She played the resourceful action hero Ellen Ripley in the Alien film franchise. She also played Dana Barrett in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II and Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar.
She attended Stanford University and Yale University.
She challenged genre gender roles by playing strong feminine characters in science fiction, action, and horror movies.
She married Jim Simpson in 1984, and the couple welcomed a daughter named Charlotte in 1990.
She played her first minor role in Woody Allen's comedy Annie Hall.