5 Questions With … Marlee Matlin Of ABC’s “Quantico”

ABC/Giovanni Rufino

5 Questions With … Marlee Matlin Of ABC’s “Quantico” By Jacqueline Cutler

Anyone can make a loud entrance, but it takes an actor of terrific intensity to make a silent one and then to command the screen.

Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin does this when she joins ABC’s Thursday night drama Quantico as former FBI Agent and instructor Jocelyn Turner. Though a bomb left her deaf, Turner remains a sharp shooter and the agent others turn to in a crisis.

Showrunner Michael Seitzman had worked with Matlin on Code Black and wanted to bring her back. When the budget for that didn’t work, he said he would find a way for them to work together. “Michael Seitzman, like Aaron Sorkin or David E. Kelley or Ilene Chaiken, is that rarity in Hollywood: a person true to their word,” Matlin says.

Matlin, who won her Oscar for Children of a Lesser God, has been deaf since she was a baby. She loved the stage the first time she was on it at age 7. A few years later, Henry Winkler saw her as a young teen at the International Center on Deafness and the Arts and told her, “You can be whatever you want to be. Just follow your heart, and all your dreams will come true.”

Over the years, they stayed close. “After I won the Oscar and critics said I would never work in Hollywood again, Henry stepped in again with words of advice and even offered his home when I had nowhere to go,” Matlin says. “He has been my mentor, my friend, my second father. And I know one of the reasons I defied the critics and am still working 30 years later is because of his words of advice and support.”

Married for 25 years to a retired police officer, when a scene calls for her to brandish a weapon, Matlin says, “I send him a picture, and he tells me how to hold it right!”

The mother of four has performed on Broadway, written four books, and wants to do more producing and continue to encourage other deaf actors. She answers our “5 Questions” via email.


  1. If acting weren’t your profession, what career would you most likely have pursued or would you be successful at? Own a candy store; I love sweets.


  1. What has been your strangest fan encounter? Strangest, maybe not, but overwhelming when Shirley Temple told me she was a fan. I was blown away that such a film icon knew who I was!


  1. Tell us about a time when you were starstruck. Meeting Billy Joel for the first time. Just like in his song, we met in an Italian restaurant in New York City. Next thing I knew, I was performing “Just the Way You Are” with him on Sesame Street. We’ve performed together a few times ever since.


  1. What movie can you watch repeatedly? The Wizard of Oz. That film inspired me to be an actress and dream big.


  1. What would surprise people about you? I’m shy and at the same time very loud.