No wonder Jane Campion had some reservations when Holly Hunter sought the central
role in The Piano (93).
Hunter had established herself as a tiny fireball of energy,
Southern abrasiveness, and talk, talk, talk.
She was pretty, yet she easily offered the look
of a modern Southern shopping-mall belle.
But Hunter created the severe, less-than-dainty look of a nineteenth-century woman
repressed in nearly everything except silent
pride. She delivered a stunning performance,
and in doing so she expanded her own horizons and won the Oscar. But can American
film provide equal opportunities?
She came from rural Georgia (not far from
Tara) and studied at Carnegie Mellon. Her
debut was in The Burning (81, Tony Maylam),
after which she played on TV in Svengali (83,
Anthony Harvey); With Intent to Kill (84, Mike
Robe); Swing Shift (84, Jonathan Demme);
Raising Arizona (87, Joel Coen); A Gathering
of Old Men (87, Volker Schlondorff); End of
the Line (87, Jay Russell); getting her first best
actress nomination in Broadcast News (87,
James L. Brooks); repeating a stage success in
Beth Henley's Miss Firecracker (89, Thomas
Schlamme); Animal Behavior (89, H. Anne
Roley); getting an Emmy as Roe in Roe v.
Wade (89, Gregory Hoblit); Always (89, Steven
Spielberg); Once Around (91, Lasse Hallstrom); Crazy in Love (92, Martha Coolidge);
very funny and Oscar-nominated as the secretary in The Firm (93, Sydney Pollack); and brilliant in The Positively True Adventures of the
Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom
(93, Michael Ritchie).