Stunning British actress/musician Minnie Driver gathered international
recognition when she was cast in the supporting role of English medical student
Skylar, who romances a bothered young genius (Matt Damon), in the Oscar-winning
Good Will Hunting (1997). Due to her spectacular performance, Driver took home a
London Critics Circle Film Award, as well as a nomination at the Academy Awards.
The same year, one of the most visible British actresses of the 1990s, Driver
gave a memorable performance as John Cusack’s eccentric love interest Debi
Newberry in the dark comedy Grosse Pointe Blank (1997), for which she was handed
a 1998 London Critics Circle Film Award for British Supporting Actress of the
Year. In 1996, Driver won a Chicago Film Critics Association Award for her
bravura turn as the overweight Irish pupil Bernadette ‘Benny’ Hogan, who wins
the heart of golden boy Jack Foley (Chris O’Donnell), in the sleeper-hit Circle
of Friends (1995).
Additionally, Driver is well-known by her admirers for playing roles in films
such as Campbell Scott‘s Big Night (1996), Sleepers (1996, with Robert De Niro,
Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt), the James Bond film GoldenEye (1995, starring
Pierce Brosnan), the adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (1999) and the
romantic Return to Me (2000, opposite David Duchovny).
Her more recent film credits include High Heels and Low Lifes (2001), Owning
Mahowny (2003), Hope Springs (2003), Ella Enchanted (2004) and The Phantom of
the Opera (2004). Recently appearing in the drama The Virgin of Juarez (2005),
Driver will soon play roles in the upcoming Ripple Effect (2006) and Delirious
As for a singer, the former member of a group band named Puff, Rocks and Brown,
Driver launched her debut album Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket in 2004. She
wrote ten of the eleven songs in the album and covered a single titled “Hungry
Heart” from Bruce Springsteen’s The River.
“I swear to God, I would marry the first person who asked me, just because it
seems so completely impossible that anyone would ask.” Minnie Driver
As for her romantic life, Driver, who has a tattoo of a rose on her right hip,
became engaged to Barbra Streisand’s stepson Josh Brolin in April 2001. However,
the couple’s relationship ended in separation six months later because of
Brolin’s stepmother constantly attempting to take charge of the wedding. Driver
was also linked with musician Taylor Hawkins (dated in 1998), actor Matt Damon
(met while on the production of Good Will Hunting), magazine editor Spencer
McLung and actor John Cusack (met in 1996 during filming Grosse Pointe Blank).
Childhood and Family:
In London, England, Amelia Driver was born on January 31, 1970, to parents of
English, Irish, Scottish, Italian and French descent, Ronnie Driver and Gaynor
Driver. With her older sister, Kate Driver, Amelia spent her childhood in
Barbados until her parents divorced in 1976. Following the breakup, six-year-old
Amelia returned to England with her mom and her older sister. She acquired the
name “Minnie” from her sister, who had difficulty pronouncing Amelia.
Young Amelia was educated at finishing schools in Paris and Grenoble, before she
was sent to the Bedales Boarding School in Hampshire, England, at age 10. Upon
graduation, she switched to drama studies at the Webber Douglas Academy of
Dramatic Art in London and finished in 1991. With a drama degree in her pocket
and her mother’s encouragement, Amelia decided to give acting a try. Meanwhile,
she often performed as a guitarist and jazz singer in London clubs.
After finishing her drama studies, London-born actress/musician Minnie Driver
got her start as a television actress in the early 1990s. Debuting on the
made-for-TV movie God on the Rocks (1990), she managed to land more roles in
British productions “Mr. Wroe’s Virgins” (1993), Royal Celebration (1993), That
Sunday (1994) and Cruel Train (1995). She also appeared as a guest star in
several shows like “The House of Eliott” (1991), “Casualty” (1991), “Lovejoy”
(1991), “Maigret” (1993), “Peak Practice” (1994), ”The Day Today” (1994) and
“Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge” (1994).
“Driver has a touchingly awkward prettiness. Her jaw may be as square as a
picture frame, but her smile lights her up from within.” Owen Gliberman in
In 1995, Driver made a big move to the big screen when she was cast as
protagonist Bernadette ‘Benny’ Hogan, a frumpy Irish student who wins Chris
O’Donnell’s heart, in the sleeper hit Circle of Friends (1995). Her total
performance, in which she was required to gain over 20 pounds for the overweight
and homely character, won Driver critical praise and wide attention. As a
result, she netted a Chicago Film Critics Association for Most Promising Actress
Slimming down after the project, Driver was featured as hot Russian lounge
singer Irina in the James Bond film GoldenEye (1995), starring Pierce Brosnan
and Famke Janssen. Not only shocking moviegoers with her good Russian accent,
the role also helped Driver change the typecast of a girl-next-door image.
Following a starring role in her own BBC series” My Good Friend” (1995), Driver
gave impressive performances as the struggling restaurateur’s sweetheart Phyllis
in Campbell Scott‘s Big Night (1996) and as Brad Pitt’s street-smart girlfriend
Carol Martinez in the drama Sleepers (1996, starring Hollywood veterans Robert
DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman).
1997 was Driver’s breakthrough year since she delivered high-profile
performances in two motion pictures. In the dark comedy Grosse Pointe Blank
(1997), Driver brilliantly played John Cusack’s eccentric girlfriend Debi
Newberry, for which she nabbed a London Critics Circle Film Award for British
Supporting Actress of the Year. In the Academy Award-winning Good Will Hunting
(1997), Driver charmed the hearts of critics and audiences alike for her
outstanding turn as medical school student and Matt Damon’s brilliant girlfriend
Skylar. Additionally, her role in the Gus Van Sant-directed film handed Driver a
London Critics Circle Film for British Supporting Actress of the Year and earned
her a nomination at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress.
After picking up a 1998 NATO/ShoWest for Star of Tomorrow, Driver ventured into
the action-adventure genre with a costarring role opposite Morgan Freeman and
Christian Slater in the unsuccessful Hard Rain (1998). The failure made Driver
return to drama with The Governess (1998), where she starred as gentile Rosina
da Silva. The same year, Driver and her sister created a production company
called Two Drivers and she soon starred in and produced its first release At
Satchem Farm (1998). The following year, Driver was seen as British aristocrat
Miss Mabel Chiltern, opposite Rupert Everett, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and
Jeremy Northam, in Oliver Parker’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband
(1999) before lending her voice for characters in the Disney animated film
Tarzan (1999) and South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999).
Starring as Grace Briggs, a woman who falls for a widowed architect (David
Duchovny) in Bonnie Hunt’s romantic comedy Return to Me was Driver’s opening
film in the new millennium before she teamed up with Oscar-winning actress Sally
Field for her directorial debut Beautiful (2000), in which Driver was seen as a
single mother competing in a beauty pageant. She then costarred with Josh Brolin
in Slow Burn (2000). Following an appearance as a waitress in D.C. Smalls
(2001), Driver starred opposite Mary McCormack and Kevin McNally in the British
clunky caper comedy High Heels and Low Lifes (2001).
Returning to film after a two-year hiatus, Driver found herself acting with
Philip Seymour Hoffman, as his faithful fiance Belinda, in the compulsive
gambling drama Owning Mahowny (2003) and costarring alongside Colin Firth and
Heather Graham in the little-seen romantic comedy Hope Springs (2003). 2004 saw
roles in Ella Enchanted (2004, starring Anne Hathaway), the short film Portrait
(2004) and the big screen version of the popular Broadway musical The Phantom of
the Opera (2004, starring Emmy Rossum). From 2003-2004, Driver also played the
recurring role of Karen Walker’s conceited nemesis Lorraine Finster on the hit
NBC sit-com Will & Grace.
“People threw their hands up and said, 'Why is she doing this? Why does she
think she is capable of becoming a singer?’” Minnie Driver
In addition to a film career, former jazz singer Driver branched out to music
with the release of her debut album titled Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket, in
2004, an album backed by a group that includes members of the Wallflowers and
Pete Yorn’s band. In the album, Driver penned ten of the eleven tracks and also
covered “Hungry Heart” from Bruce Springsteen’s The River. Before receiving
celebrity status, Driver was once a member of a band called Puff, Rocks and
Brown. The group was signed to a development deal with Island Records, which
ended without a release.
Driver recently appeared as a journalist in the Michael Fallon-scripted The
Virgin of Juarez (2005) for director Kevin James Dobson. She is also scheduled
to play roles in the drama Ripple Effect (2006), starring Philippe Caland and
Forest Whitaker, and director Tom DiCillo’s drama/comedy Delirious (2006)
alongside Steve Buscemi, Elvis Costello and Joe D'Onofrio.
- London Critics Circle Film: British Supporting Actress of the Year, Good
Will Hunting, 1999
- London Critics Circle Film: British Supporting Actress of the Year,
Grosse Pointe Blank, 1998
- NATO/ShoWest: Star of Tomorrow, 1998
- Chicago Film Critics Association: Most Promising Actress, Circle of