Helen Elizabeth Hunt (born June 15, 1963) is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom Mad About You for seven years before being cast in the 1997 romantic comedy film, As Good as It Gets for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Some of her other notable films include Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want, Pay It Forward, Soul Surfer and The Sessions. She made her directorial debut in 2007 with Then She Found Me. In addition to her Oscar, Hunt has won four Emmy awards, four Golden Globe awards, and two Screen Actors Guild awards.
Hunt was born in Culver City, California. Her mother, Jane Elizabeth (née Novis), worked as a photographer, and her father, Gordon E. Hunt, is a film director and acting coach. Her uncle, Peter H. Hunt, is also a director. Her Iowa-born maternal grandmother, Dorothy (Anderson) Fries, was a voice coach. Hunt's paternal grandmother was from a German Jewish family, while Hunt's other grandparents were of English descent (her maternal grandfather was born in England). When she was three, Hunt's family moved to New York City, where her father directed theatre (Hunt attended plays as a child several times a week). Hunt studied ballet, and briefly attended UCLA.
Hunt began working as a child actress in the 1970s. Her early roles included an appearance as Murray Slaughter's daughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, alongside Lindsay Wagner in an episode of The Bionic Woman, an appearance in an episode of Ark II called Omega, and a regular role in the television series The Swiss Family Robinson. She appeared as a marijuana-smoking classmate on an episode of The Facts of Life. Hunt also played a young woman who, while on PCP, jumps out of a second-story window, in a 1982 TV movie called Desperate Lives (a scene which she mocked during a Saturday Night Live monologue in 1994). That same year, Hunt was cast on the ABC sitcom It Takes Two, which lasted a single season. In the mid-1980s, she had a recurring role on St. Elsewhere as Clancy Williams, the girlfriend of Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison. She played Jennie in the television movie Bill: On His Own, co-starring Mickey Rooney. She also starred in the 1985 film Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Shannen Doherty.
In the 1990s, after playing the lead female role in the short-lived My Life and Times, Hunt starred in the series Mad About You, winning Emmy Awards for her performances in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999. Hunt directed several episodes of Mad About You, including the series finale. Her big-screen directorial debut came with the film Then She Found Me, in which she also starred, with Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick. In 1998, Hunt won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Carol Connelly in the movie As Good as It Gets; the character is a waitress and single mother who finds herself falling in love with Melvin Udall, an obsessive-compulsive romance novelist played by Jack Nicholson. After winning the Academy Award, she took time off from movie work to play Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, at Lincoln Center in New York. In 2000, Hunt starred in four films: Dr. T & the Women, with Richard Gere; Pay It Forward, with Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment; What Women Want, with Mel Gibson; and Cast Away, with Tom Hanks. In 2003, she returned to Broadway in Yasmina Reza's Life x 3. In 2006, Hunt appeared in the ensemble cast film Bobby alongside Demi Moore, Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone and William H. Macy. In 2012, she starred alongside John Hawkes and William H. Macy in The Sessions as sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene. The movie and her performance were very well reviewed and earned her several award nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
She owns a production company with Connie Tavel, Hunt/Tavel Productions under Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Hunt started dating actor Hank Azaria in 1994 and they married in 1999, only to get divorced 17 months later (July 17, 1999 - December 18, 2000). She has been in a relationship with producer/writer/director Matthew Carnahan since 2001. They have a daughter, Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan, born on May 13, 2004.
Hunt has been recognized extensively in her career. In 1998 she won a Golden Globe Award, an Academy Award and an Emmy Award in the same year. Hunt was nominated for an Emmy Award for lead actress in a comedy seven years in a row, from 1993 through 1999, winning in the last four years.
Series; supporting role
Swiss Family Robinson, TheThe Swiss Family Robinson
Series; main role
All Together Now
Fitzpatricks, TheThe Fitzpatricks
Bionic Woman, TheThe Bionic Woman
Episode: "Sanctuary Earth"
"Hitchhike" (Part 2),
CBS Afternoon Playhouse
"I Think I'm Having a Baby"
Child Bride of Short Creek
Best Little Girl in the World, TheThe Best Little Girl in the World
Episode: "The Bogeyman Will Get You"
Miracle of Kathy Miller, TheThe Miracle of Kathy Miller
It Takes Two
Bill: On His Own
Choices of the Heart
Highway To Heaven
Episode: "Thoroughbreds" (Parts 1 & 2)
Incident at Dark River
My Life and Times
Murder in New Hampshire:,
The Pamela Wojas Smart Story
Into the Badlands
Mad About You
Jamie Stemple Buchman
Won - American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (1994-96),
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series (1996-99),
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (1994, 1995, 1997),
People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Television Performer (1999),
Q Award for Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series,
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series (1995),
Nominated - American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a TV Series (1999),
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series (1993-95),
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (1993, 1996, 1998),
Q Award for Best Actress in a Quality Comedy Series (1998),
Satellite Award for Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (1997-99),
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series (1996-98),
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995-98),
TV Guide Award for Favorite Actress in a Comedy,
In the Company of Darkness
Season one, episode: "The One with Two Parts" (Part 1); Mad About You crossover appearance
Episode: "Dumbbell Indemnity"
Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama Special
Director - season five episode: "At the Movies"
Director - season two episode: "Retribution"
Waiting to Act
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Nativity, TheThe Nativity
Peggy Sue Got Married
Miles from Home
Hope Wyatt (adult and pregnant)
Frog Prince, TheThe Frog Prince
Next of Kin
Waterdance, TheThe Waterdance
Mr. Saturday Night
Kiss of Death
Dr. Jo Harding (Adult)
Won - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Action/Adventure,
Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Actress,
MTV Movie Award for Best Performance,
As Good as It Gets
Won - Academy Award for Best Actress,
American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role),
Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Video,
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress,
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy,
Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy,
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role,
Nominated - Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress,
Empire Award for Best Actress,
MTV Movie Award for Best Performance,
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress,
Dr. T & the Women
What Women Want
Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Comedy/Romance
Pay It Forward
Nominated - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress - Drama/Romance
Won - Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actress - Drama,
Nominated - MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Tom Hanks),
One Night at McCool's
Curse of the Jade Scorpion, TheThe Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Betty Ann Fitzgerald
Good Woman, AA Good Woman
Won - Hollywood Film Festival Award for Ensemble of the Year,
Nominated - Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture,
Then She Found Me
Also co-screenwriter, producer and director,
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Leap from Actress to Director,
Ashland Independent Film Festival Rogue Award,
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature,
Jock of the Bushveld
Won - Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Depiction Of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction, Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female,
Nevada Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress, San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Sundance Film Festival - U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting,
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Female Icon, BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress, Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture, Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress, Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress, Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress, San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress, Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Decoding Annie Parker
Dr. Mary-Claire King
In post-production; also director, producer, and writer