With her striking beauty and undeniable talent, Morena Baccarin has become one of the most magnetic and versatile actresses working in Hollywood today.
She first caught the attention of audiences as Inara on the short-lived but beloved sci-fi series Firefly. Her natural screen presence and chemistry with the cast would land her more TV roles on hits like The O.C., Stargate SG-1, and Homeland.
But the talented actress had her sights set on the big screen. After landing supporting parts in films like Heartland and Way Off Broadway, she would get the opportunity to show her range in Deadpool and its sequel as Vanessa, playing both the action hero’s love interest and a complex villain.
With major roles in high-profile franchises, Baccarin has proved she has what it takes to play leading ladies and villains alike. In this article, we will look back on her journey from Firefly fan favorite to Marvel superstar and trace the rise of this gifted actress.
Background Info and Early Life
Baccarin was born on June 2, 1979 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to an actress mother and journalist father. Her first TV appearance occurred in Brazil for a TV special directed by her grand-uncle.
(Morena Baccarin in high school)
Baccarin’s family moved to New York’s Greenwich Village a year later. She would attend PS 41 and later New York City Lab School for Collective Studies, where future Homeland co-star Claire Danes also attended.
From there, Baccarin moved on to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts before graduating and attending the esteemed Juilliard School in their theater program.
Baccarin received her first film role in 2001 in a movie called Perfume alongside stars like Paul Sorvino, Leslie Mann, Jeff Goldblum, Mariel Hemingway, and more. The film revolves around the fashion world, and all dialogue during the movie was improvised by the cast.
After Perfume, Morena starred in another film called Way Off Broadway before becoming Natalie Portman’s understudy for a Central Park production of The Seagull.
In 2002, Joss Whedon created the cult classic American Western meets space opera series Firefly for the Fox Network, and Baccarin landed a part on the main cast as Inara Serra. Of the show’s 14 episodes, she appeared in all 14.
Baccarin’s character, Inara, was a “Companion” which, similar to real world high-class escorts, are known to provide the social elite with companionship, physical and psychological validation, and, of course, sexual acts as well.
Inara comes aboard the Serenity to see the universe and tap into a greater market, much to Captain Mal’s disdain, where she begins to foster a “will they, won’t they” type attraction with the Captain himself.
Firefly did not make it out of its first season, but fans extolled the series as one of sci-fi’s greatest.
In 2005, Whedon successfully sold his continuation of Firefly’s plot as a film, and it was named Serenity after the spaceship itself. The movie brought back all of the show’s beloved main cast, including Baccarin as Inara, and set them at odds with a cold, calculated Alliance operative played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Despite the high anticipation by Firefly’s fanbase, the movie was a box office failure, grossing $40.4 million in box office sales against a $39 million budget.
In 2006, Baccarin guest starred on the Fox teen drama The O.C.. Her character, Maya Griffin, would appear in three episodes in Season 3.
How I Met Your Mother
Baccarin would also guest star on How I Met Your Mother as a flirty barista named Chloe in 2006. In the Season 2 episode called “Swarley”, Baccarin hints that she may be attracted to Jason Segal’s character, Marshall.
Simultaneously, Chloe incorrectly writes Neil Patrick Harris’ character’s name as “Swarley” instead of “Barney,” and the gang responds by exclusively calling him “Swarley” for the remainder of the episode.
As with many other former Firefly castmates, Baccarin made the jump to the Stargate series and appeared on Stargate SG-1 in five episodes between 2006 and 2007.
Baccarin’s character, Adria, served as the primary antagonist for Season 10. A member of the Orici people, Adria possessed near superhuman abilities which she used in an attempt to lead the armies of the Ori in the Milky Way galaxy, converting the galaxy to Origin in the process.
In 2007, Baccarin appeared on TNT medical drama Heartland. Her character, Nurse Jessica Kivala, would appear in each of the series’ nine episodes, but the show was canceled after one season due to disappointing ratings.
Between 2009 and 2011, Baccarin acted in the ABC sci-fi series V as Anna, the Visitor Queen and High Commander of an alien race that visit Earth allegedly to borrow a minute portion of resources but are revealed, in fact, to be imperialists.
V enjoyed two seasons and 22 episodes, in which Anna would appear in all of them, before ABC canceled the series in 2011.
Between 2011 and 2013, Baccarin was part of the main cast of Showtime espionage thriller series Homeland alongside former classmate Claire Danes. Baccarin’s character, Jessica Brody, played the wife of Damien Lewis’ character, Nicholas Brody.
Baccarin appeared in 36 episodes between Seasons 1 and 3.
Baccarin played the love interest, Vanessa Carlysle, of Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool in both the 2016 original and 2018 sequel to the massively popular 20th Century Fox film centered around the notorious Marvel antihero.
Both films were critically acclaimed and box office blowouts, with the first earning $782.6 million against a $58 million budget and the sequel earning $785.5 million against a $110 million budget.
Between 2015 and 2019, Baccarin appeared as Dr. Leslie “Lee” Thompkins on Fox’s superhero crime drama Gotham, which centers around the titular city in an era preceding Batman’s role as guardian.
Baccarin is a recurring role in Season 1, but serves as part of the main cast between Season 2 and 5. Of the show’s 100 total episodes, Baccarin appears in 85.
What is Morena Baccarin doing now?
Morena Baccarin remains active in various films and TV shows, including a voice acting role on The Flash and a main role in the 2021 series Home Invasion.
Most recently, Baccarin has appeared as part of the main cast of the 2022 NBC crime drama series The Endgame, which was unfortunately canceled after a single season.
Baccarin is a well-known advocate for social activism and charitable causes.
The International Rescue Committee, or IRC, recognizes Baccarin as one of the most prominent speakers, or “IRC Voices.” In 2019, a crisis in Venezuela created a flux of refugees that was reportedly similar in scale to the Syrian crisis on the other side of the world.
Baccarin worked to find homes in Baltimore and New York for the displaced refugees to help them escape the hostile and dangerous conditions in Venezuela.
Baccarin regularly attends conventions to meet and greet her fanbase. Most recently, she attended the 2022 Dragon Con, 2020 German Comic Con, 2019 Cincinnati Comic Expo, and 2019 Silicon Valley Comic Con.
Still keeps in contact with Firefly castmates
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Morena says she is still in touch with the cast of Firefly and they have a text thread, ‘we talk all the time. we are connecting. Actually just a few days ago we just checked in on each other to see how everybody was doing."
In November 2011, Baccarin married American film producer Austin Chick, and the two had a son together, Julius, in 2013. Chick filed for divorce in 2015 citing irreconcilable differences.
Later in 2015, Baccarin announced that she planned to marry Gotham co-star Ben McKenzie and that she was pregnant with his child. In 2016, Baccarin and McKenzie welcomed a daughter, Frances Laiz Setta Schenkkan, as Baccarin and Chick’s divorce was finally official.
On June 2, 2017, Baccarin’s 38th birthday, she married McKenzie in Brooklyn, New York. The two are together still and had a second child, a son named Arthur, in 2021.