brief appearance in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004) and from that family film hit she was back in the art film fold with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), from Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman. Adams next few projects were aimed squarely at mainstream audiences - the mystery novel adaptation "Stone Cold" (CBS, 2005) and the Queen Latifah comedy vehicle "Last Holiday" (2006), where she played the lively coworker of a shy woman (Latifah) whose diagnosis of a terminal illness leads to a blowout vacation and personal transformation.

Continuing to balance her commercial outings with acclaimed dramas, Adams had back-to-back supporting roles in "Little Children" (2006), which earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Drama, and "The Sensation of Sight" (2006), which did well on the international film festival circuit. She was tapped by Neil Jordan to support Jodie Foster in "The Brave One" (2007), a dark, thought-provoking tale of victim-turned-vigilante, and took the lead as the matriarch of an off-beat family in the well-received "Wherever You Are" (2008), from first-time director Rob Margolies. Adams returned to television in 2009, starring as the de facto pimp of a suburban high school teacher (Thomas Jane) who forays into prostitution to make ends meet in HBO's "Hung" (2009-), earning her first Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.