A graduate of the prestigious Yale School of Drama, Patricia Clarkson first fell in love with acting as a teenager in her native New Orleans and honed her skills at Yale and later on the New York stage, where she appeared in acclaimed productions of Eastern Standard, The Maiden's Prayer and House of Blue Leaves. Hollywood called during the Blue Leaves run at Lincoln Center, and Clarkson left the show to make her film debut in Brian DePalma's 1987 gangster flick The Untouchables, as the dedicated wife of G-Man Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner). She followed that high-profile gig with memorable supporting roles in Rocket Gibraltar, Everybody's All-American and the final Dirty Harry film, The Dead Pool. But big-time success eluded her. During the early and mid 1990s, the actress continued to show her versatility, mostly on television with appearances in made-for-TV movies (The Old Man and the Sea, An American Story), series (Davis Rules, Murder One) and the popular Alex Haley miniseries Queen. But Clarkson became the darling of the indie world with her stunning turn as a German lesbian drug addict in 1998's High Art. The critically lauded film ignited Clarkson's movie career on the festival circuit, if not in Hollywood, as she continued to amaze audiences with one breathless performance after another, including a judgmental '50s housewife in Far from Heaven, a grieving mother in The Station Agent, and a cancer-stricken parent in Pieces of April. Her spot-on performance in the latter earned the Louisiana native her first Golden Globe and Oscar nods. She also was nominated for---and won---a pair of Emmys for guest appearances on the HBO hit series Six Feet Under. Clarkson returned to the stage in 2004 as Blanche DuBois in a stellar Washington, D.C., production of A Streetcar Named Desire. She has continued to wow movie lovers with finely etched portraits in such diverse films as The Dying Gaul, with then-boyfriend Campbell Scott; Good Night, and Good Luck; Lars and the Real Girl; and Married Life. And A-list directors have taken notice of Clarkson's unique gifts. Woody Allen hired her for his back-to-back films Vicky Christina Barcelona and Whatever Works, and Martin Scorsese tapped her for a pivotal part in Shutter Island.
- At 13, was told by a teacher in speech class that she was an actress and should join the drama club, which she did.
- Pursued acting at Yale School of Drama and subsequently launched a career on stage in New York.
- Film debut was as Kevin Costner's wife in The Untouchables.
- Won the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival for her work in three films: The Station Agent, Pieces of April and All the Real Girls.
- Her mother, Jacquelyn Clarkson, was a prominent member of the New Orleans City Council.
- Has four older sisters.
- 2003, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- 2004, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2002, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Winner
- 2003, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- 2003, Sundance Film Festival — Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance (Dramatic): Winner
- 2003, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2003, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee
- 1999, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 2006, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Acting Ensemble: Nominee
- 2004, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Female: Nominee
- 2015, Tony — Actress (Featured Role--Play): Nominee
- 2004, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Supporting Actress: Nominee
- 1999, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Supporting Female: Nominee
- 2006, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series: Winner
- 2005, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- Kevi Sanders — Sister
- Jacquelyn Rutgers Clarkson — Sister
- Jacquelyn Clarkson — Mother
- Buzz Clarkson — Father
- Campbell Scott — Ex-significant Other
- Diane Hastings — Sister
- Cindy Alsfeld — Sister
- Fordham University, New York, New York, United States (BA, 1982); Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States (MFA, 1985); attended Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States