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Virginia Madsen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Virginia Madsen
Virginia Madsen Oscars 2009.jpg
Madsen at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009
Virginia Gayle Madsen

(1961-09-11) September 11, 1961 (age 61)
EducationNew Trier High School
  • Actress
  • producer
Years active1983–present
Known forSideways
(m. 1989; div. 1992)

Nick Holmes
(m. 2020)
Partner(s)Antonio Sabàto Jr.
Relatives Edit this at Wikidata

Virginia Gayle Madsen (born September 11, 1961)[1][2] is an American actress and film producer. She made her film debut in Class (1983), which was filmed in her native Chicago. After she moved to Los Angeles, director David Lynch cast her as Princess Irulan in the science fiction film Dune (1984). Madsen then starred in a series of successful teen films, including Electric Dreams (1984), Modern Girls (1986), and Fire with Fire (1986).

Madsen received further recognition for her starring role as Helen Lyle in the horror film Candyman (1992). For her performance in Alexander Payne's comedy-drama Sideways (2004), Madsen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

On television, Madsen has appeared in the comedy-drama series Moonlighting (1989), the comedy series Frasier (1998), the period drama series American Dreams (2002–2003), the murder mystery series Monk (2002–2009), the science fiction series The Event (2011), the supernatural drama series Witches of East End (2013–2014), the political thriller series Designated Survivor (2016–2017), and the DC Universe superhero horror series Swamp Thing (2019).

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • The Hot Spot · Virginia Madsen Intro (1990)


Early life

Virginia Gayle Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois,[3] the daughter of Elaine (née Melson), who became an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author, and Calvin Christian Madsen, a firefighter.[4] After Madsen's parents divorced in the late 1960s, when the children were young, her mother left a career in finance to pursue a career in arts, encouraged by film critic Roger Ebert.[5] Madsen's siblings are Michael Madsen, an actor, and Cheryl Madsen, an entrepreneur. Her paternal grandparents were Danish, and her mother has English, Irish, Scottish, German and distant Native American ancestry.[6] Madsen is a graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois.[7]

Madsen later attended the Ted Liss Acting Studio in Chicago, and Harand Camp Adult Theater Seminar in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Of her experience with Liss, she said: "I had wanted to join his class since I was 12. It was well worth the wait because I don't think I could have got that sort of training anywhere else especially in the United States... I always wanted to make a real career out of acting."[8]



Madsen made her acting debut at age 22, in a bit part where she landed her role as Lisa in the comedy film Class (1983). She next appeared in Kenny Loggins' music video for "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" from the Footloose soundtrack.

She portrayed a cellist named Madeline in Electric Dreams (1984). She was cast as Princess Irulan in David Lynch's science fiction epic Dune (1984).[9] In 1985, she starred as Boris (Vincent Spano)'s romantic interest Barbara in the film Creator, which also starred Peter O'Toole.

Madsen first became popular with audiences in 1986 with her portrayal of a Catholic school girl who fell in love with a boy from a prison camp in Duncan Gibbons' Fire with Fire. As beauty queen Dixie Lee Boxx, she was the love interest of minor league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the HBO original film Long Gone (1987). That same year she also appeared in the music video for "I Found Someone" by Cher. She played a secretary named Allison Rowe in the comedy film Hot to Trot (1988). She also starred as Helen Lyle in the horror film Candyman (1992).

She appeared in a small role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) alongside Matt Damon and Claire Danes. Film critic Roger Ebert said that Madsen had a "strong scene",[10] while reviewer James Berardinelli noted that "the supporting cast is solid, with turns from . . . Virginia Madsen as a witness for the plaintiff".[11]

Madsen delivered a critically acclaimed performance in Sideways (2004), directed by Alexander Payne. Her role catapulted her onto the Hollywood A-list.[12]

Her first major role after Sideways was opposite Harrison Ford in Firewall. She later appeared in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, in a key role as the angel. She co-starred alongside Jim Carrey in The Number 23 and Billy Bob Thornton in The Astronaut Farmer; both films were released in North America on February 23, 2007. She voiced Queen Hippolyta, mother of Wonder Woman, in the animated film Wonder Woman (2009).


In 1988, Madsen appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the fifth and final season of the ABC drama series Moonlighting. She has since made various television appearances, including Star Trek: Voyager, CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier, and other television series. She was also co-host of the long-running television series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, during the show's eleventh season (which was also the second and final season on CBS). She starred alongside Ray Liotta in the short-lived CBS crime drama series Smith. She also had a recurring role in the eighth and final season in the USA Network comedy-drama series Monk.

In 2010, she landed the starring role of Cheryl West in the ABC comedy-drama series Scoundrels. In December 2010, it was announced that she would be joining the cast in the NBC science fiction series The Event.[13] In 2012, she joined the cast of the AMC western drama series Hell on Wheels as Mrs. Hannah Durant, first appearing in episode eight of season 2, "The Lord's Day". In 2013, Madsen began appearing on Lifetime's Witches of East End as Penelope Gardiner, the main villainess of the first season.

She starred as Speaker Kimble Hookstraten in the first season of the ABC political drama series Designated Survivor.[14]


In 2008, she formed her own film production company called Title IX Productions.[15] Her first project was a film made with her mother titled I Know a Woman Like That. The film is a documentary about the lives of older women. On the creation of the film, she said her mother's active lifestyle was an inspiration to start filming.

My mother's level of activity, of productivity, was exactly why I thought a project like this would work. Originally, when we put the idea together, she had said, "I'm far too busy. I'm going to Holland, and then I'm going here and there and I'm writing my book." But that's really what it's about.[16]

Personal life

Madsen was married to actor and director Danny Huston after meeting on the set of Mr. North (1988). They married in 1989 and divorced in 1992.[17] Madsen was in a long-term relationship with Antonio Sabàto Jr. from 1993 to 1998, with whom she has one son.[18]



Year Title Role Notes
1983 Class Lisa
1984 Electric Dreams Madeline Robistat
Dune Princess Irulan
1985 The Hearst and Davies Affair Marion Davies TV movie
Creator Barbara Spencer
1986 Fire with Fire Lisa Taylor
Modern Girls Kelly
1987 Long Gone Dixie Lee Boxx TV movie
Slam Dance Yolanda Caldwell
Zombie High Andrea Miller
1988 Mr. North Sally Boffin
Gotham Rachel Carlyle TV movie
Hot to Trot Allison Rowe
1989 Third Degree Burn Anne Scholes TV movie
Heart of Dixie Delia June Curry
1990 The Hot Spot Dolly Harshaw
1991 Highlander II: The Quickening Louise Marcus
Ironclads Betty Stuart TV movie
Victim of Love Carla Simons TV movie
Becoming Colette Polaire Sorel
Love Kills Rebecca Bishop TV movie
1992 Candyman Helen Lyle
A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus Story Carolyn Warmus TV movie
1993 Linda Linda Cowley TV movie
1994 Caroline at Midnight Susan Prince
Blue Tiger Gina Hayes
Bitter Vengeance Annie Westford TV movie
1995 The Prophecy Katherine
1996 Just Your Luck Kim Video
Ghosts of Mississippi Dixie DeLaughter
1997 The Apocalypse Watch Karin De Vries TV movie
The Rainmaker Jackie Lemanczyk
1998 Ambushed Lucy Monroe
1999 The Florentine Molly
Ballad of the Nightingale Mo Lewis
The Haunting Jane Vance
2000 After Sex Traci
Children of Fortune Ingrid Bast TV movie
2001 Crossfire Trail Anne Rodney TV movie
Lying in Wait Vera Miller
Almost Salinas Clare
Full Disclosure Brenda Hopkins Video
Just Ask My Children Brenda Kniffen TV movie
2002 American Gun Penny Tillman
2003 Tempted Emma Burke TV movie
Artworks Emma Becker
Nobody Knows Anything! Prison Lawyer
2004 Brave New Girl Wanda Lovell TV movie
Sideways Maya Randall
2005 Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy? Cleopatra (voice) Video
Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild The Beast (voice) Video
2006 Firewall Beth Stanfield
A Prairie Home Companion Dangerous Woman
The Astronaut Farmer Audrey "Audie" Farmer
2007 The Number 23 Agatha Sparrow/Fabrizia
Ripple Effect Sherry Atrash
Cutlass Robin Short
Being Michael Madsen Herself
2008 Diminished Capacity Charlotte
2009 Wonder Woman Hippolyta (voice) Video
The Haunting in Connecticut Sara Campbell
2010 Father of Invention Lorraine King
2011 Red Riding Hood Suzette
Marriage Drama Linda Short
2012 Hornet's Nest Judy Hammer TV movie
The Magic of Belle Isle Charlotte O'Neil
2013 The Last Keepers Abigail Carver
The Hot Flashes Clementine Winks
Crazy Kind of Love Augusta Iris
The Anna Nicole Story Virgie Arthur TV movie
Jake Squared Beth
2014 All the Wilderness Abigail Charm
2015 Walter Karen Benjamin
Dead Rising: Watchtower Maggie
An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success Karen Thomas
Burning Bodhi Naomi
Joy Terry Mangano
2016 Burn Your Maps Victoria
Better Watch Out Deandra Lerner
2017 A Change of Heart Deena
2018 1985 Eileen Lester
Her Smell Ania Adamcyzk
Spare Room Nat
2020 Operation Christmas Drop Congresswoman Angie Bradford
2021 Candyman Helen Lyle (voice)
2022 Give Me An A Coach Judy
Prey for the Devil Dr. Peters
2023 One Day as a Lion Valerie Brisky
TBA Lola James Mona


Year Title Role Notes
1984 American Playhouse Lou Ellen Purdy Episode: "A Matter of Principle"
1985 Mussolini: The Untold Story Claretta Petacci Main Cast
1987 The Hitchhiker Christina Episode: "Perfect Order"
1989 Moonlighting Annie Charnock Recurring Cast: Season 5
1998 Star Trek: Voyager Kellin Episode: "Unforgettable"
1999 Frasier Cassandra Stone Recurring Cast: Season 6
Unsolved Mysteries Herself/Co-Host Main Co-Host: Season 11
2001 The Practice Marsha Ellison Episode: "The Candidate" & "Killing Time"
2002 Justice League Dr. Sarah Corwin (voice) Episode: "The Brave and the Bold: Part I & II"
2002–03 American Dreams Rebecca Sandstrom Recurring Cast: Season 1
2003 Pet Star Herself/Celebrity Judge #2 Episode: "Episode #2.1 & "#2.3"
Dawson's Creek Maddy Allen Episode: "All Good Things..." & "...Must Come to an End"
Spider-Man: The New Animated Series Silver Sable (voice) Episode: "Spider-Man Dis-Abled" & "Mind Games: Part 1"
CSI: Miami Krista Walker Episode: "Death Grip"
Boomtown Erika Ashland Episode: "The Big Picture"
2005 Teen Titans Arella (voice) Episode: "The Prophecy"
2005–06 Justice League Unlimited Veronica Sinclair/Roulette (voice) Episode: "The Cat and the Canary" & "Grudge Match"
2006 Hollywood Greats Herself Episode: "Harrison Ford"
TV Land's Top Ten Herself Recurring Guest
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan Herself Episode: "Buster, Holli, and Spike & Belle"
2006–07 Smith Hope Stevens Main Cast
2008 Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan Herself Episode: "100th Episode Celebration"
2009 Orangutan Island Herself/Narator Episode: "Cheating Extinction"
Monk T.K. Jensen Recurring Cast: Season 8
2010 Scoundrels Cheryl West Main Cast
2011 The Event Senator Catherine Lewis Recurring Cast: Season 1
2012 Jan Mel Recurring Cast
Hell on Wheels Mrs. Hannah Durant Recurring Cast: Season 2
2013 Who's Cooking with Florence Henderson Herself Episode: "Virginia Madsen"
Witches of East End Penelope Gardiner Recurring Cast: Season 1
2014 Let's Go to the Movies Herself Episode: "Virginia Madsen"
2015 Metropolis Herself Recurring Guest
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Beth Anne Rollins Episode: "Maternal Instincts"
2015–16 Celebrity Name Game Herself/Celebrity Player Episode: "Ross Mathews & Virginia Madsen #1-#3"
2016 Pickle and Peanut Jackson (voice) Episode: "Night Shift/Scalped"
American Gothic Madeline Hawthorne Main Cast
2016–17 Designated Survivor Kimble Hookstraten Recurring Cast: Season 1
2016–19 Elementary Paige Cowan Guest Cast: Season 4-5 & 7
2017 Voltron: Legendary Defender Commander Heera (voice) Episode: "Hole in the Sky"
2018 The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair Tamara Quinn Main Cast
2019 Swamp Thing Maria Sunderland [19] Main Cast
2021 Behind the Monsters Herself Episode: "Candyman"

Music Videos

Year Song Artist
1984 "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" Kenny Loggins
1986 "But Not Tonight" Depeche Mode
1989 "Liberian Girl" Michael Jackson


Year Title
2001 Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies
2003 Complicated Women
2009 I Know a Woman Like That
2016 Joy, Strength and Perseverance


Year Title
2018–21 Imagined Life
2020–23 Little Stories Everywhere
2021–23 Whose Amazing Life?

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Result
1993 Candyman Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival Award for Best Actress Won[20][21]
Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Actress Won[22]
Saturn Award for Best Actress Won[23]
2004 Sideways Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female Won
Iowa Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Motion Picture Won
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Seattle Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress Won
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2006 A Prairie Home Companion Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Ensemble Cast Nominated


  1. ^ "Birthdays". The Modesto Bee. The Associated Press. September 11, 2018. p. 2A. Actress Virginia Madsen is 57.
  2. ^ "Virginia Madsen Facts". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on October 29, 2019.
  3. ^ "Virginia Madsen". TV Guide. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  4. ^ Bell, Mark (February 23, 2007). "Method Fest to present the 2007 Maverick Award to Michael Madsen". Film Threat. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  5. ^ Kennedy, Lisa (February 21, 2007). "A strong role, an equal partner". The Denver Post. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  6. ^ Bray, Tony (April 2004). "Virginia Madsen". Archived from the original on August 16, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  7. ^ "Virginia Madsen and Suzanne Adams". TeachersCount. 2006. Archived from the original on July 2, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  8. ^ Madsen, Virginia (2007). "Virginia Madsen Biography – Bio – Life History". Virginia Madsen Official Site. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  9. ^ Madsen's opening monologue from Dune ("In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is the spice, melange. The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness.") was later sampled by Israel-based group Astral Projection in their tracks "Dancing Galaxy" and "Ambient Galaxy" on their album Dancing Galaxy, and by drum and bass artist Aphrodite in his song "Spice (Even Spicier)".
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 21, 1997). "The Rainmaker". Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  11. ^ Berardinelli, James (1997). "The Rainmaker". ReelViews. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  12. ^ Tarshis, Joan (September 2005). "Virginia Madsen's Vintage Year". Smoke Magazine. Archived from the original on June 30, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  13. ^ Ausiello, Michael (December 13, 2010). "Virginia Madsen Joins NBC's 'The Event'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 26, 2016). "'Designated Survivor': Virginia Madsen Joins New ABC Series In Key Role". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  15. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (April 21, 2008). "Virginia Madsen added to 'Amelia'". Variety. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
  16. ^ "Virginia Madsen and Elaine Madsen Interview". Ability. February–March 2010. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  17. ^ Fink, Mitchell (July 13, 1992). "People Insider". People. Archived from the original on March 2, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  18. ^ "Virginia Madsen Says Ex Has 'Taken Parenthood On'". People. June 24, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  19. ^ Petski, Denise (November 1, 2018). "'Swamp Thing': Virginia Madsen Cast As Maria Sunderland In DC Universe Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  20. ^ "Le festival international du film fantastique d'Avoriaz". Plans Américains (in French). Archived from the original on August 10, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  21. ^ "Festival international du film fantastique d'Avoriaz". Notre Cinéma – L'encyclopédie du cinéma (in French). Archived from the original on August 10, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  22. ^ Gingold, Michael (April 13, 2021). "FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards Flashback: 1993". Fangoria. Fangoria Publishing, LLC. Archived from the original on April 14, 2021. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  23. ^ "Past Winners Database: 1992 – 19th Saturn Awards". The Envelope (Los Angeles Times). Tribune Broadcasting. Archived from the original on October 17, 2006. Retrieved August 9, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 19 May 2023, at 20:39
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