Marielle Heller is an American actor and director who is best known for directing the films The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019). As an actor, she came into the limelight with Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit (2020) in which she played the role of Alma Wheatley. Apart from acting and directing, she also has various writing credits under her belt including the Disney film Renegade X (2014), a pilot for the channel ABC titled ‘The Big Apple’, the screenplay for the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), etc.
Marielle Heller was born on Monday, October 1, 1979, (age 41 years; as of 2020) in Marin County in California, United States. She did her schooling at Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda, California. During her childhood, she was a member of Alameda Children’s Musical, a performing arts theater in Alameda, where she performed in various plays like Winnie the Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, and The Magician’s Nephew. Later, she pursued her graduation at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Thereafter, she polished her theatre skills while training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. After returning back to California, she worked as a screenwriter for various plays and films along with her writing partner, Cailin Goldberg-Meehan. Later, she enrolled herself in a six-week crash course in film direction at the Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs, Utah.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Color: Light Golden Brown
Eye Color: Black
Family & Ethnicity
Although Marielle Heller was born into a Jewish family, neither she nor her husband is a practicing Jew.
Parents & Siblings
Marielle Heller’s father, Steve Heller, is a chiropractor, and her mother and Annie Stiles-Heller, is an artist and art teacher.
Her brother, Nate Heller, is a musician and composer who composed music for three of Marielle’s films Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015), Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019). Her sister, Emily Heller, is a stand-up comedian and writer who writes for the HBO series Barry (2018).
Relationships, Husband & Children
Marielle Heller’s husband, Jorma Taccone, is an American comedian, director, actor, and writer who is also a member of the sketch comedy troupe The Lonely Island. In 1999, Marielle and Jorma first met each other while they were graduating from UCLA. Her son’s name is Wylie Red Heller Taccone. In 2020, she gave birth to her second child.
As a Director
After graduating from the University of California, Marielle Heller spent her initial years working as an actress. Later, in 2015, Marielle Heller made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed film The Diary of A Teenage Girl. Based on Phoebe Gloeckner’s novel of the same name, The Diary of A Teenage Girl (2015) features Minnie Goetze, a 15-year-old who begins an affair with her mother’s 35-year-old boyfriend. The film was recognized as the best first feature at the Independent Spirit Awards (2016), which Heller immense recognition.
In 2018, she directed her second film Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger, which was based on the memoir of the scam artist Lee Israel, a celebrity biographer who forged letters by famous dead celebrities like Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker, and Lillian Hellman to make money. The film was a breakout hit at the Telluride Film Festival. In 2019, she directed another superhit film ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.’
As an Actress
Since her television debut White Power (2001) in which she played a cameo role of a party girl, Marielle Heller appeared in various films like Spin City (2002), All-For-Nots (2008), Single Dads (2009), etc. Thereafter, she made her film debut t with MacGruber (2010) in which she played the role of Clocky. Later, she appeared in various films A Walk Among the Tombstones(2014), Paper Anchor (2016), Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016), etc. In 2020, Marielle Heller made her digital debut with Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit in which she played the breakout role of Alma Wheatley, a lonely housewife with an absent husband who welcomes Beth Harmon (protagonist played by Anya Taylor-Joy) as both her adopted daughter and much-needed companion.
- Won International Feature Film Award at Zurich Film Festival (2015) for the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
- Won Best International Feature Film Award at Edinburgh International Film Festival (2015) for the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
- Won Best New Filmmaker Award at Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (2015) for the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
- Won Independent Spirit Award at the Film Independent Spirit Awards (2016) for the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
- Won Best Director Award at FEST International Film Festival (2016) for the film The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
- Won Best Feature Film Award At Winnipeg Real to Reel Film Festival (2020) for the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
- Since childhood, she was fond of giving people orders and taking control of everything. In an interview, she said,
I think it’s pretty fair to say that I was pretty bossy, and I used to make Nate and all the other kids in the neighborhood act out little plays and stuff. It’s weird that I didn’t realize I should be a director earlier in my life.”
- Like many other 1960s kids, She too grew up watching Fred Rogers in the American children’s television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968), which later inspired her to make the film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) about Fred Rogers.
- In 2006, after receiving a copy of the book ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’ as a Christmas gift from her sister, Heller fell in love with the raw, unvarnished emotions illustrated by the novelist, Phoebe Gloeckner, and therefore, she determined to acquire its stage rights. in the book ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’, Heller determined to acquire its stage rights. In 2010, after acquiring the stage rights, Heller produced a theatre play featuring herself in the lead role of Minnie, which was staged at the 3LD Art & Technology Center in Manhattan. Later, it took four years to turn it into a film for which Heller pursued a six-week crash course in film direction at the Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs, Utah.
- She also owns a production company ‘Defiant By Nature.’