Madsen at the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival.
Virginia G. Madsen|
September 11, 1961
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Danny Huston (m. 1989; div. 1992)|
Michael Madsen (brother)|
Elaine Madsen (mother)
Christian Madsen (nephew)
Virginia Madsen (born September 11, 1961) is an American film actress and producer. She made her film debut in Class (1983), which was filmed in her native Chicago. She soon moved to Los Angeles, and was cast in a series of successful movies for the teenage audience, including Electric Dreams, Modern Girls and Fire with Fire. In 1984, David Lynch cast her in Dune as Princess Irulan.
She is most known for her role as Helen Lyle in Candyman (1992); and for her performance as Maya in Alexander Payne's film Sideways (2004), for which she received numerous awards, and nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Elaine Melson, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author, and Calvin Madsen, a fireman. Madsen's parents divorced in the late 60s, and her mother left a career in finance to pursue a career in arts, encouraged by Roger Ebert. Madsen's siblings are Cheryl Madsen, an entrepreneur, and actor Michael Madsen. Her paternal grandparents were Danish, and her mother has English, Irish, Scottish, German, and distant Native American ancestry. Madsen is a graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois.
Her first effort as an actress was as her brother's assistant in magic shows the two would concoct for their family. She later attended the Ted Liss Acting Studio in Chicago and Harand Camp Adult Theater Seminar in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Of her experience with Liss, she said: "I had wanted to join his class since I was 12. It was well worth the wait because I don't think I could have got that sort of training anywhere else especially in the United States... I always wanted to make a real career out of acting."
Audiences first caught a glimpse of Madsen when she was 22 in a bit part she landed as Lisa in the teen sex comedy Class, along with an appearance in Kenny Loggins' music video "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" from the Footloose soundtrack. She portrayed a cellist named Madeline in Electric Dreams (1984), which was the first film release by Virgin Films Production Company. She was cast as Princess Irulan in David Lynch's science fiction epic Dune (1984). In 1986, she was Boris's (Vincent Spano) romantic interest, Barbara, in Creator which starred Peter O'Toole.
Madsen first became popular with audiences in 1986 with her portrayal of a Catholic schoolgirl who fell in love with a boy from a prison camp in Duncan Gibbons's Fire with Fire. As beauty queen Dixie Lee Boxx, she was the sexy love interest of minor-league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the made-for-cable Long Gone (1987). She played a secretary in the 1988 comedy film Hot to Trot and appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the final season of Moonlighting. She also starred in the 1992 horror film Candyman.
Madsen appeared in a small role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) starring Matt Damon. Film critic Roger Ebert said that Madsen had a "strong scene," while reviewer James Berardinelli noted that "the supporting cast is solid, with turns from... Virginia Madsen as a witness for the plaintiff". Madsen had a critically acclaimed performance in Sideways (2004). The role catapulted her onto the Hollywood A-list. Her first major role after Sideways was opposite Harrison Ford in Firewall. She later appeared in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, in a key role as the angel. She co-starred with Jim Carrey in The Number 23 and Billy Bob Thornton in The Astronaut Farmer; both films released in North America on February 23, 2007.
Madsen has made numerous television appearances including Star Trek: Voyager, CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier, and other series. She was also co-host of the long-running TV series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, during the show's second (and final) season on CBS. She starred opposite Ray Liotta in CBS's short-lived crime drama series Smith. She also had a recurring role in the final season of the USA series Monk.
In 2010, she landed the starring role of Cheryl West in the ABC crime series Scoundrels. In December 2010, it was announced that she will be joining the cast of NBC's science fiction action series The Event. In 2012, she joined the cast of the AMC TV series Hell on Wheels as Mrs. Durant, first appearing in episode eight of season 2, "The Lord's Day."
In 2008, she formed her own film production company called Title IX Prods. Her first project was a film made with her mother called I Know a Woman Like That. The film is a documentary about the lives of older women. On the creation of the film, she said her mother's active lifestyle was an inspiration to start filming.
"My mother's level of activity, of productivity, was exactly why I thought a project like this would work. Originally, when we put the idea together, she had said, 'I'm far too busy. I'm going to Holland, and then I'm going here and there and I'm writing my book.' But that's really what it's about."
Her second project is called Fighting Gravity and is about the inability of female ski jumpers to obtain recognition in Olympic competition.
|1984||American Playhouse||Lou Ellen Purdy||Episode: "A Matter of Principle"|
|1989||Moonlighting||Lorraine Anne Charnock||3 episodes|
|1998||Star Trek: Voyager||Kellin||Episode: "Unforgettable"|
|2001||The Practice||Marsha Ellison||2 episodes|
|2002–2006||Justice League||Dr. Sarah Corwin||2 episodes|
|2003||Dawson's Creek||Maddy||Episode: "All Good Things..."|
|2003||CSI: Miami||Krista Walker||Episode: "Death Grip"|
|2003||Spider-Man||Silver Sable||2 episodes|
|2005||Justice League Unlimited||Roulette||2 episodes|
|2006–2007||Smith||Hope Stevens||7 episodes|
|2009||Monk||T.K. Jensen||3 episodes|
|2010||Scoundrels||Cheryl West||8 episodes|
|2011||The Event||Senator Catherine Lewis||4 episodes|
|2012||Hell on Wheels||Mrs. Durant||4 episodes|
|2013||Hatfields & McCoys||Eloise McCoy||Unsold TV pilot|
|2013–2014||Witches of East End||Penelope Gardiner||14 episodes|
Awards and nominations
- From the Nevada Marriage Index, 1956-2005
- Bell, Mark (2007-02-23). "Method Fest to present the 2007 Maverick Award to Michael Madsen". Film Threat. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Kennedy, Lisa (2007-02-21). "A strong role, an equal partner". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Bray, Tony (April 2004). "Virginia Madsen". TV Now. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- "Virginia Madsen and Suzanne Adams". TeachersCount. 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Habermehl, Kris (2007-01-25). "Fire Breaks Out At Prestigious High School". Retrieved 2008-06-28.[dead link]
- Madsen, Virginia (2007). "Virginia Madsen Biography – Bio – Life History". Virginia Madsen Official Site. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Madsen's opening monologue from Dune ("In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is the spice melange. The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness.") was later sampled by Israel-based group Astral Projection in their tracks "Dancing Galaxy" and "Ambient Galaxy" on their album Dancing Galaxy, and by drum'n'bass artist Aphrodite in his song "Spice (Even Spicier)."
- Ebert, Roger (1997-11-21). "The Rainmaker". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Berardinelli, James (1997). "The Rainmaker". ReelViews. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Tarshis, Joan (September 2005). "Virginia Madsen’s Vintage Year". Smoke Magazine Online. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
- Ausiello, Michael (13 December 2010). "Virginia Madsen Joins NBC’s ‘The Event’". Deadline.com. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
- Tatiana Siegel, "Virginia Madsen added to 'Amelia'." Variety, April 21, 2008. Retrieved: December 26, 2009
- "Ability Magazine: Virginia Madsen and Elaine Madsen Interview" (2010)". Ability Magazine. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- IMDB, Title IX Prods
- Fink, Mitchell (July 13, 1992). "People Insider". People. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
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