Canadian actress Molly Parker has developed a reputation as a gifted and versatile performer, thanks in part to her willingness to take on challenging, offbeat, and sometimes controversial roles. Born in 1972 in Maple Ridge, British Columbia (a town just outside Vancouver), Parker studied dance before developing an interest in acting. She was in her late teens when she began her screen career, appearing in small roles in television projects and low-budget theatrical films being shown in Vancouver, including three episodes of the TV series Neon Rider, the made-for-TV movie My Son, Johnny, and the lowbrow teen comedy Just One of the Girls.
While Parker soon began winning bigger and better roles (most notably playing Glenn Close's daughter in the acclaimed TV movie Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story), her breakthrough came in 1996, with the independent feature Kissed, in which she plays a young woman fascinated with death whose job at a funeral home leads her to explore her emotional and erotic attraction to the dead. While the film's controversial theme prevented it from gaining a wide release in the United States, it received enthusiastic reviews around the world, and in Canada, Parker's performance earned her a 1997 Genie Award (the Canadian Academy Award) as Best Actress. The acclaim for Kissed certainly improved Parker's standing in the world of independent film, and while she still appeared in the occasional television project (including the TV movie Titanic and the miniseries Intensity), she won showy roles in Bliss and Under Heaven.
In 1999, Parker appeared in three highly acclaimed features: She played a pregnant housewife in the British kitchen-sink drama Wonderland, a despondent mother in The Five Senses, and the Catholic wife of a Hungarian Jew in Sunshine. 2000's Suspicious River reunited Parker with Kissed director Lynne Stopkewich, and in 2001, she once again found herself courting controversy with her role as an exotic dancer spending a weekend in Las Vegas with a computer millionaire (and being very well paid for it) in Wayne Wang's The Center of the World. That same year, Parker won a recurring role as a rabbi on the acclaimed HBO comedy drama series Six Feet Under, and also appeared in a Canadian comedy about that very Northern sport, curling, entitled Men With Brooms. In 2002, she was cast opposite John Cusack and Leelee Sobieski in Max, a bit of historical speculation about the relationship between an art teacher and one of his students -- Adolf Hitler.
2004 saw Parker returning to HBO for a couple of period productions. First, she co-stared with Anjelica Huston, Hilary Swank, Julia Ormond, and Frances O'Connor in the historical drama Iron Jawed Angels about the women's suffrage movement in America. Shortly thereafter, Parker appeared as a rich prospector's wife in in the HBO Western series Deadwood. Later that year, she starred opposite Christian Slater and Stephen Rea in the ecclesiastical thriller The Good Shepard.