There are some labels that can never be lived down; never truly overcome. For Parker Posey, that label is “Queen of the Indies” – a sobriquet for which the talented and beauteous brunette can thank both Time Magazine and the fact that she’s graced a very large number of independent films. In any case, there are worse things to be queen of.
Born in 1968, Parker Posey grew up mostly in Mississippi, where her mother was a gourmet chef and her father was the owner of an automotive dealership. When it was time for college, however, she left for the East Coast and State University of New York in Purchase (AKA “SUNY Purchase”). There, she was one of a number of young actors at the state school to have significant entertainment futures, some of whom she would later appear with, including Wesley Snipes (“Blade: Trinity”) and Stanley Tucci (“The Daytrippers”).
Parker’s first major gig out of college was a year-long role on the never-ending daytime soap, “As the World Turns.” After that came parts on the PBS miniseries “Tales of the City,” the SNL-derived “The Coneheads,” and Richard Linklater’s cult classic “Dazed and Confused.” That was followed by a number of parts in the burgeoning “American Independent” film scene of the early to mid-1990s, but it was the title role in 1995’s “Party Girl” that established her as a big name in the world of small movies. For a time, it seemed as if no indie film could be made if Parker wasn’t in it. Unlike her lead in “Party Girl,” however, they were mostly small but interesting character roles, usually with a comedic edge.
In 1996, she got to take that edge a bit farther with a turn as a Diary Queen employee turned would-be musical theater star in “Waiting for Guffman” – the first of a series of improv mockumentaries directed by Christopher Guest (“A Mighty Wind”), in which Parker would become a part of the writer/director’s regular stock company. Another career milestone was 1997’s theatrical adaptation, “The House of Yes,” which starred Parker as a young woman who thinks she’s Jackie Kennedy and has a closer-than-healthy relationship with her twin brother. A fraternal twin herself, the black comedy-drama earned some of Parker’s best reviews.
At some point, Time started counting and, before they stopped, she had made 32 independent features (she’s made several more since). Somewhere in there, she also managed to find time to date a few fellow celebrities of middling fame, including actor Stuart Townsend (“The Queen of the Damned”), writer Thomas Beller, and the somewhat more famous singer-songwriter Ryan Adams. (Parker and Adams broke up in 2005.) More recently, Parker has settled into a rhythm of sorts, mixing television and lower-budget films with several big budget films, including her turn as Kitty Kowalski, Lex Luthor’s softhearted moll, in “Superman Returns,” as well as the title role in “Fay Grim,” a not terribly well received spy comedy of sorts from quirkmeister Hal Hartley.
Though she’s funnier and prettier than many a superstar, it’s a question whether Parker Posey will ever really become a household name outside of Manhattan and West Los Angeles. We don’t care. She’s got a well-honed talent, scores of memorable appearances, and as much work as she’ll ever need ahead of her. It’s good to be the queen.
Parker on the Web
An online database of Parker’s career.
Photos, bio, and news, as well as Parker’s latest TV appearances
More about Parker.
Photos and links to Parker’s movies, plus more on her upcoming films and a detailed bio.
Fay Grim Interview
A short but pithy interview discussing her work with writer/directors Hal Hartley and Christopher Guest, as well as “Superman Returns.”
Parker on the Screen
We like Parker when she’s being extra-funny, and she really gets to show off her comedy and improv skills in the Christopher Guest films. Our particular favorite is her role as an ultra-neurotic, ultra-high strung dog fancier in “Best in Show.” Her search for her pet’s missing dog toy in the midst of preparations for the nation’s biggest dog show is a minor comedy classic. We also found her kind of moving in the sort of underrated “Superman Returns.” There’s something about a soft-hearted moll.
A shot at genuine TV stardom awaits Ms. Posey. She’ll be starring with Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) in “The Return of Jezebel James,” an upcoming Fox sitcom from acclaimed “Gilmore Girls” creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who’s trying something kind of different this time (the show will be shot three-camera style, in front of an audience). “Jezebel James” is currently scheduled as a late-season replacement in 2008. Also coming up for Parker is the film “Spring Breakdown,” a comedy in which she’ll be featured alongside SNL alums Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch.
On her soapy start:
“I like soap opera acting. If it's done really well, there's nothing better. It's old school. It's like what those melodramas in the '30s and '40s were like.”
On her big-budget parts:
"I'm the character actor in Hollywood movies, the girl who has to be annoying so the guy can go to the other girl."
On why it’s good, but not always great, to be the queen:
"Being an indie queen, people think I have all these choices. Like I've just been sitting around waiting for the best indie film that I deem acceptable. There are a lot of independent films I've wanted to do that I haven't been cast in."
On perhaps not being the queen:
“I wouldn't say I was a queen. Maybe a little elf.”