Minnie Driver

Minnie Driver Biography.com

Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress, Film Actress(1970–)
British actress Minnie Driver made her film debut in Circle of Friends, followed by roles in Grosse Pointe Blank and Good Will Hunting.

Synopsis

Minnie Driver, born in London, England, on January 31, 1970, graduated from drama school in 1991 before appearing on various British television shows. Her movie debut was the lead role in 1995's Circle of Friends. She followed up with roles in Grosse Pointe Blank, Good Will Hunting and the James Bond film Goldeneye. Driver added producer to her credits in 1998 when she started a production company, Two Drivers, with her sister.

Early Life

British actress Minnie Driver was born Amelia Driver on January 31, 1970, in London, England. Driver, her two brothers, and two sisters were raised in Barbados by their parents, financier Ronnie Driver, and former model Gaynor Churchward. When Driver was seven, her parents divorced, and she was sent to the Bedales Boarding School in Hampshire, England. She acquired the name Minnie from her younger sister, who had difficulty pronouncing Amelia.

At an early age, Driver's interest in acting was encouraged by her mother. She gained admittance to the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, receiving a drama degree in 1991. After graduation, she pursued a career in television, appearing in several British dramas, including God on the Rocks (1991), Mr. Wroe's Virgins (1993) and The Politician's Wife (1995). During the early '90s, the struggling actress often supplemented her income by performing as a jazz vocalist and guitarist.

Film Debut

Driver made her film debut in the screen adaptation of Maeve Binchy's autobiographical novel Circle of Friends (1995). She fought for and won the role of Benny Hogan, a frumpy Irish student who wins the heart of goldenboy Jack Foley, played by Chris O'Donnell. Driver gained 25 pounds in preparation for her role as the overweight and homely character. Her performance received recognition, but she feared being typecast in future parts as a demure English lass. She wanted to tap into the American film industry to seek more unconventional roles. In 1995, she shattered her girl-next-door image with her portrayal of a sultry lounge singer in the James Bond film Goldeneye (1995).

Sleepers (1996), starring Hollywood veterans Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman, took Driver's career to a new plateau. She acquired a very convincing New York accent for her performance as Brad Pitt's street-smart girlfriend. Although Sleepers was billed as a true story, some controversy arose as to its legitimacy. As a result, the film lacked credibility and box office sales were low, but Driver's performance remained noteworthy.

Career Breakthrough

In her next project, Driver played John Cusack's quirky girlfriend in the dark comedy Grosse Pointe Blank (1997). However, it was in the highly acclaimed film Good Will Hunting (1997) where she truly made a name for herself in Hollywood. Starring opposite newcomers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Driver became an integral part of a cast that won the hearts of critics and audiences. She earned an Oscar nomination for her performance as Damon's English girlfriend, a role that she played on- and off-screen.

In 1998, Driver and her sister Kate formed the production company Two Drivers. Driver starred in and produced the company's first release titled At Satchem Farm (1998). She segued into the action-adventure genre with her next film, Hard Rain (1998), costarring Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater. She took on more obscure roles in period dramas including The Governess (1998), and an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play An Ideal Husband (1999), costarring Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, and Cate Blanchett.

More Roles

She further diversified her range of characters in 1999, when she provided the voice of Jane in Disney's Tarzan and the voice of Brooke Shields in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. Toward the end of 1999, Driver landed the lead role in Slow Burn, where she also captured the heart of costar Josh Brolin (son of James Brolin, who is married to Barbra Streisand). Driver and Brolin became engaged in the spring of 2001, but broke off the engagement in October.

Driver's other projects include her role as David Duchovny's love interest in the romantic comedy Return To Me (2000) and the starring role in Beautiful (2000), the directorial debut of Oscar-winning actress Sally Field. She found some success on the small screen with The Riches. She and Eddie Izzard played con artists on the series, which ran from 2007 to 2008. Driver earned her first Emmy Award nomination for her work on the show.

Continuing to thrive on the small screen, Driver appeared in the 2014 Lifetime network movie Return to Zero. Her portrayal of a woman coping with a difficult pregnancy brought her the second Emmy Award nomination of her career. That same year, Driver began her starring role on the sitcom About a Boy. The show is based on the Nick Hornby novel and the 2002 film by the same title. Driver plays a single mother whose son befriends a neighbor, played by David Walton. The show lasted two seasons. In 2016 Driver returned to TV with ABC's family show Speechless, playing a protective mother to her son who has cerebral palsy. She also stars in the thriller flick A Conspiracy on Jekyll Island.

Personal Life

On September 5, 2008, Driver gave birth to a son, Henry Story Driver. She did not reveal the father's identity.

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