Virginia Gayle Madsen (born September 11, 1961) is an American actress and film producer. She made her film debut in Class (1983), which was filmed in her native Chicago. After moving to Los Angeles, director David Lynch cast her as Princess Irulan in the science fiction film Dune (1984). Madsen then starred in a series of successful teen movies, including Electric Dreams (1984), Modern Girls (1986), and Fire with Fire (1986).
Madsen at the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival
Virginia Gayle Madsen
September 11, 1961
(m. 1989; div. 1992)
|Partner(s)||Antonio Sabàto Jr. (1993–1998)|
Madsen received further recognition for her starring role as Helen Lyle in the horror film Candyman (1992). She received critical acclaim for her performance as Maya in Alexander Payne's comedy-drama film Sideways (2004), for which she received numerous awards, including nominations for the Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her other film appearances include Long Gone (1987), Gotham (1988), The Hot Spot (1990), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), A Prairie Home Companion (2006), The Astronaut Farmer (2007), The Haunting in Connecticut (2009), Red Riding Hood (2011), All the Wilderness (2014), Joy (2015), Better Watch Out (2017), and Her Smell (2018).
On television, Madsen has appeared in the comedy-drama series Moonlighting (1989), the comedy series Frasier (1998), the period drama series American Dreams (2002–2003), the science fiction series The Event (2011), the supernatural drama series Witches of East End (2013–2014), the political thriller series Designated Survivor (2016–2017), and the DC Universe superhero horror series Swamp Thing (2019).
Virginia Gayle Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Elaine Madsen (née Elaine Loretta Melson), who became an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author, and Calvin Madsen, a firefighter. After Madsen's parents divorced in the late 1960s, when the children were young, her mother left a career in finance to pursue a career in arts, encouraged by film critic Roger Ebert. Madsen's siblings are Cheryl Madsen, an entrepreneur, and actor Michael Madsen. Her paternal grandparents were Danish, and her mother has English, Irish, Scottish, German and distant Native American ancestry. Madsen is a graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois.
Madsen 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."
Madsen made her acting debut at age 22, in a bit part where she landed her role as Lisa in the comedy film Class (1983). She next appeared in Kenny Loggins' music video for "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" from the Footloose soundtrack.
She portrayed a cellist named Madeline in Electric Dreams (1984), the first film was released by Virgin Films Production Company. She was cast as Princess Irulan in David Lynch's science fiction epic Dune (1984). In 1986, she starred as Boris' (Vincent Spano) romantic interest Barbara in the film Creator, which also starred Peter O'Toole.
Madsen first became popular with audiences in 1986 with her portrayal of a Catholic school girl who fell in love with a boy from a prison camp in Duncan Gibbons' Fire with Fire. As beauty queen Dixie Lee Boxx, she was the love interest of minor league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the HBO original film Long Gone (1987). Also in the same year, she appeared in the music video for "I Found Someone", by Cher. She played Allison Rowe, a secretary in the comedy film Hot to Trot (1988). She also starred as Helen Lyle in the horror film Candyman (1992).
Madsen appeared in a small role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) alongside Matt Damon and Claire Danes. Film critic Roger Ebert said that Madsen had a "strong scene", while reviewer James Berardinelli noted that "the supporting cast is solid, with turns from... Virginia Madsen as a witness for the plaintiff". Madsen had a critically acclaimed performance as a supporting actress in Sideways (2004), directed by Alexander Payne. Her role catapulted her onto the Hollywood A-list.
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 alongside Jim Carrey in The Number 23 and Billy Bob Thornton in The Astronaut Farmer; both films released in North America on February 23, 2007. She voiced Queen Hippolyte, mother of Wonder Woman, in the animated film Wonder Woman (2009).
In 1988, Madsen appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the fifth and final season of the ABC drama series Moonlighting. She has since made various television appearances, including Star Trek: Voyager, CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier, and other television series. She was also co-host of the long-running television series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, during the show's eleventh season (which was also the second and final season on CBS). She starred alongside Ray Liotta in the short-lived CBS crime drama series Smith. She also had a recurring role in the eighth and final season of the USA Network comedy-drama series Monk.
In 2010, she landed the starring role of Cheryl West in the ABC comedy-drama series Scoundrels. In December 2010, it was announced that she would be joining the cast in the NBC science fiction series The Event. In 2012, she joined the cast of the AMC western drama series Hell on Wheels as Mrs. Hannah Durant, first appearing in episode eight of season 2, "The Lord's Day". In 2013, Madsen began appearing on Lifetime's Witches of East End as Penelope Gardiner, the main villainess of the first season.
In 2008, she formed her own film production company called Title IX Productions. Her first project was a film made with her mother titled I Know a Woman Like That. The film is a documentary about the lives of older women. On the creation of the film, she said her mother's active lifestyle was an inspiration to start filming.
Madsen was married to actor and director Danny Huston after meeting on the set of Mr. North (1988). They married in 1989 and divorced in 1992. Madsen was in a long-term relationship with Antonio Sabàto Jr. from 1993 to 1998, with whom she has one son.
|1984||Electric Dreams||Madeline Robistat|
|1986||Fire with Fire||Lisa Taylor|
|1987||Long Gone||Dixie Lee Boxx|
|1987||Slam Dance||Yolanda Caldwell|
|1987||Zombie High||Andrea Miller|
|1988||Mr. North||Sally Boffin|
|1988||Hot to Trot||Allison Rowe|
|1989||Heart of Dixie||Delia June Curry|
|1990||The Hot Spot||Dolly Harshaw|
|1991||Becoming Colette||Polaire Sorel|
|1991||Highlander II: The Quickening||Louise Marcus|
|1994||Caroline at Midnight||Susan Prince|
|1994||Blue Tiger||Gina Hayes|
|1996||Just Your Luck||Kim|
|1996||Ghosts of Mississippi||Dixie DeLaughter|
|1997||The Rainmaker||Jackie Lemanczyk|
|1998||Ballad of the Nightingale||Mo Lewis|
|1999||The Haunting||Jane Vance|
|2000||Lying in Wait||Vera Miller|
|2001||Full Disclosure||Brenda Hopkins|
|2001||Just Ask My Children||Brenda Kniffen|
|2002||American Gun||Penny Tillman|
|2003||Nobody Knows Anything!||Prison Lawyer|
|2005||Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy?||Cleopatra (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2005||Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild||The Beast (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2006||A Prairie Home Companion||Dangerous Woman|
|2007||The Astronaut Farmer||Audrey Farmer|
|2007||The Number 23||Agatha Sparrow / Fabrizia|
|2007||Ripple Effect||Sherry Atrash|
|2007||Being Michael Madsen||Herself|
|2009||The Haunting in Connecticut||Sara Campbell|
|2009||Wonder Woman||Queen Hippolyta (voice)||Direct-to-DVD|
|2009||Amelia||Dorothy Binney||Deleted scenes|
|2010||Father of Invention||Lorraine King|
|2011||Red Riding Hood||Suzette|
|2012||The Magic of Belle Isle||Charlotte O'Neil|
|2013||The Last Keepers||Abigail Carver|
|2013||The Hot Flashes||Clementine Winks|
|2013||Crazy Kind of Love||Augusta Iris|
|2014||All the Wilderness||Abigail Charm|
|2015||Dead Rising: Watchtower||Maggie|
|2016||Burn Your Maps||Victoria|
|2017||Better Watch Out||Deandra Lerner|
|2017||A Change of Heart||Deena|
|2018||Her Smell||Ania Adamcyzk|
|1984||American Playhouse||Lou Ellen Purdy||Episode: "A Matter of Principle"|
|1985||Mussolini: The Untold Story||Claretta Petacci||Miniseries|
|1987||Long Gone||Dixie Lee Boxx||Television film|
|1988||Gotham||Rachel Carlyle||Television film|
|1989||Third Degree Burn||Anne Scholes||Television film|
|1989||Moonlighting||Annie Charnock||3 episodes|
|1991||Victim of Love||Carla Simons||Television film|
|1991||Ironclads||Betty Stuart||Television film|
|1991||Love Kills||Rebecca Bishop||Television film|
|1992||A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus Story||Carolyn Warmus||Television film|
|1993||Linda||Linda Cowley||Television film|
|1997||The Apocalypse Watch||Karin De Vries||Television film|
|1998||Star Trek: Voyager||Kellin||Episode: "Unforgettable"|
|1998||Frasier||Cassandra Stone||4 episodes|
|1999||Unsolved Mysteries||Co-host||6 episodes|
|2000||Children of Fortune||Ingrid Bast||Television film|
|2001||Crossfire Trail||Anne Rodney||Television film|
|2001||Just Ask My Children||Brenda Kniffen||Television film|
|2001||The Practice||Marsha Ellison||2 episodes|
|2002||Justice League||Dr. Sarah Corwin (voice)||2 episodes|
|2002–2003||American Dreams||Rebecca Sandstrom||7 episodes|
|2003||Tempted||Emma Burke||Television film|
|2003||Dawson's Creek||Maddy Allen||Episode: "All Good Things..."|
|2003||CSI: Miami||Krista Walker||Episode: "Death Grip"|
|2003||Spider-Man: The New Animated Series||Silver Sable (voice)||2 episodes|
|2003||Boomtown||Erika Ashland||Episode: "The Big Picture"|
|2004||Brave New Girl||Wanda Lovell||Television film|
|2005–2006||Justice League Unlimited||Veronica Sinclair / Roulette (voice)||2 episodes|
|2005||Teen Titans||Arella (voice)||Episode: "The Prophecy"|
|2006–2007||Smith||Hope Stevens||5 episodes|
|2009||Monk||T.K. Jensen||3 episodes|
|2010||Scoundrels||Cheryl West||8 episodes|
|2011||The Event||Catherine Lewis||4 episodes|
|2012||Hornet's Nest||Judy Hammer||Television film|
|2012||Hell on Wheels||Mrs. Hannah Durant||4 episodes|
|2013||Hatfields & McCoys||Eloise McCoy||Pilot|
|2013||The Anna Nicole Story||Virgie Arthur||Television film|
|2013–2014||Witches of East End||Penelope Gardiner||8 episodes|
|2015||An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success||Karen Thomas||Television film|
|2015||Lost Boy||Laura Harris||Television film|
|2015||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Beth Anne Rollins||Episode: "Maternal Instincts"|
|2016, 2019||Elementary||Paige Cowan||3 episodes|
|2016||American Gothic||Madeline Hawthorne||Main role|
|2016||Pickle and Peanut||Jackson (voice)||Episode: "Night Shift/Scalped"|
|2016–2017||Designated Survivor||Kimble Hookstraten||16 episodes|
|2017||Voltron: Legendary Defender||Commander Heera (voice)||Episode: "Hole in the Sky"|
|2018||The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair||Tamara Quinn||Miniseries|
|2019||Swamp Thing||Maria Sunderland||8 episodes|
Awards and nominations
- "Virginia Madsen". TV Guide. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
- "Virginia Madsen Facts". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on October 29, 2019.
- Bell, Mark (February 23, 2007). "Method Fest to present the 2007 Maverick Award to Michael Madsen". Film Threat. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
- Kennedy, Lisa (February 21, 2007). "A strong role, an equal partner". The Denver Post. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
- Bray, Tony (April 2004). "Virginia Madsen". TV-Now.com. Archived from the original on August 16, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
- "Virginia Madsen and Suzanne Adams". TeachersCount. 2006. Archived from the original on July 2, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
- Madsen, Virginia (2007). "Virginia Madsen Biography – Bio – Life History". Virginia Madsen Official Site. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
- 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 in their tracks "Dancing Galaxy" and "Ambient Galaxy" on their album Dancing Galaxy, and by drum and bass artist Aphrodite in his song "Spice (Even Spicier)".
- Ebert, Roger (November 21, 1997). "The Rainmaker". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Berardinelli, James (1997). "The Rainmaker". ReelViews. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
- Tarshis, Joan (September 2005). "Virginia Madsen's Vintage Year". Smoke Magazine. Archived from the original on June 30, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
- Ausiello, Michael (December 13, 2010). "Virginia Madsen Joins NBC's 'The Event'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie (July 26, 2016). "'Designated Survivor': Virginia Madsen Joins New ABC Series In Key Role". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
- Siegel, Tatiana (April 21, 2008). "Virginia Madsen added to 'Amelia'". Variety. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- "Virginia Madsen and Elaine Madsen Interview". Ability. February–March 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
- Fink, Mitchell (July 13, 1992). "People Insider". People. Archived from the original on March 2, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
- "Virginia Madsen Says Ex Has 'Taken Parenthood On'". People. June 24, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
- Petski, Denise (November 1, 2018). "'Swamp Thing': Virginia Madsen Cast As Maria Sunderland In DC Universe Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
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