Marisa Tomei biography
Date of Birth: December 4, 1964
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Marisa Tomei saw the play A Chorus Line at age 12 and gained reverence for the magic of the theatre. During her junior high school years she studied acting and dancing and during the summers she performed in plays at the Golden Bridge Colony in upstate New York. Marisa attended Boston University for one year. That summer she had a six-week career as a waitress. While her father wanted her to return to college, her friend Allison encouraged her to continue acting.
Marisa made a stab at films with bit parts in The Flamingo Kid and Playing for Keeps (1986). She had roles on the soaps As The World Turns and One Life to Live before landing a primetime gig as one of Lisa Bonet's roomates on A Different World from 1987-88. Her major stage debut was in the play Daughters, which won her a Theatre World Award. She then returned to the stage in a play called What the Butler Saw.
Between films, Marisa was on stage in New York with the elite group Naked Angels whose members include Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Lili Taylor, and Fisher Stevens.
She returned to the screen after a five-year absence with two 1991 flops: in the Sylvester Stallone comedy Oscar (as his daughter), and the Nicolas Cage erotic thriller Zandalee. But then came Tomei's star-making part. She put her Brooklyn heritage to good use in her Oscar-winning performance as Joe Pesci's sassy, auto-mechanic fiancee in the surprise hit comedy, My Cousin Vinny (1992).
Her Oscar win did not necessarily guarantee good roles for this quirky actress. Marisa was a dead ringer for an unflatteringly-drawn Mabel Normand in Sir Richard Attenborough's biopic Chaplin (1992); was a waitress romanced by Christian Slater in the interesting Untamed Heart (1993), co-starring Rosie Perez; and was Michael Keaton's very pregnant reporter wife in The Paper (1994), Ron Howard's comedy-drama about the fourth estate. She tried an Audrey Hepburn make-over opposite Robert Downey, Jr., her Chaplin co-star, in Norman Jewison's Only You (1994), as a headstrong bride who leaves her would-be groom at the altar to search for her true soul mate, then turned to grittier fare as a Cuban refugee in 1980 in Mira Nair's The Perez Family (1995). A brief cameo in the disastrous Four Rooms (also 1995) probably did little long-term damage.
Roles in Unhook the Stars (1996), Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) and Happy Accidents (1999) did little to keep up any momentum from her Oscar win, but a role in What Women Want (2000) alongside Mel Gibson, as well as a critically-acclaimed performance in In the Bedroom (2001), which got her a second Oscar nomination in 2002, brought Tomei's face and name back into the public's attention. In 2002, she was named Supporting Actress of the Year at the ShoWest Convention.
In 2009 she received her third Academy Award nomination for her work in The Wrestler (2008).