Born: September 11, 1961
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Virginia G. Madsen (born September 11, 1961) is an American actress and producer. She made her film debut in Class (1983), which was filmed in her native Chicago. She soon moved to Los Angeles. In 1984, David Lynch cast her in the science fiction film Dune as Princess Irulan. Madsen was cast in a series of successful teen movies, including Electric Dreams (1984), Modern Girls (1986), and Fire with Fire (1986).
She is most known for her role as Helen Lyle in the horror film Candyman (1992); and for her performance as Maya in Alexander Payne's film Sideways (2004), for which she received numerous awards and nominations, including nominations for the Golden Globe and the 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), and All the Wilderness (2014).
She starred as Kimble Hookstraten in the first season of the ABC political drama series Designated Survivor.
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 fireman. 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 film debut when she was 22, acting in a bit part she landed as Lisa in the teen sex comedy Class. 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 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 Creator, which also starred Peter O'Toole.
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' Fire with Fire. As beauty queen Dixie Lee Boxx, she was the sexy love interest of minor-league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the HBO television movie Long Gone (1987). Also in 1987, she appeared in the music video for "I Found Someone", by Cher. She played a secretary in the 1988 comedy film Hot to Trot. She also starred in the 1992 horror film Candyman.
Madsen appeared in a small role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) starring Matt Damon. 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. The 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 with 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 2009 animated film Wonder Woman.
In 1988, Madsen appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the final season of the ABC drama series Moonlighting. She has since made numerous television appearances, including Star Trek: Voyager, CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier and other series. She was also co-host of the long-running television series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, during the show's eleventh (also second and final) season on CBS. She starred opposite Ray Liotta in the short-lived CBS crime drama series Smith. She also had a recurring role in the final season of the USA Network comedy-drama series Monk.
In 2010, she landed the starring role of Cheryl West in the ABC drama series Scoundrels. In December 2010, it was announced that she will be joining the cast in the NBC science fiction/action 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.
My mother's level of activity, of productivity, was exactly why I thought a project like this would work. Originally, when we put the idea together, she had said, "I'm far too busy. I'm going to Holland, and then I'm going here and there and I'm writing my book." But that's really what it's about.
Her second project is titled Fighting Gravity and is about the inability of female ski jumpers to obtain recognition in Olympic competition.
Madsen was formerly married to actor and director Danny Huston after meeting on the set of Mr. North. They were married in 1989 and divorced in 1992. Madsen was formerly in a long term relationship with Antonio Sabàto Jr., with whom she had one son, Jack Antonio (born 1994).
|1984||Electric Dreams||Madeline Robistat|
|1986||Fire with Fire||Lisa Taylor|
|1987||Slam Dance||Yolanda Caldwell|
|1987||Zombie High||Andrea Miller|
|1987||Long Gone||Dixie Lee Boxx||Television movie (HBO)|
|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 Lance|
|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 role|
|2005||Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild||The Beast (voice)||Direct-to-video|
|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||Virginia Madsen|
|2009||The Haunting in Connecticut||Sara Campbell|
|2009||Wonder Woman||Queen Hippolyta||Voice role|
|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|
|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 movie|
|1988||Gotham||Rachel Carlyle||Television movie|
|1989||Third Degree Burn||Anne Scholes||Television movie|
|1989||Moonlighting||Annie Charnock||3 episodes|
|1991||Victim of Love||Carla Simons||Television movie|
|1991||Ironclads||Betty Stuart||Television movie|
|1991||Love Kills||Rebecca Bishop||Television movie|
|1992||A Murderous Affair: Carolyn Warmus The Story||Carolyn Warmus||Television movie|
|1993||Linda||Linda Cowley||Television movie|
|1997||The Apocalypse Watch||Karin De Vries||Television movie|
|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 movie|
|2001||Crossfire Trail||Anne Rodney||Television movie|
|2001||Just Ask My Children||Brenda Kniffen||Television movie|
|2001||The Practice||Marsha Ellison||2 episodes|
|2002||Justice League||Dr. Sarah Corwin (voice)||2 episodes|
|2002-03||American Dreams||Rebecca Sandstrom||14 episodes|
|2003||Tempted||Emma Burke||Television movie|
|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 movie|
|2005||Justice League Unlimited||Veronica Sinclair/Roulette (voice)||2 episodes|
|2005||Teen Titans||Arella (voice)||Episode: "The Prophecy"|
|2006-07||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 movie|
|2012||Hell on Wheels||Mrs. Hannah Durant||4 episodes|
|2013||Hatfields & McCoys||Eloise McCoy||Unsold TV pilot|
|2013||The Anna Nicole Story||Virgie Arthur||Television movie|
|2013-14||Witches of East End||Penelope Gardiner||Recurring role; 8 episodes|
|2015||An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success||Karen Thomas||Television movie|
|2015||Lost Boy||Laura Harris||Television movie|
|2015||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Beth Anne Rollins||Episode: "Maternal Instincts"|
|2016||Elementary||Paige Cowen||2 episodes|
|2016||American Gothic||Madeline Hawthorne||Main role; 13 episodes|
|2016-17||Designated Survivor||Kimble Hookstraten||Recurring role; 16 episodes|
|2017||Voltron: Legendary Defender||Hira (voice)||Episode: "Hole in the Sky"|
|1992||Candyman||Saturn Award for Best Actress||Won|
|2004||Sideways||Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble||Won|
|Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female||Won|
|Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast||Won|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Satellite Award for Best Cast - Motion Picture||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Won|
|Seattle Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|2006||A Prairie Home Companion||Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast||Nominated|
|Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast||Nominated|
Virginia Madsen supports the following charitable causes: Foster Care, Teens.