Second child of an Italian germanist and a Greek painter, she grew in Naples until her parents parted. After 3 years in Athens with the mother and other 3 in Naples with the father she began to work as a model. She left high school after the first movie and didn't study performing arts at all. In 1985 she acted in a leading role in a film by Peter Del Monte (Little Fires) and the next year won the Best Actress Award at Venice Film Festival for Storia d'amore.
After some European co-productions (Last Summer in Tangiers, The Gold-Rimmed Glasses, Love and Fear) she began to work in Hollywood (Big Top Pee-wee (1988)). She soon gained the prominent female roles in Rain Man, Hot Shots! and Hot ShotsPart Deux. Now she works in the USA. (Clean State, An Occasional Hell), in Europe (The King's Whore, Immortal Beloved) and in Italy too, especially with young directors (Like Two Crocodiles, Le Acrobate, L'albero delle pere. In 1994 she produced and played too a film by Greek Director Andrea Pantzis (The Slaugther of the Cock).
Her voice is more appreciated in Hollywood (were she followed speech therapy) than in Italy (were she is sometimes dubbed); in The Slaugther of the Cock she acts as a deaf and dumb woman. She speeks four languages: Italian, Greek, French and English. Her brother ia a musician and their uncle Enzo Golino is a famous journalist.