McGillis at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival
|Education||Allan Hancock College|
Juilliard School (BFA)
(m. 1979; div. 1981)
(m. 1989; div. 2002)
|Partner(s)||Melanie Leis (2010–2011) civil union, annulled|
Kelly McGillis (born July 9, 1957) is an American stage and screen actress widely known for her film roles, such as Rachel Lapp in Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations; Charlie in Top Gun (1986) with Tom Cruise, and Kathryn Murphy in The Accused (1988) with Jodie Foster.
McGillis was born July 9, 1957, in Newport Beach, California, the daughter of Virginia Joan (née Snell), a homemaker, and Dr. Donald Manson McGillis, a doctor. McGillis is of Scots-Irish descent from her father's side, and German from her mother, and Welsh also. She attended Newport Harbor High School.
McGillis was raised in Los Angeles, and attended the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California. After getting her GED after dropping out of high school in 1975, she moved to New York City to study acting at the Juilliard School, where she graduated in 1983, Group 12.
After making her film debut in Reuben, Reuben in 1983, McGillis' breakout role was that of an Amish mother in Witness (1985) with Harrison Ford, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA award nominations. Her next high-profile role was that of flight instructor Charlotte Blackwood (call sign "Charlie") in the 1986 fighter-pilot film Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
McGillis played the part of caretaker for Miss Venable (Jessica Tandy) in 1988's The House on Carroll Street, which also starred Jeff Daniels. She overhears a suspicious conversation in the house next door and suspects that she's stumbled on a conspiracy to smuggle Nazi war criminals into the United States.
After 1988's The Accused, she appeared in Cat Chaser with Peter Weller, a film she despised and which discouraged her from pursuing an acting career. McGillis appeared in dozens of television and film roles throughout the 1990s before taking a break from acting for a few years.
McGillis played the part of Babe Ruth's second wife, Claire Merritt Ruth, in The Babe (1992). From the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, McGillis appeared in Winter People (1989), and North (1994), her 2nd Amish part in television or film, as well as several made-for-TV films.
She played the suspect in the disappearance of a young woman starring Susie Porter in The Monkey's Mask, an international lesbian cult film from 2000. The film is based on the verse novel of the same name by Australian poet Dorothy Porter.
While at Juilliard she performed in William Congreve's Love for Love, directed by John Bletchley. She appeared in a couple of off-broadway and Broadway theater productions during the 1980s in New York City.
During the late 1980s and through the mid 2000s, McGillis was a featured actress at the prestigious Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC. In 2002, she appeared in production of John Webber's play "The Duchess of Malfi" at the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, DC.
In 2004, she appeared in the stage play The Graduate as Mrs. Robinson, touring the United States. McGillis starred in a Pasadena Playhouse stage production of The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman in May 2009, co-starring with Julia Duffy.
Her stage work includes: Don Juan (1982), The Sea Gull (1985), Peccadillo (1985), The Merchant of Venice (1988), Twelfth Night (1989), Mary Stuart (1990), The Merry Wives of Windsor (1990), Hedda Gabler (1994), Mourning Becomes Electra (1997), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), Measure for Measure (1999) and The Graduate (2004), together with additional roles in Love for Love, Six Characters in Search of an Author, Three Sisters and The Winter's Tale.
Return to film and TV
- She began working in television again in 2006, then in 2007, she joined the cast of Showtime's The L Word for its fifth season.
- She had a role in the 2010 vampire film Stake Land, directed by Jim Mickle. She stars alongside Nick Damici, Connor Paolo and Danielle Harris.
- McGillis was featured in a breast cancer docu-drama titled 1 a Minute, released in 2010.
- She starred in Ti West's 2011 thriller The Innkeepers.
- We Are What We Are and Tio Papi in 2013
- Grand Street in 2014
- Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio in 2014, TV, (McGillis' 3rd Amish-themed film)
- Z Nation in 2014, "Sisters of Mercy" (Season 1, Episode 11)
- Blue in 2015
- An Uncommon Grace, on Hallmark Channel, (McGillis' 4th Amish themed film)
- Lead role in Mother of All Secrets in 2017 as Rose Lewis
McGillis married fellow Juilliard student Boyd Black in 1979, but the couple divorced in 1981. She married Fred Tillman in 1989, and they have two daughters, Kelsey and Sonora. The couple divorced in 2002.
In 1982, McGillis was raped by two men in her New York apartment. Leroy Johnson who was 15 years old at the time was sentenced to three years in prison, but the other assailant had all charges dropped due to a lack of corroborative evidence.
McGillis came out as a lesbian in April 2009 during an interview with SheWired. In 2010, McGillis entered into a civil union with Melanie Leis, a Philadelphia sales executive; she and McGillis met in 2000 when Leis was a bartender at Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill & Brewery in Key West, Florida, which McGillis owned with her then-husband Fred Tillman. They sold the restaurant in June 2017. Leis and McGillis broke up in 2011.
McGillis worked full-time with drug addicts and alcoholics at Seabrook House Drug Alcohol Rehab Center, a rehabilitation center in Bridgeton, New Jersey, when she and Leis shared a home in Collingswood.
June 2016 home invasion
McGillis was left scratched and bruised after being reportedly assaulted by a woman who broke into her North Carolina home on June 17, 2016. She said the attack, as well as others she has experienced in the past, led her to apply for a concealed carry gun permit to protect herself. Following the incident, a 38-year-old woman, Laurence Marie Dorn, was charged with second-degree burglary, misdemeanor larceny, misdemeanor stalking, assault and battery, and interfering with emergency communication. Dorn was later convicted of misdemeanor breaking and entering.
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McGillis moved to New York in 1979 to study acting at the prestigious Julliard [sic] drama school, the same year she married fellow student Boyd Black. It was short-lived, the couple divorcing in 1981
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