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Melissa Leo Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (31)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 14 September 1960New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameMelissa Chessington Leo
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Melissa Leo was born on September 14, 1960 in New York City, New York, USA as Melissa Chessington Leo. She is an actress, known for The Fighter (2010), Prisoners (2013) and Oblivion (2013).

Trivia (13)

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.
Beat Julia Roberts for the role of Linda Warner on the soap opera All My Children (1970).
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, with ex-boyfriend, John Heard).
Has worked with Kristen Stewart twice. Once in The Cake Eaters (2007) and again in Welcome to the Rileys (2010).
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.
Despite appearing and being billed in early trailers for Lee Daniels's Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) as Mamie Eisenhower, her part ultimately was cut from the film.
Ulster County, New York [July 2008]

Personal Quotes (31)

[Excerpt from her 2011 Academy Award acceptance speech] When I watched Kate Winslet two years ago, it looked so fucking easy - Oops!
[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.
Being an actor on a movie set is like going to the playground at recess.
An actor's life is fairly lonely.
I am a smoker, I'm ashamed to say. I had given it up for many years, then picked it up again. It's a horrible habit. I struggle with myself all the time. And I love to smoke.
Acting is the business of truth, so that we can see ourselves reflected back and learn.
An actor has to be very, very careful, as one of the most wonderful props - and actors love props - is a cigarette. There's so much to do with it: you can bring it up to your face, play with the smoke. It's just the greatest - ever since I was 16 and in acting school in England, I've been playing around with cigarettes.
My mom was a '70s mom. She paved a road that no one had yet walked.
I'm very old-school. I like a director to direct me. I like to be the actor.
I'm not particularly fond of the hybrid writer-director or actor-director.
I'm a very lucky girl who gets to act for a living! So why sit around griping and grousing about what's not there.
I think this notion of acting and glamor is getting in everybody's way.
The key to acting has much more to do with listening than with talking.
The climate informs the character.
That's probably the biggest secret of acting: If the actor believes it themselves, they can make you believe it.
Supporting actors are the support. You can't make a building without support. You can't buy dinner without support.
People often expect me to be something other than what I am.
I do get a fair amount of scripts; I got 'Frozen River' kinda just that way. I have a hard time turning my back on anybody who says they have something for me.
Ever since Marilyn Monroe was transformed from one of the prettiest girls you could ever hope to see into an icon, everyone has been trying to repeat that icon. And now the entire industry is filled with, and by and large run by, wannabes.
To get the hippie out of certain characters is probably the most difficult thing for me. I was not a hippie by choice but by birth.
There were not enough women like Kay on TV and now there are none.
The power of television - it's so present in our lives, we don't even know how powerful it is.
I think there has only been one time in my entire career that I've ever gone back to shoot a scene. And it was a scene that, when we were shooting it, we knew that it wasn't working. We knew there was a disagreement between the actor and director. So, we went back.
I think the funny thing about acting for me - and I hold it in a very holy, spiritual way - not to be overly fundamentalist about it, but it's that important to me - is that it is an ancient healing art.
I mean, the unfair treatment of women and black people and Indians and other groups, that's real. Mistreatment of other people because 'I'm better than you are' is such a sad part of the world.
I haven't had a lot of experience with glamor. I've never had to mask myself, as many now not-so-young actresses have had to do. Female actors in that regard have a different lot in life than male actors.
I have some close friends I keep in touch with. I knit. I watch a little too much TV. I ski, if the weather's right for that. If I can find a group of buddies, I go rock climbing.
You know, when I got started on television in the '80s, you would go to the costume department, and if you were a female they put you into a skirt. And you had a pocketbook, usually a shoulder bag.
Well, I don't think of myself as a feminist at all. As soon as we start labeling and categorizing ourselves and others, that's going to shut down the world.
Through all of this lovely interviewing, and nice things people say, and the rest of it, I have learned that I am an actor. That is my profession. That is my job. That is how I make a living. So I am just out there making a living.
My body has done for me all these years things I couldn't ever even dreamt to do for characters. It's a tool, molecularly speaking, and I need to take care of it.

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