Although she garnered some attention at the outset of her Hollywood career, Virginia Madsen found her star eclipsed in the 1990s by her older brother Michael’s jolting, thuggish performances for director Quentin Tarantino. After landing a plum role in the acclaimed 2004 indie Sideways, however, Madsen was showered with the kind of praise she’d been denied for nearly two decades in the business.
A native of the Chicago suburbs and the daughter of a PBS documentarian, Madsen learned her trade in city theater productions and summer performance camps. She made her way to Hollywood in the early ‘80s with her then-fiancé/fellow performer Billy Campbell. Making an inauspicious debut at the age of 19 as Andrew McCarthy’s would-be first-time conquest in the teen sex comedy Class, she would go on to more noteworthy roles in director David Lynch’s sci-fi epic Dune and the slick but heartfelt romantic comedy Electric Dreams (both 1984). The rest of the decade wouldn’t be quite as kind, as… read more