Displaying a sort of weary Botticelli beauty and a crisp brand of intelligence, Hope Davis has made a name for herself portraying good women wronged by bad men. Playing such characters in her two breakthrough films, The Daytrippers and Next Stop Wonderland, Davis displayed a remarkable blend of lovable bitterness and cynical charm, endearing herself to legions of art house filmgoers who recognized an unmistakable ring of truth in her performances.
Born in Englewood, NJ, Davis had a childhood that was notable in part for her friendship with her neighbor across the street, Mira Sorvino. Davis' first brush with acting came when the two girls -- then eight or nine -- wrote a play and performed it for their neighbors. The actress' next encounter with fame came some years later, in the rather dubious form of her bit part as one of Billy Baldwin's used-and-abused girlfriends in the 1990 film Flatliners. Following a bit role as a French ticket agent in the same year's Home Alone, Davis had yet another dubious brush with fame in Kiss of Death (1995), in a role memorable for the sole reason that it required Davis to be bench-pressed by co-star Nicolas Cage.
The following year brought with it more auspicious work in The Daytrippers, an independent comedy in which Davis played the suspicious wife of philandering Stanley Tucci. Co-starring Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, and Anne Meara, the film was a hit on the independent circuit, but Davis would strike even more indie gold in 1998 with her starring role in Brad Anderson's Next Stop Wonderland. Critics adored her performance as Erin, a nurse recovering from a major -- and bitterly hilarious -- breakup with her activist boyfriend (played with joyful loathsomeness by Philip Seymour Hoffman).
By this time, the actress had established a niche for herself in the realm of quirky, independently minded films, and she would continue to appear in similar films over the years, like Mumford, About Schmidt, American Splendor, Proof, Charlie Bartlett, The Lodger, and Synechdoche, New York. Davis would also make succesful runs on the small screen, with Six Degrees, In Treatment, and the HBO mini series Mildred Pierce.