Born in 1970 in Queens, New York, she attended the city's illustrious High School of Performing Arts and was soon cast in a national tour of Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues. After a decade of treading the boards in regional theatres and off-Broadway, she made her Broadway debut in 1992 as Tess in The Sisters Rosenzweig and went on to replace Calista Flockhart in the 1997 revival of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters.
In 2000 she received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Sonya in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and in 2005 earned another nod for her role as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. In between theatre work, she also built up a considerable CV on the small screen, most notably in 1992 TV series I'll Fly Away and a prominent recurring role in series two of the award-winning gritty cop drama, The Wire, as Officer Beatrice 'Beadie' Russell. She also made appearances on popular shows such as ER and Law & Order.
After roles in independent movies such as Keane and You Can Count On Me, in 2005 she landed a role in the blockbuster War Of The Worlds. That same year she appeared in Capote as the star-struck sheriff's wife thrilled at having the famed author in her house. That came in 2007 when Gone Baby Gone, in which she starred with Casey Affleck, made Hollywood sit up and pay attention. Hot on the heels of the movie's success she appeared in several other productions, including Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, Neal Cassady and Dan In Real Life.
The buzz surrounding her performance as Helene McCready brought the sort of plum parts most jobbing actors dream of. She was cast opposite Angelina Jolie in the 2008 movie The Changeling and signed up for Green Zone to play a CIA agent with A-list hunk Matt Damon on the trail of weapons of mass destruction. She continues to blaze a trail on the silver screen while admitting: "Theatre will always be in my bones. I feel it's always where I'm going to root out bad habits I might pick up along the way. So I will always go back."