Born: 11 September 1961
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Best known as: Maya in the 2004 film Sideways
Virginia Madsen's portrayal of Maya, the wine-loving and emotionally fragile waitress in the dark comedy Sideways, earned her a 2004 Oscar nomination as best supporting actress. Madsen had seemed to be on the cusp of stardom twenty years earlier, in 1984, when she appeared as the cello-player-next-door in the romantic comedy Electric Dreams and as Princess Irulan in the sci-fi epic Dune. But her big breakthrough role never quite came. Instead, for the next two decades she took parts in a scattershot mix of TV movies like Long Gone (1987, with William Petersen) and studio 'B' movies like the sequel Highlander II (1991, with Sean Connery) and the horror flick Candyman (1992). The quirky independent film Sideways cast her as a wine enthusiast on the cusp of middle age who begins an awkward romance with a nebbish played by Paul Giamatti. The film was a surprise hit, winning five Academy Award nominations (including one for best picture and a supporting actor nomination for Thomas Haden Church). She followed that success with a Harrison Ford thriller, Firewall (2006), an all-star film version of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion (2006) and a TV series, Smith (2006, co-starring Ray Liotta).
Virginia Madsen is the sister of the actor Michael Madsen… She was married to the director and actor Danny Huston (son of John Huston) from 1988-91… She had a son Jack (b. 1994) with the actor Antonio Sabato… Madsen played Marion Davies, the mistress of William Randolph Hearst, in the 1985 TV film The Hearst and Davies Affair.
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