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Cynthia Nixon Biography


Home > Actresses > N > Nixon, Cynthia > Biography


Birth Name: Cynthia Nixon
Born: 04/09/1966
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA


Born in New York City, NY on April 9, 1966, Cynthia Ellen Nixon was the daughter of radio journalist Walter Dixon and actress Anne Nixon, who inspired her child's interest in performing. Nixon made her television debut at 13 in a 1979 "ABC Afterschool Special" titled "The Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid" (co-starring the legendary Butterfly McQueen) and earned her first film credit a year later as the aptly-named Sunshine in the Tatum O'Neal-Kristy McNichol teensploitation flick, "Little Darlings" (1980). That same year, she established herself as a theater actress to watch with her performance as the spoiled Dinah Lord in a revival of "The Philadelphia Story," which earned her a 1981 Theatre World Award. Nixon steadily appeared in films and television and on stage throughout the 1980s, contributing solid support to Sidney Lumet's "Prince of the City" (1981) and the lurid "Tattoo" (1981), as well as offering a memorable turn as Mozart's deeply confused maid in Milos Forman's "Amadeus" (1984). That same year, she wowed Broadway critics by appearing in two wildly successful plays - Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" (as the daughter of Jeremy Irons and Christine Baranski) and David Rabe's "Hurly Burly" (as a teenage runaway who encounters oily Hollywood types) - during her freshman year at Barnard College. A year later, she was co-starring with Jeff Daniels in Lanford Wilson's "Lemon Sky" at Second Stage.

Nixon's first substantial film role came in 1986 as the bright and resourceful girlfriend of teenaged science whiz Christopher Collett in Marshall Brickman's thriller "The Manhattan Project" (1985); more acclaimed projects soon followed, including the miniseries "The Murder of Mary Phagan" (1986) with Jack Lemmon and Kevin Spacey, and Robert Altman's "Tanner '88," as the daughter of an obscure Democratic congressman who attempts to navigate a presidential race. Stage remained her best showcase at this time, however, and she shined in several notable productions throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. After receiving her BA in English from Barnard in 1988, she appeared as Juliet in a New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Romeo and Juliet," then essayed several roles in the Broadway production of Wendy Wasserstein's "The Heidi Chronicles" in 1989. Three years later, she replaced Marcia Gay Harden as the pill-addicted Mormon who marries a closeted homosexual in Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Angels in America," earning her first Tony nomination two years later in "Indiscretions (Les Parents Terribles)." In 1997, she joined the cast of the Tony-winning "The Last Night of Ballyhoo," and served as co-founder and a regular performer with The Drama Dept., which counted Billy Crudup, John Cameron Mitchell and Nixon's future "Sex and the City" co-star Sarah Jessica Parker among its members.

Though Nixon's focus was largely on her stage career at this point, she maintained a presence in film and in television throughout the early and mid-'90s, mostly in made-for-TV productions like "Women and Wallace" (1990) and "Face of a Stranger" (1991), as Gena Rowlands' daughter. There were occasional film appearances throughout the decade, most notably as Wednesday and Puggsley Addams' whitebread nanny Heather in "Addams Family Values" (1993) and "Baby's Day Out" (1994), in which she appeared as the nanny of the missing title tot in the latter, as well as scores of appearances in episodic television series, including one brief stint as a regular on the failed comedy "Monty" (Fox, 1994), with Henry Winkler as an outspoken conservative radio host. Nixon also reportedly auditioned for the role of Agent Dana Scully on "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002), but lost out to another blonde about to go red for a role, Gillian Anderson.

The failed shows clearly did not scare Nixon away from future series work - and it was a good thing too, since her next regular TV stint was as Miranda Hobbes on "Sex and the City." Based on the newspaper column and book by writer Candace Bushnell, the show followed the exploits of a writer (Parker) and her three best friends (Nixon, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall) who navigate life and love in New York City. It became an instant hit for HBO and a must-see weekly event for its vast audience. As Miranda, Nixon provided a touch of gravitas to the show's occasionally fantasy-driven proceedings - career-minded, acerbic, and more than a touch distrustful of men, she grounded Parker's Carrie Bradshaw when she agonized over her feelings for Mr. Big (Chris Noth), but occasionally came off as a wet blanket. Over the course of the show's five-season run, Miranda softened considerably; first, after meeting the charmingly scrappy bartender Steve Brady (David Eigenberg), and later after she becomes pregnant by him. The arrival of baby Brady brings down the last of Miranda's rigid defenses, and the series' much-viewed finale found her happy at last with her new family.

Nixon's performance, which skillfully balanced the show's broad humor and the more dramatic arcs of her character's storylines, earned her a wealth of awards, including two Screen Actors Guild Awards (which she shared with her cast mates) and an Emmy in 2004. She also received four Golden Globe Award nominations and two Satellite Award nods. Most importantly, the show gave her considerable acting clout, leading to her first starring turn in a feature, the indie romantic drama "Advice from a Caterpillar" (1996). She soon followed it with a scene-stealing turn as former art teacher Mrs. Piggee in "Igby Goes Down" (2002), and returned to the role of Alex Tanner, who was directing a documentary about her father, in Altman's 2004 follow-up "Tanner on Tanner." She also ventured back to Broadway for a 2001 production of Clare Booth Luce's "The Women," which aired on PBS in 2002.

Following the conclusion of "Sex and the City," Nixon remained active in all three of her chosen mediums. She won her first Tony in 2006 for her starring turn as a grieving woman in "Rabbit Hole," while she appeared in several indie features, including 2005's "One Last Thing," in which she portrayed the mother of a terminally ill young man, and "Little Manhattan" (2005), in which she appeared as the mother of the film's lovelorn 10-year-old narrator. Television provided her the richest non-stage roles, including a lauded turn as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the HBO feature "Warm Springs" (2006), which earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. She also had showy guest shots as a mother who underg s risky surgery to deal with the effects of a stroke on "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009) and a seizure victim who tangles with Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) on "House" (Fox, 2004- ). In 2008, she even won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her 2007 turn as Janice Donovan on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ) None of these roles, however, generated the same groundswell of excitement as her return to Miranda Hobbes for 2008's big screen feature, "Sex and the City: The Movie," which reunited her with her three series co-stars. The film cleaned up at the box office that May and June, making the movie an event experience for girlfriends who planned an entire cosmopolitan-laden night of it, proving that movies geared to women could open just as big as action adventures did for male ticketbuyers.

Not known for making the tabloid pages, nonetheless, Nixon found that all bets were off when after becoming romantically involved with professor Danny Moses in 1988 and having two children together, Nixon fell out of love and into a new relationship with someone quite unexpected, considering her "Sex and the City" image: the redheaded Christine Marinoni. "In terms of sexual orientation I don't really feel I've changed. I don't feel there was a hidden part of my sexuality that I wasn't aware of," Nixon told the press. "I'd been with men all my life and I'd never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn't seem so strange. I'm just a woman in love with another woman." Marinoni supported Nixon when the actress was diagnosed with breast cancer, a high-profile battle which she eventually won. Cancer-free and coasting off great reviews for her theatrical and television appearances, Nixon returned to the multiplexes in the highly anticipated big screen follow-up, "Sex and the City 2" (2010), reprising Hobbes to full sarcastic, cynical effect. She next joined an all-star cast for director Curtis Hanson's acclaimed "Too Big to Fail" (HBO, 2011), a compelling look at the events and players involved in the financial meltdown of 2008. Nixon played Michele Davis, a senior communications advisor who was part of the U.S. Treasury team addressing the crisis that almost brought the global economy to its knees.