Being John Malkovich
Award winning actress Catherine Keener received recognition for her portrayal of John Cusack's crafty, sexy object of love in Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich (1999). Keener's spectacular performance garnered her with a New York Film Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society, Golden Satellite and Florida Film Critics Circle awards for Best Supporting Actress in 1999. Additionally, the brittle, bitchy character brought her an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination in the following year. A huge fan of Rebecca Miller, Keener also gained notice for playing the role of a repetitive loser in love in Nicole Holofcener's Walking and Talking (1996), in which she earned a nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards. The American actress is also well remembered for playing roles in such movies as Johnny Suede (1991), Box Of Moonlight (1996), The Real Blonde (1997), 8MM (1999), Simpatico (1999) and Lovely and Amazing (2001).
Off screen, Keener, the wife of Dermot Mulroney, reportedly has a crisis in her 14-year marriage that has instigated a separation. However, the couple won't comment on the rumor. The green-eyed beauty also gained headlines for being romantically linked with Johnny Suede costar Brad Pitt just months after Pitt's split with former wife Jennifer Aniston. Keener and Pitt reportedly often hit the town together, enjoying everything from cocktails at an out-of-the-way watering hole to high-profile entertainment industry events like the March 8, Los Angeles premiere of Catherine's recent film, The Ballad of Jack and Rose. The two were also seen enjoying each other's company at a birthday party for Sean Penn.
Assistant Casting Director
Childhood and Family:
Miami, Florida native actress Catherine Keener was born on March 26, 1960. The middle child of five, Catherine grew up in Hialeah, Florida under the guidance of a Western Auto store father.
Young Catherine enrolled at Catholic high school Monsignor Edward Pace in Miami. She also studied at Immaculate Conception in Hialeah. Upon graduating, Catherine relocated to Norton, Massachusetts where she attended all-girl liberal arts school Wheaton College and majored in English and History. When she was in her final year, Catherine was kept from a photography course and took a theater class as an alternative. Shortly after, she appeared in a production of Uncommon Women and Others and performed in several plays. After graduation in 1983, Catherine moved to New York where she participated in a summer-long intensive filmmaking class at New York University. Instead of pursuing acting, Catherine worked as an intern at the Hughes-Moss casting agency and moved again to L.A. to become an assistant to casting director Gail Eisenstadt. With the advice of her best friend Gail Eisenstadt, Catherine decided to pursue an acting career professionally.
As for her private life, 5' 9" inch tall Catherine met actor Dermot Mulroney (born in 1963) while filming Survival Quest (1989) and the couple were married in 1991. Catherine and Dermot and their only son Clyde Mulroney (born June 1999) currently reside in Los Angeles.
Walking and Talking
"When I met Keener, I was trying to find someone who could totally control the situation while being totally cool and casual. There's something so casual - but still all-knowing - about her. It would be very easy to play Maxine in a very curt way. But she does it in a way that you somehow like." Being John Malkovich's director Spike Jonze.
Initiating her acting in a theater class, Catherine Keener performed in a number of plays. However, when she graduated from college, she preferred working to pursuing an acting career. Commenting about her decision, she said," I still felt like a Miami girl, and growing up there was so far removed from the movie business. I never even thought of pursuing it and making a living from it."
In 1986, Keener started acting again when she appeared in The Education of Allison Tate (1986). While working as a casting assistant, Eisenstadt cast her in the small role of a Cocktail Waitress in About Last Night (1986). Convinced by the casting director, Keener decided to pursue acting professionally.
After making her television debut in CBS' The Alan King Show (1986), Keener played the character of Lt. Cricket Sideris in the TV series Ohara (1987). However, she was written out of the series after ten episodes because she did not act well. Keener then went back to school to spend more time studying acting. Being asked about her experience in the shows, she said, "I was terrible, I was so bad! Thank God those shows are not on the air anymore. On O'Hara, I played a little cop sidekick named Cricket. I didn't know what I was doing. I did 10 episodes, and then they recast. I got fired, essentially."
Coming back from school, Keener starred with future husband, actor Dermot Mulroney in Survival Quest (1989) and appeared in the made-for-TV movie Curse of the Corn People (1989). She continued to have small roles and was seen in Catchfire (1990, as Trucker's girl) and Switch (1991, as Steve's Secretary).
Keener got her break when she teamed with director Tom DiCillo in the indie film Johnny Suede (1991, played levelheaded and loving Yvonne). Though it was known as Brad Pitt's film, the romantic comedy helped ump-start her acting career.
After appearances in The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag (1992) and Journeys North (1994,TV), Keener made a name for herself when she re-teamed with Tom DiCillo in Living in Oblivion (1995), portraying hopelessly diverted starlet Nicole Springer and sharing the screen with actors Mulroney and Steve Buscemi.
In 1996, Keener received a big break after portraying a repetitive loser in love named Amelia in Walking and Talking (1996, written and helmed by Nicole Holofcener), in which she costarred with Anne Heche. The character brought her a nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Actress.
Keener continued playing roles in such wide screen movies as The Destiny of Marty Fine (1996, as the love interest of Alan Gelfan), Boys (1996, played the small role of Jilly), the critically acclaimed Box Of Moonlight (1996, portrayed Floatie Dupre) and The Real Blonde (1997, played make-up artist Mary). She was also seen on the tube in films like Heroine of Hell (1996) and If These Walls Could Talk (1996).
After years of working in independent films, Keener received a cameo spot as George Clooney's former mistress Adele in Out of Sight (1998), played the role of Ben Stiller's ex-wife Terri in the black comedy Your Friends and Neighbors (1998, helmed and written by Neil LaBute), and portraying Nicholas Cage's wife Amy Welles in 8MM (1999).
Keener experienced her biggest breakthrough moment when she was cast as Maxine Lund in Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich (1999). Her crafty, sexy character handed her such awards as the New York Film Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society, Golden Satellite and Florida Film Critics Circle for Best Supporting Actress in 1999. Moreover, her spectacular performance brought her nominations at both the Oscars and Golden Globe in 2000. Afterwards, Keener had another big role in Matthew Warchus' screen adaptation of Sam Shepard's stage play Simpatico (1999, opposite Jeff Bridges and Albert Finney), portraying Nick Nolte's girlfriend.
Entering the new millennium, the Oscar nominated actress provided her voice in an unaccredited part in American Arts & Culture Presents John Horatio Malkovich 'Dance of Despair & Disillusionment' (2000). She next starred in the critically acclaimed Lovely and Amazing (2001, as Michelle Marks) before being seen in the dark comedy Death To Smoochy (2002) with Robin Williams and Ed Norton, in Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal (2002) with Julia Roberts and David Duchovny, and S1m0ne (2002) alongside Al Pacino.
Recently, Keener played Daniel Day-Lewis' arrogant girlfriend Kathleen in Rebecca Miller's drama The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005) and Sean Penn's gun-wielding partner Dot Woods in The Interpreter (2005, also starring Nicole Kidman). She will also be seen in the forthcoming films Capote (2005), The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Friends with Money (2006).
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Being John Malkovich, 1999
- Online Film Critics Society: Best Supporting Actress, Being John Malkovich, 1999
- Golden Satellite: Best Supporting Actress (Comedy or Musical), Being John Malkovich, 1999
- Florida Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Being John Malkovich, 1999