TV Article

Linda Hunt of 'NCIS: Los Angeles'

The 4-foot-9-inch actress — best known for her Oscar-winning portrayal of Billy Kwan in 1982's ''The Year of Living Dangerously'' — became an instant fan favorite as operations manager Henrietta ''Hetty'' Lange on ''NCIS: Los Angeles.'' We asked Hunt to reflect on the most interesting roles of her career, which began in theater before spilling into film and TV. ''I grew up praying and hoping this was going to work,'' says the 67-year-old of acting. ''I thought, 'It's the only thing I can do.'''

NCIS: Los Angeles
Henrietta ''Hetty'' Lange
2009-present
Creator Shane Brennan told Hunt she got the job because he was a fan of her work in Living Dangerously.
For me, Hetty is like I grew up and finally got to be an adult. I get to be this kind of eccentric lady who's lived a fantastic, slightly crazy life. Hetty seems to be really popular with the young people. I think that anybody who is an underdog, who kicks ass and tells the truth, is a tremendous attraction to the kids.

God of War Franchise
Narrator 2005-present
Hunt's voice-over résumé is vast (Disney's Pocahontas, PBS' The American Experience), with this immensely popular videogame as a crown jewel.
Every once in a while, a kid will say, ''You're that lady who is in my game — the war game.'' The picture of my character is quite fearsome-looking. She's a big woman, and she's morphed at this point into several different creatures over the series of the three games. And there's going to be a fourth!

The Practice
Judge Zoey Hiller 1997-2002
The trend of character actors recurring as judges on courtroom dramas began, in part, with Hunt on this ABC series.
That was [the show's] way of not paying actors more. They thought, ''We'll have a stable of interesting actors as judges, but none of them will be regulars. We won't make a big thing out of any of them, but we'll keep them available to us.'' But I had a good run!

Kindergarten Cop
Miss Schlowski 1990
Costar Arnold Schwarzenegger made Hunt uneasy.
I was so uptight that first day of work. I was playing the principal of the elementary school, and I was going to hire Arnold Schwarzenegger's character. I don't think of him as an actor. I was so startled by him. I mean, he's so big! I kept getting more and more uptight.

Dune
Shadout Mapes 1984
Hunt doesn't recall her work on this sci-fi flick very fondly — but it had nothing to do with the material.
I just remember being sick as a dog in Mexico City. That's where they shot the part that I was in. The air was just awful. I'm a big reader, but I never read sci-fi. It was a weird film, but that's exactly what [director] David Lynch wanted it to be.

The Year of Living Dangerously
Billy Kwan 1982
She made her movie debut in Robert Altman's 1980 live-action version of Popeye, and in her second film role, Hunt became the first (and only) actor to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex.
I arrived at LAX early to meet my parents, who were going to the Oscars with me. I bought a newspaper, went to the bathroom, and started to read this piece about how I was going to win. I just thought, ''This is extraordinary.'' I was 39, and my parents had always worried for me. My father died the following spring. I think he died definitely not worried about me anymore.

Originally posted Feb 22, 2013 Published in issue #1248 Mar 01, 2013 Order article reprints