Lydia Susanna Hunter (born April 2, 1945), better known by her stage name Linda Hunt, is an American film, stage, and television actress. After making her film debut playing Mrs. Oxheart in Popeye (1980), Hunt's breakthrough came playing the male character Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first person to win an Oscar portraying a character of the opposite sex.
She has had great success in films such as The Bostonians (1984), Dune (1984), Silverado (1985), Eleni (1985), Waiting for the Moon (1987), She-Devil (1989), Kindergarten Cop (1990), If Looks Could Kill (1991), Rain Without Thunder (1992), Twenty Bucks (1993), Younger and Younger (1993), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Relic (1997), Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), Dragonfly (2002), Yours Mine and Ours (2005), and Stranger Than Fiction (2006).
Hunt has also had a successful television career. She played Rose in the television movie Basements (1987) and narrated in the television movie The New Chimpanzees. She guest-starred on Hallmark Hall of Fame in both 1978 and 1987, Space Rangers in 1993, Carnivale in both 2003 and 2005, Without a Trace in 2008, The Unit in 2008, and Nip Tuck in 2009. From 1997 to 2002, Hunt played the recurring role of Judge Zoey Hiller on The Practice. She currently portrays Henrietta "Hetty" Lange on the CBS television series NCIS: Los Angeles, a role she has held since the 2009 debut, for which she has received two Teen Choice Awards. She is also the narrator in the God of War video game franchise.
Hunt was born on April 2, 1945 in Morristown, New Jersey to Raymond Davy Hunter (d. 1985), the vice president of Harper Fuel Oil, and Elsie Doying Hunter (d. ~1994), a piano teacher who taught at the Westport School of Music and performed with the Saugatuck Congregational Church Choir in Westport, Connecticut, where Hunt was raised. She has one sibling, an older sister named Marcia (b. 1940).  Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, Illinois, which is now part of DePaul University.
Hunt's film debut in 1980 was in Robert Altman's musical comedy Popeye. Two years later, she co-starred as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously, Peter Weir's film adaptation of the novel of the same name. For her role as the male Chinese-Australian photographer Billy Kwan, Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983, becoming the first person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex. In addition, the character was Asian and had the condition of dwarfism. In her screen test, Hunt wore a hairpiece, a fake moustache, and "paste-on pieces above her eyes to [appear] Oriental". To accomplish the role during production, Hunt shortened "her hair and dye[d] it black[,] wore padding around her waist, shaved her eyebrows, and carried something in her shirt pocket." In her 1986 interview with the Bomb magazine, Hunt remarked that Billy Kwan "is supra-personal [with] layers of sexual ambiguity[.]"
Hunt also played a nurse in She-Devil (1989) and the austere school principal opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop in 1990. Hunt played the assassin Ilsa Grunt in If Looks Could Kill (1991) opposite Richard Grieco and Roger Rees.
Hunt was a well-known stage actress before she entered film and television. She made her Broadway debut in a 1975 production of Ah, Wilderness. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her work in the 1984 play End of the World. She also received two ensemble Obie Awards for her work Off-Broadway in Top Girls and A Metamorphosis in Miniature. She created the role of Aunt Dan in Wallace Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon. She was a member of the Long Wharf Theatre Company in Connecticut. There she played the Player Queen in a production of Hamlet, among other roles. She portrayed Sister Aloysius in the Pasadena Playhouse production of John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt. She was praised for her performance as the title character in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children. Hunt also appeared as Pope Joan in Caryl Churchill's Top Girls when London's Royal Court Theatre's production was staged at the Public Theater in New York. In an interview with writer Craig Gholson and actor Vincent Caristi, Hunt discussed her experience acting in theatre, “Acting onstage is like an explosion each night. And what comes in at you all the time as you are trying to . . . create something which is a tremendous act of organization and concentration.”.
Her television appearances include recurring roles as Judge Zoey Hiller on David E. Kelley's series The Practice and as Dr. Claire Bryson on Without a Trace. She has narrated several installments of The American Experience on PBS. Since 2009, she has co-starred as Operations Manager Henrietta "Hetty" Lange, on the CBS show NCIS: Los Angeles with Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen, and Barrett Foa.
Hunt has a rich, resonant voice, which she has used in numerous documentaries, cartoons, and commercials. She is the on-air host for City Arts & Lectures, a radio program recorded by KQED public radio at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco, a program that presents interviews with celebrated writers, artists, and thinkers addressing contemporary ideas and values, often discussing the creative process. Hunt was chosen by Walt Disney Feature Animation to lend her enigmatic speaking and singing voice to Grandmother Willow in the animated musical film Pocahontas and its direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.
Her voice work includes also the character of Management in Carnivàle, and the protogenoi Gaia, who serves as the narrator in the God of War series of video games. She narrated the introductory film at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and has also been heard in various commercials of the late 1990s for Tylenol.
Hunt has been with psychotherapist Karen Klein since 1978. The two were married in 2008. They currently reside in a historic neighborhood in Hollywood, California with their pet dogs, in an early 20th century American Craftsman style home.
|1980||Popeye||Mrs. Holly Oxheart|
|1982||The Year of Living Dangerously||Billy Kwan||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (tie with Mia Farrow for Zelig)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Australian Film Institute Jury Prize (shared with Peter Weir)
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
|The Bostonians||Dr. Charlotte Prance|
|1987||Waiting for the Moon||Alice B. Toklas|
|1990||Kindergarten Cop||Miss Ingrid Schlowski|
|1991||If Looks Could Kill||Ilsa Grunt|
|1992||Rain Without Thunder||Atwood Society Director|
|1993||Younger and Younger||Frances|
|1994||Prêt-à-Porter||Regina Krumm||National Board of Review Award for Best Acting Ensemble|
|1997||The Relic||Dr. Ann Cuthbert|
|Eat Your Heart Out||Kathryn|
|1998||Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World||Grandmother Willow||Voice|
|2005||Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'||Narrator||Voice|
|Yours, Mine and Ours||Mrs. Edna Munion|
|The Great Transatlantic Cable||Narrator|
|2006||Stranger Than Fiction||Dr. Jill Mittag-Leffler|
|2007||The Singing Revolution||Narrator|
This section is incomplete. (June 2014)
|1987||Basements||Rose Hudd||Segment: "The Room"—director: Robert Altman|
|The Room Upstairs||Mrs. Felicia Sanders||TV movie|
|1993||Space Rangers||Commander Chenault|
|1997–2002||The Practice||Judge Zoey Hiller||24 episodes|
|1998–2006||The American Experience||Narrator|
|2006||Nature||Narrator||Episode: "Christmas in Yellowstone"|
|2007||The Unit||Dr. Eudora Hobbs||2 episodes|
|2008||Without a Trace||Dr. Claire Bryson||3 episodes|
|2009–present||NCIS: Los Angeles||Henrietta "Hetty" Lange||Main character|
|2011, 2012||Teen Choice Awards||Herself||Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actress Action|
|2014||Scorpion||Henrietta "Hetty" Lange||Episode: "True Colors"|
|Top Girls||Pope Joan / Louise|
|1984||End of the World||Audrey Wood||Broadway|
|1985||Aunt Dan and Lemon||Aunt Dan||Off-Broadway|