“Thank you for this work that’s just so magic and so worth it,” expressed Mary-Louise Parker when she accepted the Tony Award from presenter Gwyneth Paltrow in 2001 for her unforgettable performance in “Proof.” This year, Parker competes for the same prize for starring in the first Broadway production of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “How I Learned to Drive” and could take home the third trophy of her career for it. Below, see a list of all five of Mary-Louise Parker’s Tony nominations and two wins.
SEE Mary-Louise Parker (‘How I Learned to Drive’) poised to make Tony Awards history
Parker originated the role of Li’l Bit in the original Off-Broadway production of “How I Learned to Drive” 25 years ago. This Broadway revival reunited her with costars David Morse and Johanna Day as well as director Mark Brokaw. The drama is a haunting memory play that features Parker’s Li’l Bit reflecting on her relationship with her predatory Uncle Peck (Morse), who gave her driving lessons.
If Parker takes home the Tony, she would make history as the only performer in the Actress in a Play category to win consecutively after she won for “The Sound Inside” last year. She would join Zoe Caldwell and Jessica Tandy as a three-time winner for Best Actress; only Julie Harris has more victories in this category with five. The actress has earned all five of her Tony bids in this category, beginning in 1990 with her first bid for “Prelude to a Kiss.” Over a decade later, she won for the first time for “Proof,” which she quickly followed up with another nom for “Reckless.” She waited 15 years before her next nomination — she was egregiously snubbed for her beautiful performance in “Heisenberg” opposite Tony nominee Denis Arndt — but she went on to win for “The Sound Inside” and returned with another citation this year for “Drive.”
SEE ‘How I Learned to Drive’: First Broadway production showcases a ‘crushing’ Mary-Louise Parker
Critics adored Parker’s performance in “Drive,” and she currently leads the Actress in a Play contest. Maya Phillips (New York Times) called both Parker and Morse “crushing” and applauded Parker’s “agelessness” and her ability to depict “decades of Li’l Bit’s trauma with astute choreography.” Helen Shaw (Vulture) cheered Parker’s “trick of slumping in a chair and letting her mouth fall slightly open that makes her seem young and dizzy, and it serves her as well in her 50s as it did in her 30s.” Adam Feldman (Time Out New York) called her and Morse “extraordinary” and wrote that she “puts her gift for playing smart, broken women to powerful use as our narrator.”
To win her history-making third Tony Award, Parker will have to best Deirdre O’Connell (“Dana H.”), LaChanze (“Trouble in Mind”), Ruth Negga (“Macbeth”), and Gabby Beans (“The Skin of Our Teeth”).
Below, see the complete list of Mary-Louise Parker’s past Tony nominations and victories:
1990 — Actress in a Play (“Prelude to a Kiss”)
2001 — Actress in a Play (“Proof”) — win
2005 — Actress in a Play (“Reckless”)
2020 — Actress in a Play (“The Sound Inside”) — win
2022 — Actress in a Play (“How I Learned to Drive”)
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