Great Character Actors of Today #11
August 21, 2012
Name: Amy Aquino.
Background: A graduate of Harvard (where she studied biology) and Yale Drama, she is currently an officer in the Screen Actors Guild and a former owner of the historic Villa Royale inn in Palm Springs.
Best Known For: Her cross-ethnic casting as the mother in a Jewish-American family in Brooklyn Bridge, Gary David Goldberg’s fifties-set Wonder Years knockoff.
Usually plays: Authority figures who are (as she said of herself in a 1992 profile) “lobster-tough on the outside, mushy on the inside.”
Recurring on: Too many series to count, including Freaks & Geeks, Everybody Loves Raymond, Crossing Jordan (as a cop), Judging Amy (as a judge), Picket Fences (as a doctor), Felicity (another doctor), Harry’s Law (another judge), and Brothers & Sisters (doctor again). And she would have been the warden on Prison Break‘s distaff backdoor spinoff, had it gone to series.
A Long Run: Starting with the famous, Emmy-winning first-season episode “Love’s Labor Lost,” she was a recurring cast member throughout ER‘s entire run as brusque obstetrician Dr. Janet Coburn. Like most of the doctors from “upstairs,” Coburn was usually a background figure … so it was a welcome surprise when Aquino enjoyed some meaty (and moving) scenes during the penultimate season, in which Dr. Coburn proved to be the perfect dispenser of tough love as Abby’s (Maura Tierney) AA sponsor during a gruesome fall off the wagon.