Felicity Huffman's Transformation

Spending decades in the entertainment business has certainly taught Felicity Huffman a lot. Throughout her long career, the Bedford, New York-born celebrity has immersed herself extensively in the acting craft, taking her talents to the stage, television, and ultimately, film. Accolades and nominations eventually followed, although things rarely came easily for Huffman. While she has acting credits that go all the way back to the '70s, it took the actress several years to finally break into the business and truly gain the status of a Hollywood star.

Meanwhile, just when it seemed like things were finally looking up for Huffman, the actress became embroiled in a scandal that nearly destroyed everything she worked so hard to earn. Since then, Huffman has been determined to put the past behind her. she has also been on the road to redemption as she sets out to regain her footing in the industry once more. Luckily for her, Hollywood loves a good second act.

Felicity Huffman was born into a big, non-acting family

Felicity Huffman was born on December 9, 1962, to a big household where her mom, Grace Ewing Huffman, took charge of the house while her dad, Moore Peters Huffman, worked in investment banking. "[S]he worked harder than a Fortune 500 CEO," the actress once said of her mother during an interview with The Washington Post. Grace raised eight children, and Felicity was her youngest child (Felicity even once joked in a Television Academy Foundation interview that by the time her parents had her, they had run out of names). Growing up in a big family also taught Felicity a valuable lesson early on. "[Y]ou're very much a part of a community, and community starts at home," she once told CBS News.

Meanwhile, despite having a lot of kids, Huffman's mother made sure to nurture all her children's interests. At one point, Felicity expressed an interest in becoming a ballerina, although she eventually came to realize that she only liked the outfit. Luckily, Grace had another suggestion for her young daughter.

She attended acting camp at age 11

Growing up, Felicity Huffman was "loud and obnoxious," at least according to her mother, Grace Ewing Huffman. And that's why she recommended that the young Felicity get into acting, even sending her to an acting camp when she was only 11. While there, she ended up joining the chorus and loved every minute of it. For Huffman at that time, it wasn't so much about the acting lessons they taught at camp. Rather, it was the people around her. "I think I fell in love with the group before the actual activity or art of it," the actress even admitted during her Television Academy Foundation interview.

After going to acting camp, Huffman was hooked. Later on, she also attended the Buckley School in Los Angeles, which boasts a strong performing arts program. In the spring of 2022, the school staged its own production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical."

At 15, she made her on-screen debut

Just a few years after attending her first acting camp, Felicity Huffman found herself doing a little bit of TV work after she got cast in the Emmy-winning teen anthology series "ABC Afterschool Specials." Over the years, the show has been known to feature several talents who go on to become Hollywood stars years later. Among the show's most famous alumni are Ben Affleck, Marisa Tomei, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosanna Arquette, Mayim Bialik, Rob Lowe, Jodie Foster, and Cynthia Nixon.

As for Huffman, she starred in the episode "Home Run for Love," for which she is credited under her nickname as Flicka Huffman. Based on the book "Thank You, Jackie Robinson" by Barbara Cohen, the episode tells the story of a young white boy and an old Black man who form an unlikely friendship thanks to their love of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson, the first African American to ever play Major League Baseball. Meanwhile, Huffman plays Sara Greene, who helps her family run a hotel. And while the actress doesn't get much screen time in the episode, her work on the show earned Huffman her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card.

A few years later, Felicity Huffman explored off-Broadway theater and fell in love

After getting a little on-screen acting experience, Felicity Huffman became fully invested in pursuing acting as a career. As she got older, she eventually attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, which allowed her to do more theater work in high school. Later on, Huffman also studied drama at New York University. Eventually, this led her to become one of the Atlantic Theater Company's founding members. It was also here that she met and fell in love with actor William H. Macy.

The first time they saw each other, however, Huffman and Macy couldn't date. Huffman was enrolled in Macy's acting class and the actor didn't want to date a student no matter how much he was attracted to her. Eventually, it was Huffman who made the first move. When they ended up attending the same house party in Vermont, Huffman invited Macy to check out a barn. That's when the actor decided he had to make his move. "So I screwed up my courage, grabbed her hand and planted a big one on her," Macy recalled during an interview with the The Washington Post.

In 1988, she also made her Broadway debut

When Felicity Huffman ventured into theater, she ended up meeting American playwright David Mamet, who also served as the actress' mentor. Eventually, Mamet cast the actress in his Broadway play "Speed-the-Plow" after music legend Madonna left the cast. When Huffman made her Broadway debut, she wasn't sure if the audience would stick around to watch her. "I'd sometimes go into work through the box office, and you'd hear people going: '[Madonna's] not in it anymore? I want my tickets back!'" the actress recalled during an interview with the Daily Actor.

Later on, Huffman would also return to the stage to perform in Mamet's other plays, joining the cast of "November," which allowed her to stretch her acting muscles. "There's all this breathing room to explore and discover and excavate," the actress told the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, Huffman also joined Mamet's wife, actress Rebecca Pidgeon, in "The Anarchist."

The actress struggled to book bigger on-screen roles in the years that followed

After doing theater, Felicity Huffman was ready to pursue on-screen roles, and during the early '90s, she booked several of them. For instance, she landed brief guest roles on shows such as "Early Edition," "The X-Files," "Chicago Hope," and "Law & Order." At the same time, Huffman also landed a regular role on Aaron Sorkin's dramedy "Sports Night." The actress believes that she booked the Emmy-winning series because of "Speed-the-Plow." Unfortunately, however, the show only ran for two seasons.

And while the actress managed to book several roles, she also struggled to win over casting directors much of the time. As Huffman recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, one even once told her, "You're so good, but you're just not pretty." 

"They weren't saying it to be mean," Huffman added. "They just didn't want me to think I wasn't right because I couldn't act." At one point, the actress even earned just $12,000 in a single year as she ended up doing several failed pilots. Things got so bad that Huffman started to think about studying at the Marinello Schools of Beauty (the schools have since shut down) and becoming a hairdresser.

In 1997, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy tied the knot

After Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy started dating, the couple ended up having an on-and-off relationship over the years. As it also turned out, Macy had proposed to Huffman several times, although the actress was hesitant to say yes. "I was so scared of marriage that I thought I would've preferred to step in front of a bus," Huffman even once confessed, according to the Tribune News Service. The actress also thought that she would eventually lose herself if she decided to marry someone.

But then, Huffman and Macy broke up for several years and the moment Macy proposed again, the actress already knew she wasn't going to say no this time around. "It was the work I had to do in order to bring myself to the marriage and then the work that I did to be able to trust another person and see what comes out of that comfort and that safety," she explained. The couple eventually wed on September 6, 1997. Since then, Macy and Huffman have stood by each other and supported each other's acting careers. In 2012, the Hollywood stars also became one of only a few couples to ever receive a double star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The guest speakers at their ceremony included David Mamet and Aaron Sorkin.

At 37, the actress became a mom

Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy also eventually started a family, welcoming their first child, daughter Sophia Grace Macy, on August 1, 2000. From the time that she learned they were expecting, Huffman devoted a lot of time to preparing herself for their baby's arrival, reading as many books, and getting tips from parents who seemingly managed to raise incredible children. Despite this, however, the actress still found herself struggling with parenting the moment her daughter was born. "I did not enter into motherhood with any sense of equanimity or grace," Huffman even once told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm surrounded by women who are much better mothers than I am, and they come to it much more naturally."

Not long after, Macy and Huffman also welcomed their second daughter, Georgia Grace Macy, on March 14, 2002. And for Macy, their youngest daughter reminds him of his wife in a lot of ways. "Georgia is like her mom: fierce," the actor told People. "[S]o smart, like Felicity." Over the years, Huffman juggled family with work, sometimes leaving her daughters with Macy in Los Angeles as she traveled to shoot scenes.  

In 2004, Felicity Huffman finally got her breakout moment

Just a few years after becoming a mom, Felicity Huffman also caught her biggest break in television yet after getting cast in Marc Cherry's ABC sitcom "Desperate Housewives." The show centered on a group of wives (some of whom were mothers) who are left to deal with the aftermath of their neighbor's suicide.

And while the show reportedly considered high-profile television stars such as Calista Flockhart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Heather Locklear to join the cast, it turns out that Huffman had something that none of these stars had: a real-life struggle with parenting. As pilot director Charles McDougall once told Entertainment Weekly, "Felicity stormed in swearing that she wanted to kill her kids, which got her the part." On the show, Huffman played Lynette Scavo, a mom who has her hands full attending to the needs of her four children on a daily basis. "I was kind of drowning in motherhood like Lynette, and that's what really got me the part, so I should thank my children," the actress also told the publication.

Not long after, she also got her first Oscar nod

As Felicity Huffman worked on "Desperate Housewives," she also gravitated toward the film project "Transamerica," which tells the story of a transgender woman named Bree who suddenly discovers that she has a son. When Huffman's agent sent her the script for the low-budget film, she considered taking on the lead role without any hesitation and that's exactly what Duncan Tucker, the film's writer and director, wanted in his lead actress. "If an actress was going to be scared off by the material, then she wasn't the right actress," he told Entertainment Weekly. And while other stars may hesitate to drastically change their appearance for the cameras, Huffman didn't care. "I was never a beauty, so it was never something I had to safeguard," the actress also told the publication.

"Transamerica" went on to score some good critical reviews following its release in 2005. Many also praised Huffman for her performance in the movie, which eventually led to her first Oscar nod. Amid all of this, however, transgender actress Alexandra Billings knew that Huffman's success in the movie could have been hers as she was the one originally cast in the lead. Billings eventually had the opportunity to confront Huffman about it. "[S]he felt really bad, which made me feel great," Billings told Screen Crush.

After Desperate Wives ended in 2012, the actress booked multiple TV and film roles

Eight long seasons and seven Emmy wins later, "Desperate Wives" was ready to end its run. By then, it was also time for Felicity Huffman to explore new projects both in television and film. Just a few years after wrapping up "Desperate Housewives," the actress went on to join the cast of John Ridley's anthology series "American Crime.a" Interestingly, Huffman got cast for the show just a week after production had been scheduled to start (which was also right after Ridley won a screenwriting Oscar for "12 Years a Slave"). That said, Huffman was quite ready to play the role of Barb Hanlon, a mom who reveals her racial prejudices after her son, a war veteran, gets brutally murdered during a home invasion. The actress knew that she was already being considered for the part early on, so she workshopped it at home with her husband, veteran actor William H. Macy.

Meanwhile, on the big screen, Huffman also joined fellow TV veteran Jennifer Aniston and Anna Kendrick in the drama "Cake." Inspired by a tragic true story, the film centers on Claire Bennett (Aniston), a woman who becomes fixated on the suicide of another woman (Kendrick) in her support group as she deals with her own tragedy. In the film, Huffman plays Annette, the leader of Claire's support group.

In 2019, Felicity Huffman got caught in a scandal

For some time, things continued to look bright for Felicity Huffman. The actress kept on booking film and television roles, working on the miniseries "When They See Us" and starring in the films "Otherhood" and "Tammy's Always Dying." But then, Huffman's world came crashing down after her involvement in a college admissions scandal came to light.

Federal investigators spent much of 2018 building a case against Huffman and other parents after an unrelated securities fraud investigation led them to discover a long-running scheme to tip college admissions scales in favor of the children any parents who paid their perpetrator, self-proclaimed college counselor Rick Singer, to do so. After Singer met with authorities, he agreed to record all phone calls and meetings with parents who solicited his "services" to get their children's admitted into some of the most prestigious schools in the U.S. Eventually, this led to some famous Hollywood parents, including Huffman and "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin. In an ABC interview, Huffman said the FBI arrested her at her home, waking her daughters up at gunpoint.

Soon after the scandal became public, Huffman pleaded guilty to paying Singer $15,000 to inflate her elder daughter's entrance exam scores and buy her more exam time. Months later, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison. On October 15, 2019, the actress reported to prison where she remained for 11 days. She also had to fulfill 250 hours of community service.

Since then, she's been determined to move on

Since serving her prison sentence, Felicity Huffman has been determined to move forward with her life, with husband William H. Macy and good friend (and former "Desperate Housewives" co-star) Eva Longoria supporting her every step of the way. "She was humbled by what happened, and I think she did handle it with as much grace as she could in that situation," Longoria even said while speaking with ET in 2019. And while family and friends are rallying behind Huffman, it took some time before Huffman eventually found her way back to the screen again. So far, Huffman has made only a brief appearance in the series "The Good Doctor," in which she was introduced as lawyer Janet Stewart. 

At the same time, Huffman continues to work closely with A New Way of Life, the organization through which she did her community service. Since finishing her mandatory 250 hours there, Huffman has joined its board of directors.