Kathy Baker was born in Midland, Texas to John Seawand Baker, a geologist and educator, and his French-born wife, Helene Andree (née Whitton).
Baker began her acting career at San Francisco's Magic Theatre, performing in several of Sam Shepard's plays before getting a significant role in an off-Broadway production of Fool for Love (1983), which she won an Obie Award for. She later had dramatic performances as a prostitute in Street Smart (1987) and a recovering alcoholic and victim of domestic abuse in Clean and Sober (1988). For her role in Street Smart, she won National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress and Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. as well as an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female nomination.
From 1992 to 1996, Baker starred in the CBS drama series, Picket Fences. She won Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series three times: in 1993, 1995 and 1996, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in 1994, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 1995.
From the late 1990s, Baker has appeared in a lot of films in supporting and leading roles. Some of her major ones include Cold Mountain (2003), 13 Going on 30 (2004), Take Shelter (2011) and Saving Mr. Banks.
- Graduated from the University of California - Berkeley with a degree in French.
- Her acting mentor is Tom Skerritt.