Taylor raised in the Chicago suburb of Glencoe, IL. She began acting in Chicago's vital theater scene, training at the Piven Theater Workshop and in the drama program at DePaul University. She appeared in many regional productions, including with Chicago's Northlight Theater, before moving to New York City in 1988 where she was immediately cast in Richard Foreman's experimental "What Did He See?" While establishing herself in the off-Broadway world, Taylor landed a bit part in the John Hughes comedy "She's Having a Baby" (1988), and a short time later gained well-deserved praise and wide recognition for the sleeper hit "Mystic Pizza" (1988), which cast the unknown alongside Julia Roberts and Annabeth Gish as working class New England friends and sisters who work at a pizza joint. The following year Taylor had a scene-stealing comic role as the guitar-wielding, emotionally scarred best friend of John Cusack's lovable Lloyd Dobbler in "Say Anything" (1989), an undisputed classic of the teenage romantic comedy genre. While she remained active on the New York stage with the Naked Angels Theater company, her screen career continued to grow with a small but moving role as a Vietnam war widow in Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July", and television roles in "Sensibility and Sense" (PBS, 1990) and the miniseries "Family of Spies" (CBS, 1990). The first of Taylor's many Independent Spirit Award nominations resulted from her starring role as a drifter trying to spring her brother from jail in the literary-inspired road movie "Bright Angel" (1991). Taylor clearly confirmed her intentions as an artist rather than starlet when she gained considerable weight to take the lead as the frumpy, plain Jane victim of a group of furloughed Marines looking for "ugly" dates in Nancy Savoca's "Dogfight" (1991), co-starring River Phoenix as the soldier who finds an unexpected connection with the victim of his prank. Continuing to concentrate on less glamorous but complex, often "misfit" characters in independent films, Taylor played opposite Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway in the surrealistic comedy "Arizona Dream" (1992; released in 1995), then reteamed with Nancy Savoca for "Household Saints" (1993). Taylor won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as a young woman unusually obsessed with Catholicism until she finds herself falling for someone other than Jesus - a suitor played by Taylor's then-boyfriend Michael Imperioli. In addition to working with Imperioli on a number of downtown theater productions, Taylor also had an off-Broadway run that year in "Aven'U Boys" (1993). As part of the revered ensemble cast of Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" (1993), Taylor shared in a number of independent film awards, and gave wonderfully patient and kind performances opposite Lily Tomlin as her trailer park-dwelling waitress mom and Robert Downey, Jr. as her macabre husband. Taylor had a more mainstream film outing in the sports drama "Rudy" (1993) and portrayed novelist and playwright Edna Ferber in Alan Rudolph's "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" (1994), a well-received film set in the literary world of 1920s New York City. Taylor reunited with Altman later that year to play a lesbian fashion photographer in the filmmaker's widely reviled sartorial farce, "Ready to Wear (Pret-a-Porter)." Abel Ferrara's "The Addiction" (1995) offered Taylor a change of pace, and her leading role as a philosophy student-turned-vampire earned another Leading Actress nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. Critics were not so kind about her second supernatural appearance as a member of a coven of witches headed by Madonna in "Four Rooms" (1995), which was generally acknowledged as one of the worst ensemble comedies since "Ready to Wear."Director Mary Harron gave the actress - known for quietly occupying her characters in most projects - a chance to boldly dominate a picture when she cast Taylor in "I Shot Andy Warhol" (1996), a biopic about deranged radical feminist and attempted assassin, Valerie Solanas. Taylor's brilliant performance proved why she had become such a mainstay on the independent film scene, and earned her a special award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Also screening at Sundance was "Girls Town" (1996), a coming-of-age story co-written by Taylor, which also earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her supporting role as one of a group of teens coping in the aftermath of a friend's suicide. The indie darling made another foray to Hollywood at the behest of Ron Howard, whose reputation as an "actor's director" led him to cast her as one of the kidnappers in "Ransom" (1996), a blockbuster thriller starring Mel Gibson. A string of television roles further boosted Taylor's visibility, beginning with "Subway Stories: Tales From the Underground" (HBO, 1997), in which she co-starred opposite then-boyfriend Michael Rapaport in "The Listeners" segment directed by Seth Zvi Rosenfeld. She then garnered an Emmy nomination for a guest role on "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) for her terrific portrayal of a blind woman who can "see" murders taking place, introducing to a whole new audience Taylor's use of silence and stillness to capture the inner workings of character.Following a run playing Irina in Scott Elliott's production of "The Three Sisters" at the Roundabout Theatre in 1997, Taylor jumped at the chance to work with indie legend John Waters, and took a role as a New York art gallery owner who "discovers" a talented teen photographer (Edward Furlong) in "Pecker" (1997). In another comic performance, Taylor proved charming as a kind-hearted employee of a luxury cruise ship who helps conceal stowaway actors Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt in the screwball 1930s-set comedy, "The Imposters" (1998). She made the rounds at Sundance to promote "A Slipping Down Life" (1999), instilling depth, dignity, passion and beauty into her pairing with Guy Pearce as an opposites-attract couple, and continued to push her boundaries playing a participant in a supernatural experiment in Jan De Bont's mainstream psychological thriller, "The Haunting" (1999). Taylor remained in front of mainstream audiences for Stephen Frears' adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel "High Fidelity" (2000), playing an ex- of John Cusack's record-store-owner-in-personal-crisis, and she followed up with a starring role in the little-seen "Julie Johnson" (2001), as a 31-year-old housewife going through her own period of reinvention. Taylor returned to the stage with "The Dead Eye Boy" and played Ophelia to Jared Harris' "Hamlet" at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival in 2001, before co-starring as Frank Family friend, Miep Van Gies, in the miniseries, "Anne Frank: The Whole Story" (ABC, 2001). With so much acclaimed work under her belt, Taylor continued to be presented with new opportunities, especially within the increasingly respected realm of cable television. It was with HBO that the actress took her first crack at series television, playing Lisa Kimmel, platonic friend of Nate Fisher (Peter Krause), on the Emmy-winning drama "Six Feet Under." Over two seasons, Taylor's recurring character became pregnant with Fisher's child and entered into a rocky marriage with the undertaker, after which she continued to figure into storylines as details of her mysterious death surfaced. Proving a good fit with the network's cadre of quality originals, she co-starred with Michael Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter in the journalist drama "Live from Baghdad" (2002). Following a stage appearance in "Landscape of the Body" at the Williamstown Theater Festival in 2003, Taylor resumed her place in the pantheon of American independent film in the female-centric ensemble cast of John Sayles' "Casa de los Babys" (2003), and in the comedy "Gaudi Afternoon" (2003), with Judy Davis and Marcia Gay Harden. HBO and director Mary Harron beckoned Taylor for a supporting role as a pin-up art dealer in "The Notorious Bettie Page" (2005), starring Gretchen Mol as the renowned 1950's model, and she went on to bring another pop culture icon to life with her role opposite Matt Dillon in "Factotum" (2006), based on the book by Charles Bukowski.In her first starring series role, Taylor joined a cable TV trend of therapy-related programming as a psychiatrist (and marriage counseling patient) in the short-lived dramedy "State of Mind" (Lifetime, 2007). Her little-seen role as the wife of an aspiring grocery store manager (John C. Reilly) in "The Promotion" (2008) was followed by the off-screen birth of a daughter, and a stroke of pitch-perfect casting that led to her portrayal of a super-tough rural sheriff immune to the charms of bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) in Michael Mann's Depression-set hit, "Public Enemy" (2009). After appearing in a number of overlooked dramas, including "Being Flynn" (2012), a father/son film based on a book by her real-life husband, Nick Flynn, Taylor made an unexpected detour into high-profile horror projects, joining the ensemble of Netflix's bloody "Hemlock Grove" series (2013-) and playing a key role in the hugely successful supernatural film "The Conjuring" (2013). With her career clearly revived, Taylor also signed on to the cast of the sci-fi TV show "Almost Human" (Fox, 2013-14), starring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy. After that short-lived series ended, Taylor co-starred in the streaming horror drama "Hemlock Grove" (Netflix 2013-14) before returning to network TV in a supporting role in John Ridley's serial drama "American Crime" (ABC 2015-).