She has show biz in her blood. Martha Plimpton was born November 16, 1970, in New York City to two actors: Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton. Martha began her career at age 8, when her mom had a friend of hers, composer Elizabeth Swados, enroll her in an actors' workshop. At age 10, she got a small part in Rollover (1981), and also made a series of Calvin Klein commercials.
Her first substantial film role was as a tomboy in The River Rat (1984); the following year, Steven Spielberg cast her in The Goonies (1985). Martha met River Phoenix while they were both filming The Mosquito Coast (1986), but since she was only 15 at the time, she did not go out with him. Even though she had a small part in the movie, it established her as a serious actress. Martha appeared in movies such as the screwball comedy Stars and Bars (1988) and, that same year, she was paired again with Phoenix in Running on Empty (1988). They dated for a while and then broke up. For a while, she was engaged to actor Jon Patrick Walker.
As if making movies didn't keep her busy enough, Martha frequently worked at theaters and made her Chicago debut with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company Ensemble in "The Libertine" in 1996. As a member of that ensemble, she received a National Medal of Arts award in the autumn of 1998. As for movies, Colin Fitz Lives! (1997) and Eye of God (1997) in which she plays the starring role, have been run at the Sundance Film Festival. Although some recent movies have had low box office (Pecker (1998) $2.1 million, and 200 Cigarettes (1999) $6.8 million), Martha's performances shine and she often rises above her material.
Perhaps recalling how important acting lessons were to her as a child, she donates her time and efforts to the "52nd Street Project" which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to matching the inner-city children with professional theater artists to create original theater, by writing, directing and performing their own plays. Perhaps one of the inner-city kids she is coaching will be the next famous actress in Hollywood.
On the commentary track for the DVD of The Goonies (1985), she says that she was once playing the title role in Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" on stage when an audience member yelled "Gooooonies!" from his seat.
Member of The Steppenwolf Theatre Company Ensemble.
During the filming of The Goonies (1985), she made a bet with director Richard Donner that she would stop biting her nails. Donner paid up several years later, while they were doing commentary for the film's DVD.
Became a vegetarian as a teen after late boyfriend River Phoenix introduced her to the lifestyle.
In 2007 received a Tony Award Nomination and won the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance in Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia.
She was nominated for a 1996 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Supporting Role in a play for "The Libertine", at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois.
Nominated for the 2007 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Featured Actress in a Play for "The Coast of Utopia.".
Nominated for the 2008 Tony Award (New York City) for Supporting or Featured Actress in a Play for "Top Girls.".
She was nominated for a 2001 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Play for "Hedda Gabler", at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois.
Nominated for the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance for a Featured Actress in a Musical for "Pal Joey.".
Chicago punk-band The Lawrence Arms have a song called "Light Breathing (Me and Martha Plimpton in a Fancy Elevator)" about the actress.
Spokesperson for the Center for Reproductive Rights' Draw the Line campaign. The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global legal organization dedicated to advancing women's reproductive health, self-determination and dignity as basic human rights.
I realized as I got older that I could choose to be an actor to a certain extent, but movie stardom is not something you choose. It chooses you. You have very little control over that. So I stopped considering that an option.
"Once when we were fifteen, River and I went out for this fancy dinner in Manhattan and I ordered soft-shell crabs. He left the restaurant and walked around on Park Avenue, crying. I went out and said, "I love you so much. Why?" He had such a pain that I was eating an animal, that he hadn't impressed on me what was right. I loved him for that. For his dramatic desire that we share every belief, that I be with him all the way" (On River Phoenix, Cosmopolitan, April 1995).
(November 2007) Playing the lead role of Imogen in William Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" at the Lincoln Center.
(November 2008) Performing in Pal Joey on Broadway.
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