Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei

Born (1964-12-04) December 4, 1964
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Boston University
Occupation Actress
Years active 1984–present

Marisa Tomei (/məˈrɪsə tˈm/; Italian pronunciation: [maˈriːza toˈmɛi]; born December 4, 1964)[1] is an American actress. In a career spanning three decades, Tomei had initial success in films as a young actress, followed by a series of unsuccessful films, then a resurgence with a series of critically acclaimed films. Following her work on the television series As the World Turns, she came to prominence as a cast member on The Cosby Show spin-off A Different World in 1987. After having minor roles in a few films, she came to international attention in 1992 with the comedy My Cousin Vinny, for which she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Of the many films in which Tomei has appeared, her most commercially successful ones to date are What Women Want (2000), Anger Management (2003), Wild Hogs (2007), and Parental Guidance (2012), all of which have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.[2] She received critical acclaim for her performances in films such as Untamed Heart (1993), The Paper (1994), Unhook the Stars (1996), Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), In the Bedroom (2001) (for which she received her second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), The Wrestler (2008) (for which she received her third Academy Award nomination), Cyrus (2010), and Love Is Strange (2014). She has also been cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Aunt May and has appeared in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and will appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).

Tomei has also done substantial work in theater. She was formerly involved with the Naked Angels Theater Company and received acclaim for her performance in plays like Daughters (1986), Wait Until Dark (1998), Top Girls (2008), for which she received a nomination for Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play, and The Realistic Joneses (2014), for which she received a special award at Drama Desk Awards.

Early life

Tomei was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Patricia Adelaide "Addie" (née Bianchi), an English teacher, and Gary A. Tomei, a trial lawyer. She graduated from Edward R. Murrow High School in 1982.[3][4] She has a younger brother, actor Adam Tomei, and was partly raised by her paternal grandparents.[5] Tomei's parents are both of Italian descent: her father's ancestors came from Tuscany, Calabria, and Campania; while her mother's ancestors are from Tuscany and Sicily.[6][7][8]

Tomei grew up in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn.[9] While there, she became captivated by the Broadway shows to which her theater-loving parents took her and was drawn to acting as a career. At Andries Hudde Junior High School, she played Hedy LaRue in a school production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. After graduating from Edward R. Murrow High School in 1982, she attended Boston University for a year.[5]


Early career

Tomei followed up As the World Turns in 1986 with a role on the sitcom A Different World as Maggie Lauten during the first season. Her film debut was a minor role in the 1984 comedy film The Flamingo Kid, in which she played Mandy, a waitress. She only had one line in the entire film. During this phase, she made her stage debut in 1987 at the age of 22 with the off-Broadway play Daughters, in which she played Cetta. The role earned her rave reviews and the Theatre World Award for outstanding debut on stage.


A photo of a brown-haired woman wearing a white dress.
Tomei at the 81st Academy Awards where she received her third nomination for The Wrestler

Following several small films, Tomei came to international prominence with her comedic performance in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny,[10] for which she received critical praise. Critic Vincent Canby wrote, "Ms. Tomei gives every indication of being a fine comedian, whether towering over Mr. Pesci and trying to look small, or arguing about a leaky faucet in terms that demonstrate her knowledge of plumbing. Mona Lisa is also a first-rate auto mechanic, which comes in handy in the untying of the knotted story."[11] For her performance, Tomei was named Best Supporting Actress at the 1993 Academy Awards, prevailing over Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave and Judy Davis. American film critic Rex Reed created controversy (and a minor Hollywood myth)[12][13][14] when he suggested that Jack Palance had announced the wrong name after opening the envelope.[15][16] While this allegation was repeatedly disproved[17][18] – even the Academy officially denied it[19] – Tomei called the story "extremely hurtful." A Price Waterhouse accountant explained that if such an event had occurred, "we have an agreement with the Academy that one of us would step on stage, introduce ourselves, and say the presenter misspoke."[20]

After her Oscar win, Tomei appeared as silent film star Mabel Normand in the film Chaplin, with her then-boyfriend Robert Downey Jr. playing the title character. The following year she starred in the romantic drama Untamed Heart with Christian Slater, for which they won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss. Tomei had won the previous year for Best Breakthrough Performance for My Cousin Vinny. The following year Tomei appeared alongside Downey again in the romantic comedy Only You. She then appeared in Nick Cassavetes's Unhook the Stars. Of Tomei's performance, The New York Times wrote, "Ms. Tomei is equally fine as Mildred's younger, hot-tempered neighbor, whose raw working-class feistiness and bluntly profane vocabulary initially repel the genteel older woman."[21] She received her first Screen Actor's Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Female Supporting Actor for her performance. In 1998, she received an American Comedy Award nomination for Funniest Supporting Actress for Tamara Jenkins's cult film Slums of Beverly Hills. The independent film was well received by critics and the public.[22] The New York Times writes, "Jenkins makes the most of an especially ingratiating cast, with Ms. Tomei very charming and funny as Rita"[23] while another critic states Tomei is "spunky and sexy... more subdued than she usually is."[24] Tomei spent several years away from high-profile roles and major motion pictures in the late 1990s, before rising again to prominence in the early 2000s.[25]

During the 1990s, Tomei made several television appearances. In 1996, she made a guest appearance on the sitcom Seinfeld, playing herself in the two-part episode "The Cadillac". In the episode, George Constanza attempts to get a date with her through a friend of Elaine Benes. She also made an appearance on The Simpsons as movie star Sara Sloane, who falls in love with Ned Flanders. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Mohr wrote in his book Gasping for Airtime that, as guest host in October 1994, Tomei insisted that a proposed sketch, "Good Morning Brooklyn," not be used because she did not like the idea of being stereotyped; that stand displeased the writers and performers, given the show's penchant for satirizing celebrities.[26] Tomei did however, parody her role from My Cousin Vinny, which had considerable Brooklyn influence, in a skit (out of several recurring) spoofing the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial.

Tomei appeared in the 2000 film What Women Want, which was a commercial success, and had a supporting role in the romantic comedy Someone Like You. In 2001, Tomei appeared in Todd Field's Best Picture nominee In the Bedroom, earning several awards including a ShoWest Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002. Variety wrote, "Tomei is winning in what is surely her most naturalistic and unaffected performance,"[27] while The New York Times writer Stephen Holden exclaimed, "Ms. Tomei's ruined, sorrowful Natalie is easily her finest screen role."[28] In the Bedroom earned Tomei a second Academy Award nomination and her first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Tomei also shared a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. In 2002 she appeared in the Bollywood-inspired film The Guru and voiced the role of Bree Blackburn, the main antagonist in the animated feature film The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

Tomei at the Inauguration of Barack Obama, January 2009

In 2003, Tomei appeared in one of her biggest commercial hits, Anger Management. The following year, she appeared in the film Alfie based on the 1966 British film of the same name. In 2005, she was featured in an ad campaign for Hanes with the slogan "Look who we've got our Hanes on now", featuring various other celebrities including Michael Jordan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Matthew Perry. In 2006, Tomei had a recurring role on Rescue Me, playing Johnny Gavin's ex-wife Angie. She won a Gracie Allen Award for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work in the four episodes she appeared in. The following year, she appeared in the comedy Wild Hogs. The film was the 13th highest-grossing movie of 2007 ($168,273,550 domestic box office). She also starred in the Sidney Lumet-directed Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. The film was released to critical acclaim.

In 2008, Tomei played Cassidy/Pam, a struggling stripper, in the Darren Aronofsky film The Wrestler. She appeared in several nude dance numbers in the film. On working with Tomei, Aronofsky said, "This role shows how courageous and brave Marisa is. And ultimately she's really sexy. We knew nudity was a big part of the picture, and she wanted to be that exposed and vulnerable."[29] Numerous critics heralded this performance as a standout in her career. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Tomei delivers one of her most arresting performances, again without any trace of vanity."[30] Ty Burr of The Boston Globe wrote, "Tomei gives a brave and scrupulously honest performance, one that's most naked when Pam has her clothes on."[31] Variety exclaimed, "Tomei is in top, emotionally forthright form as she charts a life passage similar to Ram's."[32] For her performance she was nominated for her first BAFTA, second Golden Globe and third Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2009, Tomei recorded the role of Mary Magdalene in Thomas Nelson's audio Bible production The Word of Promise.[33] Tomei was No. 18 on the 2009 FHM list of "100 Sexiest Females in the world".

In 2010, Tomei appeared in two films: a comedy-drama, Cyrus and a comedy, Grown Ups. Tomei hosted the 2011 Scientific and Technical Awards, which was followed by an appearance at the 83rd Academy Awards.[34] She starred in the mystery suspense film The Lincoln Lawyer. She also appeared in Salvation Boulevard, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Tomei's other 2011 films included Crazy, Stupid, Love. and the George Clooney film The Ides of March. She is in talks to star in the indie comedy Married and Cheating.[35] In an interview, Lady Gaga stated that she would want Tomei to portray her in a film about the singer. Tomei responded, "I was thrilled when I heard. I love her. I love her music. And she's an awesome businesswoman. So I was so touched, really. I think it's incredible that she likes my work and that she'd think of me."[36]

Tomei was featured in the second episode of the third season of NBC's Who Do You Think You Are?, on February 10, 2012. In the episode, she traveled to Tuscany and to the island of Elba to uncover the truth about the 100-year-old murder of her great-grandfather, Francesco Leopoldo Bianchi.[37]

Tomei portrays Aunt May in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first appearing in Captain America: Civil War (2016), before reprising her role in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).[38]

Personal life

Between 2008 and 2013, Tomei had an on-again, off-again relationship with actor Logan Marshall-Green. It was rumored that they were engaged, but a representative for Tomei denied this.[39] Tomei has also dated Robert Downey Jr.[40] Tomei said in 2009, "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."[39][40]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Flamingo Kid, TheThe Flamingo Kid Mandy
1984 Toxic Avenger, TheThe Toxic Avenger Health Club Girl Uncredited[41]
1986 Playing for Keeps Tracy
1991 Oscar Lisa Provolone
1991 Zandalee Remy
1992 My Cousin Vinny Mona Lisa Vito
1992 Equinox Rosie Rivers
1992 Chaplin Mabel Normand
1993 Untamed Heart Caroline
1994 Only You Faith Corvatch
1994 Paper, TheThe Paper Martha Hacket
1995 Perez Family, TheThe Perez Family Dorita Evita Perez
1995 Four Rooms Margaret
1996 Unhook the Stars Monica Warren
1997 Brother's Kiss, AA Brother's Kiss Missy
1997 Welcome to Sarajevo Nina
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Rita Abromowitz
2000 Happy Accidents Ruby Weaver
2000 Watcher, TheThe Watcher Dr. Polly Beilman
2000 What Women Want Lola
2000 King of the Jungle Det. Costello
2000 Dirk and Betty Paris
2001 In the Bedroom Natalie Strout
2001 Someone Like You Liz
2002 Wild Thornberrys Movie, TheThe Wild Thornberrys Movie Bree Blackburn Voice role
2002 Just a Kiss Paula
2002 Guru, TheThe Guru Lexi
2003 Anger Management Linda
2004 Alfie Julie
2005 Loverboy Sybil Hamilton
2005 Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School Meredith Morrison
2005 Factotum Laura
2006 Danika Danika Merrick
2007 Grace Is Gone Woman at Pool
2007 Wild Hogs Maggie
2007 Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Gina Hanson
2008 War, Inc. Natalie Hegalhuzen
2008 Wrestler, TheThe Wrestler Cassidy / Pam
2010 Cyrus Molly Fawcett
2010 Grown Ups Spectator Cameo
2011 Lincoln Lawyer, TheThe Lincoln Lawyer Maggie McPherson
2011 Salvation Boulevard Honey Foster
2011 Crazy, Stupid, Love Kate Tafferty
2011 Ides of March, TheThe Ides of March Ida Horowicz
2012 Inescapable Fatima
2012 Parental Guidance Alice Simmons
2014 Love Is Strange Kate Hull
2014 The Rewrite Holly Carpenter
2014 Loitering with Intent Gigi
2015 Spare Parts Gwen Kolinsky
2015 Trainwreck The Dog Owner
2015 Love the Coopers Emma
2015 The Big Short Cynthia Baum
2016 Captain America: Civil War Aunt May Parker
2017 Spider-Man: Homecoming Aunt May Parker Post-production
2017 Behold My Heart Margaret Lang Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1984 As the World Turns Marcy Thompson 2 episodes
1987 ABC Afterschool Special Noelle Crandall Episode: "Supermom's Daughter"
1987 Leg Work Donna Ricci Episode: "Pilot"
1987 Different World, AA Different World Maggie Lauten 21 episodes
1990 Parker Crane April Haynes Movie
1994 Saturday Night Live Host Episode: "Marisa Tomei/Bonnie Raitt"
1996 Seinfeld Herself Episode: "The Cadillac"
1998 Since You've Been Gone Tori Uncredited
1998 My Own Country Mattie Vines Movie
1998 Only Love Evie Webster Josephson Movie
2001 Jenifer Nina Capelli Movie
2003 Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Sara Sloane (voice) Episode: "A Star Is Born Again"
2006 Rescue Me Angie Gavin 4 episodes
2007 Rich Inner Life of Penelope Cloud, TheThe Rich Inner Life of Penelope Cloud Penelope Cloud Movie
2012 Comedy Bang! Bang! Herself Episode: "Ed Helms Wears A Grey Shirt & Brown Boots"
2015 Empire Mimi Whiteman 5 episodes


Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result
1992 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress My Cousin Vinny Won
MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated
1993 MTV Movie Awards MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared with Christian Slater) Untamed Heart Won
1996 Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Unhook the Stars Nominated
1998 Teen Choice Awards Funniest Scene (shared with Natasha Lyonne) Slums of Beverly Hills Nominated
2000 Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy What Women Want Nominated
2001 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress In The Bedroom Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2006 Gracie Allen Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress Rescue Me Won
2007 Gotham Award Gotham Award for Best Cast Before the Devil Knows You're Dead Won
Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Female Nominated
2008 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress The Wrestler Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress (3rd place) Won
Detroit Film Critics Society Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Florida Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress Won
Hollywood Film Festival Supporting Actress of the Year Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Won
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress Won
Online Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress Won
BAFTA Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2009 Drama Desk Awards Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Top Girls Nominated
2010 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Cyrus Nominated
2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Big Short Nominated


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