Atkinson broke into television with appearances in made-for-TV movies and in the network series "A Year in the Life" (1987-88). While peppering her résumé with gigs on shows such as "Parenthood" and "The X-Files," Atkinson moved into feature films, including Free Willy (1993) and Blank Check (1994), later counting the politically charged thriller Syriana (2005) among her big-screen credits.
In 2006, Atkinson landed the role for which she's best known: Homeland Security official Karen Hayes on the megahit "24." The actress' subsequent works include Recount (2008) and the Netflix original series "House of Cards."
After a disastrous sequence of events, Maine Congressman Charlie Winship retreats to remote Monhegan Island to lick his wounds, only to find more tumult as the local lobstermen are engaged in a bitter battle to protect their fishing grounds.