Alison Courtney Pill, actor (born 27 November 1985 in Toronto, ON). Alison Pill is a versatile character actor who shifts seamlessly between comedy and drama, and has acted extensively in theatre, film and television. She received a Tony Award nomination in 2006 for her performance in Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore, but is perhaps best known for her roles in the feature films Milk (2008) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), and the HBO drama The Newsroom (2012–14).
Early Years and Education
Pill grew up in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood and took an interest in performing at an early age. She began acting as an extra in the television series, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1993), which allowed her to secure an agent. She decided she wanted to be an actor at age 10 and was accepted into the Claude Watson School for the Arts in North York. She also joined the Toronto Children’s Chorus and was chosen to narrate one of the performances, which led to work narrating children’s audio books.
By the age of 11 she was appearing in commercials and on Canadian television series such as The New Ghostwriter Mysteries (1997), Fast Track (1998), PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1998), Poltergeist: The Legacy (1999) and Traders (2000). To better balance her education with the demands of her acting career, she attended Vaughn Road Academy’s Interact program, designed to accommodate students with outside commitments in the arts and athletics.
Pill made her feature film debut opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh and Drew Barrymore in Skipped Parts (2000) and continued to appear in television series and TV movies, including the Emmy Award-winning Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001), with Judy Davis and Victor Garber. She played best friend to Rachel McAdams in the Canadian film Perfect Pie (2002), appeared alongside Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson in the indie-comedy Pieces of April (2003), starred opposite Lindsay Lohan in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004) — an androgynous part she reportedly secured by sending the director pictures of herself dressed as a boy — and played a gun-toting pacifist in Thomas Vinterberg’s Dear Wendy (2004).
Broadway and Adult Career
After graduating from high school, Pill applied to Oxford but wasn’t accepted. She moved to New York and made her Off-Broadway debut in Neil LaBute’s The Distance From Here (2004). She then received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play for the Broadway production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2006). She also appeared in productions of Blackbird (2007), Mauritis (2007), LaBute’s reasons to be pretty (2008), This Wide Night (2010) opposite Edie Falco and the Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker (2010), playing Annie Sullivan to Abigail Breslin’s Helen Keller.
Pill made a smooth transition into adult roles, appearing on such established American television series as Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2006) and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008), as well as the short-lived NBC drama series The Book of Daniel (2006). Gus Van Sant cast her as Harvey Milk’s campaign manager in the Academy Award-winning Milk (2008). She starred opposite Gabriel Byrne in a season of the HBO drama In Treatment (2009) and played Empress Maude in the TV adaptation of Ken Follett’s epic novel The Pillars of the Earth (2010).
She learned the drums from Sloan’s Chris Murphy to play sarcastic drummer Kim Pine in the Toronto-set cult favourite Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) and played a lustful love interest in the hit Canadian hockey film Goon (2011). She performed in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011) and To Rome with Love (2012), and landed a co-starring role in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama The Newsroom (2012–14). She played the lead in a Los Angeles production of Wait Until Dark (2013), and co-starred in the thrillers Snowpiercer (2013) and Cooties (2014).
Pill’s personal life has been relatively tabloid free. However, she made headlines in September 2012 when she accidentally tweeted a topless photo of herself. She was engaged to Canadian actor Jay Baruchel, co-writer, producer and co-star of Goon, from December 2010 to March 2013.