Saucer-eyed actress Illeana Douglas has been regularly appearing in major films since 1987, when she debuted in the Shelley Long comedy Hello Again. The granddaughter of actor Melvyn Douglas and actress-turned-Congresswoman Helen Gahagan, Douglas was born July 25, 1965, in Massachusetts.
After her film debut, the actress worked for years in relative obscurity, at one point dubbing a chilling scream for The Last Temptation of Christ. She frequently appeared in other Martin Scorsese films, most notably Goodfellas (1990) and 1991’s Cape Fear. Her collaboration with the director also took place offscreen, as the two dated for years.
Following roles in a number of films, including Household Saints (1993) and Quiz Show (1994), Douglas was cast in Gus Van Sant’s 1995 To Die For. She won some measure of recognition and critical praise for her role as Nicole Kidman’s sarcastic sister-in-law, and the following year landed the lead in Allison Anders’ Grace of My Heart. Although Douglas was again praised for her work — here portraying a Carole King-like singer/songwriter — the film did poorly among critics and at the box office.
The actress went on to do a number of made-for-TV films, including the satirical Weapons of Mass Distraction in 1997. In 1999 she had a full plate, doing both television work (appearing as a prostitute on the Fox series Action) and more film work. She appeared with Kevin Costner in Message in a Bottle before going on to make the independent film Happy, Texas, the supernatural thriller Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon, and Can’t Stop Dancing, a comedy in which she acted alongside Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo.