Catherine Keener ranks with Parker Posey as one of the queens of 1990s American independent cinema. A muse for director Tom Di Cillo (Johnny Suede, Living in Oblivion, Box of Moonlight, The Real Blonde), she is married to one of her peers, the also-underrated Dermot Mulroney. Keener graduated from Wheaton College in 1983 and in 1986 she landed her first film role, a small part in About Last Night. She appeared in a string of independent films throughout the 1990s, in addition to all the aforementioned Di Cillo titles; she had the lead, opposite Anne Heche, in the acclaimed Walking and Talking (1996), written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, a role which earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress. In 2000, Keener received an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Being John Malkovich. Appearing in Simpatico and giving birth to a baby boy the same year, the tireless actress continued to turn up in such quirky films as Death to Smoochy, Full Frontal, and eccentric director Spike Jonze, follow-up to Being John Malkovich, Adaptation. Keener would spend the next several years enjoying her reputation as a both charming and well respected actress, appearing in movies like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Capote, Into the Wild, Synechdoche, New York, Where the Wild Things Are, Cyrus, and Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding.
Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx
- Began acting in college only after being shut out of a photography class. She signed up for a theater course instead.
- Worked in Hollywood as an assistant to casting director Gail Eisenstadt, who helped her land her first film role, a one-line part as a waitress in About Last Night (1986).
- Met ex-husband Dermot Mulroney on the set of 1989's Survival Quest.
- Had breakthrough role in the 1991 indie comedy Johnny Suede opposite a then-unknown Brad Pitt.
- In the 1992 Seinfeld episode "The Letter," she played Jerry's artist girlfriend, who painted an infamous portrait of Kramer.