Occupation: Actress, Guitarist, Singer
Date of Birth: January 31, 1971
Place of Birth: England
Sign: Sun in Aquarius, Moon in Aries
Relations: Boyfriend: Josh Brolin
Education: Attended Bedales School in Petersfield, England, and the Webber-Douglas.
MINNIE DRIVER HAS essayed such vastly different accents and pulled them off so convincingly that her true nationality might come as a surprise to some people. The 30-year-old Englishwoman has played a small-town Irish shopkeeper's daughter and a Russian country-western singer with equal facility, and has been effectively American as Brad Pitt’s street-smart New York girlfriend, as Stanley Tucci's neglected New Jersey fiancée, as a suburban-Detroit deejay, and as the animated inamorata of literature's favorite ape man.
Educated at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Driver found stage work and jobs in British television almost immediately after completing her drama degree in 1991. In addition to her career in what she calls "the grand tradition of crappy TV," she also plied her considerable talents as a jazz vocalist and guitarist at various London clubs in an effort to make ends meet. Highlights of the next several years included a sizeable role as "the other woman" in the excellent 1995 BBC mini-series The Politician's Wife, and her own series, My Good Friend. Not exactly inundated with offers, and certainly not one to sit and wait for the phone to ring, the statuesque and uniquely beautiful actress lobbied strenuously for and won the role of Benny, the frumpy Irish heroine of director Pat O'Connor's adaptation of Maeve Binchy's autobiographical novel, Circle of Friends. Landing the role was a mixed blessing: though she was to co-star opposite hunky teen dream American actor Chris O’Donnell in the ingenuous coming-of-age film, O'Connor insisted that Driver gain over twenty pounds to be more believable as the lumpish, homely lead. Fattening herself into a butterball was well worth it in the end, as Circle of Friends became a sleeper hit, and the luminous Ms. Driver, the most sought-after British import since the MG Midget.
In her next film outing, Driver fulfilled to a certain degree one of her long-cherished dreams, a dream held by many an impressionable young woman: dancing naked in the opening credits of a James Bond flick. ("You know . . . doing all the woo-woo dancing.") Whittled back down from studiously sturdy to Bond-girl svelte, she tackled the role of Goldeneye's Russian country-western lounge singer. Eyed ever more appreciatively by both Hollywood and the British film industry, Driver skipped across the Atlantic to appear in the Robert De Niro-Brad Pitt-starrer Sleepers, and in Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott's valentine to gastronomy and brotherly love, Big Night. Speaking of love, Driver walked away from her next film, 1997's well-received black comedy Grosse Pointe Blank, with critical plaudits for her performance and a short-term romantic relationship with co-star John Cusack. Her next film appearance, in Gus Van Sant's Good Will Hunting, incited another ephemeral leading-man romance, with on-the-rise newcomer Matt Damon. Both Driver and Damon were nominated for Academy Awards for their respective supporting and leading roles in the film.
Folks back home in England have criticized Driver for "going Hollywood," but let it be said that she is in no danger of going on the dole: the sparkling ingenue further upped her exposure, not to mention plumped up her bank account, with a role opposite Christian Slater in the actioner Hard Rain; and she charmed audiences both young and old as the voice of Jane in Disney's 1999 animated opus, Tarzan. Though her starring turn as a 19th-century Sephardic Jew who masquerades as a gentile in order to gain employment with a Scottish family in the 1998 drama The Governess provided a refreshing departure from her perennial employment as the starry-eyed girlfriend, the art-house film was largely overlooked at the box office. She was back to the romantic fold for Return to Me (2000), co-starring opposite David Duchovny.
In 1999, Driver denied a report that she's engaged to boyfriend and Mod Squad actor Josh Brolin. The couple did work together on the film Slow Burn, which Driver and her sister Kate produced. Brolin is the son of James Brolin, which means Barbra Streisand would be Driver's step mother-in-law if the couple ever does tie the knot.
2000 Return Return to Me
1999 Princess Mononoke
1999 South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
1999 An Ideal Husband
1998 Hard Rain
1998 The Governess
1997 Grosse Pointe Blank
1997 Good Will Hunting
1996 Big Night
1995 Cruel Train
1995 Circle of Friends
1995 The Politician's Wife
1995 My Good Friend
1994 Maigret and the Nightclub Dancer
1993 Mr. Wroes Virgins
1990 God on the Rocks
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)