Abigail Kathleen Breslin (born April 14, 1996) is an American actress. She is one of the youngest actresses ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. Breslin appeared in her first commercial when she was three years old, and in her first film, Signs (2002), at the age of five. Her subsequent films include Little Miss Sunshine (2006); No Reservations (2007); Nim's Island (2008); Definitely, Maybe (2008); My Sister's Keeper (2009); Zombieland (2009); Rango (2011); and The Call (2013).
Breslin was born in New York City, the daughter of Kim and Michael, a telecommunications expert, computer programmer, and consultant. She has two older brothers, Ryan and Spencer, who are also actors. Breslin lives in New York with her family, which her maternal grandparents have described as "very close-knit". She is named after First Lady of the United States Abigail Adams.
Breslin's career began at the age of three when she appeared in a Toys "R" Us commercial. Her first film role was in the 2002 science fiction thriller Signs, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, where she played Bo Hess, the daughter of the main character, Graham Hess (Mel Gibson). Signs garnered mostly positive reviews and was a box office success, grossing $408 million worldwide. Breslin's performance in the film was praised by critics. David Ansen of Newsweek wrote that she and her co-star Rory Culkin gave "terrifically natural, nuanced performances". In 2004, she appeared in the film Raising Helen, in which she and her brother Spencer played siblings but the film fared poorly.
Breslin had a small role in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. In the independent film Keane, she played Kira Bedik, a young girl who reminds the mentally disturbed protagonist William Keane (Damian Lewis) of his abducted daughter. Keane had a limited theatrical release and grossed only $394,390 worldwide but it received positive reviews and Breslin's performance was praised by critics. Meghan Keane of The New York Sun wrote that "the scenes between Mr. Lewis and the charmingly fragile Kira, winningly played by Ms. Breslin, bring a captivating humanity to the film".
Breslin's breakthrough role was in the 2006 comedy-drama Little Miss Sunshine, where she played Olive Hoover, a beauty pageant contestant, the youngest in a dysfunctional family on a road trip. She was cast at the age of six, years before filming was started. Her co-stars, Greg Kinnear and Alan Arkin, both mentioned that they were "astounded by her seriousness of purpose during shooting". Little Miss Sunshine was a critical and commercial success, grossing $100 million worldwide. Breslin's performance was highly praised;
Claudia Puig of USA Today wrote that "If Olive had been played by any other little girl, she would not have affected us as mightily as it did." She received nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the fourth youngest actress to be nominated in that category. Her co-star, Alan Arkin, did not think it was in her best interest to actually win the award, specifying that she "needs to have a childhood".
Although Jennifer Hudson won the Oscar, Breslin co-presented with actor Jaden Smith at the 79th Academy Awards on February 25, 2007. Breslin was part of the Disney Year of a Million Dreams celebration. Annie Leibovitz photographed her as Fira from Disney Fairies with Julie Andrews as the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio.
On October 27, 2007, Breslin made her stage debut in the play Right You Are (If You Think You Are) in New York City at the Guggenheim Museum starring in an ensemble cast alongside Cate Blanchett, Dianne Wiest, Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard. In 2007, Breslin was ranked #8 in Forbes Magazine's list of "Young Hollywood's Top-Earning Stars", having earned $1.5 million in 2006.
Breslin next appeared in the 2007 romantic comedy No Reservations, playing the niece of master chef Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The film garnered mostly negative reviews but was successful commercially, grossing $92 million worldwide. Roger Ebert wrote that Breslin "has the stuff to emerge as a three-dimensional kid, if she weren't employed so resolutely as a pawn." Also in 2007, she starred in another romantic comedy, Definitely, Maybe, as the daughter of a recently divorced father (played by Ryan Reynolds). Definitely, Maybe received generally favorable reviews, with Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer writing that Breslin is "alarmingly cute – but she backs the cuteness up with serious acting instinct".
In 2008, Breslin starred with Jodie Foster in the film Nim's Island as Nim Rusoe, a young girl who lives on a remote tropical island. Nim's Island received mixed reviews but was successful financially, grossing $100 million worldwide. Also in 2008, Breslin appeared in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl as the title character. The film was based on the American Girl line of dolls, books, and accessories of which Breslin is a fan. Kit Kittredge: An American Girl garnered favorable reviews and grossed $17 million at the box office. Breslin's performance in the film was praised by critics; Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote that she "carries the event-stuffed story with unflagging grace".
In 2009, Breslin appeared in My Sister's Keeper, where she played the role of Anna Fitzgerald, a young girl who was conceived to be a donor for her sister, Kate, who suffers from leukemia. Elle and Dakota Fanning were slated to play the roles of Anna and Kate respectively; however, Dakota refused to shave her head for the role, so she and Elle were replaced by Sofia Vassilieva and Breslin. My Sister's Keeper received mixed reviews but was a financial success, grossing $95 million worldwide. James Berardinelli wrote that Breslin and Vassilieva "display a natural bond one might expect from sisters, and there's no hint of artifice or overacting in either performance". Also in 2009, Breslin appeared in the horror comedy Zombieland as Little Rock. Director Ruben Fleischer said that "the dream was always to get Abigail Breslin" for the role. The film received positive reviews and was successful at the box office, grossing $102 million worldwide.
With previews beginning in February 2010, she made her Broadway theatre debut as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Breslin has said that she was honored to play Keller, who is one of her "biggest heroes". The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, an advocacy group for blind and deaf actors criticized the play's producers for not casting a deaf or blind actor in the role. Lead producer David Richenthal defended the decision, stating that he needed a well-known actress: "It’s simply naïve to think that in this day and age, you’ll be able to sell tickets to a play revival solely on the potential of the production to be a great show or on the potential for an unknown actress to give a breakthrough performance." Vision-impaired actress Kyra Siegel was cast as Breslin's understudy. Breslin's performance was praised by critics; Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that she "well portrays Helen's feral rebelliousness in the play's early sections and is deeply touching as her character's bond with her teacher grows". Ticket sales for the play, however, were considered disappointing, and the show closed in April 2010.
In September 2009, Breslin filmed in Des Moines, Iowa, playing the title character in the film Janie Jones: a 13-year old girl who is abandoned by her former-groupie mother (Elisabeth Shue), and informs Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola), a fading rock star, that she is his daughter. The film premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2011, Breslin voiced Priscilla, a cactus mouse in the animated comedy Rango, and appeared in the romantic comedy New Year's Eve.
In 2013, Breslin appeared in the thriller The Call. The film received mixed reviews from critics. Andrew Barker of Variety wrote that Breslin "acquits herself well enough for a problematic role in which she’s forced to cry and scream nearly continuously." The Call grossed $59 million worldwide.
Breslin appeared in the film adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel, Ender's Game (2013). In July 2012, she was cast in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County, alongside Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep.
|2002||Signs||Bo Hess||Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Youth Actress
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film Young Actress Age Ten or Under
|2004||Raising Helen||Sarah Davis|
|The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement||Parade Girl Carolina|
|Chestnut: Hero of Central Park||Ray|
|2005||Family Plan||Nicole||Television film|
|2006||Air Buddies||Rosebud/Alice (voice)|
|The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause||Trish|
|The Ultimate Gift||Emily Rose|
|Little Miss Sunshine||Olive Hoover||Critics Choice Award for Best Young Actress
Critics Choice Award for Best Cast
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Youth in Film
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Youth Actress
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast
Tokyo International Film Award for Best Actress
Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film Young Actress Age Ten or Under
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer
Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Gotham Award for Breakthrough Award
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
|2007||No Reservations||Zoe Armstrong||Nominated—Critics Choice Award for Best Young Actress
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress
|2008||Definitely, Maybe||Maya Hayes|
|Nim's Island||Nim Rusoe||Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Movie Actress – Adventure|
|Kit Kittredge: An American Girl||Kit Kittredge||Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress|
|2009||My Sister's Keeper||Anna Fitzgerald||Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress|
|Zombieland||Little Rock||Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Cast|
|2010||Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey||Jeana (voice)|
|Janie Jones||Janie Jones|
|2011||Rango||Priscilla (voice)||Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role Young Actress|
|New Year's Eve||Hailey|
|2013||The Call||Casey Welson|
|Ender's Game||Valentine Wiggin|
|August: Osage County||Jean Fordham||Completed
Hollywood Film Award for Best Ensemble
|2002||What I Like About You||Josie||Episode: "The Teddy Bear"|
|Hack||Kayla Adams||Episode: "Domestic Disturbance"|
|2004||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Patty Branson||Episode: "Birthright"|
|NCIS||Sandy Watson||Episode: "See No Evil"|
|2006||Ghost Whisperer||Sarah Applewhite||Episode: "Melinda's First Ghost"|
|Grey's Anatomy||Megan Clover||Episode: "Sometimes a Fantasy"|
Awards and nominations
|Academy Awards||2006||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated||Olive Hoover in
Little Miss Sunshine
|Alliance of Women Journalists (EDA Awards)||2006||Best Breakthrough Performance for a Young Actress||Won|
|BAFTA Awards||2007||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||2006||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Critics Choice Awards||2007||Best Young Actress||Won|
|Best Ensemble Cast (Shared with cast)||Won|
|2008||Best Young Actress||Nominated||Zoe Armstrong in No Reservations|
|Empire Awards||2006||Best Female Newcomer||Nominated||Olive Hoover|
|Gotham Awards||2006||Breakthrough Actor||Nominated|
|Iowa Film Critics Awards||2006||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|MTV Movie Awards||2007||Best Breakthrough Performance||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Awards||2006||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards||2006||Youth in Film||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics||2006||Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Female||Won|
|2003||Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role – Female||Nominated||Bo Hess in Signs|
|Satellite Awards||2006||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Nominated||Olive Hoover|
|Screen Actors Guild (SAG)||2007||Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Cast in a motion picture (Shared with cast)||Won|
|St. Louis Film Critics||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||2008||Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure||Nominated||Nim Rusoe in Nim's Island|
|Tokyo International Film Festival||2006||Best Actress||Won||Olive Hoover|
|Women Film Critics Circle Awards||2006||Best Young Actress||Won|
|Young Artist Award||2003||Best Performance in a Feature Film Young Actress Age Ten or Under||Nominated||Bo Hess|
|2007||Best Performance in a Feature Film Young Actress Age Ten or Under||Won||Olive Hoover|
|2008||Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress||Nominated||Zoe Armstrong|
|2009||Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress||Nominated||Kit Kittredge in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl|
|2010||Best Performance in a Feature Film Leading Young Actress||Won||Anna Fitzgerald in My Sister's Keeper|
|2012||Best Performance in a Voice-over Role, Young Actress||Nominated||Priscilla in Rango|