Linda Hunt from ‘NCIS’ is completely unrecognizable in historic role – fans won’t believe their eyes

Linda Hunt hadn’t had the career of a superstar in Hollywood until she got the role of Hetty on ‘NCIS.’ At least, that’s probably what many of the fans of the now-classic crime series thought.

Hunt actually has a lengthy career in show business, despite facing many issues growing up. She was institutionalized because of her stunted physical and mental growth, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams.

In 1983, Linda Hunt received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. But many fans would probably not be able to recognize her from the role at the time, which became a true classic.

Linda Hunt was born on April 2, 1945, in Morristown, New Jersey. She was raised in Connecticut by her parents, Elsie and Raymond Hunt. At an early age, though, when Linda was only six months old, her parents noticed something that gave them cause for worry.

Linda’s motor skills weren’t developing at the usual rate, so her mother and father took her to a hospital in New York to seek help.

What doctors found wasn’t exactly the news Linda’s parents wanted. As The Bulletin reported in 1991, examinations showed she was suffering from a form of cretinism – a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth – which would likely eventually lead to Linda being institutionalized.

Linda Hunt – early life
Elsie and Raymond, however, were not going to let hope fade. Instead, they were determined to support their beloved Linda and used books and theater to encourage her and help her develop.

By the time Linda started school, her motor skills were pretty much on par with that of an average child her. Sadly, she struggled due to her learning difficulties and short stature.

“I was totally alienated by school almost from the first day, I had a bad experience with a teacher and was made to feel stupid. I felt bad that I didn’t fit in,” Hunt said.

Speaking to The Bulletin, Linda explained that she had always loved acting and theater. Her most significant source of inspiration came when she was eight years of age after her parents brought her to see the Broadway musical Peter Pan.

“I’m lucky that I’ve always known what I wanted to do,” she told the newspaper. “[Mary Martin, who played Peter] was astonishing in her belief in the world she was creating, and that was fascinating to me. She had the power to make others believe what was in her mind.”

“It was bigger than life. And that in some sense, I longed to be bigger than life because I wasn’t,” she explained to CBS.

At that point, Linda devoted her life to acting and theater. She explained that she wanted to become a “high priestess of theater.” She got a private acting coach in high school and was sent to an excellent boarding school.

Linda Hunt

Linda’s parents resolved to do whatever they could to see their daughter achieve her dreams.

“I was so lucky my parents were encouraging on every level,” she said.