Once Upon a Time Wiki
Once Upon a Time Wiki
Amy Acker
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General Information
Gender: Female
Birthday: December 5, 1976
Age: 44
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Nationality: German
Other Information
Height: 5'8"
Occupation(s): Actress
Education: Lake Highlands High School
Southern Methodist University
Talents: Acting
Family & Friends
Family: Jackson James Carpinello (son)
Ava Grace Carpinello (daughter)
Friends: Neil Patrick Harris (close friend)
Relationships: James Carpinello (husband)
Series Information
Character: Nova / Sister Astrid
First appearance: Dreamy

Amy Louise Acker is an American actress. She is best known for starring as Winifred Burkle and Illyria on the supernatural drama series Angel (2001–2004), as Kelly Peyton on the action drama series Alias (2005–2006), and as Root on the science-fiction drama series Person of Interest (2012–2016). As of 2017, she stars as Caitlin Strucker on the superhero drama series The Gifted, based on Marvel Comics' X-Men.

View the Amy Acker Gallery.

Early life

Acker was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, to a homemaker mother and a lawyer father. She studied ballet and modern dance for 14 years. She underwent knee surgery while in high school, ending her ballet career. Acker graduated from Lake Highlands High School in Dallas. She subsequently earned a bachelor's degree in theater from Southern Methodist University.

In her junior year of college, Acker modeled for J. Crew catalog. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the same year. She worked as a stage actress for several seasons, including a stint at American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin.


Acker made her major television debut when she starred as Winifred "Fred" Burkle in Angel (seasons 2–5), and also as the character of Illyria for part of the show's fifth and final season. She won the 2003 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television for her portrayal.

She joined the cast of Alias in 2005 for its final season, playing villainess Kelly Peyton. Acker graduated from guest star to fully credited cast member as the show entered the final episodes in April and May 2006. Also in 2005, Acker provided voice acting for the character of Huntress on the animated series Justice League Unlimited. She went on to make a guest appearance on How I Met Your Mother, in which she was reunited with Angel co-star, Alexis Denisof (the real-life husband of HIMYM star Alyson Hannigan), who had a recurring role on the show.

Acker portrayed Dr. Claire Saunders/Whiskey, a recurring character, on Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. She guest-starred in 10 of the 13 episodes of the first season and three episodes of the second.

In 2010, she was a series regular in the ABC drama Happy Town, portraying the character Rachel Conroy. That same year, she starred in the season-one finale of the Fox series Human Target, as the mysterious Katherine Walters. On May 25, 2010, she appeared on CBS's The Good Wife. She appeared in the horror movie The Cabin in the Woods, released April 13, 2012. In 2012, she made guest performances in Warehouse 13, Once Upon A Time, and Grimm. In 2012, she starred as Beatrice in Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing.

Acker appeared in the sitcom Husbands's third season as Claudia, the ex-fiancée of Brady Kelly who unexpectedly shows up. In March 2014, Acker was cast as Audrey, a former lover to Phil Coulson in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Between 2012 and 2016, Acker portrayed Samantha "Root" Groves on the CBS drama Person of Interest; Groves became a regular character starting in the series' third season. Starting with the series' 100th episode, Acker took on the voice role of the Machine. In the series finale, she also appeared as the visual manifestation of the Machine.

In March 2017, Acker was cast as Caitlin Strucker in the pilot for the prospective FOX television series The Gifted, which was picked up to series in May 2017. The Gifted began airing on October 2, 2017, with first season running for 13 episodes.


Year Title Type Role
1997 - 1998 Wishbone TV Series Venus / Catherine Morland / Priscilla
1999 To Serve and Protect TV Mini-Series Melissa Jorgensen
2001 Special Unit 2 TV Series Nancy
2001 The Accident Short Nina
2001 - 2004 Angel TV Series Winifred Burkle / Illyria
2002 Groom Lake Kate
2002 Catch Me If You Can Miggy
2003 Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt TV Movie Bonnie Lindsey
2004 Johnny Bravo TV Series short Jackie / Cashier
2005 Mr. Dramatic Short Jodi
2005 Supernatural TV Series Andrea Barr
2005 - 2006 Justice League Unlimited TV Series The Huntress / Helena Bertinelli / Little Girl / Maria Bertinelli (voice)
2005 - 2006 Alias TV Series Kelly Peyton
2006 The Unit TV Series Kim Brown
2006 How I Met Your Mother TV Series Penelope
2006 The Novice Jill Yarrut
2007 Drive TV Series Kathryn Tully
2007 Law & Order: Criminal Intent TV Series Leslie LeZard
2007 Ghost Whisperer TV Series Tessa Lucas
2008 Voices TV Movie Ellie Daly
2008 October Road TV Series Jenny Bristol / Girl in Blue Uniform
2008 Fire & Ice TV Movie Princess Luisa
2008 Private Practice TV Series Molly Madison
2009 21 and a Wake-Up Caitlin Murphy
2009 - 2010 Dollhouse TV Series Dr. Claire Saunders / Whiskey / Clyde Randolph / Crystal
2010 Human Target TV Series Katherine Walters
2010 The Good Wife TV Series Trish Arkin
2010 Happy Town TV Series Rachel Conroy
2010 No Ordinary Family TV Series Amanda Grayson
2011 Sironia Molly
2011 Dear Santa TV Movie Crystal Carruthers
2011 The Cabin in the Woods Lin
2011 - 2013 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV Series Sandy Larken / Sandy Colfax
2012 Grimm TV Series Lena Marcinko
2012 Once Upon a Time TV Series Nova / Sister Astrid
2012 Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice
2012 Warehouse 13 TV Series Tracey
2012 - 2016 Person of Interest TV Series Root / The Machine / Samantha Groves / Caroline Turing
2013 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated TV Series Nova
2013 Husbands TV Series Claudia
2014 The Lord of Catan Short Sugar Monkey
2014 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Series Audrey Nathan
2014 Let's Kill Ward's Wife Gina
2015 A Novel Romance TV Movie Sophie Atkinson
2015 - 2017 Con Man TV Series Dawn Jones / Dawn
2015 - 2019 Suits TV Series Esther Edelstein
2016 A Nutcracker Christmas TV Movie Lily
2016 The Energy Specialist (completed) Claire
2016 - 2017 MacGyver TV Series Sarah Adler
2017 Amanda & Jack Go Glamping Amanda
2017 - 2019 The Gifted TV Series Kate Strucker
2019 Grey's Anatomy TV Series Dr. Kathleen Shepherd
2019 What Just Happened??! TV Series Dr. Rachel Layne
2020 Superman: Red Son (completed) Video Lois Lane (voice)


  • Acker studied ballet, modern dance and jazz dance for 13 years before moving onto acting. She underwent knee surgery while in high school, thus ending her ballet career. She began to study acting in her sophomore year. A 1995 graduate of Lake Highlands High School, she enrolled at Southern Methodist University to take advantage of that school's renowned theatrical program.
  • While on Angel (1999), she and her co-star, J. August Richards, shared a trailer for quite some time.
  • Gave birth to her first child at age 28, a son named Jackson James Carpinello on January 22, 2005. Gave birth to her second child at age 29, a daughter named Ava Grace Carpinello on September 1, 2006. Both children are by husband James Carpinello.
  • Starting with the season five episode, Alias: S.O.S. (2006), she was promoted from guest star to series regular on Alias (2001), and appeared in the opening credits, until the series ended.
  • Wore her own glasses as "Fred" on Angel (1999).
  • A friend of Neil Patrick Harris, the two played former lovers on the How I Met Your Mother (2005) episode, "How I Met Your Mother: Come On (2006)".
  • Guest-voiced as "The Huntress" for the Cartoon Network's Justice League (2001) (aka "Justice League Unlimited") for the episode, Justice League Unlimited: Double Date (2005). [2004]
  • Guest-starred as "Dr. Claire Saunders" on Joss Whedon's Dollhouse (2009). [2009]
  • Her ancestry includes English, as well as German, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and French.
  • Prior to her interest in acting, she trained in ballet, modern dance, and jazz dance for thirteen years.
  • She earned her B.A. in theater from Southern Methodist University, and, in 2010, she was a regular on Happy Town, playing Rachel Conroy.
  • She married James Carpinello in 2003, and the couple welcomed a son named Jackson in 2005 and a daughter named Ava in 2006.
  • She starred on Alias with Jennifer Garner.