Mary-Louise Parker (born August 2, 1964) is an American actress and writer. After making her stage debut as Rita in a Broadway production of Craig Lucas’s Prelude to a Kiss in 1990 (for which she received a Tony Award nomination), Parker came to prominence for film roles in Grand Canyon (1991), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Client (1994), Bullets over Broadway (1994), Boys on the Side (1995), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), and The Maker (1997). Among stage and independent film appearances thereafter, Parker received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Catherine Llewellyn in David Auburn’s Proof in 2001, among other accolades. Between 2001 and 2006, she recurred as Amy Gardner on the NBC television series The West Wing, for which she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2002. She received both a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Harper Pitt on the acclaimed HBO television miniseries Angels in America in 2003.
Parker was born in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She is the youngest of four children, born to Caroline Louise (née Morell) and John Morgan Parker, a judge who served in the U.S. Army. Her ancestry includes Swedish (from her maternal grandfather), English, Scottish, Irish, German, and Dutch. Because of her father’s career, Parker spent parts of her childhood in Tennessee and Texas, as well as in Thailand, Germany, and France. She described her childhood as “profoundly unhappy,” further noting that, “My parents did everything they could; I had books, clothes, a home and a warm bed, but I was never happy.” She graduated from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Arizona. Parker majored in drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and graduated in 1986.
In December 2006, Parker began dating actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, whom she met on the set of Weeds. On February 12, 2008, Parker and Morgan announced their engagement, only to break up the following April.