Deborah Kara Unger

Active - 1984 - Present  |   Born - Jan 1, 1966 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Bearing talent and cool, sophisticated beauty in equal measure, Deborah Kara Unger is one of Canada's most visible actresses. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, where she was born in 1966, Unger first distinguished herself as the first Canadian-born actress to be accepted to the prestigious Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art. While in Australia, she made her professional debut on the television miniseries Bangkok Hilton (1989), in which she co-starred with Nicole Kidman and Denholm Elliott.

On the screen, Unger, who had been appearing in films since 1990, first made an impression on audiences with her role as a hyper-sexual patient who reveals more than just her neuroses to her psychiatrist (Annabella Sciorra) in Whispers in the Dark (1992). She earned an additional dose of notoriety when she again revealed all in David Cronenberg's controversial Crash (1996), which cast her as the wife of car crash survivor and fetishist James Spader. Roles in such films as David Fincher's psychological thriller The Game (1997) and the made-for-TV The Rat Pack (1998) -- which featured Unger as Ava Gardner -- followed, and in 1999 the actress could be seen in no less than three major motion pictures. In Payback, Unger played Mel Gibson's double-crossing girlfriend; István Szabó's historical epic Sunshine cast her as the wife of a Communist party official, while in Norman Jewison's The Hurricane, Unger starred as a Canadian activist working to free a wrongfully imprisoned championship boxer (Denzel Washington).

She continued to work steadily as the 21st century began in a variety of projects including Signs & Wonders, The Salton Sea, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Silent Hill, Shake Hands with the Devil, 88 Minutes, and the Emilio Estevez drama The Way.

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  • Her mother was a nuclear disposal specialist, her father was a gynecologist.
  • Was the first Canadian accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, Australia.
  • Leaped two stories into a Dumpster infested with live rats and fractured a bone in her foot while filming 1997's The Game.
  • In 2003, was the first actor honored with the Libertas Award, for commitment to the spirit of independence in film, at the Dubrovnik International Film Festival.