Catherine Keener biography

Catherine Keener

Date of Birth: March 26, 1959

The middle of five children, Catherine Keener was born in Miami, Florida and raised in Hialeah. After high school, Keener moved to Norton, Massachusetts to attend Wheaton College, an all-girl liberal arts school, where she majored in English and History. In her sophomore year, she was shut out of a photography course and took a theater ensemble class instead, where the teacher cast Keener in a production of Uncommon Women and Others.

By the time she graduated from college, Keener had performed in a number of plays and participated in a summer-long intensive filmmaking class at New York University. Still, acting wasn't a career option for her. "I still felt like a Miami girl, and growing up there was so far removed from the movie business, I never even thought of pursuing it and making a living from it." Instead, she moved to New York to work as an intern at the Hughes-Moss casting agency, which led to a job offer in L.A. to work as casting director Gail Eisenstadt's assistant. The two became close friends. Then Eisenstadt was diagnosed with lung cancer. Toward the end of her life, she asked Keener what she was going to do with her life. Keener told her that she had acted in college, and Eisenstadt advised her to pursue it.

Eisenstadt, who was casting the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore vehicle About Last Night at the time, gave Keener a bit part in the film (the waitress who starts a drinking contest between Lowe and Jim Belushi). Keener's one line earned her a Screen Actors' Guild card. Shortly after, Eisenstadt passed away.

Work began to trickle in: A pilot for the CBS series The Alan King Show, a few episodes of the Pat Morita cop show O'Hara, low-budget flicks like Curse of the Corn People and Survival Quest. On the set of the latter, she met actor Dermot Mulroney, whom she eventually married and with whom she shares a son, Clyde. The experience on O'Hara, however, was so humbling, it made Keener go back to school to study acting professionally.

The drought ended with more TV work, including an episode of Seinfeld and small roles in feature films like Backtrack and Switch. Still, the steady gig Keener sought continued to elude her. It was in 1992 when the American independent film scene began to thrive that Keener found her niche. Director Tom DiCillo cast her in his first film, Johnny Suede (best known for being Brad Pitt's first starring role), and then again in Living in Oblivion, his satire of independent filmmaking that has become required viewing in film schools everywhere.

Keener has continued to concentrate mostly on independent films (Walking and Talking, Your Friends & Neighbors) with an occasional foray into big-budget Hollywood fare (Out of Sight, 8MM). That has allowed her to keep a low profile, and anonymity is something she cherishes.

For her turn as Maxine in Being John Malkovich (1999), the New York Film Critic's Circle gave her a best supporting actress award and she also earned Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. In 2006, she received a second supporting actress nomination from the Academy Awards for her role as beloved author Harper Lee in Capote (2005). In 2009, she received her second Golden Globe nomination for the TV movie An American Crime (2007). She has also continued to appear in a long list of feature films, such as the mom in Where the Wild Things Are (2009), The Soloist (2009) and A Late Quartet (2012). She recently starred in Enough Said(2013) alongside James Gandolfini, Captain Phillips(2013) alongside Tom Hanks, Begin Again (2014) starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, and Unless (2016) opposite Hannah Gross and Matt Craven.

Divorced in 2007 after 17 years of marriage, Keener lives in the Los Angeles area.


Elephant Song(2015)
Begin Again(2014)
Captain Phillips(2013)
Enough Said(2013)
The Croods(2013)
Can a Song Save Your Life? (2013)
A Late Quartet(2012)
Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding (2011)
The Oranges(2011)
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief(2010)
Please Give(2010)
Where the Wild Things Are(2009)
The Soloist(2009)
Genova (2008)
Synecdoche, New York(2008)
Hamlet 2(2008)
What Just Happened(2008)
Into the Wild(2007)
An American Crime (2007)
Friends With Money(2006)
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
The Interpreter(2005)
The Ballad of Jack and Rose(2005)
S1m0ne (2002)
Full Frontal(2002)
Death To Smoochy(2002)
Lovely & Amazing(2001)
Being John Malkovich(1999)
Your Friends & Neighbors (1998)
Out Of Sight(1998)
The Real Blonde (1997)
Box of Moon Light (1996)
Walking and Talking (1996)
The Destiny of Marty Fine (1996)
Living in Oblivion (1995)
Johnny Suede (1991)

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