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Canadian Film Encyclopedia

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Sheila McCarthy

(b. January 27, 1956 Toronto, Ontario)

This patrician beauty – whose plain but strikingly inquisitive features often find her typecast in film roles as awkward, bookish types – is one of Canada’s finest actors and most versatile performers. Trained as a dancer (she began singing and dancing on stage at age six), she studied with famed acting teacher Uta Hagen in New York City, won a Dora Mavor Moore Award and has more than fifty film and television credits to her name in addition to her vast and impressive CV on the stage.

She made her first notable impression on the Canadian movie scene as the hapless, quirky Polly in Patricia Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987), for which she won a Best Leading Actress Genie. When Rozema and McCarthy worked together again on White Room (1990), the response was less than favourable. However, little harm was done to McCarthy’s career, which has hummed along at a steady pace with varied roles in conventional Hollywood pictures – Die Hard 2 (1990), Paradise (1991), The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – and Canadian fare such as The Lotus Eaters (1992), for which she won her second Best Leading Actress Genie, and Rare Birds (2001). She also had a supporting part in the Liza Minnelli vehicle Stepping Out (1991), which she ranks as her most rewarding professional experience.

Her extensive list of television credits includes countless TV movies, including the NBC-TV mini-series A Woman of Independent Means (1995), co-starring Sally Field. She has appeared in a number of television series including “Road to Avonlea,” had a recurring role on “Picket Fences” and won her first of two Gemini Awards for “Emily of New Moon” in 1998. A prominent leading lady at the Stratford Festival, she has starred in such productions as Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, The Threepenny Opera, The Scarlet Pimpernel, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Cabaret. She has also starred in Toronto stage productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Peter Pan and has worked with Robin Phillips at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.

McCarthy also tried her hand at writing and producing with the whimsical TV movie Virtual Mom (2000). She lives with her husband, actor Peter Donaldson, and their two children on a farm near Stratford, Ontario.

Film and video work includes

Today's Special series, 1983 (actor; TV, one episode)
Love & Larceny, 1985 (actor; TV)
Passion: A Letter in 16mm, 1985 (actor) 9B,
1986 (actor; TV)
Much Ado About Nothing, 1987 (actor; TV)
A Nest of Singing Birds, 1987 (actor)
Really Weird Tales, 1987 (actor; TV)
Alfred Hitchcock Presents series, 1989 (actor; TV, one episode)
Beethoven Lives Upstairs, 1989 (actor; TV)
Friends, Lovers & Lunatics, a.k.a. She Drives Me Crazy, 1989 (actor)
George's Island, 1989 (actor)
Tucker and the Horse Thief, 1989 (actor; TV)
Back to the Beanstalk, 1990 (actor; TV)
Beautiful Dreamers, 1990 (actor)
Bright Angel, 1990 (actor)
Die Hard 2, a.k.a. Die Hard 2: Die Harder, 1990 (actor)
E.N.G. series, 1990 (actor; TV, one episode)
Labor of Love, 1985 (actor; TV)
Pacific Heights, 1990 (actor)
White Room, 1990 (actor)
Paradise, 1991 (actor)
Stepping Out, 1991 (actor)
A Private Matter, a.k.a. Miss Sherri, 1992 (actor; TV)
The Ray Bradbury Theatre series, 1992 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Lotus Eaters, 1993 (actor)
Free Willy series, 1994 (actor; TV)
Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills, 1994 (actor; TV)
The Awakening, a.k.a. Harlequin's 'The Awakening,' 1995 (actor; TV)
Picket Fences series, 1995 (actor; TV, two episodes)
The Possession of Michael D., a.k.a. Legacy of Evil, 1995 (actor; TV)
A Woman of Independent Means series, 1995 (actor; TV)
The Care and Handling of Roses, 1996 (actor; TV)
House Arrest, 1996 (actor)
The Marriage Bed, 1996 (actor; TV)
Picket Fences series, 1996 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Road to Avonlea, 1996 (actor; TV, one episode)
Shadow Zone: My Teacher Ate My Homework, 1997 (actor)
Bad Dog series, 1998 (voice; TV)
Dead Husbands, a.k.a. Last Man on the List, 1998 (actor; TV)
Emily of New Moon series, 1998 (actor; TV)
More Tales of the City series, Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City, 1998 (actor; TV)
Mythic Warriors: Guardians of the Legend series, 1999 (voice; TV, one episode)
Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke series, 1999 (actor; TV)
You Know My Name, a.k.a. Bill Tilghman, 1999 (actor; TV)
Custody of the Heart, 2000 (actor; TV)
Made in Canada series, 2000 (actor; TV, one episode)
Marvin the Tap-Dancing Horse series, 2000 (voice; TV)
Virtual Mom, 2000 (co-writer with Brendan Howley, Alyse Rosenberg; co-executive producer with Paul Brown; actor; TV)
The Endless Grind series, 2001 (actor; TV)
Haven, 2001 (actor; TV)
Rare Birds, 2001 (actor; TV)
Royal Canadian Air Farce, 2001 (actor; TV, three episodes)
Super Rupert series, 2001 (actor; TV)
I Was a Rat series, 2001 (actor; TV)
Duct Tape Forever, a.k.a. Red Green's Duct Tape Forever, 2002 (actor, uncredited)
Lathe of Heaven, 2002 (actor; TV)
The Rats, 2002 (actor; TV)
Full Court Miracle, 2003 (actor; TV)
Bailey's Billion$, 2004 (actor)
Being Julia, 2004 (actor)
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, 2004 (actor)
The Day After Tomorrow, 2004 (actor; TV)
Geraldine's Fortune, 2004 (actor)
The Shields Stories series, 2004 (actor; TV, one episode)
Puppets Who Kill, 2005 (actor; TV, one episode)
This is Wonderland series, 2005 (actor; TV, one episode)