Elisabeth Singleton is known for her roles as Zoey Bartlet, the youngest daughter of President Josiah Bartlet, on the NBC television series The West Wing (1999–2006); Peggy Olson, secretary-turned-copywriter, on the AMC series Mad Men (2007–2015), which earned her six Emmy Awards nominations and a Golden Globe nomination; Det. Robin Griffin in the BBC miniseries Top of the Lake (2013, 2017), which won her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Film; and Offred on the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, for which she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series as a producer.
Age: 35 years and 6 months
Years active 1990–present
2018 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Alternate Names: Elissabeth Moss, Elizabeth Moss, Liz Moss
Height: 5′ 3″ (1.6 m)
She graduated high school two years early.
Studied ballet with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Mother is a musician and father manages jazz musicians.
Is a lifelong member of the Church of Scientology.
Girl Interrupted, Polly, (1999)
The One I Love, Sophie, (2014)
Queen of Earth, Catherine, (2015)
The Handmaid’s Tale, June Osborne, (2017-2018)
Elisabeth Moss took home the trophy for best actress in a television drama series for “The Handmaid’s Tale” at the 75th Golden Globes (january 2018).
Moss accepted the award with a quote from “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. “We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories,” Moss quoted.
Moss then went on to praise the author and all those fighting through the years for the ideals behind the “Time’s Up” movement that is taking place today. “Margaret Atwood, this is for you and and all of the women who came before you and after you who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice, and to fight for equality and freedom in this world. We no longer live in the blank, white spaces at the edge of print. We no longer live in the gaps in the stories. We are the stories in print, and we are writing the stories ourselves,” she said.
Moss followed up her 2017 dramatic actress Emmy win for her role as the titular handmaid Offred in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” with this honor from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. She beat last year’s winner Claire Foy from Netflix’s “The Crown,” as well as Caitriona Balfe from Starz’s “Outlander,” Maggie Gyllenhaal from HBO’s “The Deuce,” and Katherine Langford from Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why.”
This marks Moss second Globe win. She previously took home the limited series or TV movie actress trophy in 2014 for her work in Sundance TV’s “Top of the Lake.”
Moss was also nominated in the dramatic TV actress category in 2011 for AMC’s “Mad Men.”
Moss is also known for her work in the films Girl, Interrupted, Virgin, Listen Up Philip, The One I Love, Truth, Queen of Earth, and The Square. Her theatre work includes Broadway productions of David Mamet’s Speed the Plow and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play; and West End production of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour. For her roles in The West Wing, Mad Men, Top of the Lake, and The Handmaid’s Tale, Moss was named “The Queen of Peak TV” by Vulture.
Elisabeth Moss was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Ron and Linda Moss, both of whom were musicians. Moss has one younger brother. She was raised a Scientologist. Her father is British.
Initially, Moss had aspirations of becoming a professional dancer. In her adolescence, she traveled to New York City to study ballet at the School of American Ballet, after which she studied with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Moss continued to study dance throughout her teenage years, but began obtaining acting roles as well. In order to manage her education and career, she began homeschooling, and graduated in 1999 at age sixteen.
1990–2004: Early work
Moss’s first screen role was in 1990, when she appeared in the NBC miniseries Lucky/Chances. From 1992 until 1995, Moss appeared as Cynthia Parks in seven episodes of the TV series Picket Fences. She provided the voice of Holly DeCarlo, a main character in the TV special Frosty Returns (1992) and of Michelle in the animated film Once Upon a Forest (1993). She appeared in the television remake of the 1993 film Gypsy and played Harvey Keitel’s younger daughter in the film Imaginary Crimes (1994). The following year, she appeared in the remake of the Walt Disney Pictures film Escape to Witch Mountain (1995) and played a young Ashley Judd in the TV-movie biopic Love Can Build A Bridge (1995). She also had a supporting role in the drama Separate Lives (1995) opposite Jim Belushi and Linda Hamilton, and a minor part in the black comedy The Last Supper (1995). Moss would again provide voice work for the animated series Freakazoid! and the television film It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown! (1996).
Beginning 1999, Moss portrayed the recurring role of Zoey Bartlet in the White House television drama The West Wing, playing the daughter of Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing; she would portray the character until the series finale in 2006. Moss’s character became integral to the fourth season of the show; in a retrospective on the series, The Atlantic noted: “Aaron Sorkin made [Moss] the centerpiece of the explosive fourth-season finale where he basically engineered the most insane cliffhanger possible. It required Zoey to be a bit of a pain with her fancy French boyfriend, but Moss always made her relatable, even when the plot required otherwise.”
In 1999, she had a supporting role as a patient in a mental institution in James Mangold’s Girl, Interrupted, opposite Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, and a minor part in the drama Anywhere But Here. That same year, she had a small role as Katie Brockett in the movie Mumford (1999), playing the daughter of a woman with a shopping addiction.
Moss went on to do Heart of America and three other films in 2004. That year, she also made the movie Virgin, for which she was nominated for a 2004 Independent Spirit Award. Moss also had a supporting part in Ron Howard’s Western thriller The Missing (2003).
2005–14: Mad Men and other roles
Moss had a supporting role in the 2005–2006 horror series Invasion, and appeared in television again on a 2007 episode of Grey’s Anatomy entitled “My Favorite Mistake”, and on the series Medium opposite Patricia Arquette. She also appeared in Mary Lambert’s 2007 horror film The Attic, and the independent drama Day Zero (2007).
In 2007, she was cast as Peggy Olson, secretary-turned-copywriter in the AMC dramatic series Mad Men. Between 2009 and the series’ final season in 2015, Moss was nominated for five Emmy awards for the role for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2010, she was nominated for the Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy. Reflecting on her casting in the series, Moss recalled: “I auditioned for the role. There were scripts for two pilots that everyone were talking about at the time that were really good, and Mad Men was one of them.”
While a series regular on Mad Men, Moss made her Broadway debut in October 2008, playing the role of Karen in the 20th Anniversary revival of Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet. She then appeared in the comedy film Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), playing Sarah Jessica Parker’s assistant, followed by a part in the comedy Get Him to the Greek (2010) opposite Jonah Hill.
Moss’s West End debut was as Martha Dobie in Lillian Hellman’s play The Children’s Hour, which opened at The Comedy Theatre, London on January 22, 2011. In 2012, she was cast as Galatea Dunkel in the independent drama On the Road, based on the Jack Kerouac novel of the same name.
Moss played detective Robin Griffin in the 2013 Sundance Channel miniseries Top of the Lake, a co-production by the Sundance Channel, the UK’s BBC Two and Australia’s UKTV, written and directed by Oscar-winner Jane Campion. For her role, Moss received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film. The following year, Moss starred in the independent film Listen Up Philip (2014), her first collaboration with writer-director Alex Ross Perry.
2015–present: Film, stage, and television
In September 2014 it was announced that Moss would star on Broadway as Heidi Holland in The Heidi Chronicles. The play opened on March 19, 2015. Though the play received some positive reviews, it closed on May 3, 2015 due to low ticket sales. Moss was nominated for a Tony Award for her role.
After production on Mad Men had wrapped, Moss collaborated again with Alex Ross Perry, starring in Queen of Earth (2015), a psychological thriller opposite Katherine Waterston and Patrick Fugit, in which she plays a mentally unstable woman who unravels at a vacation home in the company of her close friends. She was also cast in a supporting part in the British dystopian drama High-Rise (2015), opposite Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller.
Moss appeared in the Chuck Wepner biopic Chuck (2016), opposite Liev Schreiber. In 2017, she appeared in Mad to Be Normal, a biopic of the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing. She is set to star in The Seagull, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play of the same name.
In 2017, Moss began playing Offred in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, for which she received critical acclaim and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. The second season of Top of the Lake, consisting of six episodes, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017. Moss reprised her role as Robin Griffin in this season which is set in Sydney, Australia.
After meeting Fred Armisen in October 2008, they became engaged in January 2009, and married on October 25, 2009, in Long Island City, New York. They separated in June 2010, and in September 2010, Moss filed for divorce, which was finalized on May 13, 2011.
Being half British on her fathers side, Moss also holds citizenship of the United Kingdom.
Moss practices Scientology and identifies as a feminist.
In response to a fan who questioned whether her role in the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale made her think about her involvement with the Church of Scientology, Moss took the opportunity to defend her beliefs on Instagram, a rare occurrence. Moss said that the idea that both Gilead in the series and Scientology “both believe that all outside sources are wrong or evil,” as the fan describes, is “actually not true at all.” She continued, “Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me.”
Year Title Role Notes
1991 Suburban Commando Little Girl
1993 Once Upon a Forest Michelle Voice role
1993 Recycle Rex (voice) Short film
1994 Imaginary Crimes Greta Weiler
1995 Separate Lives Ronni Beckwith
1995 The Last Supper Jenny Tyler
1997 A Thousand Acres Linda
1998 Angelmaker Little Turcott Short film
1999 The Joyriders Jodi
1999 Mumford Katie Brockett
1999 Anywhere but Here Rachel
1999 Girl, Interrupted Polly ‘Torch’ Clark
2002 West of Here Cherise
2002 Heart of America Robin Walters
2003 Temptation Wind / Morgan
2003 Virgin Jessie Reynolds
2003 The Missing Anne
2005 Bittersweet Place Paulie Schaffer
2007 The Attic Emma Callan
2007 They Never Found Her Anna Short film
2007 Day Zero Patricia
2007 Honored Katie Short film
2008 El camino Lily
2008 New Orleans, Mon Amour Hyde
2009 Did You Hear About the Morgans? Jackie Drake
2010 A Buddy Story Susan
2010 Get Him to the Greek Daphne Binks
2011 Green Lantern: Emerald Knights Arisia Rrab Voice role
2012 Smoking/Non-Smoking Diana Whelan
2012 Darling Companion Grace Winter
2012 On the Road Galatea Dunkel
2014 Listen Up Philip Ashley
2014 The One I Love Sophie
2015 Queen of Earth Catherine
2015 Meadowland Shannon
2015 Truth Lucy Scott
2015 High-Rise Helen Wilder
2016 The Free World Doris Lamb
2016 Chuck Phyllis Wepner
2017 Mad to Be Normal Angie Wood
2017 The Square Anne
2018 The Seagull Masha Completed
2018 The Old Man and the Gun Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
1990 Bar Girls Robin Television film
1990 Lucky Chances Lucky – Age 6
1991 Prison Stories: Women on the Inside Little Molly Television film
1991 Anything but Love Episode: “A Tale of Two Kiddies”
1992 Midnight’s Child Christina Television film
1992 Frosty Returns Holly (voice) Television short
1992–1995 Picket Fences Cynthia Parks 7 episodes
1993 Batman: The Animated Series Kimmy Ventrix (voice) Episode: “See No Evil”
1993 Johnny Bago Agnes Episode: “Hail the Conquering Marrow”
1993 Animaniacs Katrina (voice) Episode: “O Silly Mio/Puttin’ on the Blitz/The Great Wakkorotti”
1993 Gypsy Baby Louise Television film
1995 Escape to Witch Mountain Anna Television film
1995 Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge Early Teen Ashley Judd Television film
1995 Freakazoid! Kathy / Additional Voices Episode: “Candle Jack/Toby Danger in Doomsday Bet/The Lobe”
1996 It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown Girl Player (voice) Television short
1999 Earthly Possessions Mindy Television film
1999–2006 The West Wing Zoey Bartlet 25 episodes
2001 Spirit Kelly Television film
2003 The Practice Jessica Palmer Episode: “Rape Shield”
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury Katie Nevins Episode: “Baby Boom”
2005–2006 Invasion Christina 5 episodes
2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Rebecca Colemar Episode: “The Good”
2007 Grey’s Anatomy Nina Rogerson Episode: “My Favorite Mistake”
2007 Medium Haley Heffernan / Jennie Episode: “No One to Watch Over Me”
2007 Ghost Whisperer Nikki Drake Episode: “Unhappy Medium”
2007–2015 Mad Men Peggy Olson 88 episodes
2008 Fear Itself Danny Bannerman Episode: “Eater”
2008 Saturday Night Live Peggy Olson Uncredited
Episode: “Jon Hamm/Coldplay”
2009 Mercy Lucy Morton Episode: “The Last Thing I Said Was”
2013, 2017 Top of the Lake Robin Griffin 12 episodes
2013 The Simpsons Gretchen (voice) Episode: “Labor Pains”
2017–present The Handmaid’s Tale June Osborne / Offred 10 episodes; also producer
Year Title Role Venue
2002 Franny’s Way Young Franny, age 17 Linda Gross Theater
2008 Speed-the-Plow Karen Ethel Barrymore Theatre
2011 The Children’s Hour Martha Dobie The Comedy Theatre
2015 The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland Music Box Theatre
To go from Girl, Interrupted (1999), where I had to cry every day, to a TV show like The West Wing (1999), where I get to laugh and joke around every day, has been a welcome relief.
The great thing about Pete and Peggy’s storyline is that you barely have to do anything. There’s so much there, so much history, that you can have them exchange a look and it’s so loaded. So you honestly don’t have to do anything.
Obviously, my life and my job in 2010 is very different from Peggy’s experience in the 1960s. I exist in a world that enjoys more equality between men and women. But I don’t take any of that into my performance. I just want to play the character as who she is as an individual – scene to scene.
I’ve heard people say, ‘I love how the characters never say what they’re really thinking, and I love how things are so open-ended and you just never know what’s going to happen.’ Do you know what I mean? So it’s an opinion, you know? I’ve heard very few, if any criticisms of the show, and I think that it obviously is working, whatever we’re doing.
I think my guideline has been to find things that inspire me. And as long as I stick to that, I don’t think I’ll have any problems crossing over to becoming an adult actress.
I think every day there is some new actress who comes out and inspires me to do something else… like Hilary Swank. After she did Boys Don’t Cry (1999), I felt this yearning to go out and be even half as good as she was.
I love working with male actors, and I think there’s a tendency to write really interesting characters that would work solely alongside men where they would be in a man’s world and have to deal with that, and it creates a lot of interesting storylines. For me, it’s kind of circumstantial, but I definitely enjoy it.
I heard that people were really interested in the new haircut, which I think is so funny. Great haircut, I really like it. It goes great with the time period. And I was super, super, super-happy to have my bangs swept to the side rather than straight in front of me, which I dealt with for three seasons. I’m very, very much done with that.
I don’t think any of us could have possibly anticipated how successful Mad Men (2007) has been. When we were working on the pilot, we loved it. We thought it was special. We hoped and prayed it’d be a success. But, we didn’t count on it.
I don’t feel I was ever a ‘famous’ child actor. I was just a working actor who happened to be a kid. I was never really in a hit show until I was a teenager with The West Wing (1999), playing “First Daughter Zoey Bartlet”. In a way, that was my saving grace – not being a star on a hit show. It kept me working and kept me grounded.
There’s nothing like getting yourself into character and seeing a different person. It really wears on your vanity.
It’s a great dynamic. The dynamic between men and women in the workplace is really interesting.
I think one of my biggest influences is Bette Davis. I’ve seen almost every one of her films, and she’s been very inspiring to me.
[observation, 2014] I feel like I’ve been working for a long time. And I feel like I’m in a place I’m proud to be in. We’re doing projects I’m proud of, with people I like to work with.