Alicia Witt

Alicia Witt
Born Alicia Roanne Witt
(1975-08-21) August 21, 1975
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Education Boston University
Occupation Actress, singer-songwriter, pianist
Years active 1984–present

Alicia Roanne Witt (born August 21, 1975[1]) is an American actress, singer-songwriter, and pianist. Witt first came to fame as a child actress after being discovered by David Lynch, who cast her as Alia Atreides in his film Dune (1984) and in a guest role in his television series Twin Peaks (1990).

Witt later had a critically acclaimed role as a disturbed teenager in Fun (1994), and appeared as a music student in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), and as a college coed in the horror film Urban Legend (1998). She then appeared in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001), Last Holiday (2006), and the thriller 88 Minutes (2007). Witt has made television appearances in Friday Night Lights and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and has had continuing starring roles in the sitcom Cybill and the Southern crime drama Justified. In addition to acting, Witt has been described as a musical prodigy,[2] as an accomplished pianist, singer, and songwriter. She released her self-titled debut album in 2009.

Early life

Alicia Roanne Witt was born on August 21, 1975, in Worcester, Massachusetts,[1] to Diane (née Pietro), a junior high school reading teacher, and Robert Witt, a science teacher and photographer. Witt has a brother, Ian.[3][4][5] "Talking by age two and reading by the age of four,"[1] Witt has been described as a child prodigy.[2] Her acting talent was recognized by director David Lynch in 1980, when he heard her recite Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet on the television show That's Incredible! at age five.[6] He would begin working with her in film and television even before Witt earned her high school equivalency credential (at age 14[1]). She did undergraduate work in piano at Boston University[1] and competed nationally.[7]


Film and television

Witt's discovery by Lynch led to his casting of the "flame-haired" child in the movie Dune (1984)[1] as Paul Atreides's sister Alia; she turned eight during filming. She worked with Lynch again when she appeared in an episode of Twin Peaks,[1] playing the younger sister of Lara Flynn Boyle's character Donna.

These experiences led to Witt's having small parts in Mike Figgis's Liebestraum (1991), in which her brother Ian also appears, the Gen-X drama Bodies, Rest & Motion (1993), and the TV movie The Disappearance of Vonnie (1994). In 1994, Witt landed her first lead role in a film, playing a disturbed, murderous teenager in Fun,[1] and receiving the Special Jury Recognition Award at the Sundance Festival. Witt was then cast in the "desultory" Four Rooms,[1] as Madonna's lover in the episode, "The Missing Ingredient".

Witt was introduced to a larger audience in the role of Cybill Shepherd's daughter, Zoey Woodbine, in the sitcom Cybill.[1][8] While playing that part, from 1995 to 1998, she also had film roles in Stephen Herek's Mr. Holland's Opus, Alexander Payne's "delightful" satirical comedy Citizen Ruth,[1] Robert Allan Ackerman's Passion's Way (based on the Edith Wharton novel, The Reef), and Richard Sears' comedy Bongwater. After the Cybill series was cancelled, Witt went on to leading roles in Jamie Blanks' horror film Urban Legend (alongside "other nascently twinkling stars" Jared Leto, Joshua Jackson, and Rebecca Gayheart),[1] and in Kevin Altieri/Touchstone Pictures' limited-release animated feature, Gen¹³. In 2000, Witt had starring roles on episodes of the television shows Ally McBeal and The Sopranos, the lead role in the Matthew Huffman comedy Playing Mona Lisa (featuring Harvey Fierstein, Elliott Gould, and Marlo Thomas), and a "memorable" part in John Waters' "scathing satire" Cecil B. Demented.[1]

She then went on to a small part in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001). Witt played "Two", the college graduate discussing loss of her virginity, in Rodrigo Garcia's Ten Tiny Love Stories (a series of 10 monologues, alongside ones by Radha Mitchell, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Debi Mazar, Elizabeth Peña, and others), and played the role of promiscuous Barbie, half-sister of the title character, in American Girl (starring Jena Malone). Witt also appeared in Marc Lawrence's romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice (2002), starring Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock.

In 2003–04, she took up residence in the United Kingdom, though she portrayed Joan Allen's daughter in the US-based comic drama The Upside of Anger (with Kevin Costner, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood, and others). Between these two projects, Witt went to South Africa to shoot a film interpretation of the epic poem "Das Nibelungenlied", played the central character Kriemhild in the German TV movie Kingdom in Twilight (with title Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King in the U.S., and The Ring of the Nibelungs and The Sword of Xanten elsewhere).

Witt filmed the Last Holiday (2006) and the thriller 88 Minutes (2007, alongside Al Pacino[1]), and joined the cast of Law & Order: Criminal Intent for the 2007-2008 season. In the latter she played Detective Nola Falacci, a character temporarily replacing Megan Wheeler as Chris Noth's partner (otherwise played by Julianne Nicholson, who was away on maternity leave), and was a recurring character in the 2007-2008 season.[9] Witt appeared in the role of Amy in the film Peep World (2010).[1]

Witt appeared as the character Elaine Clayton in Cowgirls n' Angels (2012),[1] and in 2013 co-starred in the independent film Cold Turkey opposite Peter Bogdanovich and Cheryl Hines; there, she additionally performed an original musical piece over the end credits (see below). Her dramatic performance in this film was critically acclaimed,[10][11] with New York Magazine's David Edelstein proclaiming her turn one of the top performances of 2013.[12] Witt also appeared in three Christmas films in 2013: the feature film Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, A Snow Globe Christmas for Lifetime Channel, and A Very Merry Mix-Up for Hallmark Channel, and in 2014 Hallmark Channel's Christmas at Cartwright's.

Also in 2014, Witt appeared in a major guest starring role on the DirecTV series Kingdom,[13] which aired that October. Witt was a regular part of the cast of Justified in Season 5, which began airing in January 2014.[14] In April 2016, Witt appeared in two episodes of the hit series The Walking Dead;[15] the same month, it was announced that she would also be reprising her role as Gersten Hayward in the 2017 Twin Peaks series.[16]


Witt made her stage debut in 2001, at Los Angeles' historic Tiffany Theater, in Robbie Fox's musical The Gift, in which she played a high-priced, though diseased, stripper.

While in residence in the U.K. in 2004, she starred as Evelyn in a stage production of Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things at the New Ambassadors Theatre.[17][18] In September 2006, Witt returned to the London stage at the Royal Court Theatre, in the critically well-received Piano/Forte, wherein she was "well-cast" in portraying the stammering, emotionally damaged pianist Abigail, sister to "unloved attention-seeker" Louise (Kelly Reilly).[19]

Witt performed alongside Amber Tamblyn in Neil LaBute's play, Reasons To Be Pretty, at the Geffen Playhouse, which ran through 31 August 2014. [20] [21]


In addition to acting, Witt is a professional singer-songwriter and pianist,[22] and is reported to have been a musical prodigy.[2] During her work with David Lynch, she supported herself by playing piano at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.[7]

Responses to her 2006 stage portrayal of Abigail Piano/Forte included recognition of her skill as an "outstanding pianist" of "formidable skill".[23]

In 2009, Witt released her self-titled extended play album,[24] followed by Live At Rockwood in 2012[25] and Revisionary History in 2015.[26] In 2013, Witt and Ben Folds performed a song they had co-written on the soundtrack for the independent film Cold Turkey.[27]

In 2016, Witt joined the cast of ABC's Nashville in a recurring capacity playing established country singer Autumn Chase. Witt will perform several songs throughout season 4.

Other appearances

On June 14, 2004, Witt modeled what is believed to be the most expensive hat ever made, for Christie's auction house in London. The Chapeau d'Amour, designed by Louis Mariette, is valued at $2.7 million (US) and is encrusted in diamonds.[28][29] In September 1990, Witt competed on Wheel of Fortune.[30]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Dune Alia Atreides Credited as Alicia Roanne Witt
1991 Liebestraum Girl in Dream
1993 Bodies, Rest & Motion Elizabeth
1994 Fun Bonnie
1995 Four Rooms Kiva Segment: "The Missing Ingredient"
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Gertrude Lang
1996 Citizen Ruth Cheryl Stoney
1997 Bongwater Serena
1998 Urban Legend Natalie Simon
1999 Reef, TheThe Reef Sophy Viner
2000 Playing Mona Lisa Claire Goldstein
2000 Cecil B. Demented Cherish
2000 Gen¹³ Caitlin Fairchild Video; voice role
2001 Vanilla Sky Libby
2001 Ten Tiny Love Stories Two
2002 American Girl Barbie
2002 Two Weeks Notice June Carver
2003 Twilight Zone, TheThe Twilight Zone Liz Episode: "The Executions of Grady Finch"
2004 Girls' Lunch Short film
2005 Upside of Anger, TheThe Upside of Anger Hadley Wolfmeyer
2006 Last Holiday Ms. Burns
2007 88 Minutes Kim Cummings
2010 Pond, TheThe Pond Shelly Short film
2010 Peep World Amy
2011 Flight of the Swan, TheThe Flight of the Swan Maria
2011 Joint Body Michelle Page
2012 Cowgirls n' Angels Elaine Clayton
2012 Bending the Rules Roslyn Wohl
2012 I Do Mya Edwards
2013 Weiner Dog Nationals Melanie
2013 A Madea Christmas Amber
2014 , Away From HereAway From Here Lily
2014 , The Bronx BullThe Bronx Bull Denise


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Twin Peaks Gersten Hayward Episode 2.1
1993 Hotel Room Diane Episode: "Blackout"
1994 Disappearance of Vonnie, TheThe Disappearance of Vonnie Janine Movie
1995–98 Cybill Zoey Woodbine Main role (87 episodes)
2000 Ally McBeal Hope Mercey 2 episodes
2000 The Sopranos Amy Safir Episode: D-Girl
2004 Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King Kriemhild Movie
2007 Blue Smoke Reena Hale Movie
2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Det. Nola Falacci 5 episodes
2008 Wainy Days Laura Episode: "Shelly II"
2008 Puppy Love Claire Series
2008 Two and a Half Men Dolores Pasternak Episode: "A Jock Strap in Hell"
2009–12 Mentalist, TheThe Mentalist Rosalind Harker 3 episodes
2009–11 Friday Night Lights Cheryl 9 episodes
2010 Edgar Floats Sandra Movie
2010 Backyard Wedding Kim Tyler Movie
2011 CSI: Miami Michelle Baldwin Episode: "Blood Lust"
2012 Nashville Autumn Chase Recurring; 11 Episodes
2012 Person of Interest Connie Wyler Episode: "The High Road"
2013 A Very Merry Mix-Up Alice Chapman Hallmark Channel movie
2013 A Snow Globe Christmas Meg Movie
2014 Kingdom Melanie Episode: "Flowers"
2014 Justified Wendy Crowe 10 episodes
2014 , Christmas at Cartwright'sChristmas at Cartwright's Nicky Hallmark Channel movie
2014 The Librarians Lucinda McCabe / Morgan le Fay TNT series; episode: "And the Rule of Three"
2015 House of Lies Maya Showtime series; 2 episodes
2015 Elementary Dana Powell Episode:"When Your Number's Up"
2015 I'm Not Ready for Christmas Holly Nolan Hallmark Channel movie
2016 The Walking Dead Paula 2 episodes (1 episode voice only)
2016 Motive Cindy Vernon 1 Episode
2016 Christmas List Isobel Gray Movie
2017 Twin Peaks Gersten Hayward[16]

Stage credits

Year Title Theatre
2001 Gift, TheThe Gift Tiffany Theater, Los Angeles
2004 Shape of Things, TheThe Shape of Things New Ambassadors Theatre, London
2006 Piano/Forte Royal Court Theatre, London
2007 Dissonance Williamstown Theatre Festival
2014 Reasons to Be Pretty Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles


Year Association Category Work Result
1994 Independent Spirit Awards Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance Fun Nominated
1995 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with rest of cast) Cybill Nominated
1998 Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor Urban Legend Nominated


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Marx, Rebecca Flint (2010). "Alicia Witt". Movies & TV. The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Lumsden, Carolyn (1 March 1987). "Child Prodigy, 11, Leaves 'Dune' in Dust". LA Times. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  3. "Alicia Witt Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  4. LaVallee, Wendy (September 17, 1980). "Little Girl's Big Intellect ...". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  5. "Genius Waits to Grow Up". Record Journal. September 15, 1980. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  6. Alicia Witt at the Internet Movie Database
  7. 1 2 Lawrence, Vanessa (28 July 2008). "Alicia Witt's Pub Gig". Women's Wear Daily. Fairchild Publishing, LLC. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  8. "Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. 2004-05-18. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  9. "RT @CassieStackSVU". Twitter. 12 March 2012. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  10. Sam Weisberg (18 November 2013). "See Family Holiday Comedy Cold Turkey for Alicia Witt's Performance".
  11. David Edelstein. "Movie Review: Cold Turkey -- Vulture". Vulture.
  12. David Edelstein. "David Edelstein's 10 Best Movies of 2013". Vulture.
  13. Bricker, Tierney (18 July 2014). "Kingdom Stages Friday Night Lights Reunion! Plus, Jamie Kennedy to Guest Star". E! Online. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  14. Nellie Andreeva. "Alicia Witt & Edi Gathegi Join FX's 'Justified'". Deadline.
  15. "Alicia Witt on playing the latest 'Walking Dead' villain, and how her last scene was supposed to go". Entertainment Weekly's Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  16. 1 2 Rubin, Sam (November 6, 2015). "Did Alicia Witt Just Reveal She Will Star in the Upcoming 'Twin Peaks' Series?". KTLA 5. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  17. Foley, Jack (2003). "The Shape of Things to keep its Witts about it". Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  18. Inverne, James (11 March 2004). "Alicia Witt to Star in London The Shape of Things". Playbill. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  19. Fisher, Philip (2006). "Review:Piano/Forte". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  20. Martinez, Julio (21 August 2014). "LA Stage Insider: The Thing Is…". Arts In LA. Archived from the original on 5 September 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  21. Jeremy Gerard. "Amber Tamblyn To Star In 'Reasons To Be Afraid' At Geffen Playhouse - Deadline". Deadline.
  22. Jeffries, Wendy (1980). That's Incredible, Volume 4. Jove Publications. ISBN 978-0515058079.
  23. Billington, Michael (2006-09-21). "Piano/Forte". The Guardian.
  24. ASIN B0032L1M8I , Alicia Witt (6 Jun 2009)
  25. ASIN B008A3N86W , Live At Rockwood (7 June 2012)
  26. ASIN B00SVYM276 , Revisionary History (7 April 2015)
  27. Cold Turkey (2013) at the Internet Movie Database Soundtrack
  28. "World's Most Expensive Hats". Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  29. Kulpe, Yogesh (9 June 2009). "Worlds most expensive hat- Chapeau d'Amour". The Rich Times. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  30. "Tanya Hart Heads for National Job on Coast". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. August 24, 1990. Retrieved August 5, 2011. Alicia Witt, 14, of Worcester will take her chances during Wheel of Fortune's Teen Week beginning Sept 3.

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