Helen Elizabeth Hunt (born June 15, 1963) is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom, Mad About You, for seven years before being cast in the 1997 romantic comedy film, As Good as It Gets for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Some of her other Hollywood credits include Twister, Cast Away, What Women Want, Pay It Forward, and Soul Surfer. She made her directorial debut in 2007 with Then She Found Me. Hunt was born in Culver City, California. Her mother, Jane Elizabeth (ne Novis), worked as a photographer, and her father, Gordon E. Hunt, is a film director and acting coach. Her uncle, Peter H. Hunt, is also a director. Her Iowa-born maternal grandmother, Dorothy (Anderson) Fries, was a voice coach. Hunt's paternal grandmother was from a German Jewish family, while Hunt's other grandparents were of English descent (her maternal grandfather had been born in England).
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