Attended the State University of New York, Purchase (SUNY Purchase). Other alumni include actors Parker Posey, Wesley Snipes, Stanley Tucci, Sherry Stringfield, Adam Trese, Edie Falco, Seth Gilliam, Dwight Ewell, and Steven Weber; producers Bob Gosse and Todd Baker; and directors Danny Leiner, Nick Gomez, and Hal Hartley.
In March 1997, ex-boyfriend John Heard was charged with harassing Melissa via telephone misuse and trespassing.
Melissa studied at State University of New York, Purchase but did not graduate.
Mother is Peggy Chessington Leo, a Californian teacher, and father, Arnold Leo, is an editor at Grove Press, and a fisherman spokesman for the East Hampton Baymen's Association.
Was the runner-up for the 2004 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 21 Grams (2003).
Won the 2008 Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Lead Performance by an Actress for her work in Frozen River (2008).
Has two sons: Adam Leo (b.1984, adopted) and John Matthew Heard (b.1987, from ex-boyfriend, John Heard).
According to Rob Lowe's biography, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends", he screen-tested with Melissa, who was in serious contention for the part of "Debbie" in About Last Night... (1986). However, the part eventually went to Demi Moore.
She is a natural redhead.
[on interpreting the title role in Francine (2012)] To play someone when the character masks their own emotions, doesn't understand their own emotions, has no release for their own emotions, and yet is full of emotion - that is a much harder character to play than someone who has somewhere to put it.
(July 2008) Ulster County, New York
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