Deanna Dunagan (born May 25, 1940) is a Chicago-based American actress. Although Dunagan has appeared on television and in films, she is most admired for her work as a stage actress. She is best known for her Tony Award-winning portrayal of Violet Weston in Tracy Letts' August: Osage County and for her portrayal of Nana in M. Night Shyamalan's 2015 film The Visit. More recently she has appeared in the recurring role of Mother Bernadette on the Fox television series The Exorcist. She portrays Dr. Willa Sipe in the upcoming 2018 film The Pages by writer Joe Chappelle.
Dunagan was born and raised in Monahans, Texas, United States, the daughter of Kathlyn (Cosper) and John Conrad Dunagan. The eldest of five children, her father was a Coca-Cola bottler and president of the Texas Historical Association; her mother was a stay-at-home parent with an active presence in the community. In an interview, Dunagan light-heartedly described her extended family, "My heritage is a long line of Southern Baptist and Methodist preachers. And aren't they all just frustrated actors?"
Dunagan earned a degree in music education from the University of Texas, Austin. She married her high school sweetheart and gave birth to a son; but the marriage ended a few years later. Following her divorce, Dunagan's parents agreed to fund graduate studies at Trinity University, Texas through the Dallas Theater Center. While writing her Master's thesis, Dunagan lived in Mexico. She was engaged to a bullfighter, but they never married, and she went on to pursue her acting career in the United States.
Dunagan began her acting career touring in dinner theater and later performing in regional theaters such as the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, and the Actors Theatre of Louisville before trying her luck in New York City. She made her Broadway debut in the 1979 production of George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman at Circle in the Square as an understudy for Ann Sachs. Sachs became ill at one point during the show's run and Dunagan filled in for her with great success. This exposure led to her to being signed with International Creative Management.
In 1981, Dunagan performed in the first national tour of Children of a Lesser God. While on this tour, Dunagan visited Chicago for the first time and immediately fell in love with the city. After the end of the tour, Dunagan moved to Chicago and has lived there ever since, performing in more than 30 theaters in the Chicago area. Her work on the Chicago stage has garnered her three Joseph Jefferson Awards and three After Dark Awards.
She has worked in films including, "The Visit",The Naked Face, Running Scared, Men Don't Leave, Losing Isaiah. She has also appeared in made for television movies, in the TV mini-series A Will of Their Own and Amerika, and as a guest star on the television shows Prison Break, What About Joan, and Missing Persons, "The Strain", She has had recurring roles in "Unforgettable" and "The Exorcist."
In 2007-2008, Dunagan returned to Broadway in the Steppenwolf Theatre's transplant production of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County. For her performance, Dunagan won a Tony Award, Theatre World Award a Drama Desk Award and an [(Outer Critics Circle Award]). She went on to portray Violet Weston in productions in London's West End in 2009 and in Sydney, Australia in 2010.
She returned to New York in 2017 to Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway to perform in the world premiere of "The Treasurer."
|1984||Naked Face, TheThe Naked Face||Mrs. Hadley|
|1986||Running Scared||Sister Rebecca|
|1990||Men Don't Leave||Fay|
|1995||Losing Isaiah||Dr. Goldstein|
|2002||Janey Van Winkle||Mom Van Winkle||Short film|
|2013||Cherokee Word for Water, TheThe Cherokee Word for Water||Irene Mankiller|
|2015||The Visit||Nana||Fright Meter Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress
|2018||The Pages||Dr. Willa Sipe|
|1982||American Playhouse||Emily Dickenson||Episode: "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine"|
|1984||American Playhouse||Various||3 episodes|
|1987||Amerika||Betty Milford||Episode: "Part VII"|
|1994||Two Fathers: Justice for the Innocent||Janice Bradley||Television movie|
|2000||What About Joan?||Sandy||Episode: "Quid Pro Quo"|
|2005||Prison Break||Judy Pope||2 episodes|
|2008||Law & Order||Estelle Adams||Episode: "Zero"|
|2009||The Big D||Donna Dupree||Television movie|
|2009||Psych||Myrtle||Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"|
|2009||Cold Case||Iris Keening||Episode: "WASP"|
|2010||Ugly Betty||Lee||Episode: "Back in Her Place"|
|2011||Detroit 1-8-7||Helen Lakeland||Episode: "Beaten/Cover Letter"|
|2011||Have a Little Faith||Sarah||Television film|
|2012||Private Practice||Dr. Vivienne Carlsmith||Episode: "Apron Strings"|
|2014||House of Cards||Susan Marbury||Episode: "Chapter 18"|
|2016||The Strain||Ancharia||Episode: "First Born"|
|2016||The Exorcist||Mother Bernadette||3 episodes|
|1979||Man and Superman||Understudy||Circle in the Square Theatre (Broadway)|
|1980||Sunset/Sunrise||Diane||Actors Theatre of Louisville (Louisville, KY)|
|1981||Children of a Lesser God||Performer||National Tour|
|1988||Stepping Out||Performer||Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|1991||Still Waters||Performer||Victory Gardens Theater (Chicago, IL)|
|1991||Cariolanus||Performer||Next Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|1992||Private Passage||Performer||Odyssey Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|1992||Song of Jacob Zulu, TheThe Song of Jacob Zulu||Performer||Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|1992||Inspecting Carol||Performer||Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|1996||Touch of the Poet, AA Touch of the Poet||Deborah Harford||Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|1996||Washington-Sarajevo Talks, TheThe Washington-Sarajevo Talks||Rhonda||Victory Gardens Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|1996||Slaughterhouse-Five||Performer||Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|2001||Cahoots||Gwendoline||Victory Gardens Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|2001||Glamour House, TheThe Glamour House||Trudi Stein||Victory Gardens Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|2001||Butley||Edna Shaft||Writer's Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|2002||Cat on a Hot Tin Roof||Performer||Apple Tree Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|2002||Lie of the Mind, AA Lie of the Mind||Performer||American Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|2003||Wedding Band||Herman's Mother||Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|2003||James Joyce's The Dead||Aunt Julia Morkan||Court Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|2003||Bounce||Ensemble||Goodman Theatre (Chicago, IL)|
|2004||Delicate Balance, AA Delicate Balance||Performer||Remy Bumppo (Chicago, IL)|
|2006||I Never Sang for My Father||Margaret||Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Chicago, IL)|
|2006||Best Man, TheThe Best Man||Performer||Remy Bumppo (Chicago, IL)|
|2006||Ten Little Indians||Emily Brent||Drury Lane Oakbrook (Chicago, IL)|
|2007-2010||August: Osage County||Violet Weston||Chicago, London, Sydney & Broadway|
|2012||A Little Night Music||Madame Armfeldt||Writers' Theatre (Chicago)|
|2013||Other Desert Cities||Polly Wyeth||Goodman Theatre (Chicago)|
|2013||The North China Lover||M||Lookingglass Theatre Company|
|2015||Marvin's Room||Aunt Ruth||Shattered Globe Theater, Chicago|