My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s Cousin
Gia Carides is an award-nominating Australian actress of Greek and English descent best known to worldwide audience as Robin Spitz Swallows in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and Cousin Nikki in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). She has picked up Australian Film Institute (AFI) nominations for her films Strictly Ballroom (1992) and Brilliant Lies (1996). The good-looking performer is also known for playing roles in such films as Bad Company (1995, with Ellen Barkin and Laurence Fishburne), Primary Colors (1998, along side John Travolta, Emma Thompson), Letters from a Killer (1998, with Patrick Swayze), Maze (2000, starred Rob Morrow), One Last Thing... (2005, opposite Cynthia Nixon) and Stick It (2006). Her television credits include “Police Rescue” (1992-1993, as Helena) and “My Big Fat Greek Life” (2003, reprised her role of Cousin Nikki).
Carides has volunteered as an actress with the Young Storytellers Program. She is married to fellow Aussie performer Anthony LaPaglia and has a young daughter with him.
Childhood and Family:
Gia Carides was born on June 7, 1964, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, to an English mother and a Greek father. She was educated at Chatswood High School, the same school as Mark Taylor, a celebrated Australian cricketer. Gia has two sisters, Danielle and Zoe Carides (actress).
In September 1998, Gia married actor Anthony LaPaglia, whom she met at a 1992 party in Sydney, Australia. She gave birth to a baby girl named Bridget LaPaglia in January 2003.
13-year-old Gia Carides kicked off her film career in the Australian cinema with The Love Letters from Teralba Road (1977), a 50-minute independent drama starring Kris McQuade and Bryan Brown. She returned six years later, when she was cast as the ingénue amidst colorful characters in the Australian car movie Midnite Spares, and then played Emma in the champion Australian racehorse Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation (1983), where she was billed as Georgia Carr.
Carides went on to appear as a Chambermaid in Eric Roberts’ The Coca-Cola Kid (1985), played daughter Lucy in Bliss (1985) and had a memorable turn as a draftee cop in Backlash (1986). She also appeared in several television series, making her guest starring debut in a 1984 episode of “Five Mile Creek” before getting her first regular role in 1989’s series “Inside Running.”
After The Girl Who Came Late (1991), The Resting Place (1992, TV) and Greenkeeping (1992), Carides was launched into international acting arena thanks to the highly successful comedy/romance Strictly Ballroom (1992). Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the young actress received an AFI nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, for her fine portrayal of Liz Holt, the piercing and pushy, man-hungry blond dancer. She also could be seen costarring with Hugo Weaving and Heather Mitchell in the miniseries “Seven Deadly Sins” (1993) and played Helena Angelopolous on the Southern Star Television show “Police Rescue,” a gig she had from 1992 until 1993.
Carides teamed up with future husband Anthony LaPaglia for Paperback Romance (1994), portraying a disabled erotic writer named Sophie, was cast as Vesper in TV movie The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space on the Starz! network, the following year, and made her first foray into Hollywood film with the 1995 crime Bad Company, opposite Ellen Barkin and Laurence Fishburne. A role in the Canadian/American indie The Cottonwood (1996), for director Steven Feder, followed before Carides reunited with LaPaglia for Brilliant Lies, a courtroom drama by Richard Franklin. As Susy Connor, she took home her next AFI nod, this time for Best Actress in a Lead Role.
1997 to 1999 saw roles in The Devil’s Child (1997, TV), Lifebreath (1997), Firehouse (1997, TV), Mike Nichols’ big screen adaptation of the best-seller Primary Colors (1998, along side John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates), Letters from a Killer (1998, with Patrick Swayze) and Barbara Taylor Bradford’s ‘A Secret Affair’ (1999). She also guest starred in an episode of the popular TV series “ER” (1997) and memorably played Robin Spitz Swallows in Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999).
Entering the new millennium, Carides had a supporting role in the Rob Morrow vehicle Maze (2000), costarred with Matt Keeslar and Jenny McCarthy in the indie-comedy Thank Heaven (2001) and experienced another hit with My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), a comedy romantic starring Nia Vardalos and Michael Constantine. There she played the small role of Cousin Nikki, a role she reprised for the television show “My Big Fat Greek Life” in 2003. She shared the screen with Brenda Strong in Exposed (2003).
In 2005, Carides had a s supporting role in the surprising comedy One Last Thing..., staring Cynthia Nixon, and starred as Stephanie Patterson in an episode of the popular TV series “Without a Trace.” More recently, she portrayed the role of Alice Graham on the sport-themed film Stick It (2006).