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Nora Dunn

Nora's most recent film, THE ANSWER MAN with Jeff Daniels, Kat Dennings and Olivia Thrilby was accepted into Dramatic Competition at 2009 Sundance Film Festival. In it, she plays Jeff Daniels' forceful and acerbic literary agent. This film marks a return to Sundance for Nora who as costarred in several films at the festival.

Earlier this year, Nora appeared in the film, Pineapple Express, produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by David Gordon Green. She and Ed Begley play Amber Heard's parents who create a hilariously mortifying encounter with Seth Rogen.

Five seasons on Saturday Night Live benefitted from the rich cast of characters Nora created including The Pat Steven's Show (which she also created and wrote), whose famous guest stars included Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Breslin, as well as John Lithgow as Margaret Thatcher. Her send up of soap opera diva Linda Dano made the popular sketch Attitudes a hilarious SNL staple, featuring such stars as John Malkovich and Christopher Walken. Her portrayal of lounge lizardess Liz Sweeney of the singing Sweeney Sisters has been mimicked by fans for years.

After five years of late night pandemonium, Nora played lesbian television producer Norma Lear in NBC's prime time drama Sisters for three seasons. She has weaved effortlessly between comedy and drama in memorable supporting roles such as the flamboyant, blasphemous Adriana Cruz in David Russell's chic anti-war epic Three Kings. That performance garnered her praise and attention, prompting Peter Travers to write that she was "finally given the chance to show her chops as an actress."

She continued to show her chops in films such as Gary Fleder's drama Runaway Jury with John Cusack and Gene Hackman, as the straight-laced boozer/juror Stella Hulic; New Line's Laws of Attraction, opposite Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore as a glitzy judge from Scarsdale whose Judge Judy tactics cause a split in the stars' already stressed marriage.

Dunn has begun to carve a presence in independent features as well, appearing in Finn Taylor's Cherish and The Darwin Awards. She also played a sympathetic therapist in newcomer Greg Harrison's feature November (Sony Classics) starring Courtney Cox and a cameo as a bitchy publicist in past Sundance Film Festival's crowd-pleaser Die Mommy Die. Nora played a crazed right-winged fanatic in Richard Kelly's (Donnie Darko) newest film Southland Tales.

Nora invariably proves a notable addition to any series be it drama or comedy. He recent guest spots encompass such disparate shows as Numbers, Criminal Minds and the final episode of Pushing Daisies. Additionally, she recently recurred on Boston Legaland Shark as well as playing such memorable characters as the head of a TV network on Curb Your Enthusiasm and as a marriage counselor to Ari and Mrs. Ari on Entourage for multiple episodes.

In her first film role Nora played opposite Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith in Mike Nichols' hit comedy Working Girl. Though the role had just three scenes, the New York Times still praised her performance, saying she turned her uptight Wall Street executive into a wicked Witch of the Westside. She was next cast by Jonathan Demme in the cult classic Miami Blues as a Cuban born homicide detective. Dunn worked again with Mike Nichols in What Planet Are You From?, and subsequently appeared in the comedies Bruce Almighty, Heartbreakers, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and What's the Worst that Could Happen?, in which she played Danny Devito's Bostonian society wife, and worked with English director Lewis Gilbert in his musical Stepping Out, and for Warren Beatty in his political satire Bullworth.

Theater credits include the emotionally anguished housewife Bea Small in George Firth's drama, Precious Sons at The Blank Theater Co., The Vagina Monologues in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Fe and Gary Lennon's Blackout. She wrote and starred in a one-woman show, Small Prey in 1997, which played to sold-out houses for sixteen weeks in Los Angeles. Harper/Collins published her book, Nobody's Rib in 1991.

Dunn was administered twelve years of Catholic tutelage and upon graduating from St. Mary's Academy pursued a career in painting at The Art Institute of Chicago. She studied at the Institute for three years, then moved to San Francisco where she began to study acting with Anne Macey at The Jean Sheldon Acting Workshop. She continued theater productions before turning her attention to comedic monologues and character studies. She returned to her native Chicago in 1982 and in 1983 was spotted by a team of Saturday Night Live talent scouts. Soon after she was whisked from her deli waitress position to New York City where she resided until 1992. She now lives in Los Angeles.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2009.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Nora Dunn Facts

OccupationActress
BirthdayApril 29, 1952 (65)
SignTaurus
BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

Selected Filmography

Entourage
Zoolander
What's The Worst That Could Happen?
Bruce Almighty
Heartbreakers
Back To School
Laws of Attraction
Air Bud: Golden Receiver
Out of Time
Home Sweet
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