|Date OF Birth||September 11, 1961|
Virginia G. Madsen (born September 11, 1961) is an American actress and documentary film producer. She came to fame during the 1980s, having appeared in several films aimed at a teenage audience. Two decades later, she had an Academy Award and Golden Globe–nominated role in the 2004 film Sideways. Other films she appeared in include Candyman (1992), The Prophecy (1995), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), The Haunting (1999), The Number 23 (2007), The Haunting in Connecticut (2009) and The Magic of Belle Isle (2012).
Madsen was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Elaine (née Melson), an Emmy-winning poet, producer and playwright who often works for PBS, and Calvin Madsen, a fireman. Madsen's mother left a career in corporate business to pursue a writing career. Madsen's brother is actor Michael Madsen. Her paternal grandparents were Danish, and her mother has English, Irish, Scottish, German, and distant Native American, ancestry. Madsen is a graduate of New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. Her first effort as an actress was as her brother’s assistant in magic shows the two would concoct for their family. She 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."
Audiences first caught a glimpse of Madsen on film in a bit part she landed as Lisa in the teen sex comedy Class, along with an appearance in Kenny Loggins' music video "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" from the Footloose soundtrack. She portrayed a cellist named Madeline in Electric Dreams (1984), which was the first film release by Virgin Films Production Company. She was cast as Princess Irulan in David Lynch's science fiction epic Dune (1984).
Madsen first became popular with audiences in 1986 with her portrayal of a Catholic schoolgirl who fell in love with a boy from a prison camp in Duncan Gibbons's Fire with Fire. As beauty queen Dixie Lee Boxx, she was the sexy love interest of minor-league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the made-for-cable Long Gone (1987). She played a secretary in the 1988 comedy Hot to Trot and appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the final season of Moonlighting. She also starred in the 1992 horror film Candyman.
Madsen appeared in a small role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) starring Matt Damon. Film critic Roger Ebert said that Madsen had a "strong scene," while reviewer James Berardinelli noted that "the supporting cast is solid, with turns from... Virginia Madsen as a witness for the plaintiff". Madsen had spent more than twenty years in minor films before her breakout critically acclaimed performance in Sideways (2004). The role catapulted her onto the Hollywood A-list. 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 with Jim Carrey in The Number 23 and Billy Bob Thornton in The Astronaut Farmer; both films opened in North America on February 23, 2007. She voiced Queen Hippolyte, mother of Wonder Woman, in the 2009 animated Wonder Woman film.
Madsen has made numerous television appearances including Star Trek: Voyager, CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier, and other series. She was also co-host of the long-running TV series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, during the show's second (and final) season on CBS. She starred opposite Ray Liotta in CBS's short-lived crime drama series Smith. She also had a recurring role in the final season of the USA series Monk. She appeared with Kenny Loggins in the music video "I'm Free", from the Footloose soundtrack (1984).
In 2010, she landed the starring role of Cheryl West in the ABC crime series Scoundrels. In December 2010, it was announced that she will be joining the cast of NBC's science fiction action series The Event. In 2012, she joined the cast of the AMC television show Hell on Wheels as Mrs. Durant, first appearing in episode eight of season 2, "The Lord's Day."
In 2008, she formed her own film production company called Title IX Prods. Her first project was a film made with her mother called 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." Her second project is called Fighting Gravity and is about the inability of female ski jumpers to obtain recognition in Olympic competition.