Donna Murphy’s award-winning performances in theater, film and television have 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 by New York Magazine as one of “Three Living Legends” of the New York Theater, and awarded in 2003 one of their prestigious “New York Awards” for her work in the theater. Murphy has created memorable characters in comedies, dramas and musicals on and off Broadway, and in theaters across the country. Happily, her versatility extends to the large and small screens.
Perhaps best known for her scene-stealing performance as the voice of villainess Mother Gothel in Disney’s mega-hit “Tangled,” last year Murphy received international critical acclaim for her portrayal of the mercurial Marie in award-winning filmmaker Todd Solondz’s “Dark Horse” with Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Selma Blair, and was also seen in Tony Gilroy’s “The Bourne Legacy.” In Vera Farmiga’s 2011 directorial debut, “Higher Ground,” she co-starred with Farmiga as Kathleen, the troubled matriarch, creating a sensual, heartbreaking characterization. Murphy 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 Patrick Stewart. Other select film credits include: Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center,” Darren Aronovsky’s “The Fountain”, “Spiderman 2”, “The Door in the Floor” with Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger, “The Astronaut’s Wife” with Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron, and “Jade,” directed by William Friedkin.
Murphy’s first television film, HBO’s “Someone Had to be Benny,” earned her a Cable Ace Award as Best Actress in a Drama Special or Series, as well as a Daytime Emmy. She received critical acclaim for her comedic performance as Dr. Ruby Stern on ABC’s “What About Joan,” starring Joan Cusack. Murphy was also seen as Darlene Garretti on CBS’ “Made in Jersey,” Denise Goodman on TNT’s “Trust Me” with Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanaugh, and Heather Olshansky on CBS’ “Hack” opposite David Morse. Other TV includes: Showtime’s “The Last Debate”, “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” (TNT) as Mary Todd Lincoln, Stephen Bochco’s “Murder One” (ABC), “Leonard Bernstein’s New York” and “Liberty!” for PBS, the 2000 and 2002 Kennedy Center Honors (CBS), and guest appearances on “The Mentalist”, “Ugly Betty”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Damages”, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, “CSI”, “The Practice”, “Ally McBeal,” and the PBS Broadcast of the Emmy-Award-winning “Sondheim: The Birthday Concert.”
Ms. Murphy’s range and diversity in the theatre realm have earned her numerous awards including two Tonys — the first for Best Actress in a Musical for her spellbinding creation of Fosca in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Passion,” which was filmed for PBS’ American Playhouse; and the second for her distinctive portrayal of Anna in Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s hit “Revival of The King and I.” In 2004, she was honored with the Drama League Outstanding Achievement Award for her work in Musical Theater, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Awards, as well as a Tony® nomination for her comic tour de force as Ruth Sherwood in “Wonderful Town.” She returned to Broadway in 2007 as the legendary actress-singer Lotte Lenya In Love “Musik,” receiving Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and another Tony® nomination. In 2011, Murphy starred in the world premiere of “The People in the Picture” as Raisel/Bubbie, at the Roundabout Theater Company, garnering rave reviews and receiving her fifth Tony® nomination, as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. In the summer of 2012, Murphy took on the role of The Witch in Sondheim and Lapine’s “Into the Woods” for Shakespeare in the Park’s 50th season, for which she was honored with Drama Desk and Drama League nominations. Other theater highlights include: City Center Encores! productions of “Anyone Can Whistle”, “Follies,” and “Wonderful Town”; “Helen” at the Public Theater directed by Tony Kushner (Drama League Award); “Twelve Dreams” and “Hello Again” at Lincoln Center (Drama Desk nominations); Edwin Drood in the Original Broadway Production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”; and “Song of Singapore” (Drama Desk, OCC nominations). She can be heard on many recordings of her theater projects as well as “Tangled”, “Leonard Bernstein’s New York”, “Wall to Wall Sondheim,” and “Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project.”
Murphy donates her time and efforts to a number of organizations, including the Worldwide Orphan’s Foundation, the All Stars Project, Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, and The Actors Fund. She has received special honors from Symphony Space, Greenwich Village’s Caring Community, the Women’s Project, the Little Orchestra Society, Irish America Magazine, the Breukelein Institute, and Emerson College for her contributions to the arts.