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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 romantic comedy As Good As It Gets, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Some of her other Hollywoodmarker credits include Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want and Pay It Forward. She made her directorial debut in 2008 with Then She Found Me.

Early life

Hunt was born in Culver City, Californiamarker, the daughter of Jane Elizabeth (née Novis), a photographer, and Gordon Hunt, a film director and acting coach. Her uncle, Peter H. Hunt, is also a director, and her maternal grandmother, Dorothy Fries (née Anderson) was a voice coach. Hunt is of Jewish (from her paternal grandmother) and Methodist background. She spent part of her childhood in New York Citymarker and later attended the University of California at Los Angelesmarker.


Hunt began working in the 1970s as a child actress. 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, 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. She also appeared as a young woman who, while on PCP, jumps out of a second-story window in a 1982 after school special called Desperate Lives (a scene which she mocked during a Saturday Night Live monologue in 1994). In the mid-1980s, she had a recurring role on St. Elsewhere as Clancy Williams, girlfriend of Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison. She remains best known for one of her earliest roles as Jennie in Bill: On His Own, costarring Mickey Rooney.
In the 1990s, after the lead female role in the short-lived My Life and Times, Hunt became well-known to television audiences in Mad About You, winning Emmy Awards for her performance in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999.

In 1998 Hunt won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Carol Connelly, a waitress and single mother who finds herself falling in love with Melvin Udall, an obsessive-compulsive romance novelist played by Jack Nicholson in the movie As Good as It Gets. After winning the Academy Award she took time off from movie work to play Viola in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at Lincoln Centermarker in New York Citymarker.

In 2000, Hunt returned to the screen 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 Broadwaymarker in Yasmina Reza's Life x 3. Hunt was also a final candidate for the role of "Clarice Starling" in Hannibal, after Jodie Foster decided not to reprise her Oscar winning role from The Silence of the Lambs. However, Hunt lost the role to Julianne Moore at the last minute. In 2006, Hunt appeared in a small role in the film Bobby.

Hunt is a director, having helmed 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.

She currently owns a production company with Connie Tavel, Hunt/Tavel Productions under Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Personal life

Hunt dated actor Hank Azaria for five years, then was married to him from 1999 until 2000. She briefly dated fellow actor Kevin Spacey in 2000.She has been in a relationship with Matthew Carnahan since 2001 and they have a daughter, Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan, born in 2004.

Filmography and awards

Helen Hunt has been recognized extensively in her career. In 1998 she joined Liza Minnelli and Helen Mirren as the three actresses to win 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.


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Amy Prentiss Jill Prentiss
1975 The Swiss Family Robinson Helga
1982 It Takes Two Lisa Quinn
1977 The Fitzpatricks Kerry Gerardi
1978 The Bionic Woman Princess Aura
1984-1986 St. Elsewhere Clancy Williams
1991 My Life and Times Rebecca Miller
1992-1999 Mad About You Jamie Stemple Buchman Emmy Award - 7 nominations (1993-1999), 4 wins (1996-1999)

Golden Globe - 6 nominations (1993 - 1998), 3 wins (1994, 1995, 1997); Screen Actors Guild Award - 1995
2005 Empire Falls Janine Roby


Year Film Role Notes
1973 Pioneer Woman Sarah Sargeant Made for TV
1975 Death Scream Teila Rodriguez Made for TV
All Together Now Susan Lindsay Made for TV
1976 Having Babies Sharon McNamara Made for TV
1977 The Spell Kristina Matchett Made for TV
Rollercoaster Tracy Calder
1979 Transplant Janice Hurley Made for TV
1981 Child Bride of Short Creek Naomi Made for TV
CBS Afternoon Playhouse Phoebe I Think I'm Having a Baby
The Best Little Girl in the World Made for TV
Angel Dusted Lizzie Eaton Made for TV
The Miracle of Kathy Miller Kathy Miller Made for TV
1982 Desperate Lives Sandy Cameron Made for TV
1983 Bill: On His Own Jenny Wells Made for TV
Quarterback Princess Tami Maida Made for TV
Choices of the Heart Cathy Made for TV
1984 Sweet Revenge Debbie Markham Made for TV
1985 Trancers Leena
Waiting to Act Tracy
Girls Just Want to Have Fun Lynne Stone
1986 The Nativity Mary voice
Peggy Sue Got Married Beth Bodell
1987 Project X Teri
1988 Shooter Tracey Made for TV
Miles from Home Jennifer
Stealing Home Hope Wyatt (adult and pregnant)
The Frog Prince Princess Henrietta
1989 Incident at Dark River Jesse McCandless Made for TV
Next of Kin Jessie Gates
1991 Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story Pamela Smart Made for TV
Trancers II Lena Deth
Into the Badlands Blossom Made for TV
1992 The Waterdance Anna
Only You Clare Enfield
Mr. Saturday Night Annie Wells
Bob Roberts Rose Pondell
Trancers III Lena
1993 Sexual Healing Rene
In the Company of Darkness Gina Pulasky Made for TV
1995 Kiss of Death Bev Kilmartin
1996 Twister Dr. Jo Harding (Adult)
1997 As Good as It Gets Carol Connelly Academy Award for Best Actress; Golden Globe;

Screen Actors Guild Award
1998 Twelfth Night Made for TV
2000 Dr. T & the Women Bree
What Women Want Darcy McGuire
Pay It Forward Arlene McKinney
Cast Away Kelly Frears
2001 One Night at McCool's Truck driver scenes deleted
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion Betty Ann Fitzgerald
2005 A Good Woman Mrs. Erlynne
2006 Bobby Samantha Stevens
2007 Then She Found Me April Epner Also co-screenwriter, producer & director
2009 Every Day Jeannie (post-production)


  1. Helen Hunt genealogy.
  2. Helen Hunt biography. Film
  3. Helen Hunt Biography - Yahoo! Movies
  4. Helen Hunt's Monologue
  5. Helen Hunt: It's a Girl!, a May 2004 E! Online article ( )
  6. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

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