Maria Pitillo

Maria Pitillo (born January 8, 1965) is a former American actress who has starred in film and on TV, most notably as Audrey Timmonds in Godzilla (1998), a role which garnered her a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. She also had a recurring role on the TV series Providence.

Maria Pitillo
Pitillo in 1995
Born (1965-01-08) January 8, 1965
Years active1986–2008
David R Fortney (m. 2002)

Early life

Pitillo was born on January 8, 1965, in Elmira, New York, and grew up in Mahwah, New Jersey. She attended Mahwah High School, where she was on the track team, before transferring to Northern Highlands Regional High School.[1] Pitillo met with success in New York City, performing in television commercials.[1] In 1987, she was cast as Nancy Don Lewis for the ABC Network soap opera, Ryan's Hope, where she continued in that role until the series ended in 1989.[2] In 1990, Pitillo was hired to play the role of Annie in the TNT Network production of The Lost Capone. In addition to her acting part, Pitillo also performed two songs for the movie, including the jazz standard Bye Bye Blackbird. To prepare for this role, she received coaching from William Esper and Harold Guskin of William Esper Studios in New York, and voice trained with vocalist Robbie McCauley.[3][4]

Pitillo moved to California and by the mid 1990s, was working steadily on TV and film, with roles in Escape from Terror: The Teresa Stamper Story (1995), Partners (1995), Dear God (1996) and Something To Believe In (1998), Godzilla (1998), and a recurring role on TV’s Providence (2001–02).

Pitillo gained a reputation as a consistent utility actor who has worked numerous times with director James Burrows and writer/producer Jeff Greenstein. She is known to have participated during the early stages of project development, and read with prospective actors who are auditioning for unfilled parts. Such projects included South of Sunset,[5] and Partners.[6]

Pitillo married in 2002, and lives in Ross, California.[7] She retired from full-time acting in 2006 to raise her family, and operate a small business with her husband.[8] She is of Italian and Irish descent.[9]

Pitillo is also an alumna of Playhouse West School and Repertory Theater.[10]



Maria Pitillo was living in suburban New Jersey, and working as a department store clerk when a friend invited her to audition for a TV commercial. Her first job was an advertisement for Pepto Bismol. Subsequent commercial work included an ad for Bank of Boston, York Peppermint Pattie, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chic Jeans, among others. In the fall of 1987, Pitillo was cast as Nancy Don (Lewis) on the ABC soap opera, Ryan's Hope, which lasted until that series ended its run in 1989.[6]

Pitillo's own words state that she did not consider acting as a serious career choice until after Chaplin (1992).[6] An article written by Stella Bednarz, of Soap Opera Digest, suggests Pitillo could be problematic when she didn't like her lines, and sometimes acted out behind the director's back:

"Pitillo seems less than thrilled with Nancy Don’s melodramatic dialogue. Kaplan retorts, "Maria, honey, if you can’t act it, say the words." - Maria is propped up on a real examining table. In her free time, the patient makes faces".[11]

The 1990s

Upon moving to Hollywood, Pitillo's work consisted primarily of television drama (South of Sunset), small parts in theatrical motion pictures, and included starring roles in several Made-For-TV movies. She earned critical praise for her roles in the following: Middle Ages,[12] Escape from Terror: The Teresa Stamper Story,[13] as well as Between Love and Honor.[14][15] Pitillo's career breakthrough came with the 1995 FOX sitcom Partners. Cast as Alicia Sondergard, the comedy met with critical success for herself,[6] as well as for co-stars Jon Cryer, and Tate Donovan. Partners failed to gain traction with audiences, and was cancelled in the Spring of 1996.[16]

After completing Dear God in the summer of 1996, Pitillo was contacted by NBC President Warren Littlefield, who had taken notice of her performance in Partners. Littlefield then signed her to a development deal with the network.[17] In early 1997, while trying to acquire a stake in DreamWorks Studios, NBC tried to leverage Pitillo, as well as director James Burrows with a project titled Nearly Yours, which actress Parker Posey had dropped out of. DreamWorks and NBC could not come to an agreement, and the deal collapsed.[18][19] The squabbling between NBC and Dreamworks left the network with a programming hole, and Pitillo without a television project for all of 1997. It wasn't until filming began on Something To Believe In (1997), and Godzilla (May 1997), that she returned to work. NBC continued to search for a suitable television project for Pitillo, and with input from Littlefield,[20] developed the sitcom House Rules, which aired as a mid-season replacement in March 1998.[17]

Godzilla (1998)

Maria Pitillo starred as Audrey Timmonds in the TriStar Pictures film Godzilla, which opened in theaters on May 20, 1998. The film and Pitillo's performance were skewered by fans and critics alike:

"At its release, the film was much criticized by Godzilla fans the world over. Kenpachiro Satsuma, the actor who portrayed Godzilla in the second series of films (1984–1995) walked out of a Tokyo screening and told reporters that, 'It's not Godzilla, it does not have the spirit."[21]

In 2004, director Roland Emmerich expressed his feelings about the film:

"In interviews promoting The Day After Tomorrow, Emmerich admitted regretting the production of Godzilla, particularly due to the rushed shooting schedule that was required for a Memorial Day weekend release and the studio's insistence on not test-screening the film. However, he defended the film as better than critics gave it credit for, as it was financially successful, and out of all the films he directed, it was the one which parents told him their children enjoyed the most"'.[22]

In subsequent years, both Emmerich and writer Dean Devlin said little about the film. It wasn't until Devlin was pressed about the upcoming 2014 interpretation of Godzilla, that he expressed lament about his interpretation of the franchise:

"I know I screwed up my Godzilla,' he said. 'I’d be very happy if they pull it off and do a great one'".[23]

Godzilla was nominated in several categories for Razzie awards, and Pitillo herself won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress in 1999. It is often suggested that criticism of her performance (and subsequent Razzie), hampered her career. Pitillo is known to have commented once about her role in Godzilla:

"This movie isn't written for big performances from its actors," Pitillo says. "I don't expect a lot from it. It won't be like, `Oh, Maria Pitillo is a great actress.' But it's an opportunity for people to see me." [1]

Godzilla 2 (1999)

Pitillo, Matthew Broderick, and Jean Reno were each under contract for a total of three Godzilla films. The first installment, having earned $379 million during its theatrical run, ensured that a sequel would be considered.[24] Tri Star Pictures, which owned rights to the franchise, called on Centropolis to begin pre-production work on a sequel, which was tentatively named Godzilla 2. Keenly aware as to the reception of Pitillo's performance, the film treatment limited her presence to a small sequence in Act I.[25] Ultimately, there was little enthusiasm to move forward, and the rights to the franchise were allowed to expire.[24]

Late career

By 2000, Pitillo had starred in the indie film, Dirk & Betty, the comedy-drama, After Sex, and made guest appearances on several television shows. Her last film role was the Made-For-TV movie The Christmas Secret, starring Richard Thomas, and Beau Bridges. It originally aired on CBS, and later broadcast on the ABC Family network as part of their 25 Days of Christmas. She had a recurring role on Providence (2001-2002) as Tina Calcatera, a divorced mother, and love interest of Robbie, played by Seth Peterson, a role which lasted until the series ended in 2002.

Unsold pilots

In The Loop (1998)

People Who Fear People (1999) w/Jon Cryer, directed by James Burrows

  • Jon Cryer, a Partners Co-star, participated in this project.
  • This was her second collaboration with Cryer, and fourth with Burrows.[27]
  • Pitillo's role was recast, and this series became The Trouble With Normal (2000) [28]

Follow The Leeds (2003)

The Angriest Man in Suburbia (2006)

It's About This Guy (Date Unknown)

  • Starred as Maddie Chase[31]

Personal life

Maria Pitillo was born in Elmira, NY. Her parents divorced and her father moved Maria and her sisters Lisa and Gina to Mahwah, New Jersey. She attended Mahwah High School, where she was on the track team, before transferring to Northern Highlands Regional High School. She was prevented from attending her high school graduation ceremony after an altercation with her English teacher.[1]

It is most often noted that Pitillo got into acting after a chance encounter with a friend,[6] while some publicity material suggests that participating in Summer stock theater provided Pitillo the impetus to act professionally.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Wise Guys Massuese
1988 Bright Lights, Big City Pony Tail Girl
1988 Spike of Bensonhurst Angel
1989 She-Devil Olivia Honey
1990 White Palace Janey
1992 Chaplin Mary Pickford
1993 True Romance Kandi
1994 I'll Do Anything Flight Attendant
1994 Natural Born Killers Deborah
1995 Bye Bye Love Kim
1995 Frank & Jesse Zee
1996 Dear God Gloria McKinney
1998 Something to Believe In Maggie
1998 Godzilla Audrey Timmonds Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
2000 After Sex Vicki
2000 Dirk & Betty Betty


Year Title Role Notes
1987 CBS Schoolbreak Special Vickie Episode: "What If I'm Gay?"
1989 Ryan's Hope Nancy Don Lewis recurring role (5 episodes)
1989 Miami Vice Anna Episode: "The Cell Within"
1990 The Lost Capone Annie Television Movie
1991 Law & Order Angel Greer Episode: "Aria"
1991 Saturday's Chelsea Television Movie
1992 Middle Ages Robin Episode: "Night Moves"
1993 Cooperstown Bridget Television Movie
1993 Mad About You Mimi Episode: "The Man Who Said Hello"
1993 South of Sunset Gina Weston series regular (7 episodes)
1995 Escape from Terror: The Teresa Stamper Story Teresa Walden Stamper Television Movie
1995 Between Love and Honor Maria Caprefoli Television Movie
1995–1996 Partners Alicia Sundergard series regular (22 episodes)
1996 Out of Order unknown role Television Short; episode: "Refracted"
1998 House Rules Casey Farrell series regular (7 episodes)
1998 In the Loop unknown role unknown episode
1999 Ally McBeal Paula Hunt Episode: "Civil War"
1999 Early Edition Rebecca Waters Episode: "Weather Girl"
2000 Will & Grace Paula Episode: "Love Plus One"
2000 The Christmas Secret Debbie McNeil Television Movie
2001–2002 Providence Tina Calcatera recurring role (31 episodes)
2003 Friends Laura the adoption agent Episode: "The One with the Home Study"
2008 Big Shots Valerie Cerritas Episode: "Sex Be Not Proud"


  1. Ivry, Bob. "Upstaged By A Lizard -- Mahwah's Maria Pitillo Finds Glory In Godzilla's Giant Shadow", The Record (Bergen County), May 23, 1998. Accessed December 2, 2013. "For Maria Pitillo, competing in the 100 meters for the Mahwah High School track team was good practice for Godzilla. In the role of Audrey, the aspiring TV reporter, she runs an awful lot. ... Whereupon the petite actress, who also attended Northern Highlands High School, executes a cutesy maneuver with her palms upraised—a gesture best described as flouncing."
  2. Cajun Spice Mary Alice Kellogg. TV Guide, October 17, 1987
  3. Press Kit. TNT, 'The Lost Capone' (1990)
  4. Resume: Pitillo, Maria - Innovative Artists
  5. Former Eagle Glenn Frey, Goes 'South of Sunset' Jay Bobbin, Ocala Star-Banner. Oct 23, 1993
  6. Pergament, Alan. "OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, AND MARIA PITILLO ANSWERS", The Buffalo News, October 30, 1995. Accessed December 3, 2013. "You could say that she went from Pepto-Bismol to Partners (9 p.m. Monday, Channel 29). The perky, adorable star, who is the best thing about the engaging new Fox comedy, essentially got into acting 10 years ago by accident." | Pitillo was hired first and then helped the producers select her ideal partners by reading with prospective actors.
  7. Town Of Ross Meeting Minutes
  8. Maria Pitillo - Biography - IMDB
  9. Walter Cessna, Bikini Magazine 'Monster Magnet' 6/98
  10. Playhouse West School and Repertory Theater
  11. A Day in the Life of Ryan's Hope Stella Bednarz. Soap Opera Digest, November 15, 1988 "Pitillo seems less than thrilled with Nancy Don’s melodramatic dialogue. Kaplan retorts, "Maria, honey, if you can’t act it, say the words." - Maria is propped up on a real examining table. In her free time, the patient makes faces".
  12. Review: ‘Middle Ages’ Lisa D. Horowitz. Variety, September 3, 1992. Also impressive are Maria Pitillo as ambitious secretary Robin, who’s quick to hook up with manipulative Brian...
  13. Review: ‘From the Files of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Escape from Terror — The Teresa Stamper Story’ Tony Scott. Variety, January 22, 1995. Telepic’s main trouble, though, is the familiarity of the territory, and being a true story doesn’t add any gas. Pitillo and Storke, though, are totally believable...
  14. Review: ‘CBS Tuesday Movie Between Love and Honor’ Tony Scott. Variety, February 13, 1995. Collura, limned splendidly by Grant Show, falls for Maria Caprefoli, Gambino’s protected goddaughter who was raised by the don and is always under surveillance. Since he’s OK with Gambino, Collura has the greenlight to pursue the radiant Maria, played exquisitely by Maria Pitillo, and it’s their romance that’s the telepic’s draw.
  15. 'BETWEEN LOVE,' HONOR AND FAMILY TIES Eric Mink. NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. February 14, 1995. | The real star of the film is Maria Pitillo, a bright-eyed, fresh-faced, tangle-haired actress whose disarming naturalness makes the goddaughter character, Maria Caprefoli, totally credible
  16. THE CAST OF `PARTNERS' STILL STARRING ON TV.(LIFE & LEISURE)| Rob Owen. TV/Radio writer, Albany Times Union. April 6, 1998 (Albany, NY) "So you don't remember 'Partners'. You never watched this delightful, funny show that was too good for the network it aired on. Fine. But looking at the current prime-time lineup it's clear network executives and casting directors took notice. "... | "I think it's a coincidence, (Executive Producer Jeff) Greenstein said. ``It's kind of like the Florida Marlins win the World Series and break up the team, only 'Partners' didn't win the World Series". | Greenstein attributes the success of the 'Partners; cast to their talent. So often little-known actors on failed shows disappear into obscurity, but not this time. "I think people said, `Hey, there are a bunch of talented people in this cast, let's do things with them," Greenstein said. "My biggest disappointment with 'Partners' was not being able to sustain that ensemble. They're all still friends of mine and I'm happy to see them working. My dream would be for them all to be working on my shows."
  17. Maria Pitillo: No Business Like Snow Business TV Guide Magazine. Date Unknown. 1998
  18. NBC PILOTS PULLED: D'Works yanks shows over ownership Variety Staff. Variety, March 30, 1997. "One of the three DreamWorks pilots, a comedy titled "Nearly Yours," was said to be offered to NBC by Dream-Works with indie film star Parker Posey attached. However, the Posey deal apparently fell through, and NBC of-fered some of its talent, including prolific producer and director James Burrows, who has a deal with the network.."
  19. Problems Developing for Nets, Programmers. | Variety, April 7, 1997, Page 53 "NBC offered some of its talent, including prolific producer and director James Burrows, who has a deal with the network, and actress Maria Pitillo ("Partners")."
  20. Three's Company, Twelve's A Crowd|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER. Los Angeles Times, March 07, 1998 Four new midseason shows share a concept: They're about triangles.
  21. Child, Ben (March 30, 2010). "Godzilla to rampage again". London. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  22. The Day After Tomorrow: An Interview with Roland Emmerich.Todd Gilchrist. Retrieved 2011-11-06.
  23. Dean Devlin on the recently announced 'Godzilla' reboot: "I know I screwed up my Godzilla" Adam B. Vary. Entertainment Weekly, July 27, 2012. "I know I screwed up my Godzilla, he said. I’d be very happy if they pull it off and do a great one. That’s not to say Devlin isn’t harboring a twinge of professional jealousy. I always wish I had another shot at it, he added with a wistful grin. But, listen, Godzilla is something that I grew up loving. We worked hard to go make one. We kind of blew it. I think everyone gets one. He laughed."
  24. "Godzilla 2 Rumors Unfounded" January 10, 2007. Aiken, Keith. Sci Fi Japan. Retrieved December 19, 2013.
  25. Godzilla 2 Script Treatment Wedding bells chime outside a small church in Vermont. Nick and Audrey have finally tied the knot. We see that Nick is more or less resigned to his fate. The pair make their way to a waiting limo, showered by handfuls of rice. Nick climbs inside the limo. When Audrey turns to wave at the crowd at the crowd one last time, the door to the limo suddenly closes and all the doors lock, trapping Nick inside! The limo speeds away from the stunned crowd and Nick’s equally stunned bride! (Note: this is the first and last we see of Audrey).
  26. ABC sets cast for pilot ‘In the Loop’ Ensemble crew joins Fisher in thirtysomething sitcom Jenny Hontz. Variety, June 23, 1998
  27. ABC sets appointment for Cryer’s couch trip pilot Cynthia Littleton Editor-in-chief: TV. Variety, August 17, 1999
  28. Inside Move: Goodman show gets ‘Normal’ Josef Adalian. Variety, August 18, 2000
  29. Lifetime unveils originals John Dempsey. Variety, April 3, 2003 ""Follow the Leeds" features Sharon Lawrence and Maria Pitillo as suburban sisters who set up a private-investigation business with their mother, played by Marsha Mason. Maddy Horne and Sheldon Pinchuk are exec producers, with Peter Werner as director-producer."
  30. Busted pilots awash on Web Josef Adalian. Variety, August 3, 2006. ""The Angriest Man in Suburbia," from Sony and producer Gavin Polone, also popped up on YouTube not long ago. But only 150 or so people got a chance to see the full pilot before it was yanked; the first few minutes remain available for viewing."
  31. "Maria Pitillo". Film Reference. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  32. Maria Pitillo, Turner Classic Movies
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