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Marisa Tomei Bio
Marisa Tomei (born December 4, 1964) is an American actress. In a career spanning three decades, Tomei had initial success in films as a young actress, followed by a series of unsuccessful films, then a resurgence with a series of critically acclaimed films. Following her work on the television series As the World Turns, she came to prominence as a cast member on The Cosby Show spin-off A Different World in 1987. After having minor roles in a few films, she came to international attention in 1992 with the comedy My Cousin Vinny, for which she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Of the many films in which Tomei has appeared, her most commercially successful ones to date are What Women Want (2000), Anger Management (2003), Wild Hogs (2007), and Parental Guidance (2012), all of which have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. She received critical acclaim for her performances in films such as Untamed Heart (1993), The Paper (1994), Unhook the Stars (1996), Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), In the Bedroom (2001) (for which she received her second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007), The Wrestler (2008) (for which she received her third Academy Award nomination), Cyrus (2010), and Love Is Strange (2014).
Tomei has also done substantial work in theater. She was formerly involved with the Naked Angels Theatre Company and received acclaim for her performance in plays like Daughters (1986), Wait Until Dark (1998), Top Girls (2008), for which she received a nomination for Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, and The Realistic Joneses (2014), for which she received a special award at Drama Desk Awards.
Tomei followed up As the World Turns in 1986 with a role on the sitcom A Different World as Maggie Lauten during the first season. Her film debut was a minor role in the 1984 comedy film The Flamingo Kid, in which she played Mandy, a waitress. She only had one line in the entire film. During this phase, she made her stage debut in 1987 at the age of 22 with the off-Broadway play Daughters, in which she played Cetta. The role earned her rave reviews and the Theatre World Award for outstanding debut on stage.
Following several small films, Tomei came to international prominence with her comedic performance in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny, for which she received critical praise. Critic Vincent Canby wrote, “Ms. Tomei gives every indication of being a fine comedian, whether towering over Mr. Pesci and trying to look small, or arguing about a leaky faucet in terms that demonstrate her knowledge of plumbing. Mona Lisa is also a first-rate auto mechanic, which comes in handy in the untying of the knotted story.” For her performance, Tomei was named Best Supporting Actress at the 1993 Academy Awards, prevailing over Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Judy Davis. American film critic Rex Reed created controversy (and a minor Hollywood myth) when he suggested that Jack Palance had announced the wrong name after opening the envelope. While this allegation was repeatedly disproved – even the Academy officially denied it – Tomei called the story “extremely hurtful.” A Price Waterhouse accountant explained that if such an event had occurred, “we have an agreement with the Academy that one of us would step on stage, introduce ourselves, and say the presenter misspoke.”
After her Oscar win, Tomei appeared as silent film star Mabel Normand in the film Chaplin, with her then-boyfriend Robert Downey Jr. playing the title character. The following year she starred in the romantic drama Untamed Heart with Christian Slater, for which they won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss. Tomei had won the previous year for Best Breakthrough Performance for My Cousin Vinny. The following year Tomei appeared alongside Downey again in the romantic comedy Only You. She then appeared in Nick Cassavetes‘s Unhook the Stars. Of Tomei’s performance, The New York Times wrote, “Ms. Tomei is equally fine as Mildred’s younger, hot-tempered neighbor, whose raw working-class feistiness and bluntly profane vocabulary initially repel the genteel older woman.” She received her first Screen Actor’s Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Female Supporting Actor for her performance. In 1998, she received an American Comedy Award nomination for Funniest Supporting Actress for Tamara Jenkins‘s cult film Slums of Beverly Hills. The independent film was well received by critics and the public. The New York Times writes, “Jenkins makes the most of an especially ingratiating cast, with Ms. Tomei very charming and funny as Rita” while another critic states Tomei is “spunky and sexy… more subdued than she usually is.” Tomei spent several years away from high-profile roles and major motion pictures in the late 1990s, before rising again to prominence in the early 2000s.
During the 1990s, Tomei made several television appearances. In 1996, she made a guest appearance on the sitcom Seinfeld, playing herself in the two-part episode “The Cadillac“. In the episode, George Constanza attempts to get a date with her through a friend of Elaine Benes. She also made an appearance on The Simpsons as movie star Sara Sloane, who falls in love with Ned Flanders. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Mohr wrote in his book Gasping for Airtime that, as guest host in October 1994, Tomei insisted that a proposed sketch, “Good Morning Brooklyn,” not be used because she did not like the idea of being stereotyped; that stand displeased the writers and performers, given the show’s penchant for satirizing celebrities. Tomei did however, parody her role from My Cousin Vinny, which had considerable Brooklyn influence, in a skit (out of several recurring) spoofing the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Tomei appeared in the 2000 film What Women Want, which was a commercial success, and had a supporting role in the romantic comedy Someone Like You. In 2001, Tomei appeared in Todd Field‘s Best Picture nominee In the Bedroom, earning several awards including a ShoWest Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002. Variety wrote, “Tomei is winning in what is surely her most naturalistic and unaffected performance,” while The New York Times writer Stephen Holden exclaimed, “Ms. Tomei’s ruined, sorrowful Natalie is easily her finest screen role.” In the Bedroom earned Tomei a second Academy Award nomination and her first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Tomei also shared a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. In 2002 she appeared in the Bollywood-inspired film The Guru and voiced the role of Bree Blackburn, the main antagonist in the animated feature film The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
In 2003, Tomei appeared in one of her biggest commercial hits, Anger Management. The following year, she appeared in the film Alfie based on the 1966 British film of the same name. In 2005, she was featured in an ad campaign for Hanes with the slogan “Look who we’ve got our Hanes on now”, featuring various other celebrities including Michael Jordan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Matthew Perry. In 2006, Tomei had a recurring role on Rescue Me, playing Johnny Gavin‘s ex-wife Angie. She won a Gracie Allen Award for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work in the four episodes she appeared in. The following year, she appeared in the comedy Wild Hogs. The film was the 13th highest-grossing movie of 2007 ($168,273,550 domestic box office). She also starred in the Sidney Lumet-directed Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. The film was released to critical acclaim.
In 2008, Tomei played Cassidy/Pam, a struggling stripper, in the Darren Aronofsky film The Wrestler. She appeared in several nude dance numbers in the film. On working with Tomei, Aronofsky said, “This role shows how courageous and brave Marisa is. And ultimately she’s really sexy. We knew nudity was a big part of the picture, and she wanted to be that exposed and vulnerable.” Numerous critics heralded this performance as a standout in her career. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Tomei delivers one of her most arresting performances, again without any trace of vanity.” Ty Burr of The Boston Globe wrote, “Tomei gives a brave and scrupulously honest performance, one that’s most naked when Pam has her clothes on.” Variety exclaimed, “Tomei is in top, emotionally forthright form as she charts a life passage similar to Ram’s.” For her performance she was nominated for her first BAFTA, second Golden Globe and third Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
In 2010, Tomei appeared in two films: a comedy-drama, Cyrus and a comedy, Grown Ups. Tomei hosted the 2011 Scientific and Technical Awards, which was followed by an appearance at the 83rd Academy Awards. She starred in the mystery suspense film The Lincoln Lawyer. She also appeared in Salvation Boulevard, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Tomei’s other 2011 films included Crazy, Stupid, Love. and the George Clooney film The Ides of March. She is in talks to star in the indie comedy Married and Cheating. In an interview, Lady Gaga stated that she would want Tomei to portray her in a film about the singer. Tomei responded, “I was thrilled when I heard. I love her. I love her music. And she’s an awesome businesswoman. So I was so touched, really. I think it’s incredible that she likes my work and that she’d think of me.”
Tomei was featured in the second episode of the third season of NBC‘s Who Do You Think You Are?, on February 10, 2012. In the episode, she traveled to Tuscany and to the island of Elba to uncover the truth about the 100-year-old murder of her great-grandfather, Francesco Leopoldo Bianchi.
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