Melissa Leo

Melissa Leo Biography:


Date of Birth: September 14, 1960

Born in Manhattan, Melissa Chessington Leo, a.k.a. Margaret May II or Margaret May, is an Academy Award-winning actress known for playing the tough-minded Detective Sgt. Kay Howard on the award-winning TV series Homicide: Life on the Street from 1993 to 1997. She has also been a regular on All My Children (for which she received a Daytime Emmy nomination) and played a regular starring role on the first season of the western, The Young Riders, alongside other young, upcoming stars such as Josh Brolin and Stephen Baldwin.

Melissa began her career as a child, appearing in several plays with the Bread and Puppet Theater Company. After high school, she studied acting at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London, England, followed by a stint at the State University of New York at Purchase in Harrison, New York, although she dropped out of the latter to begin her professional acting career.

Early feature films include A Time of Destiny (1988), Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995), 21 Grams (2003) and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005).

In 2009, she was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Frozen River (2008). She won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Supporting actress in 2011 for The Fighter, in which she played Mark Wahlberg's mother, even though she's less than 11 years older. She followed this up with a starring role alongside Denzel Washington in The Equalizer (2014).

Melissa went on to join the ensemble financial drama The Big Short (2015), the sequel London Has Fallen, reprising her role as Ruth Macmillan; and the political biopic Snowden (2016) starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

More recently, she played the Reverend Mother in the film Novitiate (2017) and reprised her role as Susan Plummer in The Equalizer 2 (2018).

In total, she has played more than 110 roles during her career, which began in 1984.

Melissa has two sons: Adam Leo, adopted and born in 1984, and John Matthew Heard, born in 1987. His father is Melissa's one-time boyfriend John Heard, who's also an actor.


Novitiate (2017)
The Ashram (2016)
Snowden (2016)
London Has Fallen (2016)
The Big Short (2015)
The Equalizer (2014)
I Fought the Law (2013)
Prisoners (2013)
Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013)
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2013)
Bottled Up (2013)
Oblivion (2013)
Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Dwegons and Leprechauns (2013)
Charlie Countryman (2013)
Flight (2012)
Francine (2012)
Why Stop Now (2012)
Brooklyn Brothers Beat the best (2011)
Seven Days in Utopia (2011)
Red State (2011)
Lost Revolution (2011)
The Fighter (2010)
Queen of the Lot (2010)
Conviction (2010)
The Space Between (2010)
The Dry Land (2010)
Welcome to the Rileys (2010)
Greta (2009)
Everybody’s Fine (2009)
Dear Lemon Lima (2009)
Veronika Decides to Die (2009)
Don McKay (2009)
True Adolescents (2009)
Stephanie’s Image (2009)
The Alphabet Killer (2008)
Righteous Kill (2008)
Ball Don’t Lie (2008)
Santa Mesa (2008)
Lullaby (2008)
Frozen River (2008)
One Night (2007)
Mr. Woodcock (2007)
I Believe in America (2007)
Racing Daylight (2007)
The Cake Eaters (2007)
Black Irish (2007)
The House is Burning (2006)
Hollywood Dreams (2006)
The Limbo Room (2006)
Stephanie Daley (2006)
Confess (2005)
American Gun (2005)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
Runaway (2005)
Mide and Seek (2005)
From Other Worlds (2004)
21 Grams (2003)
Fear of Fiction (2000)
Code of Ethics (1999)
The 25 Hour Woman (1999)
Under the Bridge (1997)
Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995)
The Ballad of Little Jo (1993)
Venice/Venice (1992)
Immaculate Conception (1992)
A Time of Destiny (1988)
Deadtime Stories (1986)
Steetwalkin’ (1985)
Always (1985)

Change Location