Lydia Susanna Hunter (born April 2, 1945), better known by her stage name Linda Hunt, is an American film, stage and television actress best known for her role as Henrietta Lange in the CBS series, NCIS: Los Angeles.
After making her film debut playing Mrs. Oxheart in Popeye (1980), Hunt portrayed Billy Kwan, her breakthrough performance, in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). Her role as Billy Kwan earned her an Academy Award, an Australian Film Institute Award, a Golden Globe nomination and various other awards.
She continued success in films such as The Bostonians (1984), Dune (1984), Silverado (1985), Eleni (1985), Waiting for the Moon (1987), She-Devil (1989), Kindergarten Cop (1990), If Looks Could Kill (1991), Rain Without Thunder (1992), Twenty Bucks (1993), Younger and Younger (1993), Prêt-à-Porter (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Relic (1997), Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998), Dragonfly (2002), Yours Mine and Ours (2005) and Stranger Than Fiction (2006).
Hunt has also had a successful television career. She played Rose in the television movie Basements (1987) and narrated in the television movie The New Chimpanzees. She guest starred on Hallmark Hall of Fame in both 1978 and 1987, Space Rangers in 1993, Carnivale in both 2003 and 2005, Without a Trace in 2008, The Unit in 2008 and Nip Tuck in 2009. From 1997-2002 Hunt played the recurring role of Judge Zoey Hiller on The Practice.
She currently plays Henrietta 'Hetty' Lange on the CBS television series NCIS Los Angeles, a role she has played since its debut in 2009. The role earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination in 2011. She is also the narrator in the God Of War video game franchise.
Linda Hunt was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and raised in Westport, Connecticut. She is one of the two daughters of Raymond Davy Hunt, vice president of Harper Fuel Oil on Long Island, and Elsie Doying Hunt, a piano teacher who taught at the Westport School of Music and accompanied the Saugatuck Congregational Church choir. Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago (now part of DePaul University).
Hunt's film debut in 1980 was in Robert Altman's musical comedy Popeye. Two years later, she 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 role as the male Chinese-Australian photographer Billy Kwan, 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. In addition, the character was Asian and had the condition of dwarfism. She also played the school principal in Kindergarten Cop in 1990.
Also a well known stage actress, Hunt has received two Obie awards and a Tony Award nomination for her theatre work.She created the role of Aunt Dan in Wallace Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon. She portrayed Sister Aloysius in the Pasadena Playhouse production of John Patrick Shanley's Tony Award-winning play Doubt. She was praised for her performance as the title character in Bertoldt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children.
Hunt also appeared as Pope Joan in Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls" when London's Royal Court Theatre's production was staged at the Public Theatre in New York.
Her television appearances include recurring roles as Judge Zoey Hiller on David E. Kelley's series The Practice and as Dr. Claire Bryson on Without a Trace. She has narrated several installments of The American Experience on PBS.
She now plays the role of an operations manager and supervisor, Henrietta "Hetty" Lange on the CBS fall show NCIS: Los Angeles with Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J and Daniela Ruah.
Hunt is distinguished by her small stature—she is 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 m) tall—and by her rich, resonant voice, which she has used in numerous documentaries, cartoons, and commercials. She is the on-air host for City Arts & Lectures, a radio program recorded by KQED public radio. Hunt was chosen by Walt Disney Feature Animation to lend her enigmatic speaking and singing voice to Grandmother Willow in the film Pocahontas.
Her voice work includes also the character of "Management" in Carnivàle, and the titan Gaia, who serves as the Narrator in the God of War series of video games. She narrated the introductory film at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and has also been heard in various commercials of the late 1990s for Tylenol.[
Hunt narrated the PBS Nature special entitled "Christmas in Yellowstone." Linda Hunt also narrated the much acclaimed National Geographic's documentary `The Great Indian Railway'.
Hunt is openly lesbian, and since 1987, has lived with her spouse Karen Klein, in Los Angeles. Hunt is an ambassador for the Best Friends Animal Society.