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Jeanne Tripplehorn is an American actress best known for her roles as Dr. Beth Garner in the film Basic Instinct and as Barb Henrickson in the HBO series Big Love.


Jeanne Tripplehorn was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the daughter of Suzanne and Tom Tripplehorn, who was once a guitarist with the 60s pop group Gary Lewis & the Playboys. After her parents divorced when she was two, Tripplehorn and her younger brother went to live with their mom and grandmother. Always hamming it up when she was a child, it was no surprise that the wise-cracking 13-year-old submitted several comedy sketches to Saturday Night Live but was politely rejected.

She graduated from Edison High School in 1981, having compatibilized her studies with broadcasting a radio comedy show on KMOD-FM and later with her own local television show called Creature Feature during her senior year, while at the same time, performing in standard plays like A Christmas Carol.

She spent one semester studying at the University of Tulsa, only to move to New York City to attend the Drama Division of The Julliard School at Lincoln Center as a member of Group 19 (1986–1990), all the while making her way as an artist's model and voiceover artist for radio commercials.

After leaving Julliard, Tripplehorn made her professional New York stage debut starring in a Public Theater production of The Big Funk (1990), by John Patrick Shanley. In short order, she made her onscreen debut with a supporting role in the made-for-television movie, The Perfect Tribute, a fictionalized retelling of the events leading up to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. She would receive a major boost to her career when she landed a prominent supporting role in the notorious thriller, Basic Instinct, playing a police psychiatrist who has an affair with a troubled police detective while he simultaneously falls for a sexually aggressive mystery writer under investigation for murder. Meanwhile, thanks to her on-again, off-again romantic entanglement with the still aspiring Ben Stiller, she made appearances on the comedian's self-named sketch comedy series, The Ben Stiller Show. It was during this time that Tripplehorn suffered an unexpected tragedy when her mother, with whom she was very close, suddenly died from an aneurysm at age 48.

Finally being able to go back to work, Tripplehorn had a supporting role in the Gen-X romantic comedy The Night We Never Met before she upped her profile as the supportive wife of a young lawyer who works for a corrupt firm, in The Firm. Tripplehorn then suffered through the long, agonizing shoot for Waterworld, the notoriously derided, post-apocalyptic adventure in which she bravely co-starred as the wife of Costner's character.

That movie send her back on the stage, where she again performed in Chekhov's Three Sisters on Broadway, even though she continued appearing regularly onscreen, including the derided black comedy Very Bad Things, on the shoot of which she met actor Leland Orser, whom she later married in 2000.

Tripplehorn chose to perform in low-budget indies during the first years of the 21th century, and cable TV shows. This decision will lead her to perhaps her most widely recognized project, as she starred in Big Love, a series about a home improvement store owner's battle with modern-day polygamy and a fundamentalist leader trying to extort money by using the fear of God, where she was the oldest and more intelligent of his three wives, running the household while battling against her "sisters" over power, seniority and their husband's sexual attention. Also on the small screen, she delivered an excellent supporting performance as Jacqueline Kennedy in the critically lauded Grey Gardens, which depicted the lives of her eccentric aunt, Big Edie, and first cousin, Little Edie. The role earned her a well-deserved Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.

In 2012, after having played several guest characters in different TV shows, she was selected to join the team of profilers on the successful series Criminal Minds when Paget Brewster's departure left an opening on it. Her character is named Alex Blake, and she is a linguistics specialist. After two years on the show, she left at the end of its ninth season due to failed contract negotiations.


  • Gloria Bell (2018) - Fiona
  • We Only Know So Much (2018) - Jean Copeland
  • Little Pink House (2017) - Charlotte Wells
  • Criminal Minds - 48 episodes (2012 - 2014) - Alex Blake
  • A Perfect Man (2013) - Nina
  • Electric City - 20 episodes (2012) - Hope Chatsworth
  • Blue (2012) - Vera
  • New Girl - 2 episodes (2012) - Ouli
  • Five (2011) - Pearl
  • Big Love - 53 episodes (2006-2011) - Barb Henrickson
  • Morning (2010) - Alice
  • Crazy on the Outside (2010) - Angela Papadopolous
  • Grey Gardens (2009) - Jacqueline 'Jackie O.' Kennedy Onassis
  • Fragments (2008) - Doris Hagen
  • The Trap (2007) Short film - Maggie
  • Big Love:In the Beginning - 2 episodes (2007) - Barb Henrickson
  • The Amateurs (2005) - Thelma
  • Word of Honor (2003) - Maj. Karen Harper
  • Frasier (2003) - Chelsea
  • Swept Away (2002) - Marina
  • Brother's Keeper (2002) - Lucinda Pond
  • Relative Values (2000) - Miranda Frayle / Freda Birch
  • Paranoid (2000) - Rachel
  • Timecode (2000) - Lauren Hathaway
  • Steal This Movie (2000) - Johanna Lawrenson
  • Mickey Blue Eyes (1999) - Gina Vitale
  • Very Bad Things (1998) - Lois Berkow
  • Sliding Doors (1998) - Lydia
  • Monument Ave. (1998) - Annie
  • Office Killer (1997) - Norah Reed
  • 'Til There Was You (1997) - Gwen Moss
  • Old Man (1997) - Addie Rebecca Brice
  • Mr. Show with Bob and David (1996) - Stone Throwing Singer in 'Jeepers Creepers'
  • Waterworld (1995) - Helen
  • Reality Bites (1994) - Cheryl Goode (uncredited)
  • The Firm (1993) - Abby McDeere
  • The Night We Never Met (1993) - Pastel (uncredited)
  • The Ben Stiller Show (1992) TV episodes - The Wilson Woman / Goo
  • Basic Instinct (1992) - Dr. Beth Garner
  • The Perfect Tribute (1991) - Julia

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  • Tripplehorn used to be a DJ in Tulsa, Oklahoma and following too her father tradition, her younger brother is a drummer/rock musician.
  • She replaced Robin Wright as Abby McDeere in The Firm (1993) with Tom Cruise.
  • She was originally cast as Mia Wallace in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994), but had to turn down the role.
  • She was the original choice for the female lead in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Prior to leaving for the UK to begin filming, stopped off in Texas to see her mother. As her mother was walking towards Tripplehorn to greet her, her mother collapsed and died instantly.
  • She's been a spokesperson for the World Monuments Fund since 2009.