Virginia Madsen: Wikis


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Virginia Madsen

Madsen at the 2009 Academy Awards
Born September 11, 1961 (1961-09-11) (age 48)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1983–present
Spouse(s) Danny Huston (1989–1992)
Domestic partner(s) Billy Campbell (1981–1989; engaged)
Antonio Sabato, Jr. (1 child; born 1994)
[ Official website]

Virginia Madsen (born September 11, 1961) is an American actress and documentary film producer. She came to fame during the 1980s, having appeared in several films aimed at a teenage audience. Two decades later, she once again became known after an Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated role in the 2004 film Sideways. She also starred in the slasher classic Candyman.


Early life

Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Elaine (née Melson), an Emmy-winning poet, producer and playwright who often works for PBS, and Calvin Madsen, a fireman.[1] Madsen's mother left a career in corporate business to pursue a writing career.[2] Madsen's brother is actor Michael Madsen. Her paternal grandparents were Danish and her mother has Irish and Native American ancestry.[3] Madsen is a graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois.[4][5]

Her first effort as a thespian 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.[6]




Audiences first caught a glimpse of Madsen in a bit part she landed as Lisa in the teen sex comedy Class. She portrayed a role as 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).[7]

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 romantic interest of minor-league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the made-for-cable Long Gone (1987). She also appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the final season of Moonlighting.

She also starred in the 1992 slasher film Candyman. During the filming of Candyman Madsen was hypnotised so that her pupils would remain dilated while she acted out certain scenes. The director Bernard Rose wanted the character to not have a typical screaming style of when confronted by the villain. Madsen stated in an interview for the DVD in 2004 that there were some days during filming that she did not remember much due to the hypnotism. She told her director that she did not want to be hypnotised after the initial few experiences.

A couple of provocative film appearances followed: 1990's The Hot Spot with Don Johnson, directed by Dennis Hopper, and the equally steamy Third Degree Burn with Treat Williams. She was also co-host of the TV series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, the show's final season on CBS.

Madsen turned in a solid performance in a small but key role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) starring Matt Damon. Film critic Roger Ebert said that Madsen had a "strong scene,"[8] while reviewer James Berardinelli noted that "the supporting cast is solid, with turns from... Virginia Madsen as a witness for the plaintiff".[9] Madsen had spent more than twenty years in minor films before her breakout critically acclaimed performance in Sideways (2004). The role catapulted her onto the fabled Hollywood A-list.[10] 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 opened in North America on February 23, 2007.

She voiced Queen Hippolyte, mother of Wonder Woman, in the 2009 animated Wonder Woman film.


Madsen has made numerous television appearances including: Star Trek: Voyager CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier, and other series. She starred opposite Ray Liotta in CBS's short-lived crime drama series Smith. She also made a guest appearance on Monk.

She appeared with Kenny Loggins in the music video "I'm Free", from the Footloose soundtrack (1984).


In 2008 she formed her own film production company called Title IX Prods.[11] 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. Her second project is called Fighting Gravity and is about the inability of female ski jumpers to obtain recognition in Olympic competition.[12]

Personal life

When Madsen arrived in Hollywood, she was engaged to actor Billy Campbell. She married actor Danny Huston in 1989 and they divorced in 1992. Madsen also had a relationship with actor Antonio Sabàto, Jr., with whom she had a son, Jack Antonio (born August 6, 1994).

Madsen has heterochromia, a genetic trait resulting in different pigmentation of the eyes. Madsen has one green eye, and one half-green, half-brown eye. Her brother, actor Michael Madsen, does not share this trait.

She was a member of the US Dramatic Jury at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.


Nominations: Academy Awards

  • Sideways (2004) - Best Supporting Actress

Nominations: Golden Globes

  • Sideways (2004) - Best Supporting Actress

Other awards



Feature films

Short films




  1. ^ Bell, Mark (2007-02-23). "METHOD FEST TO PRESENT THE 2007 MAVERICK AWARD TO MICHAEL MADSEN". Film Threat. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  2. ^ Kennedy, Lisa (2007-02-21). "A strong role, an equal partner". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  3. ^ Bray, Tony (April, 2004). "Virginia Madsen". TV Now. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  4. ^ "Virginia Madsen and Suzanne Adams". TeachersCount. 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  5. ^ Habermehl, Kris (2007-01-25). "Fire Breaks Out At Prestigious High School". Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  6. ^ Madsen, Virginia (2007). "Virginia Madsen Biography - Bio - Life History". Virginia Madsen Official Site. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  7. ^ 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 (group)|]] 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)."
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (1997-11-21). "The Rainmaker". Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  9. ^ Berardinelli, James (1997). "The Rainmaker". ReelViews. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  10. ^ Tarshis, Joan (September, 2005). "Virginia Madsen’s Vintage Year". Smoke Magazine Online. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  11. ^ Tatiana Siegel, "Virginia Madsen added to 'Amelia'." Variety, April 21, 2008. Retrieved: December 26, 2009.
  12. ^ IMDB, Title IX Prods
  13. ^ Exclusive: 'Monk' welcomes Virginia Madsen

External links


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