June 5, 1963
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Actor, Speech coach
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A cool, confident-looking blonde with evocative, glamorous eyes and a clefted, jutting chin, Karen Sillas began a collaboration with filmmaker Hal Hartley when she performed in his student thesis film, "Kid" (1985), while the two attended SUNY-Purchase. Moving to New York City, she studied at the Actors Studio and appeared in such Studio productions as "Miss Julie," "The Cherry Orchard" and "Rasputin" before making her feature debut in a small role as the no-nonsense Nurse Paine in Hartley's striking "Trust" (1990). Sillas continued her affiliation with the director, playing a more prominent part as a lonely cafe owner who becomes involved with two very different brothers in his intriguing "Simple Men" (1992), and made a cameo appearance in Hartley's feature version of "Flirt" (1994). Her search for offbeat parts to spotlight her pensive seriousness and skill at conveying an edgy toughness tinged with vulnerability led her to portray a struggling artist in Dierdre Fishel's "Risk" (1993).Sillas was a well-kept secret of the independent film community until Tom Noonan's "What Happened Was . . ." (1993) blew her anonymity. The head of CBS casting saw the intense two-character film about a first date at the 1994 Sundance Festival (where it won the Grand Jury Prize) and immediately wanted her as the star of the network's new cop series "Under Suspicion" (1994-95). Sillas was right at home, comparing the atmosphere of the Oregon-based "Suspicion" to that of an independent film, and though it lasted only a season, she drew nothing but raves for her tight-lipped, tight-skirted detective Rose Phillips. Since then she has starred in two miniseries, "Peter Benchley's 'The Beast'" (NBC, 1996) and "Night Sins" (CBS, 1997), acted opposite Gary Cole in the ABC movie "Lies He Told" (also 1997). On the big screen, Sillas essayed a lesbian psychiatrist in "Female Perversions" (1996) and attempted a change of pace breezy turn as Steven Weber's no-nonsense girlfriend in Larry David's uneven black comedy "Sour Grapes" (1998).