Linda Hunt as Hetty Lange, operations manager of an elite undercover division of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in "NCIS: Los Angeles."
The diminutive 4-foot, 9-inch actress is a towering talent on stage, TV, and the movie screen. She has won an Academy Award and two Obie Awards and was nominated for a Tony Award, and her "NCIS" role has earned her the Teen Choice Award for Best Actress in an action series two years in a row.
Born in 1945, she was raised in Westport, Conn., but Hunt was diagnosed with a form of dwarfism.
When her parents took her to her first Broadway show -- a production of "Peter Pan" -- Hunt realized the stage was a place she might at least feel taller. "I longed to be bigger than life, because I wasn't," she told Lee Cowan. Through acting, "I could pretend to be anything."
Hunt attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan (where she received the Theatre Department Award her junior and senior year) and the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago.
Linda Hunt performs a scene from "The Importance of Being Ernest," May 21, 1963, on WPBN-TV in Traverse City/Cadillac, Mich.
Hunt told Cowan that she worked on her voice, to sound more authoritative than she appeared. "When I was 16, nobody else talked like me. Nobody else sounded like me," she said. "That made me big."
Hunt appeared at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Conn., in a one-woman show on the life of Joan of Arc. She then made her New York debut in 1972, as the Player Queen in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of "Hamlet." Her off-Broadway and Broadway credits include Eugene O'Neill's "Ah, Wilderness!"; Bertoldt Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children"; "Doubt"; "The Cherry Orchard"; "Three Sisters"; and Wallace Shawn's "Aunt Dan and Lemon."
She won two Obie Awards (for "A Metamorphosis in Miniature" and "Top Girls"), and was nominated for a Tony Award for "End of the World."
Hunt's first major film appearance was in the 1982 drama "The Year of Living Dangerously." Set in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1965, the film follows an Australian journalist (Mel Gibson) and his photographer-assistant Billy Kwan (Hunt) covering the political turmoil as the Sukarno government teeters on collapse.
A cypher to many, Hunt's character is a behind-the-scenes player who keeps meticulous dossiers on local figures and even on the people he works for.
His rage about the plight of Indonesia's poor leads him to ever-more-dangerous work against the Sukarno regime.
"I can't be a man," Linda Hunt said. "But I can embrace the head of a man, the intelligence of a man, the spirit of a man."
For her powerful performance, Hunt won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress -- the first time ever an Oscar was awarded for playing a character of the opposite sex.
Linda Hunt as the saloonkeeper Stella and Kevin Kline as the gunslinger Paden in Lawrence Kasden's "Silverado" (1985).
In David Lynch's adaptation of the science fiction novel "Dune" (1984), Linda Hunt played Shadout Mapes, a housekeeper in the Imperial Residence on Arrakis, who learns the identity of a traitor in their midst -- and pays for it.
Linda Hunt appeared in Peter Yates' "Eleni" (1985), based on Nicholas Gage's memoir about the effects of the Greek Civil War on the village of his youth.
Linda Hunt as Alice B. Toklas and Linda Bassett as Gertrude Stein in "Waiting for the Moon." The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival.
Linda Hunt as Miss Schlowski, the school principal, in the Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy "Kindergarten Cop" (1990).
Sally Kellerman, Tracey Ullman and Linda Hunt in Robert Altman's 1994 satire of the Paris fashion scene, "Pret-a-Porter."
Linda Hunt and Kevin Costner in the 2002 thriller "Dragonfly."
Linda Hunt (Hetty Lange) and Chris O'Donnell (Special Agent Callen) in "NCIS: Los Angeles."
Linda Hunt (here with Peter Cambor and David Bickford in "NCIS: Los Angeles") nearly always steals the scene.
Actors Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J and Linda Hunt attend the 2011 CBS Upfront at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 18, 2011 in New York City.