Alberta Watson (Faith Susan Alberta Watson)

Alberta Watson

Alberta Watson was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1955. She grew up in Toronto with her mother Grace, a factory worker, and her brother. She began performing with a local Toronto theater group, T.H.O.G. (Theater House of God), of the Bathurst Street United Church at age 15. Watson took a workshop for the Hair musical. While doing this workshop she did Hamlet, which was directed by René Bonnière who later directed her in La Femme Nikita. Watson got her first role at age 19 in a CBC movie called Honor Thy Father. Early in her career she portrayed the role of Mitzi in George Kaczender’s In Praise of Older Women (1978), for which she received a Genie nomination. A year later she received the Best Actress award at the Yorkton Film Festival for “Exposure”. She moved to Los Angeles, California and later to New York City. Watson lived in New Jersey for eight years with her husband until they divorced. She then returned to Toronto and focused on finding roles in independent films. She worked with director Colleen Murphy on the film Shoemaker (1996), for which she received a second Genie nomination for Best Actress. Among her well-known film roles are the bed-ridden mother Susan Aibelli in the 1994 American independent film Spanking the Monkey, Lauren Murphy (the mother of Jonny Lee Miller’s character Dade, aka “Crash Override”/”Zero Cool”) in the 1995 cult film Hackers, and Risa in the 1997 Academy Award nominated Canadian film The Sweet Hereafter, directed by Atom Egoyan. In Spanking the Monkey, Watson plays her favorite character, a mother who has an incestuous relationship with her son. The role was turned down by several actresses such as Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange and others.

She played the role of Madeline in La Femme Nikita for four seasons from 1997 to 2001 (with guest appearances in the short fifth season). During the show’s second season (in 1998), Alberta Watson was diagnosed with lymphoma, for which she had to undergo chemotherapy treatment which caused her to lose her hair. Producers at La Femme Nikita worked around her treatment and limited her appearances. Watson wore wigs in the show when she lost her hair. When her hair started to regrow, she sported the short haircut in her role as Madeline in the show’s third season. Watson’s first name inspired the character Alberta Green in the first season of 24. In 2005, Watson joined the cast of 24, playing CTU Director Erin Driscoll for 12 episodes of the show’s fourth season. During 2007 and 2008, Watson played a supporting role in the Canadian television series The Border as the Minister of Public Safety. In 2010, Watson guest-starred in Heartland, a series on CBC Television, and she won a 2011 Gemini Award for her portrayal of Sarah Craven. In the first season of Nikita, the 2010 CW series based on the Luc Besson film rather than 1997 series, she played the role of the Senator, one of the many public figures to privately fund the secret anti-terrorist organization known as Division. During Season 2, she guest-stars playing this character, whose name is Madeline Pierce (a nod from the Nikita producers to her iconic character “Madeline” in the 1997 series). Watson died on March 21, 2015, due to complications from cancer at Kensington Hospice in Toronto; she was 60 years old.

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  • March, 06, 1955
  • Canada
  • Toronto, Ontario


  • March, 21, 2015
  • Canada
  • Toronto, Ontario

Cause of Death

  • complications from cancer


  • Cremated

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