Linda Hunt
Name at BirthLydia Susanna Hunter
BornApril 2, 1945
BirthplaceMorristown, New Jersey, U.S.
SpouseKaren Klein (m. 2008)[1]

Lydia Susanna Hunter (born April 2, 1945), better known by her stage name Linda Hunt, is an American film, stage and television actress known for her role as Henrietta Lange in the CBS series NCIS: Los Angeles. After making her film debut playing Mrs. Oxheart in Popeye (1980), Hunt portrayed the male character Billy Kwan, her breakthrough performance, in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).[2] Her role as Billy Kwan earned her an Academy Award, an Australian Film Institute Award, a Golden Globe nomination and various other awards.[3]

She has had great success in films such as The Bostonians (1984), Dune (1984), Silverado (1985), Eleni (1985), Waiting for the Moon (1987), She-Devil (1989), Kindergarten Cop (1990), If Looks Could Kill (1991), Rain Without Thunder (1992), Twenty Bucks (1993), Younger and Younger (1993), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Relic (1997), Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), Dragonfly (2002), Yours Mine and Ours (2005) and Stranger Than Fiction (2006).[2]

Hunt has also had a successful television career. She played Rose in the television movie Basements (1987) and narrated in the television movie The New Chimpanzees. She guest starred on Hallmark Hall of Fame in both 1978 and 1987, Space Rangers in 1993, Carnivale in both 2003 and 2005, Without a Trace in 2008, The Unit in 2008 and Nip Tuck in 2009. From 1997 to 2002, Hunt played the recurring role of Judge Zoey Hiller on The Practice.[2] She currently plays Henrietta 'Hetty' Lange on the CBS television series NCIS Los Angeles, a role she has played since its debut in 2009.[2] The role earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination in 2011.[3] She is also the narrator in the God of War video game franchise.[2]

Early life

Hunt was born in Morristown, New Jersey,[4] and raised in Westport, Connecticut. She is one of the two daughters of Raymond Davy Hunter, vice president of Harper Fuel Oil on Long Island, and Elsie Doying Hunter, a piano teacher who taught at the Westport School of Music and accompanied the Saugatuck Congregational Church choir.[5] Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy[6] and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now part of DePaul University).[7][8]



Hunt's film debut in 1980 was in Robert Altman's musical comedy Popeye. Two years later, she co-starred as Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously, Peter Weir's film adaptation of the novel of the same name. For her role as the male Chinese-Australian photographer Billy Kwan, Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983, becoming the first person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex.[9] In addition, the character was Asian and had the condition of dwarfism.[10] In her screen test, Hunt wore a hairpiece, a fake mustache, and "paste-on pieces above her eyes to appear Oriental". To accomplish the role during production, Hunt shortened "her hair and dyed it black, wore padding around her waist, shaved her eyebrows, and carried something in her shirt pocket."[11] In her 1986 interview with the Bomb magazine, Hunt remarked that Billy Kwan "is supra-personal with layers of sexual ambiguity."[12]

Hunt also played the school principal in Kindergarten Cop in 1990.


Also a well known stage actress, Hunt has received two Obie awards and a Tony Award nomination for her theater work. She created the role of Aunt Dan in Wallace Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon. She portrayed Sister Aloysius in the Pasadena Playhouse production of John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt. She was praised for her performance as the title character in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children.[13] Hunt also appeared as Pope Joan in Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls" when London's Royal Court Theatre's production was staged at the Public Theater in New York. In an interview with writer Craig Gholson and actor Vincent Caristi, Hunt discusses her experience acting in theater, “Acting onstage is like an explosion each night. And what comes in at you all the time as you are trying to . . . create something which is a tremendous act of organization and concentration.”.[12]


Her television appearances include recurring roles as Judge Zoey Hiller on David E. Kelley's series The Practice and as Dr. Claire Bryson on Without a Trace. She has narrated several installments of The American Experience on PBS. She now plays the role of an operations manager and supervisor on the CBS fall show NCIS: Los Angeles with Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen and Barrett Foa.

Voice work

Hunt has a rich, resonant voice, which she has used in numerous documentaries, cartoons, and commercials. She is the on-air host for City Arts & Lectures, a radio program recorded by KQED-FM public radio at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco.[14] Hunt interviews celebrated writers, artists and thinkers addressing contemporary ideas and values, often discussing the creative process. Hunt was chosen by Walt Disney Feature Animation to lend her enigmatic speaking and singing voice to Grandmother Willow in the animated musical film Pocahontas and its direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World.

Her voice work includes also the character of "Management" in Carnivàle, and the titan Gaia, who serves as the Narrator in the God of War series of video games. She narrated the introductory film at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and has also been heard in various commercials of the late 1990s for Tylenol.

Hunt narrated the PBS Nature special entitled "Christmas in Yellowstone."[15] She also narrated the acclaimed National Geographic documentary The Great Indian Railway.

Personal life

Hunt is 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 m) tall. In high school, she was diagnosed as having hypopituitary dwarfism.[16] She does not have Turner Syndrome as some blogs have stated.

Hunt is gay, and since 1987 has lived in Los Angeles with her wife Karen Klein, whom she married in 2008.[1][17][18][19] Hunt is an ambassador for the Best Friends Animal Society.[20]

There is no connection between Hunt and two other famous women who share her SAG-registered last name, Oscar winner Helen Hunt and actress-director Bonnie Hunt. Bonnie has joked that people come up to her asking for autographs, mistaking her for Helen, and she then confuses them even more by signing as Linda.[21]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Linda Hunt. Fatctoidz. Retrieved on November 2, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Linda Hunt. IMDb. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "IMDb" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 Linda Hunt – Awards. IMDb.
  4. Linda Hunt. Archived from the original on September 3, 2012. Retrieved on December 12, 2010.
  5. Linda Hunt Biography.
  6. Hanson, Byron. From the Archives with Byron Hanson: February 2010. Interlochen Center for the Arts.
  7. Lacob, Jace (September 26, 2011). The Cult of Linda Hunt. The Daily Beast.
  8. The Theatre School: History. DePaul University.
  9. "Oscar trivia". 
  10. Chung, Philip W (November 28, 2008). The 25 Most Infamous Yellow Face Film Performances. AsianWeek.
  11. Unger, Bertil. "Size Is Small Problem for Hunt", New Straits Times, January 15, 1986. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Template:Cite interview
  13. Rich, Frank (January 29, 1984). Theater: Mother Courage in Boston. The New York Times.
  14. Nourse Theater
  15. Internet Movie Database. "Nature" Christmas in Yellowstone (2006).
  16. Buchalter,Gail. "There are Always Answers" Parade Magazine, 1991,6938803
  17. Ocamb, Karen (August 10, 2008). WeHo Marriages Go On. The BILERICO Project.
  18. Linda Hunt – Biography. IMDb.
  19. Keveney, Bill. "Linda Hunt: A 4-foot-9 force of nature on 'NCIS: LA'". Retrieved on 17 June 2013. 
  20. Acclaimed Ambassadors – Linda Hunt. Best Friends Animal Society.
  21. Pearlman, Cindy. "In the Hunt – Bonnie makes own name with gentle sense of humor", 8 December 1996. Retrieved on 25 October 2012. 

External links

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