The Color of Money
Oscar and Tony nominated actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio built a reputation on stage thanks to her performances in such productions as “Oh Brother” (1981), “Amadeus” (1982), “The Human Comedy” and “Henry V” (both 1984) before gaining acclaim as Carmen in Martin Scorsese's “The Color of Money” (1986). Costarring opposite such heavyweights as Paul Newman and Tom Cruise, she held her own and picked up her Oscar nomination. The role also brought her a Golden Globe nomination. She continued to deliver a fine character portrayal as Ed Harris' estranged wife in James Cameron's “The Abyss” (1989), from which she nabbed a Best Actress Saturn nomination, and took home a Saturn nomination for Best Supporting Actress in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991), opposite Kevin Costner. Often taking breaks from acting since marrying, Mastrantonio made an outstanding return to the cinematic industry with roles in John Sayles' “Limbo” (1999, earned a Las Vegas Film Critics Society nomination) and “The Perfect Storm” (2000) and on Broadway with the revival of “Man of La Mancha” (2002), for which she netted her Tony nomination. On television, Mastrantonio won a Gracie Allen Award after starring in the biopic “The Brooke Ellison Story” (2004) and had a recurring role on the hit series “Without a Trace” (2005-2006).
Mastrantonio, who was listed as one of 12 “Promising New Actors of 1986” in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 38, is the wife of movie director Pat O'Connor, whom she met on the set of 1989's “The January Man.” Married in 1990, the pair has two sons, Jack and Declan.
Childhood and Family:
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was born on November 17, 1958, in Lombard, Illinois, to Italian immigrants. Her father is Frank A Mastrantonio and her mother, Mary D Mastrantonio, died in 1991 after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis. Raised in Oak Park, Illinois, Mary attended Oak Park River Forest High School and was trained as an opera singer. She studied voice at the University of Illinois from 1976 to 1978.
In 1990, Mary married Ireland-born director Pat O'Connor, who directed her in the 1989 “The January Man.” Their first child, Jack O'Connor, was born in 1992. Their second son, Declan O'Connor, was born in 1997. The family now resides in London, England.
Man of La Mancha
Originally trained as an opera singer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio sang country and western music at the Opryland theme park in Nashville, Tennessee, during summer breaks in college. She dropped out of school and got work in local stage productions in Chicago before heading to New York in 1980. Before long, she was chosen to understudy the role of Maria in a 1981 Broadway revival of “West Side Story.” It was her costarring role in the short lived Broadway musical “Oh Brother” (1981), however, that earned the thespian rave reviews from critics.
Mastrantonio next understudied the role of Constanze Mozart in “Amadeus” (1982), acted in the workshop version of the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine show “Sunday in the Park With George” (1983) and broke into the cinematic industry with a supporting role in the Brian De Palma crime drama “Scarface” (1983), opposite Al Pacino, Steven Bauer and Michelle Pfeiffer. In the movie, she portrayed Al Pacino's sexy sister, Gina Montana. Previously, the curly haired actress landed a small role in Martin Scorsese's “The King of Comedy” (1982) but her part ended up on the cutting room floor.
Mastrantonio resumed her stage career by costarring in the American opera “The Human Comedy” and acting with Kevin Kline in Shakespeare's “Henry V” (both 1984) before making her TV miniseries debut in the biographical “Mussolini: The Untold Story” (NBC, 1985), in which she was cast as Edda Mussolini, opposite George C. Scott as Benito Mussolini. A year later, she was launched to prominence thanks to her role of Tom Cruise's girlfriend, Carmen, in “The Color of Money,” a movie directed by Scorsese. Delivering a fine performance, Mastrantonio was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She also received a Golden Globe nomination for the same category.
The following year saw Mastrantonio star with Tom Hulce in the Wayne Wang comedy “Slam Dance” and appear with Mandy Patinkin in the off-Broadway musical “The Knife.” She further showcased her talent in “The January Man” (1989), a comedy that reunited her with Kevin Kline. Still in 1989, Mastrantonio successfully played the alienated wife of Ed Harris in the underwater epic “The Abyss,” helmed by James Cameron. She netted a 1991 Saturn nomination for Best Actress for her work. On stage, the lovely actress gained positive reviews for her portrayal of Viola in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Twelfth Night” in Central Park.
Settling in London after her marriage, Mastrantonio was reunited with her husband for the British period drama “Fools of Fortune” (1990), where she was cast as a young Englishwoman named Marianne, opposite Iain Glen as Willie Quinton. She then played Yelena in the BBC adaptation of Anton Chekhov's “Uncle Vanya” (1991) and later returned to American productions in the drama “Class Action” (1991), opposite Gene Hackman, and the Kevin Costner vehicle “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991), where she portrayed Marian. The latter role brought Mastrantonio a Saturn nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a MTV Movie nomination for Best Female Performance.
Mastrantonio costarred with Willem Dafoe, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson in the drama “White Sands” (1992) and teamed up again with Kelvin Kline for the Alan J. Pakula directed thriller “Consenting Adults” (also 1992). After the productions, however, she left acting for a few years to concentrate on her family. In 1995, she reappeared in the fantasy “Three Wishes,” alongside Patrick Swayze, and the tender drama “Two Bits,” where she was cast as the daughter of Al Pacino. Also that same year, Mastrantonio made a brief return to the New York stage in the Lincoln Center production “Northeast Local,” opposite Anthony LaPaglia, and had a voice role in an episode of the TV series “Frasier.”
Following another hiatus, Mastrantonio made an auspicious comeback to the big screen with her starring role of Donna De Angelo in the John Sayles drama “Limbo” (1999). Playing a singer who falls for a fisherman, she was nominated for a 2000 Sierra Award for Best Actress at the Las Vegas Film Critics Society. Mastrantonio followed it up with the starring role as the wife of Colin Firth in the biopic “My Life So Far” (also 1999). She closed out the decade with an important role in the HBO drama “Witness Protection,” opposite Tom Sizemore.
Entering the new millennium, Mastrantonio took on the supporting role of fishing boat captain Linda Greenlaw in the blockbuster movie “The Perfect Storm” (2000), based on the Sebastian Junger successful nonfiction book of the same name. Costars of the movie included George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, Diane Lane and William Fichtner. She then joined Matthew Rhys in the British thriller “Tabloid” the next year and again disappeared from the screen. During the hiatus, she was spotted on stage opposite Brian Stokes Mitchell in the Broadway revival of “Man of La Mancha” (2002). She received a Tony nomination for Best Actress (Musical) for her work in the play.
In 2004, Mastrantonio took part in the short film “Standing Room Only” and starred as Jean Ellison in the made-for-TV film “The Brooke Ellison Story,” directed by Christopher Reeve. The latter performance won the actress a Gracie Allen for Outstanding Female Lead in a Drama Special. She went on to take the recurring role of Anne Cassidy in the fourth season of the TV series “Without a Trace” (2005-2006). More recently, she portrayed Gayle Russell in the television movie “The Russell Girl” (2008), opposite Jennifer Ehle, Paul Wesley and Tim DeKay.
Gracie Allen: Outstanding Female Lead in a Drama Special, “The Brooke Ellison Story,” 2005