Elizabeth Marvel is a famous American stage, film, and television actress. She started working professionally as an actress in off-Broadway plays in the 1990’s. Following her stint on stage, she went on to play powerful female roles as a detective, a lawyer, and as president. Notably, she played Solicitor-General Heather Dunbar in the TV series “House of Cards”, and appeared in a 2008 film by the Coen brothers, entitled “Burn After Reading” as well as in many other films.
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Early Life and Education
Born on 27 November 1969 in Orange County in the sunny state of California, Elizabeth Allen, however, was raised in Mohnton, Pennsylvania.
Actress Elizabeth Marvel attends the portrait unveiling and season 4 premiere in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images For Netflix)
She was a Deadhead high-school kid who went to explore London, where she saw a lot of theater. One afternoon, having nothing to do and with a cheap ticket in hand, she went to a play, “A Touch of the Poet”. Elizabeth sat in the fifth row, mesmerized by this Eugene O’Neill play, but more so because of Vanessa Redgrave’s portrayal. It was a revelation to her. From then on, she got her professional job as a stage actress, acting alongside Garland Wright. Michael Langham, and other artists at the Stratford Festival. She underwent training in the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Julliard School.
It was at Canada’s Stratford Festival in 1992 when Elizabeth appeared as Isabella. The play was ‘Measure for Measure’. To boot, she has won four Obie awards for professional stage-play acting. First, in 1998 for her part as a performer in “Therese Raquin” and “Misalliance”. Also, in 2000 for her portrayal of Blanche Dubois in Tennessee William’s play, “A Streetcar Named Desire” and more recently in 2005 in “Hedda Gabler”. Last in 2009, she was recognized for her remarkable performance in “Fifty Words” as Jan, and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
Starting early in 2000 and through 2004, she played Nancy Parras in the series “The District” over four seasons and 88 episodes. She continued her television appearances either as a guest or in recurrent roles, notably in “Lights Out”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “30 Rock”, “The Good Wife”, and others.
Directed by the Coen brothers, Elizabeth appeared as Sandy Pfarrer in the film “Burn After Reading” in 2008, and then as Matthie Ross in “True Grit” in 2010. Her other notable film works have been in “The Bourne Legacy” as Dr. Connie Dowd, as Mrs Jolly in “Lincoln” and in “Hyde Park on Hudson” as Missy.
Alongside John Benjamin Hickey, Elizabeth was cast in the family drama “Blink” as the female lead role, Helen Trask. Recently, she portrayed Heather Dunbar in Netflix’s political drama, “House of Cards’ (2014-18). For the sixth and seventh seasons of “Homeland” since 2017, she is cast as President Elizabeth Keane. In an interview, she was placed in the league of Viola Davis and Allison Janney, just to name a few. Marvel is proud to be labeled as a character actress, saying she did not have to worry about the issue of age and weight, which most public personas have to deal with the entire time.
Measure for Measure, Burn After Reading, and House of Cards
Elizabeth Marvel’s first professional acting job was playing Isabella, in “Measure for Measure”, the comedy play by William Shakespeare. She became an understudy, “Masha”, in the Lyceum Theatre for her debut Broadway appearance in the play “The Seagull”. She played Duchesse de la Tremoulle in the 1993 play “Saint Joan”, Brook Wyeth in 2013 in “Other Desert Cities”, and as Goneril in “King Lear” in 2019 at the Cort Theatre. Joel and Ethane Coen wrote and directed the 2008 film, “Burn After Reading”. Elizabeth played the character Sandy Pfarrer in this black comedy crime film.
Though the film was met with mixed critical reception, it garnered nominations in the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globes. Other famous actors in the film were George Clooney, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and Brad Pitt. Based on a novel by Michael Dobbs, and created for television web Netflix by Beau Willimon, “House of Cards” is an American political thriller that was adapted from a 1990 miniseries of the same title. In this series, Marvel played Heather Dunbar, a lawyer and Solicitor-General of the US, who is pitted against main character Frank Underwood played by Kevin Spacey, who became the 46th President of the United States in seasons three to five.
“House of Cards’” first 13-episode season first streamed on 1 February 2013. The series received positive reviews and garnered several award nominations.
Elizabeth Marvel has appeared in about nine stage plays and more than 20 television shows and films. Her net worth is estimated at over $1 million as of early 2020. She has been married since September 2004 to William ‘Bill’ Camp, an actor noted for playing supporting roles in the 2012 film “Lincoln” and 2013 film “12 Years a Slave”. They have one son, Silas Camp.
Physical Features and Style
Elizabeth Marvel is considered a character actress more than as a public persona. Standing at a little over 5ft 6ins tall, she is noted for playing strong, independent female lead roles. She has piercing brown eyes with a serious gaze, projecting a no-nonsense attitude. She has long, brown hair. She has a well-chiselled face and a firmly set jaw. These features together with a strong presence have clinched for her the tough lawyer and intelligent president persona. Gray skirts, navy suits, and white collared blouses or corporate attire suit her female lead roles very well, but out and about she wears soft pastels to dark bright colors.