Mercedes Ruehl, who won an Academy Award®, as well as a Golden Globe®, L.A. Film Critics, and Venice Film Festival’s Passinetti awards for best actress in Terry Gilliam’s film “The Fisher King,” began her career in regional theatre. After studying with Uta Hagen in New York, she developed her craft performing the classics from Euripides through Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw and Moliere in major theaters throughout the country, from D.C. to Denver.
Once back in New York, Ruehl began performing at the Public Theatre, in new plays including Albert Innaurato’s Coming of Age in Soho, Christopher Durang’s The Marriage of Bette and Boo, for which she won an Obie and Len Jenkins’s American Notes. She created the role of Kate in Other People’s Money off-Broadway, winning the Clarence Derwent Award and went on to star off and on Broadway with Judd Hirsch and Cleavon Little in Herb Gardner’s I’m Not Rappaport.
By the mid-eighties Ruehl’s film career got under way in “Big,” “Married to the Mob,” “Heartburn,” “Funny People,” “Last Action Hero” and “Another You.” She returned to Broadway to create the role of Bella in Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, for which she won a Tony®, Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk and Helen Hays Award, reprising the role in the film opposite Richard Dreyfuss. Other films of this period include the television films “Indictment” for HBO, “North Shore Fish” for Showtime, “Guilt by Association” for Court TV, “A Girl Like Me” for Lifetime and “Gia,” again for HBO and independent films “Amati Girls,” “What’s Cooking” and “Minus Man.”
In the late nineties Ruehl performed in the Circle In the Square’s productions of Shadowbox by Michel Christopher - for which she received a Tony nomination and Tennessee William’s Rose Tattoo. Shortly afterwards she returned to her regional roots to star in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf opposite Patrick Stewart at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Back on Broadway she starred in Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia? for which she won a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination. Off-Broadway, she created the role of Peggy Guggenheim, winning a second Obie Award in Woman Before a Glass. More recently she created the role of Louise Nevelson in Edward Albee’s Occupant at the Signature Theatre and starred in Richard Greenberg’s The American Plan for The Manhattan Theatre Club, as well as in a revival of Neil Simon’s Prisoner of Second Avenue, opposite Jeff Goldblum, at London’s Old Vic Theatre.
Ruehl has created memorable roles for the television series “Frasier,” “Luck,” “Entourage,” “Law & Order” and “Monday Mornings.” Most recently, she has been cast as a series regular alongside Carla Gugino, Steve Coogan, Kacey Rohl and Greg Grunberg in “Doubt,” David Shore’s new pilot for ABC.