Helen Jane Shaver

Helen Jane Shaver, actor, director, producer (born at St Thomas, Ont 24 Feb 1951). Helen Shaver developed a love of literature as a child when she was confined to bed with rheumatic fever. A passionate actress who has taken risks with her choice of roles, Shaver's strength lies in her ability to convey vulnerability in her characters.

At age 16 Shaver won the best actress award in the Sears Ontario Drama Festival and earned a scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts (seeBANFF CENTRE). Her first professional engagement came a year later as Hilde in Ibsen's The Master Builder in London, Ont. Although known mainly for her TV and film appearances, she performed on the stage in the 1970s with Vancouver's City Stage and Arts Theatre and at Ontario's Muskoka Festival. In 1984 she starred in Necessary Angel's production of John Krizanc's acclaimed Tamara in Los Angeles, and in 1991-92 appeared opposite Alan Alda on Broadway and in Los Angeles in Neil Simon's Jake's Women.

Shaver's film career began with The Naked Man (1973) - a Mexico/Canada co-production shot in Vancouver. In the late 1970s she was in tax-shelter productions such as Starship Invasions (1977), High-Ballin' (1978) and the cult hit Outrageous! (1977). In 1977 she appeared in Allan KING's film adaptation of W.O. MITCHELL's Who Has Seen the Wind. The next year she was recognized with a best actress Etrog (later GENIE AWARD) for her role as Ann MacDonald in the film adaptation of Stephen Vizinczey's novel In Praise of Older Women, directed by George Kaczender. An independent-minded person, she turned down long-term contracts in favour of a more precarious life as a freelance artist. Her breakthrough American film was The Amityville Horror (1979) with Margot KIDDER.

Other important film credits include the lead performance as an addict with Dennis Hopper in Sam Peckinpah's The Osterman Weekend (1983); the lead, to critical acclaim, in Desert Hearts (1985; based on the novel by Jane RULE) - an important film and one of the first movies with a lesbian theme; the role of a shipwrecked woman in the Canadian-made adventure Lost! (1986; Genie nomination for best supporting actress); an appearance with Tom Cruise and Paul Newman in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money (1986); and the role of a missionary in Philip BORSOS's Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990), starring Donald SUTHERLAND and Helen Mirren. Helen Shaver appeared in the Canada/Japan co-production Rowing Through (1995), and the low-budget Canadian film We All Fall Down (2000; she was also executive producer). She received a Genie Award for best supporting actress for her part as a drug-addicted, street-tough hooker.

Well-known as a television actress, Shaver has had recurring roles in 5 series: in all 13 episodes of United States (1980); in Jessica Novak (1981), in the lead as a TV news reporter; in WIOU (1990-91), as a news anchor; in all 87 episodes of the Vancouver-shot horror series Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996-99); and in 22 episodes of The Education of Max Bickford (2000-01). It was for Poltergeist that she stepped behind the camera to direct several episodes. She has become an in-demand director and has helmed series such as The Outer Limits, The O.C., Judging Amy, Flashpoint, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Combat Hospital.

Additional television work includes guest star appearances in The Edison Twins, Hill Street Blues, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, E.N.G., Columbo, The Outer Limits and The L Word, as well as such specials as This Park Is Mine (1986) and No Blame (1988; Gemini Award nomination for best actress), a compassionate AIDS-related movie-of-the-week that won the Red Cross Award at the Monte Carlo Film and TV Festival.

Her first television movie, Summer's End (1999), a family film starring James Earl Jones and Wendy CREWSON, was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding directing in a children's special and won the Children's Jury Award at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. Shaver won a GEMINI AWARD for her directing work on the series Just Cause (2003), and was nominated for The Outer Limits. She was also nominated by the Directors Guild of Canada for her work on the series The Bridge (2010).

In 2004 Helen Shaver was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.