A Tony and Emmy Award winner, Donna Murphy has forged a career of exceptional diversity, impressing both audiences and critics with her depth and skill. This “seductive actress of major transformative powers” (NY Times) was named one of three “Legit Luminaries,” alongside Joan Didion and Christine Ebersole, in Variety’s Women’s Impact Issue. She will next be seen on Starz’ hit series Power as Lorette Walsh, the opponent of Rashad Tate, played by Larenz Tate.
Recognized as a gifted character actress in the film world, she received international critical acclaim for her performance as the mercurial Marie in Todd Solondz’ Dark Horse, with Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, and Mia Farrow. In Vera Farmiga’s 2011 directorial debut, Higher Ground, she co-starred with Farmiga as Kathleen, the film’s troubled matriarch, creating a sensual, heartbreaking characterization. Murphy’s animated feature debut, voicing the villainess Mother Gothel in Disney’s mega-hit Tangled, earned her rave reviews for her scene stealing performance. She is also widely recognized for her performances as Judy Braddock, the hardworking, suburban single mom to Scarlett Johansson in The Nanny Diaries; the elegant and demanding, but ultimately sympathetic ballet instructor Juliette Simone, in Nicholas Hytner’s Center Stage; and Anij, the quietly alluring and wise leader in Star Trek: Insurrection, opposite Sir Patrick Stewart. Other select film credits include: No Pay, Nudity opposite Gabriel Byrne, The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Darren Aronovsky’s The Fountain, Rosalie Octavius in Spider-Man 2, The Door in the Floor, The Astronaut’s Wife with Johnny Depp, and Jade, directed by William Friedkin.
One of the most beloved and honored stage actresses of her generation, New York Magazine named Murphy one of “Three Living Legends” of the New York Theater and in 2003 awarded her one of their prestigious New York Awards. Murphy earned her two Tony Awards for her spellbinding performance in Stephen Sondheim’s Passion and for her “resplendent, matchless” (New York Post) portrayal of Anna Leonowens in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic The King and I. For her hilarious comic tour de force as Ruth Sherwood in the Broadway Revival of Wonderful Town, she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Awards, as well as a Tony® nomination. Her mesmerizing performance as the Austrian chanteuse, Lotte Lenya, in Hal Prince’s production of LoveMusik, earned her Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and another Tony nomination. She garnered yet another Tony Award nomination and rave reviews for her performance as a Yiddish Theater star during the Holocaust in Roundabout Theatre Company’s The People in the Picture.
Murphy’s off-Broadway theater highlights include three of the most successful productions in New York City Center Encores! History: Anyone Can Whistle, Follies, and Wonderful Town; Tony Kushner’s production of Helen; Lincoln Center Theater’s Hello, Again and Twelve Dreams opposite Mischa Barton. For Shakespeare in the Park’s 50th Anniversary season, Murphy took on the role of the Witch in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods, which also starred Amy Adams, Jessie Mueller, and Denis O’Hare. She earned Drama League and Drama Desk nominations for her performance.
Murphy returned to Broadway in 2017 when she shared the iconic role of Dolly Gallagher Levi with the legendary Bette Midler in the Tony Award winning revival of Hello, Dolly! She received great critical acclaim for the “gutsiest star turn in town” (NY Daily News) and “her own megawatt glow; her peerless musical-comedy technique, deep-dish characterization and supple vocals.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
Murphy’s first television film, HBO’s “Someone Had to be Benny,” earned her a Daytime Emmy as Best Actress in a Drama Special or Series, as well as a Cable Ace Award, and she starred as Jane Green, the matriarch of a prominent Southern family in PBS’ Civil War drama series, “Mercy Street.” Select recurring and guest star appearances include NBC’s “The Blacklist,” ABC’s ” Quantico”, the mysterious “elegant woman” Angela Forrester in ABC’s “Resurrection,” include USA’s “Royal Pains”, “The Good Wife”, “The Mentalist”, “Ugly Betty”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Damages”, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, “CSI”, “Law & Order”, “The Practice”, “Ally McBeal”, Stephen Bochco’s “Murder One” (ABC), and the PBS Broadcast of the Emmy Award winning “Sondheim! The Birthday Concert,” the 2000 and 2002 Kennedy Center Honors (CBS.)
Murphy’s additional starring television performances include Darlene Garretti on CBS’ “Made in Jersey” alongside Janet Montgomery and Kyle McLaughlin, the steely Denise Goodman on TNT’s “Trust Me” with Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanaugh, Heather Olshansky in CBS’ “Hack” opposite David Morse, and her critically acclaimed comedic performance as the neurotic psychiatrist Dr. Ruby Stern on ABC’s sitcom, “What About Joan.” Her television films include Lifetime’s “House of Versace,” opposite Gina Gershon, Showtime’s political drama “The Last Debate,”and Mary Todd Lincoln in “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” (TNT.)
A versatile singer, she can be heard on a number of recordings including Tangled (Disney Soundtrack), The People in the Picture (Kritzerland), LoveMusik (Ghostlight), Wall to Wall Sondheim (Symphony Space), Wonderful Town (DRG), Leonard Bernstein’s New York (Nonesuch), Hello Again (RCA Victor), The King and I (Varese Sarabande), the Grammy Award winning Passion (Angel), and Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project, to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition.
Ms. Murphy, born in Queens, New York and raised in Hauppauge, New York and Topsfield, Massachusetts, studied with the legendary Stella Adler and at the Lee Strasberg Institute. For her contribution to the Arts, Culture and Public life, she’s received special honors from New York Magazine, Symphony Space, Urban Stages, The Abingdon Theater Company, Greenwich Village’s Caring Community, the Women’s Project, The Little Orchestra Society, Irish America Magazine, the Breukelein Institute and Emerson College. She donates her time and efforts to a number of organizations, including the Worldwide Orphan’s Foundation, Berwin Lee London New York Playwrights, Inc., The Drama League, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and The Actors Fund. She is the proud mother of one daughter and two stepdaughters, and happily resides in New York City.
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