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Kathryn Morris Biography

Home > Actresses > M > Morris, Kathryn > Biography

Birth Name: Kathryn Morris
Born: 01/28/1969
Birth Place: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Born on Jan. 28, 1969, in Cincinnati, OH, Morris was raised by her gospel singing parents who traveled around the country performing with the family as Morris Code until finally planting roots in Windsor Locks, CT, where she attended junior high and Enrico Fermi High School. Eventually, her parents split, leaving Morris to live with her dad, who taught his daughter that she could do anything if she set her mind to it. At age 13, Morris began performing in school plays. While in high school, an English teacher arranged a scholarship for her to attend a summer program at Wesleyan University's Center for Creative Youth. After graduating high school, she attended Temple University, where she set her sights on becoming a journalist or filmmaker. But Morris dropped out when she 21 and moved to San Francisco, CA, where she landed a minor role in "Long Road Home" (NBC, 1991), a period drama about a migrant farm worker (Mark Harmon) in California struggling to keep his family alive during the Great Depression. Taking on any project that came her way early in her career, Morris had a small role in "Cool as Ice" (1992) the financially disastrous feature vehicle for rapper Vanilla Ice.

By 1994, Morris' career was on an upswing. Morris had a part in the miniseries "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All" (NBC, 1994) starring Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland and Anne Bancroft, then co-starred in "A Friend to Die For" (NBC, 1994), a look at the real-life murder of a popular high school cheerleader in the upper middle class community of Orinda, CA. Following an episode of the short-lived sitcom "Wild Oats" (Fox, 1994), she made her regular series debut in the equally brief "Sweet Justice" (NBC, 1994-95), a courtroom drama about a Wall Street attorney (Melissa Gilbert) who returns to her southern hometown and joins her father's long-time rival firm. Though her bread and butter rapidly proved to be television, Morris did make strides in the feature world, appearing in "Sleepstalker: The Sandman's Last Rites" (1995) and the low-budget comedy "Screenplay" (1996). Morris had a two-episode arc on "Poltergeist: The Legacy" (Syndicated, 1995-2000), then returned to features to play a mental patient in the hit studio dramedy, "As Good as it Gets" (1997), starring Jack Nicholson.

By the late 1990s, Morris' career had truly begun to heat up. She landed another regular role, playing Lt. Annalisa Lindstrom in the first season of the naval drama "Pensacola: Wings of Gold" (Syndicated, 1997-98). She had more prominent supporting roles in various made-for-television movies, including "Inferno" (UPN, 1998), the second movie in a trilogy about three witches, and a small screen version of "Inherit the Wind" (Showtime, 1999). Meanwhile, she earned the lasting admiration of fans of "Xena: Warrior Princess," (Syndicated, 1998), playing the vulnerable villain warrior Najara, even though she only made two appearances on the cult show. Morris then made a guest appearance on "Providence" (NBC, 1999-2002) before co-starring in a made-for-the-small-screen movie, "Murder, She Wrote: A Story to Die For" (CBS, 2000). Morris had a break of sorts working with first-time director, Rod Lurie, playing half of a middle class couple marooned in a Colorado diner with the U.S. President (Kevin Pollak) during an international nuclear crisis in "Deterrence" (2000).

Back to her horror roots, Morris was in the telepic "Hell Swarm" (UPN), in which Tim Matheson plays a cop recruited to help block an alien takeover. She had a stroke of luck after working again with Lurie, playing a dogged and cunning federal agent in "The Contender" (2000), a small role that attracted the attention of director Steven Spielberg, who cast Morris in "Artificial Intelligence: AI" (2001), though all of her scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. But no matter - Morris was already cast by Spielberg for a meatier part as Tom Cruise's whimsical and estranged wife in "Minority Report" (2002). After two episodes of "The Mind of a Married Man" (HBO, 2001) and starring in "The Hire: Hostage" (2001) as a kidnap victim whose only hope is her cell phone, Morris was finally propelled into the limelight after being tapped for her breakout role as Detective Lilly Rush on, "Cold Case," a hit procedural that followed a special homicide unit inside the Philadelphia police department that reopens unsolved murders - often set to music. Originally the only female in the all-male crew, Morris brought a steely determination to Lilly Rush, who kept her wounded past buried deep down inside while pursuing each case with unrelenting persistence and a driving need to order a disordered world.

Though not exactly fodder for the Emmy awards, "Cold Case" nonetheless proved to be a ratings winner over the course of several seasons. Always appreciative of the opportunity, Morris did express mild frustration over the lack of growth with her character, a problem that was partially remedied with the introduction of a few love interests. While "Cold Case" maintained consistently high ratings, Morris continued to appear in feature films, co-starring alongside Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman in the blockbuster, "Paycheck" (2003), in which an engineer's memory is erased mysteriously and he must piece his life back together. The following year, she had a role in "Mindhunters" (2004), playing an FBI trainee trying to figure out if one of her colleagues is a serial killer. Morris reunited with Lurie for a third time with "Resurrecting the Champ" (2007), the director's character drama about a sports writer (Josh Hartnett) discovering that mysterious homeless man (Samuel L. Jackson) is really a one-time boxing legend. Morris next appeared in the high school black comedy "Assassination of a High School President" (2009), co-starring Mischa Barton and Bruce Willis.