New York University, one of the most prestigious schools in the country, has consistently produced some of the finest actors and actresses of any generation. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Gina Gershon and Marisa Tomei are just a few names of a particular time period who honed their craft in the school’s hallowed halls. But for Marisa, school eventually became a distraction, as she was already earning steady work on television – on the soap “As the World Turns.”
Marisa knew New York her whole life. She was born in Brooklyn in 1964 and raised in the Midwood section of the borough. Here she grew accustomed to Broadway, to the musicals, and took up tap dancing at an early age. A graduate of Edward R. Murrow High in Midwood, Marisa went north to Boston University only to return a year later as a transfer student at NYU in Greenwich Village. The move was mostly due to the acting gig Marisa landed on the long-running “As the World Turns” soap, and it was also the reason she dropped out of school altogether. After a two year run on the soap, she was steadily cast in movies (including “Playing for Keeps” written and directed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein), and following a stint as Maggie on the first season of “A Different World,” she left to make the transition to film full time. And after only four pictures (including the Sylvester Stallone comedy “Oscar”), Marisa took the role of Joe Pesci’s girlfriend in “My Cousin Vinny.” For that, she brought home the Best Supporting Oscar statuette. She was 28.
In the wake of the wealth of acclaim and attention the Oscar brought Marisa, her subsequent movie roles were not high profile commercial fare a recent Oscar winner would take; first and foremost, Marisa would call herself an actress over a celebrity. She’s part of the ensemble in Ron Howard’s “The Paper,” the war drama “Welcome to Sarajevo” with Woody Harrelson, the dramedy “Slums of Beverly Hills” by Tamara Jenkins (“The Savages”), and the sexy barista in “What Women Want.” Marisa received another Supporting Actress nomination for “In the Bedroom” in 2001.
Throughout her career, Marisa seems adept in the supporting category which allows her for more offbeat, colorful characters than the usually bland leading parts – for example, recent movies like the Bukowski adaptation “Factotum” with Matt Dillon or “Loverboy” by Kevin Bacon. She also retains her Big Apple flare as displayed in her performance under the direction of New York’s venerable master Sidney Lumet in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.” And finally, Marisa has maintained that undeniable youthful cuteness to her roles; as soon as she’s on screen, we’re usually rooting for her.
Marisa on the Web
Ultimate resource site for Gina and her work.
TV Guide: Marisa Tomei
Recent photos, latest news and TV listings of Marisa.
Brief biography with an emphasis on Marisa’s career over personal life.
Comprehensive, thorough site with media, up-to-date news, links and more.
Seven-page picture gallery of Marisa throughout the years.
Marisa on “The Guru” and why she got into this business in the first place.
Marisa on the Screen
Marisa began her climb as Marcy Thompson Cushing on “As the World Turns” from 1983 – 1985. She has an unaccredited appearance in “The Toxic Avenger,” is Noelle Crandall in a 1987 “ABC Afterschool Special,” and Maggie Lauten on “A Different World” for the show’s inaugural season. She’s Stallone’s daughter in “Oscar,” Pesci’s girlfriend in “My Cousin Vinny,” Robert Downey Jr.’s Chaplin’s co-star Mabel Normand, and Christian Slater’s love interest in “Untamed Heart.” Marisa was nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild award for “Unhook the Stars” by Nick Cassavettes, was part of the time travel romance in “Happy Accidents,” and Linda in “Anger Management.” She’s Jude Law’s true love in “Alfie,” the title character “Danika,” and Maggie in “Wild Hogs.”
On the ether:
“You express different energies at different times in your life.”
“I don’t prefer much of film over stage. The only thing I prefer is the paycheck.”
On voodoo dance:
“I’ve sought out several dance teachers-shaman-like women to get in touch with the mystical through movement.”