Annette O'Toole plays Hope McCrea on the Netflix TV series Virgin River. This no-nonsense, outspoken woman fills a double role as both the town gossip and the voice of reason in her cozy Northern California town. While she isn't always the character fans find themselves rooting for, she's very much a driving force behind the Virgin River narrative.
With Virgin River Season 5 on the horizon, it looks like Hope is about to change drastically in the new series of episodes following her recovery from the car crash injuries she previously sustained in Season 4. Now's a great time to take some time to get to know the actress behind the fan-favorite mayor and what she's been up to in addition to portraying McCrea.
Further, while she's made quite a name for herself on this show, O'Toole has been regularly appearing on our screens since she was just a teenager. It's time to take a look at Annette's history as an actress and what brought her to this Netflix series in the first place.
Who is Annette O'Toole?
Annette O'Toole is Houston, Texas-born actress. Growing up, she practiced dance ahead of pursuing an acting career. Her mother owned a local dance studio, which O'Toole started attending when she was just three years old. She told Texas Monthly that as a young child, she was incredibly inspired by one particular dancer at the studio.
"When I was nine, I went over to her one day--I was interested in dancing but it was something my mother did--and asked, "How do I get to be as good as you are?" And she said, "Just dance every day. Come every day and do it." So that's what I started doing; I danced in every class. If it was a baby class, I'd lead the children, or if it was a class for older girls, I'd dance in the back. I don't know what it was about seeing her that day that inspired me, but from then on, my life went in that direction."
After O'Toole's family moved to Los Angeles when she was 13, she took that dedication and energy she learned at the dance studio and put it into acting. Just a couple of years later, she landed her first TV show appearing on The Danny Kaye Show, which led to roles on My Three Sons, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, and The Partridge Family. From there, she's been able to carve out a fruitful career in movies and television ahead of her role in Netflix's Virgin River, where you've likely seen her most recently.
Here's where you've seen Annette O'Toole before
Over the years, O'Toole has appeared in a slew of TV movies, including Bridge to Terabithia, Stephen King's It as Beverly Marsh, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy in the miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts (which earned O'Toole an Emmy nomination), and she played Tammy Wynette in Stand by Your Man. She's also appeared in numerous films, like Cat People, Cross My Heart, Foolin' Around, Imaginary Crimes, A Futile and Stupid Gesture and Blow the Man Down.
The actress has starred in multiple series, including playing Lisa Bridges in Nash Bridges, Dottie Thorson in The Huntress, and Martha Kent in Smallville. An interesting choice later in life since she had previously played Clark Kent's love interest Lana Lang in the 1983 film, Superman III.
Personal life and musical prowess
But her real life is just as interesting as her resume. O'Toole had two children with her first husband, Bill Geisslinger, but has been married to actor Michael McKean since 1999. The couple first got together after starring in the film Final Justice and have been together ever since. The couple is very musically gifted and even wrote the Oscar-nominated song together, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," featured in the film A Mighty Wind. They have written numerous songs together over the years in addition to appearing on Broadway.
Virgin River and beyond
Currently, O'Toole is acting exclusively in Virgin River, and has done so since 2021. A year before, she appeared in Kidding, Search Party, and The Good Doctor, but in the years past, she has focused all her acting prowess on bringing Hope McCrea to life.
In the next season of Virgin River, we'll see McCrea changing a bit and potentially turning partially back to the person we knew her as in the older seasons. It'll be interesting seeing the change in McCrea, especially as she adopts a softer persona overall.
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