Actress, born August 20, 1956, in Rochelle, Illinois. Allen attended Rochelle Township High School, where she studied drama,failed cheerleading, and was voted most likely to succeed. Along with GarySinise, Laurie Metcalf and John Malkovich, Allen is one of the foundingmembers of Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where she began herprofessional career. She studied theater at Eastern Illinois University.
On Broadway, Allen received a Tony Award for her performance opposite JohnMalkovich in Lanford Wilson’s Burn This (1987), and was nominated inthe same category for The Heidi Chronicles (1989). Off-Broadway, shewon an Obie for her starring role in The Marriage of Bette & Boo. She reprised her Steppenwolf Theatre role in And A Nightingale Sang,receiving the Clarence Derwent, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle andTheatre World Awards.
Allen’s first film was Compromising Positions (1985), followed byPeggy Sue Got Married (1986), starring Kathleen Turner, Tucker: A Man and His Dream(1988), starring Jeff Bridges, and Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993).
In 1996, Allen dropped ten pounds to star opposite Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone’sNixon, where her eerily accurate portrayal of Pat Nixon won her anAcademy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She received hersecond consecutive Best Supporting Actress nomination in 1997 for ArthurMiller’s The Crucible, also featuring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.
In 1997, Allen starred in John Woo’s thriller, Face/Off (1997), withJohn Travolta and Nicolas Cage, and in Ang Lee’s poignant drama, The IceStorm, with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. In 1998, she appeared inPleasantville as Betty Parker, a June Cleaver-esque housewife whodiscovers her true self.
Allen garnered more critical praise, along with her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, for her performance in The Contender (2000). She played a vice presidential hopeful whose sexual past is questioned publicly by a conservative senator, played by Gary Oldman. Jeff Bridges also costarred in the film.
In 2001, Allen stars with Anjelica Huston in the television miniseries The Mists of Avalon, based on the bestselling novel about the women behind King Arthur.
Allen has a daughter, Sadie, from her marriage to actor Peter Friedman. Shetravels back to her hometown of Rochelle, Illinois every summer to spendtime working with aspiring actors and actresses.