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Morris, was born on Janurary 28, 1969, in Dallas, Texas. She attended Attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a couple of years in the early 1990s. She is engaged to Randy Hamilton, a financial advisor.She is currently the leading star in CBS's "Cold Case". Kathryn Morris's feature film credits include "Paycheck," "Mindhunters," "Minority Report," "AI: Artificial Intelligence," "The Last Castle," "The Contender" and "As Good As It Gets."Her television credits include the mini-series "And Never Let Her Go" and "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," both on CBS, and the movies "Inherit the Wind," "Long Road Home" and "Rise and Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story." Morris has starred in numerous theatrical productions, including "Lovers and Other Strangers," "Waiting for Lefty," "The Murder Room," "The Fantasticks" and "Crimes of the Heart." She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Her favorite food is Ben and Jerry's Brownie ice cream sandwich, but you have to go to several 7-11 stores to seek it out -- they don't carry it at all of them. The sandwiches are "truly heaven."
She's not into participating in sports that much, but will watch Ice Skating -- finds that to be beautiful.
As far as hobbies go, she has lots of power tools that she likes to play with. She'll strip cabinets or do other things around the house. (She laid the linoleum in the kitchen at her house.) She likes to write, and try different arts and crafts type things.
She started performing around the age of 5; her family had a singing group that did a lot of traveling (very "Partridge Family" like) and this segued into theater for her. Ultimately, she decided to pursue acting professionally. Since she'd been on the stage since a kid, acting was a natural progression for her.
She's been acting professionally for about 7 years now; before that she did a lot of "free stuff," as well as waitressing and other things.
When she does have time to relax, she likes to go to the movies. She usually sees the independent features that don't spend much time at the theatres, but are usually the best films.
For a quick getaway, she'll go to San Fransisco -- just the "coolest town!" Loves to eat Chinese food at this little restaurant where you have to stand in line for 2 hours to get in, but it has the best food. Then on to Ghirardelli's for a big sundae.
Her first acting job was on an NBC movie, Long Road Home, which starred Mark Harmon. She portrayed a young girl who lost a child to diptheria in the Depression. Had a choppy haircut and was like doing The Grapes of Wrath on television. She considers it to have been an "awesome experience and a great way to break into the business."
If she couldn't be an actor, she'd definitely *not* be in a 9-5 type of job. She doesn't think her personality would mesh well with that. She'd probably be a filmmaker or writer. And if she was a filmmaker, and didn't know what she was doing, she'd try to hire a lot of great people, wear a baseball cap, and try to have a little authority.
Her favorite author is Tennessee Williams. An "incredible playwright -- timeless, dangerous, funny; incredible."
She grew up all over the United States -- primarily the South -- Texas -- even spent some time in Brooklyn -- lot of time in Connecticut.
Connecticut was very cold; she spent a lot of time shoveling driveways (only one boy in the family so they all had to help.) It was also an airport town -- nothing much to do, so she would spend time at McDonald's or driving around in her best friend's Nova listening to AC/DC and Rush and stuff like that.
Right now she really enjoys Alternative music because so many different kinds of musical styles are being incorporated into it. She thinks Radiohead is incredible, and really likes Sting because he tries to incorporate a lot of different stuff into his work. She also enjoys the classics, like the classic jazz tunes. Not a big fan of country, though.
If she could only take three things to a desert island, she'd take a TV, a satellite dish, and a man.
In Step With Kathryn Morris
In the fierce battle for ratings, CBS boasts that Cold Case, its new Sunday-evening cop drama, drew more viewers than Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I asked Kathryn Morris about her starring role as “Detective Lilly Rush.”
“She’s a very modern woman who’s capable of breaking down walls but remains very much a part of the team,” said Kathryn. “She can be feminine and powerful at the same time. She doesn’t have to work the system or pile on the lip gloss to get ahead. Yet she’s not perfect. There are difficulties in her relationships.”
The series itself is complex. Because flashbacks of years or even decades are integral to the plot, “we’re really doing two shows at once,” said Kathryn. One shows the original crime at the time; the other is contemporary, with Morris and her colleagues trying to solve the case and catch the perps. In the same one-hour drama, they use different actors to portray the same character at different ages and even use different film stocks.
Cold Case is shot in Manhattan Beach, Calif., but the stories are set in Philadelphia, where the exterior filming is done. Ms. Morris and her six siblings were brought up in Windsor Locks, Conn., but she attended a small college in the Philadelphia suburbs before transferring to Temple U. in the city itself. So she knows the Philadelphia area. “The city has embraced us—cast and crew,” Kathryn said. “It’s as if we were ‘neighborhood.’”
Her film Mindhunters, due out next month, is a thriller shot in part in Quantico, Va., where the Marines and FBI agents train. It involves eight FBI profilers who come to realize during their training that one of them is a serial killer. The cast is a powerful one, with Val Kilmer, LL Cool J and Christian Slater. Kathryn called the flick “my Sigourney Weaver Aliens movie. Very physically challenging.”
Not as challenging, perhaps, but very thrilling to her were two films she made for Steven Spielberg: A.I. and Minority Report. In the first, her footage as a rock star ended up on the cutting-room floor. “Minority Report [she played Tom Cruise’s wife] was so different,” said Kathryn. “Cruise is a pretty awesome guy. There’s no attitude. He’s a total professional in a movie star’s body.”
In the film Paycheck, Kathryn had a steamy love scene with Ben Affleck. I asked if that was during the Jennifer Lopez on-again, off-again craziness? “I dodged that bullet,” she said. “A couple of months later, all that came out. Thankfully, they couldn’t blame me.”
Kathryn Morris shares a house in the hills above L.A. with Randy Hamilton, a financial adviser. Not married yet? “No, but we’re engaged and trying to figure out when we can find time for a wedding,” said Kathryn. She hasn’t made any movie commitments for the TV hiatus because, she said, “I’ve been totally focused on getting Cold Case off the ground.” And she’s proud that, months ago, the show was picked up for a second season. Kathryn has a solid stage background in such plays as Clifford Odets’ classic Waiting for Lefty. She’s also done a lot of TV, ranging from a villainous sexpot on Xena, Warrior Princess to a Showtime version of Inherit the Wind with two of the greats—the late Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott. Kathryn is 5 feet 7 and said she “loves yoga, but I do a lot of walking and running in the hills” to keep in shape. You can blame her mom for the spelling of Kathryn: “She loved the slightly different way to spell it.”
Bonus Online Content
In this week’s “In Step With,” James Brady interviews actress Kathryn Morris, star of the CBS drama Cold Case. Morris has been lucky enough to work with director Steven Spielberg twice—first on 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence and then on Minority Report the following year. What was it like working with the legendary Spielberg?
“It was such an honor,” says Morris. And even though her part as a rock star in A.I. did not make the final cut, Morris says she still enjoyed the experience, reasoning that “I did get to play a rock star before 1000 people.” And how did Kathryn discover she was not in the film anymore? “I was already shooting Minority Report when Spielberg came up and told me my A.I. part had been cut,” she recalls.
Kathryn Morris: 'Cold Case' Is Red Hot
Going from the big screen to a weekly television drama isn’t the kind of leap most people think it is, says Kathryn Morris, who plays detective Lilly Rush on the CBS drama series "Cold Case.”
"Jerry ( creator Jerry Bruckheimer) makes movies every week," Morris said in an interview on The Early Show. "And I think that’s why he’s kind of made all of these great dramas on CBS, and they’re all very different. And CBS and Warner Bros. have really made it happen and let us do our thing. They trust me, trust our brilliant writers and just let us do what we do."
Lilly Rush is the lone female detective in the Philadelphia homicide squad who finds her niche when she's assigned to "cold cases" -- that is, old crimes that have never been solved. In her work, she interrogates witnesses of "yester-crimes." Over the years, the circumstances of their lives have changed. But, as Lilly and her team make use of new science, they are able to find fresh clues to close cases that were previously unsolvable.
Part of the job: being prepared to open up old wounds that may lead suspects to commit new crimes. As far as Lilly is concerned, her main mission is to make sure no victim is ever forgotten.
In the show, which is now in its second season, Morris plays Rush as a strong, independent single working woman, and she says the character has struck a chord with audiences.
"It has been an unexpected surprise to me," Morris says. "I knew the character was written as a strong and independent woman, but so many people have come up to me and said, 'You know, you remind me of someone I work with.' Or, 'You remind me of my wife,' 'You remind me of my mother, the way that she tries to juggle having a personal life and, you know, having a job and she’s not going to settle. She can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan and she’s not going to settle for an OK guy and wait for the right one.'"
Kathryn Morris plays Joan of Ark in ''Xena''
"They wanted a Joan of Arc kind of character," says Kathryn Morris of her audition for Najara in the Xena:Warrior Princess episode, Crusader.
"They said, 'We want a very thin, delicate-looking kind of woman that's just a little tweaked out, a little angry.'"
Morris didn't realise until she arrived in New Zealand that one aspect of her role was something that Xena's quest stars rarely get to do. When she was being fitted for her costume, everyone told her, "This is really a big deal! You get to kick Xena's butt!"
"I think that's why they wanted me to be very unassuming and seeming very gentle and small," she says, and recalls her reaction the first time she and Lucy Lawless stood face to face in full costume: "Wow! You're tall, girl!"
"I was scared about the fighting, because I am not a large person. She's taller than me and she's been doing it so long and she's an expert. I just decided that we've all seen somebody like the kid in school that everybody pushes around.... The small kid, if you get him too mad, he goes ballistic. I decided it was more of [Najara's] internal rage that would compensate. Plus, she's so religiously and fanatically got her agenda, that is what fuels the craziness."
Morris, who grew up in a family of musical performers, began to pursue acting when she was 13. Her first professional role in television was a small part in the 1991 telefilm 'Long Road Home.' The leads of the film, especially Mark Harmon, encouraged her to move to Los Angeles, where she found representation and began to work steadily. Since then she has worked with stars like Anne Bancroft, E. G. Marshall, and Jack Nicholson.
The highlight of her career so far has been her recent appearance in the Showtime remake of Inherit the Wind, in which she worked with screen legends Jack Lemmon and George C. Scott, as well as Piper Laurie, Beau Bridges, Lane Smith, and Tom Everett Scott.
"We got to rehearse together for a week... I had great scenes with all the 'big boys.' It was really something to have the opportunity." Morris was also delighted to work on Xena, and speaks with enthusiasm of the dedication of the cast and crew. "The way they shoot that show, it looks like a million dollars! And, they really try to do intelligent things with the way they write the scripts and... explore all kinds of different things about good and evil... I have a real respect for people that connect to doing something full out... I think that's why Xena is [a success]. If they have a deep and tender moment they say, 'This is a really deep and tender moment.' Or, 'This is a really funny, silly, ridiculous moment, so lets just go for it."'
Although she had some prior experience with action scenes, Morris insists that she is not athletic. For Crusader she had to learn four different fight sequences. "It was so tough... You've got to make it look natural. If I miss a step, I could hurt somebody.. I was using muscles that I'd never had to use in my life, like the muscles on the back of your arms for hacking somebody's head off!"
The fight on the vines in her second episode, The Convert, presented its own challenges. "Trying to swing in at the right angle and say your lines and kick the way you should kick... it's all very technical. It wasn't funny at the time, but when I was doing the vine fighting, I was so bad at it that... it just became a big comedy routine, me swinging back and forth like Tarzan... and eveybody's waiting and I'm just swinging back and forth going, 'oh, I missed it!' That was a really fun fight to do because it was so ugly and primal, I was grabbing her leg and putting blood on my face. It was just insane." Part of the challenge of creating Najara was to keep viewers guessing about whether she is good or evil. "I think she means well but she's human," says Morris. "Anybody that tries to be too perfect... is going to crack. [Najara] thinks, 'I have all this love to give, I will heal you... as long as you go along with my agenda."'
Morris and Renee O'Connor also worked together to create the dynamic between Gabrielle and Najara. "We wanted to make sure it was about the truth of what she's looking for and what I'm looking for in her. I'm trying to do this agenda on her... but there's something about her. I think [Najara] almost wants to take away her innocence and manipulate it for good or evil... Gabrielle is a disciple but an extra interesting possible disciple because she has such a hunger to know what's the right thing to do."
The end of The Convert left a possibility for Najara's return. Morris says she is open to the idea, but does not know what the producers have planned. Meanwhile her fans can look for her in the film, Deterrence, which was released this summer in the US, and she is also scheduled to play a role in the film 'The Contender' with Joan Allen, Gary Oldman and Jeff Bridges. For the future, she says she would like some day to play a role like the heroine of Sophie's Choice.
"I read for a lot of silly roles... that are 'the girl,' but I just try to make her more human and more of a woman. A lot of times they really appreciate that. They write this idea of a girl, and then you bring this woman in and they say, "Oh, it's so much more interesting that way.'You just come in and you do your take on it, and sometimes they appreciate it and sometimes they don't. I feel really fortunate that I'm able to be taken seriously for what I have to offer."
Kathryn Morris Likes To Be Busy
Q: I see during the last couple of years you've been quite busy, appearing in a number of things.
Kathryn Morris: Yes, I've been quite fortunate. I'm a very lucky girl -- have worked very hard to put myself in a position to be so lucky! [laughs]
Q: What do you think of genre television?
Morris: I think if there's a real commitment to the genre it's great. For example, Martin Scorcese has a particular theme that he investigates constantly, and he does it so well. I had a really great time on Poltergeist: The Legacy (TV, 1996) because you have to just go with it. With Xena, it's all fantasy, so that was a lot of fun.
Q: How did you come to play the part of Najara on Xena?
Morris: The casting director knew me from years past. I've been told several times I have a very "Joan of Arc" quality. They wanted the character to be strong but have a gentle appearance. I went and auditioned for it. I felt it was a fascinating character. She wasn't a yelling, screaming warrior, she was a zealot, and that was fascinating to me.
Q: R.J. Stewart wrote the script, and I know he tends to write very though-provoking characters. His dialogue and character motivations are often very detailed. What did you think of the character itself?
Morris: I thought it was very well developed. Najara was very motivated in her purpose for being a warrior, as Xena is motivated in hers. Najara was a very vulnerable villain. It made her have a lot more compassion for why she's so crazy. [laughs] It's really irritating to me to see a villain that's a caricature of a person. I feel that if a character is evil they're motivated by something much deeper, like a hurt or injustice they feel needs to be corrected. I thought that was really fascinating. Najara believes she has good intentions. Not everyone agrees with her and she just doesn't like that.
Q: ] She tends to go to extremes.
Morris: She probably needs a little medication. [both laugh]
Q: I understand there's a possibility Najara might come back.
Morris: I heard mumblings about that. They spend a lot of time developing these characters and it's so well done -- the costuming, the training. I was down there for three weeks just fighting and riding horses. I heard it might be a possibility. I think they worked very hard on that show. We'll see.
Q: What did you think of New Zealand in general? Not only is it a beautiful country but the people there work very hard and they're very skilled.
Morris: The New Zealanders are amazing people. I just love them. They're very kind. It's a young country, and they're very excited about their culture and the land. They have a real appreciation for what they have. The crew love being at work. A lot of American crews take things for granted. The best part is they have that afternoon tea.
Q: I noticed that! No matter what you're doing or how intense the scene, when it's three o'clock, it's break time.
Morris: [laughs] There's something very civilised about that. It's very refreshing. Here I'm often eating a Balance Bar or something in my car because there's no time to eat, but they stop for a snack in the afternoon. It's very civilised, I really like that.
Q: Lots of butter, too. You have to keep your exercise up to work on that set.
Morris: Fortunately I had about three or four fights with Xena, so that wasn't a problem. In fact I had a little tennis elbow when I was finished. When you swing that sword you can't do it in a pansy way, you really have to swing it.
Q: You seem very physically active in general. Did you do most of the action yourself?
Morris: There are some things I cannot do or wouldn't be safe. Backflips I don't know how to do, so the stunt people do that. They bring out the big girls for that, these women are like Olympians. I'm happy to delegate that, and I have a lot of respect for what they do. There are times when you're doing your own action scenes with stunt people and you might be tired and hit a little too hard and miss and hit a knee or something, but they take it all in stride. They're really amazing.
Q: Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor are the regulars on that set. Did you find you were able to work with them easily as well as make your character grow and come alive?
Morris: They were so generous and hospitable and respectful with what I had to bring to the table. It was very nice to be able to collaborate and ask about the dynamics between characters. How did they feel and what would they do? Lucy and Renee are true pros. It's so nice to be able to walk into a foreign country and into a situation that's been completely established for years. I've worked on sets where there's been a negative energy sent out by stars and I feel it's really important for the actors and producers and directors to set a tone that is positive and welcoming, because we all work really long hours. Lucy has that gift. That show runs very smoothly because of Lucy and Renee and all the producers. Their hospitality makes you want to work 12 or 14 hours a day. The show itself is a fun show.
Q: Were you familiar with the show at all before you went down there?
Morris: I don't watch much TV in general. When I went down there I did see some of it and I was impressed with the production values. They make the show look like a million dollars. The camera crew are top of the line. Many of them worked on features like Once Were Warriors (Lee Tamahori, 1994) and The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993), so you're dealing with people who really know their stuff and can't sleep at night being hacks. Some of those syndicated shows are really harsh. But Hercules and Xena put the money into it, and I think that's why a lot of people like it.
Q: It's also a popular show with a number of demographic groups. One of the things that come up in this show that you don't hear about in most other shows is the "subtextual" relationship, actual or perceived, between Xena and Gabrielle. Did you have any experience with that?
Morris: [laughs] I was definitely told about that in advance. I think people can watch shows such as Melrose Place and read into it whatever they want. Some people watch ER as if it's a life and death situation and their lives depend on it. Then again some people can watch both shows as a kooky soap opera. In the same way, I think Xena is much more an entertainment show and a genre show as opposed to something extremely serious. However people want to look at it is up to them. As far as my character and Xena and Gabrielle is concerned, whatever relationship there is between Xena and Gabrielle is pretty intense. Regarding my character and Gabrielle, I'm trying to get her to join my army. Najara is a zealot who's convinced she's got this purity and love and light going for her. It's kind of like a David Koresh or Jim Jones kind of thing. It's the "come to the light" theme that was important. I don't try to be creepy about it or put some lesbian innuendo in there. I just try to be true to the character. I did notice she had quite a few men in her army, no women, really. [both laugh]
Q: Is there any particular experience in your work on Xena that stands out for you?
Morris: Something I found very endearing was the horses used on the show. They're unbelievable. They're very intelligent, and I learned just how smart and intuitive they are. I was new to dealing with horses in an aggressive way. I've worked with horses a little bit, but these horses have been so well trained that they can sense your level of anxiety and tease you as well as take care of you. When you're riding you might get the sense they're thinking "You might think I'm not going to the mark but I'm going to hit it right on the dot!" One time one of the horses was a bit PMS. Gabrielle and I were walking by the lake and all of a sudden the horse just turned around and nipped me in the stomach. It didn't hurt or anything, but the trainer later said "I have to apologise for Panda's PMS." [both laugh] "She's a bit hormonal right now, she's in love with a donkey." Tilly, Xena's horse, definitely knows she's the star.
Q: What do you have for yourself coming up, acting-wise? What projects are you excited about for the near future?
Morris: I have a film I'm excited about coming up with Kevin Pollack and Timothy Hutton and Sean Astin called Deterrence (Rod Lurie, 1998). It's a fascinating film. It's about the possibility of the President dropping the bomb on Iraq. It's a small ensemble cast. We'll see what happens with it. And I'm always studying and trying to improve.
Q" ] And if your schedule permits and they wanted you to play Najara again you wouldn't say no?
Morris: New Zealand is pretty breathtaking and it's pretty fun wielding that sword, I must admit. [both laugh]
Morris reveals that "Cold Case" character won't be lilly-white
Kathryn Morris ("Cold Case") doesn't fit the usual L.A. actress stereotype as she made excuses to the Daily News for the extra makeup she donned for a series of early morning TV interviews.
Much of the personality of Detective Lilly Rush belongs to Morris or the people that in reality surround her. She wants to bring to the part the characteristics of single moms, working moms and mid-thirty women who made the decision not to settle for "some stupid guy". But in addition, to prepare for the part, Morris spent time with the Philadelphia homicide unit.
"I met one female detective in Philly - she worked with the special victims unit - and she's kind of a hot little number, but she's so good at her job," said Morris. "But I also kind of tried to base [the character] on the male detectives that I worked with [in Philadelphia]. I try to possess qualities that they have - this quiet integrity, and making things right in the world."
Morris states that during this season of Cold Case, fans will be able to peek further into the personal life of Lilly Rush and the flaws revealed will demonstrate the imperfection of the character.
"To me, those are the best moment," says Morris. "I'm always asking for more of that."
CBS series Cold Case starring Kathryn Morris will examine AIDS issues
The CBS drama series Cold Case will focus on AIDS and AIDS activist issues in its November 14 episode titled "It's Raining Men." The program, which focuses on unsolved murder cases, will look at the strangulation death of the partner of a gay man who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1983. The man's partner had been an early AIDS activist and a proponent of AIDS education in the gay community. CBS officials also say the network will air an AIDS awareness public-service announcement during the program that features series star Kathryn Morris and was written in part by renowned AIDS researcher David Ho, Time magazine's Man of the Year in 1996 for his work on antiretroviral drug cocktails. Cold Case will air at 8 P.M. Eastern and Pacific, 7 P.M. Central on Sunday, November 14.