Frances McDormand

As the good-natured, but sharp-minded sheriff on the trail of two murderers in her breakout film, "Fargo" (1996), actress Frances McDormand made a significant mark as an actress, playing one of the more unique, homespun ... Read more »
Born: 06/22/1957 in Chicago, Illinois, USA


Actor (62)

Olive Kitteridge 2014 - 2015 (TV Show)


The Good Dinosaur 2015 (Movie)

Momma (Voice)

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted 2012 (Movie)

Captain Chantel DuBois (Actor)

Moonrise Kingdom 2012 (Movie)

Mrs. Bishop (Actor)

Promised Land 2012 (Movie)

Sue Thomason (Actor)

This Must Be the Place 2012 (Movie)

Jane (Actor)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2011 (Movie)

Mearing (Actor)

Gourmet Adventures With Ruth 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)


Burn After Reading 2008 (Movie)

Linda Litzke (Actor)

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day 2008 (Movie)

Miss Pettigrew (Actor)

Friends With Money 2006 (Movie)

Jane (Actor)

Precinct Hollywood 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)


Aeon Flux 2005 (Movie)

Handler (Actor)

North Country 2005 (Movie)

Glory (Actor)

Last Night 2003 (Movie)


Laurel Canyon 2003 (Movie)

Jane (Actor)

Searching for Debra Winger 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)


Something's Gotta Give 2003 (Movie)

Zoe Barry (Actor)

City by the Sea 2002 (Movie)

Michelle (Actor)

State of Grace 2000 - 2002 (TV Show)


7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)


Scottsboro: An American Tragedy 2001 (Movie)


The Man Who Wasn't There 2001 (Movie)

Doris Crane (Actor)

Almost Famous 2000 (Movie)

Elaine Miller (Actor)

Wonder Boys 2000 (Movie)

Sara Gaskell (Actor)

Upheaval 1999 (Movie)


Johnny Skidmarks 1998 (Movie)

Alice (Actor)

Madeline 1998 (Movie)

Miss Clavel (Actor)

Talk of Angels 1998 (Movie)

Conlon (Actor)

The 70th Annual Academy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)


Blockbuster Entertainment Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


Inside the Academy Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


Paradise Road 1997 (Movie)

Doctor Verstak (Actor)

Bleeding Hearts 1996 (Movie)

Woman on TV (Actor)

Fargo 1996 (Movie)

Marge Gunderson (Actor)

Lone Star 1996 (Movie)

Bunny (Actor)

Palookaville 1996 (Movie)

June (Actor)

Primal Fear 1996 (Movie)

Dr Molly Arrington (Actor)

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


Beyond Rangoon 1995 (Movie)

Andy Bowman (Actor)

Talking With 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)


Short Cuts 1993 (Movie)

Betty Weathers (Actor)

Passed Away 1992 (Movie)

Nora Scanlan (Actor)

Hunter 1984 - 1991 (TV Show)


The Butcher's Wife 1991 (Movie)

Grace (Actor)

Chattahoochee 1990 (Movie)

Mae Foley (Actor)

Darkman 1990 (Movie)

Julie Hastings (Actor)

Hidden Agenda 1990 (Movie)

Ingrid Jessner (Actor)

Leg Work 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)


Mississippi Burning 1988 (Movie)

Mrs Pell (Actor)

Raising Arizona 1987 (Movie)

Dot (Actor)

Crimewave 1986 (Movie)

Nun (Actor)

Blood Simple 1985 (Movie)

Abby (Actor)

Scandal Sheet 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)


Crazy in Love (TV Show)


Hidden in America (TV Show)


Scandal Sheet (Movie)


The Botany of Desire (TV Show)


The Good Old Boys (TV Show)

Producer (2)

Every Secret Thing 2014 (Movie)


Every Secret Thing 2013 (Movie)



As the good-natured, but sharp-minded sheriff on the trail of two murderers in her breakout film, "Fargo" (1996), actress Frances McDormand made a significant mark as an actress, playing one of the more unique, homespun characters in cinema history. Prior to her award-winning performance, McDormand essayed a variety of roles, but mainly focused on put-upon wives or classic femme fatales in films like "Blood Simple" (1984) and "Mississippi Burning" (1988). Later in her career, she branched off into more diverse leading and supporting roles for "Lone Star" (1996), "Wonder Boys" (2000) and "Almost Famous" (2000), though she continued to make her strongest appearances in husband Joel Coens' darkly comic noirs, including "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001). By the time she received her third Academy Award nomination for her supporting performance in "North Country" (2005), it was well established that McDormand was a gifted actress in both comedy and drama and whose best work never failed to impress critics and fans alike.


Joel Coen Screenplay

Began dating 1984 Married April 1, 1984 Worked together in films including "Raising Arizona" (1987), "Fargo" (1996) and "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001)

Ethan Coen Screenplay

Worked together in films including "Raising Arizona" (1987), "Fargo" (1996) and "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001)

Pedro Coen

Adopted from Paraguay in 1994; father, Joel Coen

Vernon McDormand

Member of the Disciples of Christ denomination

Noreen McDormand



Attended high school in Monessing, Pennsylvania

Bethany College

Bethany , West Virginia 1979

Yale University

New Haven , Connecticut 1982
Attended the Yale School of Drama; awarded the Carol Dye Award for Excellence



Cast as the mother of a preteen runaway in Wes Anderson's romantic adventure "Moonrise Kingdom"


Co-starred with Matt Damon as corporate salespersons in "Promised Land," directed by Gus van Sant; film co-written by Damon and John Krasinski


Voiced character of Captain Chantel DuBois in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted"


Returned to the stage in the David Lindsay-Abaire play "Good People"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play


Appeared in the third installment of the franchise "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"


Played the title role in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"


Nominated for the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy ("Burn After Reading")


Joined an ensemble cast for the Coen's brothers' "Burn After Reading"


Co-starred with Joan Cusack, Jennifer Aniston, and Catherine Keener in director Nicole Holofcener's "Friends with Money"


Co-starred with Charlize Theron in "North Country," a fictionalized account of the first successful sexual harassment case in the U.S.; earned Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Supporting Actress


Re-teamed with Charlize Theron for the feature adaptation of MTV's cartoon "Aeon Flux"


Played Diane Keaton's sister in Nancy Meyers' "Something's Gotta Give"


Returned to the NYC stage opposite Willem Dafoe in "To You, the Birdie!"


Co-starred in the drama "Laurel Canyon"; received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for best supporting female


Played a straying spouse in the Coen brothers' modern noir "The Man Who Wasn't There"


Protrayed an eccentric, overprotective mother in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous"; received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination


Co-starred as Michael Douglas' lover, a college chancellor, in "Wonder Boys"


Portrayed Miss Clavell in "Madeline," the adaptation of a children's book series written by Ludwig Bemelmans


Returned to the New York stage, co-starring with Billy Crudup in off-Broadway production of "Oedipus"


Starred as Blanche Du Bois in an Irish production of "A Streetcar Named Desire"


Cast as a German doctor forced into an internment camp with other European women in Bruce Beresford's "Paradise Road"


Earned critical praise for her performance as the pregnant police chief in the Coen brothers' "Fargo"


Delivered a gem of a turn as Gus, a tough mechanic, in HBO's acclaimed "Hidden in America"


Acted in Tommy Lee Jones' critically acclaimed writing-directing debut "The Good Old Boys" (TNT)


Portrayed Patricia Arquette's sister in John Boorman's "Beyond Rangoon"


Cast in featured role as Tim Robbins' girlfriend in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts"


Played Pfeni, the youngest of three sisters, in the original Broadway production of "The Sisters Rosenzweig"


Appeared uncredited in a bit part as a secretary in the Coens' "Miller's Crossing"


Reteamed with Raimi in "Darkman"


Co-starred in Ken Loach's controversial political thriller "Hidden Agenda"


Earned a Tony nomination for her turn as Stella Kowalski in a Broadway revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire"


Won substantial acclaim and a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for her turn in "Mississippi Burning"


Co-starred on the CBS drama series "Leg Work"


Re-teamed with the Coen brothers for "Raising Arizona"; starred former roommate Holly Hunter


TV-movie acting debut, "Scandal Sheet" (ABC)


Credited as Fran McDormand for Sam Raimi's "Crimewave"


Film acting debut, "Blood Simple"; first collaboration with the Coen brothers


New York stage debut, Tina Howe's "Painting Churches"


Stage acting debut in "Winterset: Four New American Plays" at Yale Repertory Theater

Before age eight, moved frequently with family, before settling in Pennsylvania

Moved to NYC, initially sharing a Bronx apartment with friend and fellow Yale graduate Holly Hunter

First professional stage role, "Trinidad"; written by Jamaican poet Derek Walcott

Bonus Trivia


McDormand was actively involved with the 52nd Street Project, a non-profit group that brought members of New York's theatrical world together with children ages 8 though 18 from Hell's Kitchen. She began her long connection with the organization when she met founder Willie Reale in 1985, working on a production for Ensemble Studio Theater (also located on 52nd St). She became a member of its board of directors in 1992 and its chairwoman in 1997.


"I'm a character actress, plain and simple. Who can worry about a career? Have a life. Movie stars have careers – actors work, and then they don't work, and then they work again." – McDormand quoted in Movieline, April 1996


About getting cast by the Coens in "Blood Simple": "They told me later that I was the only actor who had read the scene in the way they had envisioned when they wrote it. After the audition, they asked me to come back later in the day, at four. But I had this friend who had got his first job on a soap opera and I was going to watch him at that time. They were both, like, 'Doesn't she realize that we want her to play Abby? What do you mean she's got to watch a soap opera? Well, can you come back at five?'" – McDormand quoted in Empire magazine, June 1996


"The only control I have is to choose to do the work I want to do, not to follow the Academy Award with something that's pre-described for someone who wins an Academy Award. There's always that sense of anticipation: What will she do next?" "I'm trying to use the clout in my way, not someone else's prescribed way. By saying I'm a character actor and that I play supporting roles in films, I'm not being self-deprecating. That's my agenda, because character actors work until they decide not to work. Leading women can work forever on stage, but they have peaks and valleys in film work. By saying this is what I am, I have control." – McDormand to The Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1998


About working with the Coens: "It's heaven. Their sets are a nice place to be. And their scripts are like plays. You don't mess with them and you don't paraphrase." – McDormand to The Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1998