“I love the life of an actor because you spend brief amounts of time with other people and then you just leave. I need to be alone a lot, and I need the outdoors.” Madeleine Stowe
American actress Madeleine Stowe attracted attention and gained appreciation for her outstanding, scene-stealing performance as the tormented wife in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (1993), which garnered her a National Society of Film Critics Award. Her significant teamwork also brought her a Golden Globe Award and a Venice Film Festival Award. In 1996, she picked up a Universe Reader’s Choice Award after delivering a brilliant turn as a sympathetic psychiatrist in Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (1995). Aside from her award-winning performances, the lofty, striking brunette actress is also famously recognized with roles in such films as Stakeout (1987), Revenge (1990), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), The General’s Daughter (1999, earned a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination) and We Were Soldiers (2002).
Stowe’s admirers should not miss her TV come back in the upcoming Greg Yaitanes’ serial “Southern Comfort” (2006).
Off screen, the British and Costa Rican descent Stowe was named one of Empire magazine’s “100 Sexiest Stars in film history” in 1995. She is married to actor Brian Benben and has two children with him. The family now resides in a cattle ranch outside of Fredericksburg, Texas, which she bought with her husband.
“From the very start, we’ve had this inexplicable chemistry. Even when he goes out to get groceries, I miss him.” Madeleine Stowe on husband Brian Benben
Childhood and Family:
Madeleine Stowe Mora was born on August 18, 1958, in a working-class community next to Los Angeles named Eagle Rock, California. His father is Robert Stowe, an Oregon civil-engineer who died of complications from multiple sclerosis in 1983, and her mother is Mireya Mora, an immigrant from Costa Rica. Along with her younger siblings, brother Robert (born in 1962) and sister Diane (born in 1960), Madeleine was raised in Glendale, California. She studied film and journalism at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, but dropped out to volunteer at the Solaris, a Beverly Hills theater.
A quite and bashful girl, Madeleine put her first love on the piano and began training for a career as a concert pianist at age 10, with Vladimir Horowitz’s childhood instructor Sergei Tarnowsky. “Practicing for hours every day was an excuse to stay away from other kids,” she recalled. However, Madeleine gave up several years later following the death of her instructor and then began to develop her social life. She avowed, “I just felt it was time to not be by myself anymore.”
In 1986, Madeleine married actor Brian Benben (born on June 18, 1956), whom she met while costarring in the 1981 miniseries The Gangster Chronicles. They have two children: a son and a daughter named May Benben (aka. May Theodora; born in 1996).
A trained concert pianist as a young, Madeleine Stowe decided to abandon playing the piano after her instructor’s death. She then took up acting and left her cinema and journalism studies to volunteer at Beverly Hills’ Solaris Theater. While there, she was discovered by an agent who soon landed her roles in TV and films.
Her first professional acting job arrived in 1978 with a one-episodic turn as Anna in the series “Baretta,” followed by a string of TV work such as guest starred in “The Amazing Spider-Man” (1978), “Barnaby Jones” (1979), “Little House on the Prairie” (1980), appeared in TV films The Nativity (1978, starred as Mary) and The Deerslayer (1978), based on a James Fennimore Cooper book, as well as costarred in the NBC miniseries “Beulah Land” (1980). In 1981 Stowe teamed up with director Richard C. Sarafian who had her play the small part of Ruth Lasker in the history film Gangster Wars, which starred Michael Nouri and her future husband Brian Benben. She reprised the role for the miniseries “The Gangster Chronicles,” that same year.
After nearly a ten-year presence on the entertainment industry, Stowe eventually delivered a breakout big screen role when director John Badham cast her in the supporting role of Maria McGuire in the action Stakeout (1987). Costarring with Richard Dreyfuss, Emilio Estevez and Aidan Quinn, she was remembered for her fine turn as a woman hunted by a killer. Two years later, she added Tropical Snow (made in 1986) and Worth Winning to her film credits, before earning further notice as Mireya Mendez in Tony Scott’s bumpy Revenge (1990, opposite Kevin Costner and Anthony Quinn). She also worked with Jack Nicholson for the 1990 The Two Jakes, gave a powerful portrayal as a political captive vocally infighting with Alan Rickman in Closet Land (1991), and by the time she took on the role of the troubled wife in the thriller Unlawful Entry (1992, opposite Kurt Russell and Ray Liotta ), the actress’ profile in Hollywood boosted. Her star shone even brighter when Stowe costar as Cora Munro, the frontierswoman who falls in love with Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Michael Mann’s acclaimed adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper novel.
More major film roles followed after the breakthrough screen role. In 1993, she had the opportunity to work with renowned director Robert Altman in Short Cuts. Offering one of her best screen appearances as Tim Robbins’ long-suffering wife Sherri Shepard, Stowe’s performance was critically applauded and she won a 1994 National Society of Film Critics for Best Supporting Actress. Additionally, she took home a Golden Globe and a Venice Film Festival for Best Ensemble Cast, awards shared with costars that included Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon and Julianne Moore. The same year, she briefly reprised her role from the 1987 Stakeout in an uncredited cameo in the sequel Another Stakeout.
Stowe then starred as the touching blind woman in the thriller Blink (1994, rejoined Aidan Quinn), had a female lead opposite Ed Harris in China Moon (1994) and headlined the feminist Western Bad Girls (1994), where she was practically wasted as a hooker who takes matters into her own hands in the Wild West. She bounced back in the subsequent year by giving notable turn as a compassionate psychiatrist named Kathryn Railly in Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi thriller Twelve Monkeys, which also featured Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. For her good efforts, she was handed a Universe Reader’s Choice from the Sci-Fi Universe Magazine for Best Actress in a Genre Motion Picture in 1996.
The appealing actress made her way back to filmmaking after a few years break in 1998 with the romance The Proposition, costarring with William Hurt and Kenneth Branagh, and the Angelina Jolie and Dennis Quaid starring vehicle Playing by Heart, which cast her in the supporting role of a dishonest wife named Gracie. Stowe rounded out the decade with a good part as Warr. Off. Sara Sunhill in the Simon West-helmed The General’s Daughter, starring John Travolta. With the role, she nabbed a Blockbuster Entertainment nod for Favorite Supporting Actress-Suspense.
She then took another hiatus and didn’t make film until in 2002 when she collaborated with Gary Sinise in the sci-fi thriller Impostor. The same year, she replaced Faith Hill to play the female lead in We Were Soldiers, along side Mel Gibson and costarred with Sylvester Stallone in Avenging Angelo. She also revisited the small screen with a starring role in the A&E film The Magnificent Ambersons. Stowe shared top bill with Norman Reedus, Bijou Phillips and Mischa Barton in horror film Octane (2003) and appeared on the made-for TV film Saving Milly two years later. The 48-year-old Stowe will star opposite J.D. Evermore, Eric Roberts and Travis Fimmel in director Greg Yaitanes’ new series “Southern Comfort” (2006).
- Sci-Fi Universe Magazine: Universe Reader’s Choice Award, Best Actress in a Genre Motion Picture, Twelve Monkeys, 1996
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, Short Cuts, 1994
- Golden Globe: Special Achievement, Best Ensemble Cast, Short Cuts, 1994
- Venice Film Festival: Volpi Cup - Best Ensemble Cast, Short Cuts, 1993