Linda Hunt
Hunt in 2015
Lydia Susanna Hunt

(1945-04-02) April 2, 1945 (age 79)[1]
EducationArt Institute of Chicago (BFA)
Years active1972–present
Height145 cm (4 ft 9 in)
Karen Kline
(m. 2008)
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress (1983)

Linda Hunt, born Lydia Susanna Hunt (April 2, 1945) is an American actress of stage and screen. She made her film debut playing Mrs. Oxheart in Popeye (1980). Her portrayal of the male character Billy Kwan in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first person to win an Oscar for portraying a character of the opposite sex. Hunt has also appeared in films such as Dune (1984), Silverado (1985), Kindergarten Cop (1990), Pocahontas (1995), Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), and Stranger Than Fiction (2006).

Hunt has had a successful career on television and in voice-over work, notably being the narrator for the Ancient Greek mythology themed God of War video game series. From 1997 to 2002, she played the recurring role of Judge Zoey Hiller on The Practice and played Commander Chennault on the sci-fi series Space Rangers. From 2009 to 2023, she portrayed Henrietta "Hetty" Lange on the CBS television series NCIS: Los Angeles, a role for which she has received two Teen Choice Awards.

Early life

Hunt was born on April 2, 1945, in Morristown, New Jersey.[1] Her father, Raymond Davy Hunt (1902–1985), was vice president of Harper Fuel Oil. Her mother, Elsie Doying Hunt (1903 – c. 1994), was a piano teacher who taught at the Westport School of Music, and performed with the Saugatuck Congregational Church Choir in Westport, Connecticut, the town where Hunt would be raised.[citation needed] She has one sibling, an older sister named Marcia (born 1940).[2] Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy[3] and graduated from the Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute of Chicago (now at DePaul University).[4][5][6]



Hunt was a well-known live-stage actress before she entered film and television.[citation needed] She made her Broadway debut in the 1975 revival of Ah, Wilderness.[7] She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her work in the 1984 play End of the World.[8] She also received two ensemble Obie Awards for her work Off-Broadway in Top Girls and A Metamorphosis in Miniature.[9][better source needed]

Hunt created the role of Aunt Dan in Wallace Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon.[citation needed] She was a member of the Long Wharf Theatre Company in Connecticut, where she performed the Player Queen in a production of Hamlet, amongst other roles.[citation needed] She portrayed Sister Aloysius in the Pasadena Playhouse production of John Patrick Shanley's play Doubt.[citation needed] Hunt was praised for her performance as the title character in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children.[10] She 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.[citation needed]

In an interview with writer Craig Gholson and actor Vincent Caristi, Hunt said: "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."[11]


Known for her small stature,[12][13] Hunt made her film debut in 1980 in Robert Altman's musical comedy Popeye.[14][15]

Two years later, Hunt 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 work in this film, 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.[16][17][18] In her screen test, Hunt wore a hairpiece, a fake moustache, and "paste-on pieces above her eyes to [appear] Asian."[19] To play the role, Hunt had her hair dyed and cut short, had her eyebrows shaved, wore padding and makeup, and wore something in her shirt pocket.[19][20] In her 1986 interview with the Bomb magazine, Hunt remarked that Billy Kwan "is supra-personal [with] layers of sexual ambiguity[.]"[11]

Hunt also played the Shadout Mapes in Dune (1984 film), a nurse in She-Devil (1989), the austere school principal Miss Schlowski opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop (1990), and assassin Ilsa Grunt in If Looks Could Kill (1991).[citation needed]


Hunt's television appearances include recurring roles as Judge Zoey Hiller on David E. Kelley's series The Practice[21] and as Dr. Claire Bryson on Without a Trace.[22][23] She has narrated several installments of The American Experience on PBS.[21][24][25][26]

From 2009 to 2023, Hunt co-starred as Operations Manager Henrietta "Hetty" Lange on the CBS television series NCIS: Los Angeles. Her co-stars on the series included Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Eric Christian Olsen, Miguel Ferrer and Barrett Foa.[27][28][29] Hunt was a main cast member on the series for twelve seasons, but was downgraded to a special guest star position in season thirteen as a safety precaution due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was suppose to return in the series finale, but was unable to due to availability issues. As a result, her return was condensed to a voiceover. Hunt won two Teen Choice Awards for her work on NCIS: Los Angeles.[30]

Voice work

Hunt is known for her husky voice.[13] She has narrated numerous documentaries, cartoons, and commercials. She is the on-air host for City Arts & Lectures, a radio program recorded by KQED public radio at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco.[31] Hunt voiced the role of Grandmother Willow in the animated musical film Pocahontas (1995)[17] and its direct-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998).[32]

Hunt narrated the National Geographic documentary The Great Indian Railway (1995).[33][34] In 1998, she narrated the Discovery Channel documentary "Titanic: Untold Stories." Hunt's voice work also includes the character of Management in Carnivàle (2003, 2005)[17][35] and the narrator for God of War video game series.[36] She narrated a PBS Nature special entitled Christmas in Yellowstone (2006).[37][38]

Personal life

Hunt has been in a relationship with psychotherapist Karen Kline[39] since 1978. The two were married in 2008.[40][41]

As a teenager, Hunt was diagnosed as having hypopituitary dwarfism. Hunt stands 4 feet 9 inches (145 cm) tall.[42]

Hunt is an ambassador for the Best Friends Animal Society.[43]

In July 2018, People magazine reported that she was involved in a multicar accident in Los Angeles. The accident resulted in Hunt taking most of a year off from NCIS: Los Angeles.[44]


Year Film Role Notes
1980 Popeye Mrs. Holly Oxheart
1982 The Year of Living Dangerously Billy Kwan Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Australian Film Institute Jury Prize (shared with Peter Weir)
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (tie with Mia Farrow for Zelig)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
1984 Dune Shadout Mapes
The Bostonians Dr. Charlotte Prance
1985 Eleni Katina
Silverado Stella
1987 Waiting for the Moon Alice B. Toklas
1989 She-Devil Hooper
1990 Kindergarten Cop Miss Ingrid Schlowski
Carmilla Narrator
1991 If Looks Could Kill Ilsa Grunt
1992 Rain Without Thunder Atwood Society Director
1993 Younger and Younger Frances
Twenty Bucks Angeline
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Regina Krumm National Board of Review Award for Best Acting Ensemble
1995 Pocahontas Grandmother Willow Voice
1996 Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End Herself Narrator (documentary)
1997 The Relic Dr. Ann Cuthbert
Amazon Narrator Voice
Eat Your Heart Out Kathryn
1998 Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World Grandmother Willow Voice
2002 Dragonfly Sister Madeline
2005 Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution' Narrator Voice
Yours, Mine & Ours Mrs. Edna Munion
The Great Transatlantic Cable Narrator
2006 Stranger Than Fiction Dr. Jill Mittag-Leffler
2007 The Singing Revolution Narrator
2017 The Relationtrip Dr. Lipschweiss
2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story Lady Proxima Voice

Video games

Television credits

Year Title Role Notes
1976 Great Performances Nora 1 episode
1978 Fame Mona
1987 American Playhouse Alice B Toklas 1 episode
Basements Rose Hudd Segment: "The Room"—director: Robert Altman
The Room Upstairs Mrs. Felicia Sanders TV movie
1993 Space Rangers Commander Chenault
1997–2002 The Practice Judge Zoey Hiller 24 episodes
1998–2006 The American Experience Narrator
2003 Before We Ruled the Earth Narrator
2003–2005 Carnivàle Management—voice 9 episodes
2006 Nature Narrator Episode: "Christmas in Yellowstone"
2007 The Unit Dr. Eudora Hobbs 2 episodes
2008 Without a Trace Dr. Claire Bryson 3 episodes
2009–2021, 2023 NCIS: Los Angeles Henrietta "Hetty" Lange Starring role
2011, 2012 Teen Choice Awards Herself Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Actress Action
2014 Scorpion Henrietta "Hetty" Lange Episode: "True Colors"


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Hamlet Player New York Shakespeare Festival
1975 Ah, Wilderness! Norah Broadway
1983 Little Victories N/A Off-Broadway
Top Girls Pope Joan / Louise
1984 End of the World Audrey Wood Broadway
1985 Aunt Dan and Lemon Aunt Dan The Public Theatre
1988 The Cherry Orchard Charlotta Brooklyn Academy of Music

Theme parks

Year Title Role Notes
1998 Fantasmic! Grandmother Willow[45] Voice

See also


  1. ^ a b c Bauer, Pat (March 29, 2022). "Linda Hunt". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  2. ^ "Family for Linda Hunt". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Hanson, Byron. "From the Archives with Byron Hanson: February 2010". Interlochen Center for the Arts. Archived from the original on June 2, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Lacob, Jace (September 26, 2011). "The Cult of Linda Hunt". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Theatre School: History". DePaul University. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Head-Hunting | News | The Harvard Crimson".
  7. ^ "Linda Hunt – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  8. ^ "Linda Hunt – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". Retrieved February 21, 2023.
  9. ^ "Linda Hunt – Broadway Cast & Staff".
  10. ^ Rich, Frank (January 29, 1984). "Theater: Mother Courage in Boston". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  11. ^ a b Hunt, Linda (Summer 1986). "BOMB Magazine — Linda Hunt by Craig Gholson". Bomb (Interview). Interviewed by Vincent Caristi and Craig Gholson. Archived from the original on October 17, 2013.
  12. ^ Stein, Megan (March 31, 2019). "'NCIS: LA' Star Linda Hunt Said She Was 'Teased a Lot' for Her Height Growing Up". Country Living.
  13. ^ a b "Exclusive: 'NCIS' spin-off adds Oscar winner Linda Hunt".
  14. ^ "Today's top celebrity birthdays list for April 2, 2019". cleveland. April 2, 2019.
  15. ^ "The year a woman won an Oscar for playing a male character". The Independent. February 15, 2019. Archived from the original on June 14, 2022.
  16. ^ "Linda Hunt hurt in Hollywood crash; 'NCIS' star won Oscar". July 3, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c Ngo, Sheiresa (April 21, 2019). "'NCIS: Los Angeles': Linda Hunt Net Worth and How She Makes Her Money".
  18. ^ Chung, Philip W (November 28, 2008). "The 25 Most Infamous Yellow Face Film Performances". AsianWeek. Archived from the original on March 15, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  19. ^ a b Unger, Bertil (January 15, 1986). "Size Is Small Problem for Hunt". New Straits Times.
  20. ^ Wadler, Joyce (February 18, 1983). "When Seeming is Believing" – via
  21. ^ a b "Linda Hunt of 'NCIS: Los Angeles'".
  22. ^ DeVault, Ryan (February 24, 2020). "Who plays Hetty on NCIS: L.A.? Linda Hunt returns!".
  23. ^ "Linda Hunt".
  24. ^ Boedeker, Hal (February 8, 1998). "HORROR IS REAL IN PBS' GRIPPING 'INFLUENZA 1918'".
  25. ^ "TV REVIEWS : 'Pancho Villa': The Real Hunt Continues". Los Angeles Times. November 3, 1993.
  26. ^ Wertheimer, Ron (November 11, 2002). "TELEVISION REVIEW; Remaining True to His Beliefs, Whatever the Consequences (Published 2002)". The New York Times.
  27. ^ "NCIS: LA: Granger's Gone, But Not Forgotten". Boone News-Republican.
  28. ^ Weiss, Joanna (September 22, 2009). "In sunny Los Angeles, 'NCIS' follows procedure". – via The Boston Globe.
  29. ^ Petski, Denise (September 10, 2020). "'NCIS: Los Angeles': Caleb Castille Upped To Series Regular For Season 12".
  30. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (November 19, 2018). "NCIS: LA: Where in the World Is Hetty? Linda Hunt Offers Health Update".
  31. ^ "City Arts & Lectures Has a New Home in San Francisco". 7x7 Bay Area. April 30, 2013.
  32. ^ Leydon, Joe (August 31, 1998). "Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World".
  33. ^ "National Geographic | TV Guide".
  34. ^ Goodman, Walter (May 17, 1995). "TELEVISION REVIEW; Seeing India Through a Train Window (Published 1995)". The New York Times.
  35. ^ "Carnivàle: "The Day That Was The Day"". TV Club. April 4, 2012.
  36. ^ "Rip Torn as Hephaestus in God of War 3". ScreenCrush. December 21, 2012.
  37. ^ "Christmas in Yellowstone". PBS Nature, WNET. WNET. November 29, 2010. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  38. ^ "'Christmas in Yellowstone' on PBS is a Friday TV pick | The Seattle Times". December 24, 2009.
  39. ^ "Linda Hunt Biography, Celebrity Facts and Awards". TV Guide. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  40. ^ Ocamb, Karen (August 10, 2008). "WeHo Marriages Go On". The BILERICO Project. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  41. ^ Keveney, Bill (November 15, 2010). "Linda Hunt: A 4-foot-9 force of nature on 'NCIS: LA'". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 23, 2023. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  42. ^ Buchalter, Gail. "There are Always Answers" Parade Magazine, 1991.
  43. ^ "Acclaimed Ambassadors – Linda Hunt". Best Friends Animal Society. Archived from the original on October 22, 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  44. ^ "Hetty Is Back! NCIS: Los Angeles Fan-Favorite Linda Hunt Returns After Recovering from Car Crash". PEOPLE. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  45. ^ "Pocahontas Animated StoryBook (Video Game)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved May 27, 2024.