Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York to mother Patricia "Addie" Tomei, an English teacher, and father Gary Tomei, a lawyer. Marisa also has a brother, actor Adam Tomei. As a child, Marisa's mother frequently corrected her speech so as to eliminate her heavy Brooklyn accent. As a teen, Marisa attended Edward R. Murrow High School and graduated in the class of 1982. She was one year into her college education at Boston University when she dropped out for a co-starring role on the CBS daytime drama, "As the World Turns" (1956). Her role on that show paved the way for her entrance into film: in 1984, she made her film debut with a bit part in The Flamingo Kid (1984). Three years later, Marisa became known for her role as "Maggie Lawton", Lisa Bonet's college roommate, on the sitcom "A Different World" (1987). Her real breakthrough came in 1992, when she co-starred as Joe Pesci's hilariously foul-mouthed, scene-stealing girlfriend in My Cousin Vinny (1992), a performance that won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Later that year, she turned up briefly as a snippy "Mabel Normand" in director Richard Attenborough's biopic, Chaplin (1992), and was soon given her first starring role in Untamed Heart (1993). A subsequent starring role -- and attempted makeover into Audrey Hepburn -- in the romantic comedy, Only You (1994), with Robert Downey Jr. proved only moderately successful. Marisa's other 1994 role as Michael Keaton's hugely pregnant wife in The Paper (1994) was well-received, although the film as a whole was not. Fortunately for Tomei, she was able to rebound the following year with a solid performance as a troubled single mother in Nick Cassavetes Unhook the Stars (1996), which earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Also in 1996, she made a famous guest appearance on the popular sitcom, "Seinfeld" (1990), as herself. She turned in a similarly strong work in Welcome to Sarajevo (1997) and, in 1998, did some of her best work in years as a sexually liberated, unhinged woman in Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). Marisa co-starred with Mel Gibson in the hugely successful romantic comedy, What Women Want (2000), and, during the 2002 movie award season, she proved her first Oscar win was no fluke when she was nominated a second time for the critically-acclaimed dark drama, In the Bedroom (2001).
Fresh off her second Oscar nomination, Marisa began acting in more mainstream films, but only a couple of them stuck out. She appeared in the ensemble romantic comedy, Someone Like You... (2001), with Ashley Judd, Hugh Jackman, and Greg Kinnear, then in The Guru (2002) and the animated feature, The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002). She returned to prominence in the hit comedy, Anger Management (2003), with Adam Sandler, alongside Jack Nicholson and performed "The Vagina Monologues" onstage in 2004. That same year, she appeared opposite Jude Law in a remake of Alfie (2004). Also in 2004, she also made a guest appearance on the animated TV phenomenon, "The Simpsons" (1989), as "Sara Sloane", a movie star who falls in love with "Ned Flanders". In 2006, she went on to do 4 episodes for "Rescue Me" (2004). She played "Angie", the ex-wife of "Tommy Calvin" (Denis Leary)'s brother, "Johnny" (Dean Winters). The following year, she starred as a sexy bar owner in the comedy, Wild Hogs (2007), alongside John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy. The film was a huge box-office hit, and later that year, at age 42, Marisa took on a provocative role in legendary filmmaker Sidney Lumet's melodramatic picture, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007). Usually modest, Marisa did several nude scenes with her costars, Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman, including a racy sex scene with Hoffman. After working on War, Inc. (2008) with John Cusack, Marisa then took on another provocative role as an aging stripper in the highly-acclaimed film, The Wrestler (2008), opposite Mickey Rourke. Her great performance earned her many awards from numerous film societies for Best Supporting Actress, a third Academy Award nomination, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Many critics heralded this performance as a standout in her career.
Usually plays characters that are, or have been in, damaged relationships and/or have emotionally damaged lives.
Plays independent women with a carefree appearance but with a complex personality and a difficult life.
Lisp, breathless voice
Listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1991" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 43.
Attended Boston University.
Older sister of actor Adam Tomei.
Has a tattoo of the Egyptian Eye of Ra (protection, good luck abundance) on her right foot.
In 2003, she played the title role in a revival of Oscar Wilde's "Salome" in an Actors Studio production, directed by Estelle Parsons, on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre; co-stars included Al Pacino, Dianne Wiest, and David Strathairn.
She is of Italian descent
Before the 1993 Oscar ceremony, she told "Entertainment Tonight" (1981) that her biggest fear was that she would trip on the steps on her way to the stage. She did.
No relation to Concetta Tomei.
Has dual citizenship between United States and Italy. She sometimes travels under the Italian passport.
Her mother was an English teacher at Cavallaro Junior High School in Brooklyn, New York.
Auditioned for the role of "Dorothy Boyd" in Jerry Maguire (1996).
In the early 1990s, she had a relationship with Robert Downey Jr. (her co-star in Chaplin (1992) and Only You (1994)). In 1999, she was with actor Dana Ashbrook and had a relationship with Frank Pugliese. She (as of 2009) now dates actor Logan Marshall-Green, who is twelve years her junior.
Has never starred in a sequel or a prequel to a film.
One of People Magazine's Most Beautiful People 2009.
I don't prefer much of film over stage... The only thing I prefer is the paycheck.
Singing really oxygenates your blood. You stretch your lungs and take in much more air into them than before. It's really good for your health.
I feel like theatre gives me the grounding, and keeps me alive, basically. Film gives me the thrill, and it's like a one night stand. But I do enjoy being around people who love it so much.
[on marriage and starting her own family] I'm not that big a fan of marriage as an institution and I don't know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.
[on her role in The Wrestler (2008)] What didn't appeal to me was, frankly, New Jersey, naked, winter!
[on Gena Rowlands] As a young actress I saw her in Opening Night (1977). She was so larger-than-life, yet her performances are so detailed- no color is left out. She's ferocious, beautiful, elegant, compassionate, funny, sexy. A broad in the best sense of the word - that's what I aspire to be.
[on pole dancing] It's really physically hard! That pole work is crazy hard; to be really good on that pole and you have to be really strong.
[on being nude in films] I definitely feel like I didn't want to do that kind of thing when I was younger because I didn't think that it was something a serious actress would do, in a way there is validity to that. It's harder to be taken seriously when you're younger, doing that but I've also come to a point of being able to handle the reaction to it - that probably would have been more difficult when I was younger.
You can't really be old in L.A., it's kind of like a crime.
(1996) I think the fantasy of being a movie star is more powerful than the reality. So, for me, even if it's not a great film or a great play I'm doing, to know that you went for it. You had an experience that made you grow artistically and personally. What's really satisfying is knowing that you did a good job.
(1996) When I was first starting, I went to an agent who told me, 'Listen, you'll be lucky if you do summer stock. Pack it up.' Once in a while I think about him, but I'm happy with myself. So, what does he matter?
|My Cousin Vinny (1992)||$250,000|
|Only You (1994)||$2,000,000|
(March 2004) Joins Indian and Pakistani actresses in performances of The Vagina Monologues on a Bombay stage to mark International Women's Day.
(February 2005) Announced in 7 February 2005 edition of New York Times, she has signed to join the cast of Neil LaBute's "This Is How It Goes" at New York's Public Theatre, beginning previews, March 8, 2005, co-starring Ben Stiller.
(March 2005) Has left the cast of "This Is How It Goes", citing an illness in her family, and will be replaced by Amanda Peet.
(2010) Co-hostess, with Mari Winsor, of an infomercial for the "Mari Winsor Slimming Pilates" fitness program.
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