actress Parker Posey has acted in some classic films, from best on show to personal speed. That’s fitting for an actress who, after a brief stint on the soap opera As the world turns, made her feature film debut in cone heads, quickly followed by her breakout role in Richard Linklater’s ’90s cult classic Dazed and confused. She worked on the soap opera for less than a year before landing her breakout role, and Posey hasn’t let up since. As the queen of indie films, Posey has also had memorable performances in bigger films like You have mail and Blade: Trinity.
She was born (along with her twin brother Christopher) in 1968 in Baltimore, Maryland. Parker’s family moved to Monroe, Louisiana, and later to Laurel, Mississippi, because of her mother’s career as a cook and her father’s career in auto dealerships. She studied acting at the State University of New York at Purchase and booked her first role (on As the world turns) not long after high school. Since then she has worked continuously and frequently collaborates with director Christopher Guest and has appeared in five of his great mockumentary films: Waiting for Guffman (1996), best on show (2000), A mighty wind (2003), For your consideration (2006) and mascot (2016).
While Posey hasn’t achieved A-list fame in her more than three decades of professional acting, she has achieved something far more elusive and important: a solid, steady, long-lasting career as a film and television actress and one of the most iconic and hip Faces of Gen X. One of the most underrated actors of the past three decades, let’s take a look at Parker Posey’s best performances.
7 price check
price check is a 2012 film starring Eric Mabius as Pete Cozy. Pete has a hard life. His debt is high, he hates his job and it all affects his marriage and family life. Parker Posey plays Pete’s new boss, Susan, a human energizing bunny who drags Pete into the chaos of her life and work, forcing him to work harder than ever. Posey is a force of nature here, playing a little against type but going all-in in character.
6 Henry fool
Henry fool (1998) is the first film in a trilogy that also includes films from 2006 Fay Grimm and 2014s Ned gun with Aubrey Plaza. Henry Fool (an incredible Thomas Jay Ryan) is a novelist who has just been released from a seven-year sentence for attempted statutory rape. He is friends with the socially awkward Simon Grim, a garbage man who is inspired by Fool to write a poem that ends up winning the Nobel Prize. Parker Posey plays Simon’s sister, Fay Grim, whom he seduces and impregnates. As Simon’s star rises, Henry descends into a life of bar boozing. This unclassifiable film directed by Hal Hartley is a funny, weird, brilliant independent film that paved the way for a surprisingly suspenseful trilogy.
5 Fay Grimm
Fay Grimm takes place seven years after the events of Henry fool. Parker Posey reprises her role as the title character, who is coerced by a CIA agent (Jeff Goldblum) to find mysterious notebooks her fugitive husband, Henry Fool, is said to possess. Believing her husband is dead, Fay plunges into a world of espionage when she goes to Paris to recover part of the diary. The diaries all ended up in the hands of her brother Simon and Henry at some point. As the mystery deepens, Fay is briefed on the contents of the journals, raising the stakes and putting her life in jeopardy. A surprisingly cool and absolutely brilliant film, Fay Grimm is a stylish, exciting and mysterious film that positions Posey as a badass female lead that she doesn’t get to play often.
4 best on show
best on show is a 2000 mockumentary from the mind of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, chronicling the characters around an exclusive dog show resembling the real Westminster Dog Show. Parker Posey played Meg Snow, who along with her husband Hamilton is a stereotypical yuppie from the Chicago suburbs. Your Weimaraner Beatrice takes part in the competition. Poor Beatrice’s behavior is greatly affected by the neurotic behavior of the swans. When Beatrice’s favorite toy goes missing, they desperately search for a replacement before the show begins. Though the ensemble cast (Catherine O’Hara, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley Jr. and more) is incredible, Poset hilariously steals every scene she’s in.
3 Waiting for Guffman
Christopher Guest and the great Eugene Levy also wrote the 1996 mockumentary Waiting for Guffman in which Parker Posey plays the role of Libby Mae Brown. The film follows the creation of a community theater production in the fictional town of Blaine, Missouri. The production, red, white and blaine, is intended to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the city. Posey’s character is a delightfully bored employee of the local dairy queen, who is cast in the play along with other townspeople. As usual, she’s incredibly naturalistic and organic in her work with Guest, and her combination of improvisation and character work is both hilarious and emotionally intuitive.
2 Dazed and confused
Parker Posey had her breakthrough role in Richard Linklater’s 1993 film (which also introduced the world to Ben Affleck, Renee Zelwegger, Adam Goldberg and Milla Jovovich). Dazed and confused. She played an older cheerleader named Darla, who takes great pleasure in bullying freshmen. When she infamously yells “air strike,” the girls land on their stomachs on the floor while Poser cackles happily in a delightfully evil performance. Posey improvised parts of her memorable performance in the 1976 film about the last day of high school, which also launched Matthew McConaughey’s career. All right, all right, all right.
1 party girl
party girl starred Parker Posey as Mary, a free spirit who sleeps all day and parties all night. The 1995 film is notable for being the first film to premiere on the internet. Mary is arrested for throwing an underground rave and calls her godmother to ransom her. Mary works for her godmother in the library to pay off her debt. She’s inspired to learn the Dewey Decimal System after totally eloping at work, and the film’s weird, aimless fun builds from there. party girl is so entertaining that it can make viewers nostalgic for the complete chaos of being in their 20’s, and Posey is iconic in it.