Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Marisa Tomei was raised by her father, Gary, a trial lawyer, and her mother, Patricia, an English teacher; also helping with the child rearing were her grandparents, Romeo and Rita. Tomei spent a relatively normal childhood in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, spending time in her parent's Westchester County summer home while attending Edward R. Murrow High School, where she performed in several school plays. Tomei tried her hand at college following high school when she matriculated at Boston University. The summer after her freshman year, her father had lined up a boring job, which she desperately wanted to avoid. So instead, she landed her first film role in "The Flamingo Kid" (1984), and though she had only one line, Tomei had avoided a dreadful summer job - and more importantly, she had her foot in the door. She then dropped out of college after landing the role of Marcy Thompson on the soap opera "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1956-2010). Tomei soon left daytime to hone her craft on stage, winning a 1986 Theatre World Award for her performance in "Daughters."Tomei soon headed out to Los Angeles, where she continued her stage success with a Dramalogue Award for her turn in Alan Bowne's "Beirut." Making her way over to television, she was cast as one of Lisa Bonet's roommates during the first season of "A Different World" (NBC, 1987-1993), then after leaving, made her television movie debut in the private eye mystery, "Parker Kane" (NBC, 1990). In the 1990s, Tomei returned to feature films, putting on a memorable display with her innate comic talents as Sylvester Stallone's overly spoiled daughter in the mob comedy "Oscar" (1991). Tomei had a major breakthrough with her next role, delivering a finely wrought comic performance as Mona Lisa Vito, the sassy auto mechanic and devoted girlfriend of an inexperienced trial lawyer (Joe Pesci) trying to defending his cousin (Ralph Macchio) and friend (Mitchell Whitfield) against murder charges in "My Cousin Vinny" (1992). Thanks in part to her Brooklyn upbringing, Tomei was the perfect choice to play Mona, earning substantial critical praise and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. But when her name was called out as the recipient of statue, many were shocked over her win, especially when the competition included such stalwart veterans as Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Miranda Richardson. Afterwards, rumors abounded that presenter Jack Palance accidentally called out the wrong name, a slight the actress never forgot.Prior to her Oscar triumph, Tomei co-starred in "Chaplin" (1992) as a dead-ringer for scandal-ridden silent film star, Mabel Normand, who regularly starred with The Tramp (Robert Downey, Jr.). But after winning, she found it difficult to translate her success into other quality roles. Though terrific as a shy waitress romanced by an awkward busboy (Christian Slater) in "Untamed Hearts" (1993) and as the pregnant wife of a star reporter (Michael Keaton) in "The Paper" (1994), Tomei had trouble finding worthy projects. Her first real leading role in the gentle romantic comedy "Only You" (1994) attempted to showcase her charms, but her surprising lack of chemistry with former beau Robert Downey, Jr. usurped the love story. Two of her best post-Oscar roles were her turn as a troubled, working-class single mother who learns lessons from her older neighbor (Gena Rowlands) in "Unhook the Stars" (1996), and as the wild cousin of an impressionable young girl (Natasha Lyonne) in "The Slums of Beverly Hills" (1998). She also delighted television fans and joined an esteemed club of "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1990-98) guest-stars when she appeared as herself - the object of George Costanza's (Jason Alexander) affection in the 1996 episode, "The Cadillac." Tomei made another rare return to the small screen in the AIDS-themed drama "My Own Country" (Showtime, 1998), co-starring with real-life brother Adam. That same year, she starred alongside Quentin Tarantino in the Broadway revival of the thriller "Wait Until Dark."Tomei started the new millennium with a starring turn opposite Vincent D'Onofrio in the fantasy romance "Happy Accidents" (2000). Finally finding a meaty role that allowed her to display her versatility, the actress delivered a charming performance as a modern-day woman whose Mr. Right reveals a disconcerting secret - he is a time traveler from the future who has come back to save her life. Tomei next proved her dramatic mettle in the drama "In the Bedroom" (2001) As the older, married lover of a college student (Nick Stahl) whose mother (Sissy Spacek) disapproves of the relationship, Tomei delivered a delicate, layered performance. The film was among the year's best-reviewed and earned her a second Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, certain vindication for those who previously claimed that her first was a mistake.In 2002, Tomei took on the role of a confused thirty-something in the romantic comedy "Just a Kiss." She also had several other high profile film roles lined up including the comedies "The Guru" (2003) and "Anger Management' (2003). In the remake "Alfie" (2004), she provided a welcome moral center as Julie, the honest, grounded mom who refuses to share her caddish paramour (Jude Law) with other women. In 2006, Tomei was seen in a string of independent films, including "Mary Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School," an ensemble drama about a depressed man (Robert Carlyle) who attends a dance school where he rediscovers his joy for life through the connection he makes with a beautiful woman (Tomei) looking for her own inner peace. After appearing in flashback sequences as the mother of a neglected daughter (Kyra Sedgwick) looking for unqualified love in "Loverboy" (2006), she played a gold-digging floozy whose love affair with a drunken mess of a writer (Matt Dillon) propels him back into serious depression in "Factotum" (2006). Also in 2006, Tomei began a recurring role in the audacious dramedy "Rescue Me" (FX, 2004-11), playing the ex-wife of Johnny Gavin (Dean Winters) who pretends to date Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) in order to help him get back at his brother for dating his ex-wife (Andrea Roth). Tomei then showed up as a diner owner in "Wild Hogs" (2007), a hugely successful comedy about four down-and-out men going through mid-life crises who embark on a freewheeling, cross-country motorcycle trip in order to prove their manhood.In Sidney Lumet's crime thriller "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" (2007), Tomei played the trophy wife of a stock broker (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in desperate need of cash who plots to rob a mom-'n'-pop store with his younger brother (Ethan Hawke). She appeared as a resourceful, left-wing reporter who is determined to uncover an assassination plot involving a hit man (John Cusack) posing as a trade show producer in "War, Inc." (2008). She next co-starred in Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" (2008), a bittersweet drama about Randy "The Ram" Robinson, an aging wrestler (Mickey Rourke) who struggles with being lured out of retirement after being plagued with a dead-end job and estrangement from his daughter. Tomei played an aging stripper looking to start a new life who forms a bond with Ram, despite his inability to sustain a real relationship. For her efforts, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, which was followed by a nod at the Academy Awards in the same category. Tomei continued to impress, notching another detailed, emotionally honest performance as a mother torn between her new boyfriend (John C. Reilly) and her strange grown son (Jonah Hill) in the well reviewed comedy, "Cyrus" (2010). Legal drama "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011), comic thriller "Salvation Boulevard" (2011), romantic comedy "Crazy Stupid Love" (2011) and political drama "The Ides of March" (2011) followed in short order, with Canadian thriller "Inescapable" (2012) and Billy Crystal comedy "Parental Guidance" (2012) ending one of the most productive periods of Tomei's career. While focusing more on Broadway and Off-Broadway stage work, "Love Is Strange" (2014), a comedy-drama about an aging gay couple, and "The Rewrite" (2014), a romantic comedy pairing Tomei with Hugh Grant, kept her in the public eye, as did a small role in Amy Schumer's romantic comedy "Trainwreck" (2015) and a role in ensemble holiday comedy "Love the Coopers" (2015), as well as an arc on hit soap opera "Empire" (Fox 2015-). Tomei next starred in Adam McKay's financial satire "The Big Short" (2015) before raising eyebrows by taking the role of Peter Parker's Aunt May (usually played by more matronly actresses than the 50-ish Tomei) for "Captain America: Civil War" (2016) and "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017).


Guest Appearances