Academy Award winning Actress Mary Steenburgen is a Hollywood veteran, having appeared in countless roles on the big and small screens. Her role in MELVIN AND HOWARD garnered her an Academy Award® for "Best Supporting Actress." She is also a Golden Globe Award nominee for her debut film performance in the Jack Nicholson-directed GOIN' SOUTH.
Steenburgen was most recently seen starring in the CBS Films comedy LAST VEGAS opposite Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro and Kevin Kline for director Jon Turteltaub.
In 2013, Steenburgen appeared in the hit NBC series 30 ROCK recurring as "Diana Jessup," the highly spirited mother of Avery (Elizabeth Banks). In her multi-episode role, Steenburgen's character continuously butts heads with Jack Donaghy, played by Alec Baldwin.
In 2011, Steenburgen appeared alongside her husband, TedDanson as "Josephine" in the last four episodes of the final season of the HBO series, BORED TO DEATH as well as guest starring on FX's acclaimed series WILFRED with Elijah Wood, a role that has continued through 2012 and 2013. Also in 2011, Steenburgen appeared in the critically-acclaimed ensemble cast of THE HELP. THE HELP won numerous accolades and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Steenburgen appeared in the film, DIRTY GIRL, co-starring opposite Juno Temple and William H. Macy. The drama focused on a notorious high school ramp who journeys from Oklahoma to California to find her father. The Weinstein Company purchased the film at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival where it premiered. Steenburgen also co-wrote "Rainbird", the featured song for the film with Melissa Manchester.
Steenburgen has continued to redefine herself through challenging roles in films such as PHILADELPHIA, PARENTHOOD and WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE. She's also shown her comedic talents in memorable roles in THE PROPOSAL, FOUR CHRISTMASES and STEPBROTHERS. All three films were released within a year's span of one another and grossed over $100 million each, domestically. Steenburgen has also appeared as herself alongside husband, Ted Danson, in the HBO comedy CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.
Throughout her longstanding career in Hollywood, Mary has also proven herself as a producer, she executive produced the TV series Ink; performer, she's a singer/songwriter for Universal Music Publishing Group, has written with acclaimed song writers Matraca Berg, Troy Verges, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna and recently co-wrote music for Grammy-Award winning country artist Tim McGraw; philanthropist, she founded Artists for a New South Africa with fellow actress Alfred Woodard and is an avid supporter of Heifer International, a global nonprofit that gives out gifts of livestock, seeds and trees and extensive training to those in need and Oceana, an International marine conservation and advocacy organization; and entrepreneur, she, along with her daughter Lilly McDowell, has created a beautiful, eco-friendly and socially conscious candle company called "Nell's Compass." Nell's Compass is sold at Mary's California boutiques "Rooms and Gardens" which showcases furniture, antiques and interior design. Mary's latest entrepreneurial venture is South on Main, an exciting restaurant partnership with Amy Kelley Bell, chef Matthew Belland the Oxford American, the Southern magazine of good writing, in Little Rock that serves Southern cuisine and also provides a performance space for musicians and artists.
Clara Clayton Brown
When Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale decided that Doc Brown would fall in love in "Back to the Future Part III," they both had in mind a single actress who truly embodied their vision of the character who could capture the heart of the enigmatic scientist. Happily, that actress was just as excited at the prospect of traveling back in time with the filmmakers.
"I loved being the new kid on the block," says Mary Steenburgen of becoming a member of the "Back to the Future" family.
"I have two children," explains the actress, "so as a result, we've watched 'Back to the Future' countless times on video. When I met with Bob and Bob, and they told me what they had planned for 'Part III,' and that it was a western, my eyes lit up."
Steenburgen relished the chance to participate in what is her second western. "The western is indigenous American storytelling. It's what we have that nobody else does. If you've never done one, you tend to take westerns for granted, but as an actor, if you know how infrequently in your career you're going to get the opportunity to be in one, you treasure those occasions."
Her first western was also her screen debut, "Goin' South," starring Jack Nicholson. Co-starring in the film was Christopher Lloyd, who spoke one of the first lines ever uttered on screen to Steenburgen. "Chris played a character named Towfield. In the film, when I spurn his advances and save Jack, who is a criminal about to be hung, Towfield says 'I've asked you out a thousand times, and all I got was the flap of your umbrella."' While on the set in Sonora, Steenburgen had a picture taken with Lloyd and sent it to Jack Nicholson, along with a note that read, "It took him 12 years, but Towfield finally got the girl!"
In addition to her previous experience in westerns, "Back to the Future Part III" is her second time travel movie, the first being "Time After Time," which found H.G. Wells, portrayed by Malcolm McDowell, traveling to modern day San Francisco, where he gets involved with a 1980's woman, portrayed by Steenburgen.
"Actually, I've played the same scene in that film and in 'Part III," she reveals. "I've had a man from a different time period tell me that he's in love with me, but he has to go back to his own time. My response in both cases is, of course, disbelief, and I order them out of my life. Afterwards, I find out I was wrong and that, in fact, the man is indeed from another time, and I go after him (them) to profess my love. It's a pretty strange feeling to find yourself doing the same scene, so many years apart, for the second time in your career."
Another facet of the script that initially intrigued the actress was the amount of action she would be required to be a part of. "I've never really done an action movie before. The films that I've done in the past have been more about people talking and confronting each other, than displays of real action. When I first read the script, I wondered not only how I was going to hang upside-down over the wheels of a speeding steam engine, but how I was going to live through it all."
Although Steenburgen was a novice at the physical action, she took to it with great aplomb, quickly mastering the skills required for the various stunts required of her, including extensive horseback riding, dancing and train-walking.
"Once we got into the action scenes, I had to be even more careful because I started to take the action for granted and was totally unafraid. I'd be standing on the train, casually talking to Chris as we moved backwards to do another take. Then I'd look down and remember that if I let go for a second, I'd be under the wheels of this enormous locomotive. For the last third of this film, I felt like a female Indiana Jones."
Steven Spielberg Presents A Robert Zemeckis Film. "Back to the Future Part III." Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson and Lea Thompson. Music by Alan Silvestri. Edited by Arthur Schmidt, Harry Keramidas. Production design by Rick Carter. Director of Photography, Dean Cundey, A.S.C. Executive Producers, Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy. Story by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale. Screenplay by Bob Gale. Produced by Bob Gale and Neil Canton. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. A Universal Picture.
as of April 24, 1990