Deborah Kara Unger

Actor, Singer
Deborah Unger (sometimes billed as Deborah Kara Unger) came to international prominence with her portrayal of Catherine Ballard, a troubled wife willing to explore the erotic undercurrents of automobile accidents in ... Read more »
Born: 05/11/1966 in Vancouver, British Columbia, CA

Filmography

Actor (47)

A Dark Truth 2013 (Movie)

Morgan Swinton (Actor)

Samuel Bleak 2013 (Movie)

(Actor)

186 Dollars to Freedom 2012 (Movie)

Consuler Powers (Actor)

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D 2012 (Movie)

Dahlia Gillespie (Actor)

The Samaritan 2012 (Movie)

Helena (Actor)

Combat Hospital 2010 - 2011 (TV Show)

Actor

The Way 2011 (Movie)

Sarah (Actor)

Shake Hands with the Devil 2010 (Movie)

Emma Baker (Actor)

The Maiden Danced to Death 2010 (Movie)

(Actor)

Walled In 2009 (Movie)

Mary (Actor)

88 Minutes 2008 (Movie)

Carol Lynn Johnson (Actor)

The Marsh 2007 (Movie)

(Actor)

Lies & Alibis 2006 (Movie)

Dorothy (Actor)

Silent Hill 2006 (Movie)

Dahlia Gillespie (Actor)

Emile 2005 (Movie)

Nadia's Mother (Actor)

Fear X 2005 (Movie)

Kate (Actor)

Things that Hang from Trees 2005 (Movie)

Connie Mae Wheeler (Actor)

White Noise 2005 (Movie)

Sarah Tate (Actor)

A Love Song for Bobby Long 2004 (Movie)

Georgianna (Actor)

Hollywood North 2004 (Movie)

(Actor)

Leo 2004 (Movie)

Caroline (Actor)

Stander 2004 (Movie)

Bekkie Stander (Actor)

One Point 0 2003 (Movie)

Trish (Actor)

Thirteen 2003 (Movie)

Brooke (Actor)

10 Tiny Love Stories 2002 (Movie)

(Actor)

Between Strangers 2002 (Movie)

Catharine (Actor)

The Salton Sea 2002 (Movie)

Colette (Actor)

Signs & Wonders 2001 (Movie)

Katherine (Actor)

Luminous Motion 2000 (Movie)

Mom (Actor)

Sunshine 2000 (Movie)

Major Carole Kovacs (Actor)

The Weekend 2000 (Movie)

Marian Kerr (Actor)

Payback 1999 (Movie)

Lynn (Actor)

The Hurricane 1999 (Movie)

Lisa (Actor)

No Way Home 1998 (Movie)

Lorraine (Actor)

The Rat Pack 1998 (Movie)

Ava Gardner (Actor)

Crash 1997 (Movie)

Catherine Ballard (Actor)

Keys to Tulsa 1997 (Movie)

Vicky Michaels Stovers (Actor)

The Game 1997 (Movie)

Christine (Actor)

Crying Freeman 1995 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Highlander III: The Final Dimension 1995 (Movie)

Alex Johnson/Sarah (Actor)

Hotel Room 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Whispers in the Dark 1992 (Movie)

Eve Abergray (Actor)

Prisoners of the Sun 1991 (Movie)

Sister Carol Littell (Actor)

Till There Was You 1991 (Movie)

Anna (Actor)

Breakaway 1990 (Movie)

(Actor)

Angel and the Badman (TV Show)

Actor

State of Emergency (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Deborah Unger (sometimes billed as Deborah Kara Unger) came to international prominence with her portrayal of Catherine Ballard, a troubled wife willing to explore the erotic undercurrents of automobile accidents in David Cronenberg's controversial "Crash" (1996). The Vancouver-born blonde began her career as part of a children's entertainment group that performed on Canadian television. After completing high school, Unger decided to audition for various acting schools. She became the first Canadian accepted at Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Arts. After graduating, Unger, virtually unrecognizable with her hair dyed black and carrying extra pounds, landed her first professional role in the 1989 Australian miniseries "Bangkok Hilton" alongside Nicole Kidman. On American TV screens, she co-starred as Griffin Dunne's unhappy girlfriend in "Hotel Room" (HBO, 1993) and appeared in the medical drama "State of Emergency" (HBO, 1994).

Unger made her film debut playing a sympathetic nurse in "Prisoner of the Sun/Blood Oath" (1990) which required a nude scene. She was featured in cinematographer John Seale's directorial debut "Till There Was You" (1991) before moving to the United States. In 1992, Unger earned critical praise for portraying a psychiatric patient with sadomasochistic fantasies in "Whispers in the Dark". She was the brainy Lorraine opposite Tim Roth in the little seen "No Way Home" (1996). "Crash" significantly raised her profile. Rated NC-17 in the USA for its explicit sex, "Crash" met with a mixed critical reception. Unger again appeared nude in several love scenes, notably one with James Spader (as her husband) during which she questions him about the textures and smells of the car's back seat. She was again cast opposite Spader as his drug-abusing wife in the comic melodrama "Keys to Tulsa" (1997) and supported Michael Douglas and Sean Penn in David Fincher's "The Game" (also 1997).

After appearing as the sultry siren Ava Gardner in the made-for-HBO feature, "The Rat Pack" (1998), Unger appeared in the period romance, "Sunshine" (2000), an epic tale about three generations of a wealthy Jewish-Hungarian family ravaged by World War II and post-war Stalinism. Unger was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Genie award-Canada's equivalent to the Oscar-for her performance. Meanwhile, Unger helped Gregg Henry pull a double-cross against Mel Gibson after a successful heist in "Payback" (1999), Brian Helgeland's revenge thriller based on the Donald E. Westlake novel, The Hunter. In Norman Jewison's award-winning biography "The Hurricane" (1999), Unger played Lisa, a Canadian activist who helps get former boxing champ Ruben "Hurricane" Carter released from prison after being sentenced for a murder he did not commit. Unger found her way into a couple of smaller films-"The Weekend" (2000) and "Signs & Wonders" (also 2000)-before appearing in "The Salton Sea" (2002) as the drug-addled neighbor to Danny (Val Kilmer) who is trying to escape savage beatings courtesy of her speed-freak boyfriend (Luis Guzman).

In "Thirteen" (2003), the controversial and oft-lauded teen drama about sex, drugs and thirteen year-old girls, Unger played Brooke, guardian to the beautiful and popular Evie (Nikki Reed) who offers zero boundaries or guidance for her legal daughter. The film was widely recognized for its acting-nominations for Golden Globes and SAG awards were bestowed upon co-stars Evan Rachel Wood and Holly Hunter-but Unger was largely ignored. Appearing as a bookstore owner who has communicated with the dead, Unger added the supernatural thriller "White Noise" (2005) to her extensive resume. Despite a decent take at the box office and Michael Keaton in the lead, "White Noise" failed to impress critics, who felt the film lacked coherency and possessed too much pedagogy. Meanwhile, she had a brief but effective role as the wife of a distraught man (James Remar) in the murder thriller "Fear X" (2005).

Unger next costarred in "Silent Hill" (2006), a supernatural horror feature based on the popular video game about a desperate mother (Radha Mitchell) trying to find an answer to her daughter's mysterious recurring dream that forces her to sleepwalk. Over the objections of her husband (Sean Bean), she takes her to a fog-shrouded ghost town inhabited by a variety of strange beings-including demons-and overcome by a living darkness that transforms everything it touches. Unger played another desperate mother who lost her own daughter in the strange and evil town. Despite negative reviews, "Silent Hill" opened number one at the box office with over $20 million in box office dollars.

Relationships

Simon Matthew

Companion

Max Unger

Brother
younger born c. 1986

EDUCATION

National Institute of Dramatic Arts

first Canadian student accepted in the school's history

Milestones

2006

Cast in the thriller, "Silent Hill"

2005

Starred opposite Michael Keaton in the supernatural thriller "White Noise"

2004

Cast opposite Thomas Jane in "Stander" based on the true story of André Stander, a South African police captain who became a bank robber

2004

Cast opposite John Travolta and Scarlett Johansson in "A Love Song for Bobby Long"

2003

Starred in the indie hit "Thirteen" directed by Catherine Hardwicke and starred Holly Hunter

1999

Had small role as Mel Gibson's junkie wife in "Payback"

1999

Had supporting role in "Sunshine", helmed by Istvan Szabo

1999

Co-starred in "The Hurricane" as a Canadian who becomes involved in the fight to re-open the case against Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter

1998

Portrayed an alcoholic single mother in "Luminous Motion" (released theatrically in USA in 2000)

1997

Cast opposite Michael Douglas in "The Game"

1997

Again played Spader's wife in "Keys to Tulsa"

1996

Had co-starring role in David Cronenberg's "Crash" as James Spader's wife

1993

US TV debut, the HBO anthology "Hotel Room"

1992

Made first US film, "Whispers in the Dark"

1990

Made feature film debut in "Prisoner of the Sun" (Australian)

1989

First professional acting role, alongside Nicole Kidman in the Australian TV miniseries "Bangkok Hilton"

As a child, appeared on Canadian TV as part of an children's entertainment group which performed on telethons

Became first Canadian student accepted at Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Arts

Moved to the USA

Bonus Trivia

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"I didn't come here (Hollywood) to be a size two with the perfect hairdo and wardrobe. It never occurred to me that those things can be quite important to so many people. I've just learned recently that Hollywood treats you differently if your butt isn't big."---Deborah Unger in Premiere (UK), January 1997.

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"Working in a profession where you're encouraged to look at your fellow man, and to empathize with him, is a great way to grow and test yourself."---Deborah Unger in Venice, December 2004/January 2005.

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