The beautiful, raven-haired, smoky-voiced Linda
Fiorentino made an impressive debut as an adolescent's
object of desire in "Vision Quest" (1985), reportedly
landing the part at her first professional audition. That
same year she starred in the Cold War thriller "Gotcha!" as
a s--y secret agent and made a memorable appearance in
Martin Scorsese's nightmarish comedy "After Hours" as kinky
SoHo sculptor (and dominatrix) Kiki Bridges. Deciding that
mainstream Hollywood was not for her, she took herself out
of the running for the "Top Gun" (1986) role eventually
played by Kelly McGillis, opting for the world of
little-seen independents instead. Although her next project,
Zalman King's "Wildfire" (1987) was forgettable twaddle,
Alan Rudolph's "The Moderns" (1988) allowed her a chance to
show greater range. As Rachel, the battered partner of John
Lone, Fiorentino displayed a vulnerability previously
unexplored in her other screen outings. For the next few
years, she disappeared into ensemble pieces like "Queens
Logic" and Shout" (both 1991) and "Chain of Desire" (1993),
all flying well beneath the radar screen.
In 1994, Linda Fiorentino commanded attention playing ruthless femme fatale Bridget Gregory in John Dahl's neo-noir "The Last Seduction" (1994). Men fell for her take-no-prisoners s--uality and women embraced the film as a high-comic daydream of empowerment that saw the unredeemed villainess go unpunished for her evilness. With Fiorentino picking up most of the accolades, the cable-debuted film garnered such raves that it received a theatrical release and generated controversy when the Academy deemed that its small screen beginnings disqualified the very worthy actress from Oscar contention. All the press proved a mixed blessing as most of the offers generated by her sizzling success called for her to essentially reprise her heartless s-- kitten. She finally caved in for William Friedkin's disastrous "Jade" (1995), playing a psychologist-hooker suspected of murder, and then jumped at a chance to reteam with Dahl in "Unforgettable" (1996), taking the change-of-pace role of a nerdy scientist who has discovered a way to transmit memory via injection. Unfortunately, that film failed to live up to its title and was quickly relegated to video shelves.
Linda Fiorentino gave her career a much-needed boost as the underutilized female lead in Barry Sonnenfeld's summer blockbuster "Men in Black" (1997). Her role as a NYC coroner did not require her to take off her clothes but did little to diminish her man-eater image, and once again, unable to capitalize on quality exposure, she settled for lackluster projects like "Kicked in the Head" (1997) and The Movie Channel's despicable "Body Count" (1998). "The Last Seduction" remains the standard to which all her work will be compared, and she has an up-hill battle to overcome the resultant typecasting. Still, it's not a bad thing to be remembered for making Barbara Stanwyck's character in "Double Indemnity" look like Snow White. While her role as the "last scion" of the Jesus line in Kevin Smith's scattershot "Dogma" (1999) didn't look to make anyone forget Bridget Gregory, "Where the Money Is" (2000) paired her with screen legend Paul Newman as partners in crime. There are worse things for a woman's career than finding herself opposite those baby blues, and that picture coupled with her role in Mike Nichols' "Which Planet Are You From?" (also 2000), starring Garry Shandling, gave every indication she was finally starting to come into her own.
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