Sex, Lies, and Videotape
“I’ve fallen in love with all of the women (I’ve played) because there is something wonderful about them, and if you empathize with them, then you kind of love them all like... sisters or something.” Laura San Giacomo
Award-winning actress Laura San Giacomo received recognition and came to prominence with her role as the mean sister-in-law Cynthia Patrice Bishop in the small-budget-turned-runaway hit Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) for director Steven Soderbergh. For her bright scene-stealing turn, she nabbed a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, two Chicago Film Critics Association awards, an Independent Spirit Award, as well as earned a Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. A natural for movies, the petite actress is also memorable for playing roles in such successful comedies as Pretty Woman (1990), Quigley Down Under (1990), Stuart Saves His Family (1995), and Suicide Kings (1997), among others. On television, San Giacomo is perhaps best known for playing journalist Maya Gallo in the NBC sitcom “Just Shoot Me!” (1997-2003), where she received a Golden Globe nomination. Other impressing performances include in Stephen King’s The Stand (1994) and in The Right to Remain Silent (1996).
Off screen, San Giacomo is a humanitarian. As a mother of a child with learning and physical disabilities, she actively supports charities which give wide-ranging educational opportunities for all children. She also has appeared at the Environmental Media Awards, the “Voices For Change” Gala Benefit & Concert (Benefiting Children with Disabilities) and the Friends Finding A Cure Gala Benefiting Project A.L.S. On a more private note, the red-headed beauty has been married twice. She spent her time outside the limelight with her first husband, actor Cameron Dye, from 1990-98, and has one son with him. She is now married to actor Matt Adler, with whom she currently resides in San Fernando Valley in California.
Childhood and Family:
Laura San Giacomo was born on November 14, 1962, in Hoboken, New Jersey (some sources mention West Orange), to Italian-American parents, father John San Giacomo and mother Mary Jo San Giacomo. Raised in the nearby town of Denville, Laura went to Denville’s Morris Knolls High School, in which she found her first interest on acting. Immediately caught by the acting bug, this future actress immersed herself in numerous school productions and musicals. She continued to sharpen her crafts at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, which registers actors Jack Klugman, Ted Danson, Blair Underwood and among its many famed alumni. She graduated four years later with a Bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in acting.
In June 1990, Laura married actor Cameron Dye, whom she met when the two made guest appearance in an episode of “Miami Vice” in 1989. The couple welcomed their son, Mason Alan Dye (who suffers from cerebral palsy), in 1996. After an eight-year marriage, however, Laura and her husband decided to call it quits in 1998. Despite the failure, Laura managed to fall in love once again and was married to her present husband, actor Matt Adler, in 2000. In her off time, Laura enjoys practicing such sports as gymnastics, horseback riding, tennis, golf and ice skating. The owner of a black 1998 Ford Explorer also likes playing piano and ballet.
Just Shoot Me!
Stage-trained Laura San Giacomo, who made her off-Broadway debut at WPA Theatre with a role in “North Shore Fish,” began acting while in high school where she performed in a number of school plays and musicals. She further pursued her passion at college by starring in countless campus productions, and later appeared in regional theater performances in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Virginia. In 1988, a year after breaking to TV with a two-episodic guest arc in the series “Spenser: For Hire,” San Giacomo was discovered on two off-Broadway productions: “Italian American Reconciliation” and “The Love Talker.” She then took guest-starring roles in “Crime Story”(1988), “The Equalizer” and “Miami Vice” (both 1989), as well as made her first film appearance with an uncredited part in Gary Sinise’s drama Miles from Home (1988), which starred Richard Gere.
Her big breakthrough arrived when Steven Soderbergh cast her opposite James Spader, Andie MacDowell and Peter Gallagher in the controversial film Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989). Produced in low-budged, the film became a huge hit and even won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival. As for San Giacomo, her promising portrayal as the sensible yet nasty Cynthia Patrice Bishop, who has a steamy affair with her sister’s husband was loved by audiences and critics alike. As a result, she was handed several awards like a Los Angeles Film Critics Association for New Generation, a Chicago Film Critics Association and an Independent Spirit for Best Supporting Actor and a Chicago Film Critics Association for Most Promising Actress. Additionally, the role brought her nominations for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards.
Following the stunning performance, San Giacomo’s career took flight and she responded the Hollywood’s lure by making three films within one year, in 1990. Initially, she was cast as Julia Roberts’ wisecracking friend Kit in the box office hit Pretty Woman, a role that helped the actress strengthen her position as a bankable actress, before displaying her versatility in the last two: the drams Vital Signs (played the hardworking waitress Lauren) and the Australian Western Quigley Down Under (as the American deportee Crazy Cora, opposite Tom Selleck). Unfortunately, the scorching-hot start was followed by a sophomore slump in 1991 with roles in unmemorable movies like the Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter starring vehicle Once Around, in which she portrayed Hunter’s sister Jan Bella, and the Simon Moore-helmed thriller Under Suspicion, starred Liam Neeson and Kenneth Cranham.
On the other hand, San Giacomo found success on stage, giving fascinating performances in such off-Broadway plays as “Three Sisters” and “Wrong Turn at Lungfish,” as well as appearing in a number of regional theatrical presentations of “The Tempest,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Crimes of the Heart.” During 1993-94 periods, the actress also found herself continuing her TV career by making her TV movie debut in For Their Own Good and taking her first miniseries role as Nadine Cross in the highly acclaimed “Stephen King’s The Stand.”
Returning to the wide screen movie in 1994, San Giacomo headlined the Alan Jacobs-directed and written Nina Takes a Lover, a comedy-romance which was well-received by critics but struggled at the box office. Next up for San Giacomo, the husky-voiced actress provided her voice for the unactredited character Fox/Janine Renard in the star-studded animated series “Gargoyles” (1994-96), costarred with Al Franken in the hit comedy Stuart Saves His Family (1995) and received a favorable reviews for her notable appearance as HIV-positive high school teacher Nicole Savita in the Showtime The Right to Remain Silent (1996). For her fine turn in the latter, San Giacomo was nominated for a CableACE Award.
In 1997, her TV career received another boost when she was hired to star on the NBC sitcom “Just Shoot Me!,” for creator Steven Levitan. As Maya Gallo, the neo-feminist magazine journalist who works for her dad (played by George Segal), she won raves and took home her next Golden Globe nomination, this time for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical. She stayed with the role until its finale season in 2003. In the meantime, she had roles in movies Eat Your Heart Out, The Apocalypse, the well-like Suicide Kings (all 1997) and With Friends Like These... (1998), and in TV programs like “Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Stories from My Childhood” (voiced of Bandit Girl), “Batman Beyond” (voice of Freon/Mary Michaels), Sister Mary Explains It All (2001), the CBS biopic Jenifer (2001, played the title role) and The Electric Piper (2003, voiced Mrs. Robinson).
After “Just Shoot Me!” came to an end in 2003, San Giacomo was additionally featured in films like the drama A House on a Hill (2003), director Jeff Hare’s comedy Checking Out (2005) and the Barbara Kopple-helemd Havoc (2005), a crime-romance starred Anne Hathaway, Bijou Phillips and Shiri Appleby. On the small screen, she guest starred in an episode of ‘The Handler” (2003) and narrated the series “Snapped” (2004). She was scheduled to return to series regular with a role in the WB new drama “Related” in 2005, but due to creative differences, she was later recast. The 44-year-old actress will portray Joanna Malloy in a TV movie about one woman’s battle to give her disabled children a normal childhood, Conquistadora (2006).
- Independent Spirit: Best Supporting Female, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, 1990
- Chicago Film Critics Association: Most Promising Actress, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, 1990
- Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actor, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, 1990
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association: New Generation Award, 1989