Character actress Alberta Watson passed away on Saturday due to cancer, her agent has reported. Watson was 60.
Watson began her acting career in Canada with national broadcaster CBC, gaining notice for a key role in the 1978 feature In Praise of Older Women. Watson went on to a variety of roles in movies such as 1981’s Black Mirror and 1983’s The Keep, as well as guest stints on shows such as Kane & Abel.
Watson got her first major television role in Buck James, following that up with guest appearances on shows such as The Equalizer and Street Legal. As the 90s came around, she became a more prominent fixture in television, appearing on shows such as Law & Order and The Outer Limits. Watson also appeared in David O. Russell’s 1994 feature Spanking the Monkey, garnering acclaim for her role of Susan Aibelli. She followed that up with roles in the 1995 feature Hackers, and the 1997 film The Sweet Hereafter, by fellow Canadian Atom Egoyan.
1997 also saw the debut of the CTV/Warner Bros. show La Femme Nikita. Based on the Luc Besson film of the same name, the show cast Watson as Madeline, a high-ranking member of Section One whose specialty was psychological manipulation. Watson played the role as a regular for four seasons, continuing on the show through chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma, before her character committed suicide. She still appeared in a guest capacity in the show’s fifth season.
Watson continued to juggle movies and television, appearing in three features in 2001, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chasing Cain, and Tart. She soon garnered another supporting role on television on the Canadian series Show Me Yours, before joining the Fox show 24 in its third season. Watson played Erin Driscoll, a CTU director who was forced to handle a looming professional crisis while dealing with her mentally unstable daughter’s descent.
Watson went on to roles in Sarah Polley’s 2006 feature Away From Her and Scott Frank’s 2007 film The Lookout before returning to CBC in a supporting turn on the channel’s drama The Border, where she played Minister Suzanne Fleischer. Watson’s final role saw her come full circle, to a degree, as she played Senator Madeline Pierce on the CW series Nikita, a series that was also based on the Besson film, and harkened back to her role on La Femme Nikita.
Watson finished her career with four Gemini nominations, as well as co-winning the National Board of Review’s prize in 1997 for Best Acting By an Ensemble, for her part in The Sweet Hereafter.