The Hollywood story of Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei; who is she, did she really win a fake Oscar, who dated her, and how is Christian Slater involved? Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Marisa Tomei has been a part of Hollywood since the early 1980s. She leapt into stardom with her breakout role in the television show A Different World (The Cosby Show spinoff) in 1987. Throughout her successful career, Tomei has stepped into the shoes of various kinds of characters, showing her ability to be a sort of chameleon in the industry. There was a time there that she took a little bit of a breather from major roles but has since come back with a vengeance.

Marisa has won an Academy Award for her role in My Cousin Vinny, and has been nominated for Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA’s and SAG’s for films like The Wrestler, In The Bedroom, and The Big Short. Marisa is able to transform on screen to become the very character she is set to portray. On her role that won her the Oscar, famed critic Vincent Canby stated, “Ms. Tomei gives every indication of being a fine comedian, whether towering over Mr. Pesci and trying to look small, or arguing about a leaky faucet in terms that demonstrate her knowledge of plumbing. Mona Lisa is also a first-rate auto mechanic, which comes in handy in the untying of the knotted story.”

Tomei has been praised for her acting chops as well as her beauty. She has been named on many lists for most beautiful of that year, as well as known to many as one very good looking woman! Marisa is also politically vocal about her endorsements. In 2009, she publicly spoke at Barack Obama’s Inauguration. She is known to be a liberal and is against labeling any form of gender roles in society. Marisa is also famously unmarried and without children and has spoken out about the fact that she doesn’t think it necessary in her life.

Before the lovers: who is Marisa Tomei?

Marissa was born and raised in the neighborhood of Midwood, Brooklyn, New York. It was during her years in Brooklyn that she fell in love with the stage as her parents took her to Broadway shows and other theater events. It was in high school that she got her first chance at acting with her school’s production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Once she got the acting bug, there was no moving past it.


She’s of Italian descent

Her name may have been a dead giveaway but Marisa is of Italian descent. Her father, Gary, a trial lawyer, has ancestry going back to Tuscany, Campania and Calabria. Her mother, Addie, an English teacher, has her own ancestry linked back to Sicily and Tuscany. Marisa would later revisit her roots. She was raised by her grandparents for part of her upbringing, along with her brother, Adam.


Her brother, Adam, is also an actor

Speaking of her brother… Marisa has one brother – Adam Tomei. Adam is well-known in his own right. He has been in films such as The Truman Show, Flight, Lovelace, and Independence Day. He may have had smaller roles but he has been a working actor since 1994. He also has producer, director and writer credits to his name. The Tomei family is a talented one for certain and Marisa is one proud sister.


She had a short stint in college

Prior to making it big in Hollywood, or even landing her first film or television role, Marisa attended Boston University for one year. She didn’t like the academic side and decided to quit college after the first year. It was that year that she decided to put her heart and soul into acting and try her hardest to make it as an actress. Little did she know that her name was going to be synonymous with thespian.


She tried out for Jerry Maguire but lost out

Marissa lost out to (as we all know) Renee Zellweger in the 1996 film. That same year she starred in the film Unhook the Stars as the character of Monica Warren. She may have not been chosen for Jerry Maguire, which would have given her career a boost, but she did other projects that made her equally as famous in the long run. At the end of the day, Marisa continued to work throughout the 90s without fail.


She took a break from major roles for years

Marisa took a break from starring roles in films (she still did minor ones) from the late 1990s to early 2000s. While she never stopped acting for a moment, she didn’t take on leading roles as she wanted to take a load off of sorts. She had minor roles in Happy Accidents, the Watcher, What Women Want, King of the Jungle, and Dirk and Betty. It wasn’t until her role in Anger Management that she go back to starring in films.


She angered the writers on SNL

Marissa was a guest host on Saturday Night Live in October of 1994. She managed to annoy the writers and performers when she asked that one sketch, called Good Morning Brooklyn, be removed because she felt like it would stereotype her. The cast and writers of the show were understandably displeased since the whole premiss of the show was to be satirical and entirely use the stereotypes of that time.


She has a tattoo on her right foot

The tattoo is of the eye of Ra, an Egyptian god who is said to protect, give good luck and abundance in ones life. This is the only tattoo that Marisa has visible as we all know that in Hollywood, a permanent fixture on your body is frowned upon. Many actors have tattoos that need to later be covered up as part of a film role, or on the other end of the spectrum, there are roles that will require makeup artists to draw tattoos on you!


Her film debut was in The Flamingo Kid

Marisa had a very small role in the film The Flamingo Kid in 1984. She landed the role of a waitress named Mandy. She had one line of text in the entire film. Once she was in that film, she continued to act from then on. Her roles thereafter were in The Toxic Avenger, and Playing for Keeps. She had a short break from 1986 to 1991 but came back with a vengeance in films like Oscar, Zandalee, and My Cousin Vinny.


She did some theater work too

In 1987, Marissa got her first off-Broadway theater role in Daughters. She played the role of Cetta. At this time, Marissa was just 22 years old. She earned some serious acclaim for her role in the production, winning herself the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Debut on Stage. The theater company was called Naked Angels Theatre Company. Her other roles were in productions like Wait Until Dark, The Realistic Joneses, and Top Girls.


Marissa and co-star Lisa Bonet were roommates

During the time that Marissa played the role of Maggie Lauten on A Different World back in 1987, she co-starred alongside Lisa Bonet. On the show she played her roommate and in real life the two were actually roommates, making the art imitating life bit very real. Perhaps they drew inscription from their time together as roommates off screen. Both went on to have major careers so all’s well that ends well.


Academy Award for My Cousin Vinny

Marisa won an Academy Award for her role as Mona Lisa Vito in the 1992 film My Cousin Vinny. It was since her win that her name was not only known but respected. Marisa was able to become any character set before her. She could be emotional, horrifying, hilarious and serious all in the same movie. Once Tomei made up her mind to be a working actor, there was no looking back.


She followed her Oscar up with a silent film

Marisa decided that her next film after winning an Academy Award would be alongside then-boyfriend Robert Downey Jr. in the film Chaplin. She played the role of Mabel Normand. Here we see a photo from the film with the attire being very appropriate for the time of Chaplin. Marisa can be a very dramatic actress due to her affinity for the stage, so being in a silent film was not much of a reach for her.


She appeared as herself on Seinfeld

Marissa played herself in two episodes in 1996. In the episode, George Costanza tried to land a date with Tomei through a mutual friend, Elaine Benes. Seinfeld audiences went crazy over Tomei being on the show. Marisa was also introduced to a whole new demographic of audiences through going back to television appearances. Her two-part appearance had us all laughing and Marisa at a new high.


She got serious kudos for box office hits

Marisa was a part of some very big box office hits. Some of those hits are What Women Want, Wild Hogs, Anger Management, and Parental Guidance. Our personal favorites are Grown Ups, Crazy Stupid Love, and Love the Coopers. We can’t get over how versatile Marisa is and neither can the critics who have many good things to say about her.


She’s never been married

It is no secret that Marisa has never been married. She has been in several high-profile relationships but she has also been outspoken about not wanting to marry. Marisa was quoted as saying, “I’m not that big a fan of marriage as an institution, and I don’t know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.”


She was on People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People list

In 2009, Marisa was named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People Alive. That same year she was placed at number 18 on the 2009 FHM list of 100 Sexiest Females in the World. Quite a title and year for Marisa! We have to say that we agree with every credit since she looks sensational and always has. Over time she seems to get better looking in our opinion!


She appeared on a show to uncover a family secret

Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC. In 2012, she traveled to the island of Elba and Tuscany to get to the bottom of the 100-year-old murder of Francesco Leopoldo Bianchi, her great-grandfather. “Her mother’s grandfather had been murdered in 1910. He supposedly had been shot in a bar, with the cause being fooling around with someone else’s woman or that he owed money to somebody. Tomei’s mother also wondered what had happened to her grandmother after Bianchi was killed and how that affected her father, who was 2 years old at the time, and uncle, who was only 1. Addie had a family tree on, which was prominently displayed. The tree showed Bianchi and Adelaide Angiola Canovaro, Addie’s grandmother. Both sides of the family were from Tuscany, Italy.”


Part of her workout regimen includes yoga, bellydancing and Tai Chi

During a Vogue interview in 2012, Marisa was asked if she hula-hooped. She answered, “Yes. [Laughs] One of my best friends lived on the opposite end of town and she suggested we meet somewhere in the middle and do something silly. She found a hula-hooping class that was great because we were just doing tricks and playing around, but it was such a challenging workout. It’s fun and uplifting. My foot was hurting the other day, so I just hula-hooped in the living room for forty minutes as a workout.”


Lady Gaga wants Marissa to portray her

Hit singer Lady Gaga has stated that if there ever were a movie about her life, she would want Marissa to play her. In response, Marissa said, “I was thrilled when I heard. I love her. I love her music. And she’s an awesome businesswoman. So I was so touched, really. I think it’s incredible that she likes my work and that she’d think of me.” We couldn’t agree more!


She’s been nominated for her comedic skills

Marissa was nominated for an American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in the film Slums of Beverly Hills. The 1998 film brought out Marisa’s funny and ditsy side. She has always been good at making her character the most it needed to be in terms of its main attributes. She did not make an exception for her role as Rita Abromowitz in Slums of Beverly Hills.


She’s playing Spider Man’s aunt in the upcoming film

Marissa played the role of Aunt May in the latest Spider Man films – Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming. These two films were the last films she has been in that have been released but she has another one on the way that is currently in post-production called Behold My Heart. Marisa is showing no sign of slowing down her acting career, in fact it seems to be growing.


She doesn’t have or want children

In addition to not believing in matrimony, the very same line that Marisa said about marriage she also said about not wanting children. Being a mother has never been on her to-do list and she finds nothing wrong with that. Marisa said, “I don’t know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.” To this day the closest she ever came to having a child is having a pet.


Robert Downey Jr.

Marisa met Robert Downey Jr. in 1994 on the set of their film Only You. It was there that the two began dating. They were romantically linked for a few months of that year. The Guardian did a piece on Marisa, within it stating, “After her Oscar win, Tomei appeared in a string of middling 90s comedy-dramas – the likes of Chaplin, Untamed Heart, Only You, The Paper, Slums of Beverly Hills and What Women Want – often with a romantic bent and often opposite her then boyfriend, Robert Downey Jr.”


Dana Ashbrook

Dana Ashbrook, a fellow actor who is known for his role in Twin Peaks, Return of the Living Dead, and other 80s and 90s flicks, had a short-lived relationship with Marisa back in 1999. They were rarely seen together but there was a street shot of the two walking together that was snapped. While the relationship didn’t last long, the two did look good together.


Frank Pugliese

From 2001 to 2004 Marisa was linked to television writer and artistic director Frank Pugliese. It could be because he was Italian but it probably had more to do with the artistic world they both lived in. The two were off and on and very private about their relationship. Frank is known for his writing role for plays such as The King of Connecticut, The Talk, and The Alarm.


Lenny Kravitz

Marisa and singer turned actor Lenny Kravitz were rumored to have dated back in 2004. There are many photos of them together looking pretty cozy together so we have to say we believe this rumor. The two were close due to her friendship with Lisa Bonet, Lenny’s ex-wife. Marisa is also the godmother to Lenny and Lisa’s daughter, Zoe. You think it was awkward for them to date after he was married to her best friend?


Logan Marshall-Green

From 2008 to 2013 Logan and Marisa were an item. The relationship was off and on during that time but it seemed pretty solid most of the time. Logan is 12 years younger than Marisa but it didn’t seem to matter to either party. Logan has since gotten married to his wife Diane and has welcomed two children with her. Marisa has also moved on with another actor…


Wedding bells?

Marisa and Logan sparked engagement rumors when they were together. Marisa, who is 12 years her ex’s senior has been very blunt about the fact that she is not the biggest fan of the marriage institution so it does come as a surprise. It was rumored that Logan popped the question during the holidays in 2013. According to one source, the Oscar-winning actress was excited about the engagement. We wonder if the two would have tied the knot eventually despite Marisa’s beliefs.

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Josh Radnor

Marisa’s most recent romantic connection happened in January of 2014. She was linked to How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor. Much like Marisa’s other romantic encounters, she has kept this one very close to her and is not seen often with her significant others. Josh is busy with both film roles as well as television ones, as is Marisa.


Her net worth

The actress has many reasons to smile, especially when it comes to her financial situation. The actress who started on the spin-pff show of The Cosby Show called A Different World back in 1987, has come a long way in her career. She has been on stage, in film and on the small screen and her net worth is estimated at $20 million. She may have had some unsuccessful films in her resume, but her films earned her just enough to lead a comfortable life. For instance, her salary from the 1994, Only You was $2,000,000.

Marisa Tomei


Marisa Tomei has been in the public eye for over 30 years and her contribution to the entertainment industry is huge. That’s why it’s not a surprise that she is one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood. Becoming such a big star didn’t come without many sacrifices, and there’s no doubt that the biggest one of them all is her decision to keep away from saying ‘I Do’. One of her closest friends revealed once that Tomei was never about having a traditional family: ‘It wasn’t something she ever truly pursued — even in her twenties…work has really been her life force.’


Marisa Tomei. Marisa Tomei

In an interview to a famous magazine, Tomei was quoted talking about her experience being cast on the hit show, Seinfeld: ‘ I just got so lucky that they asked me to participate. I think it didn’t even have anything to do with me specifically, they just liked the way my name sounded. Because when I got there I did ask Larry David, “How did I get so lucky? How am I here?” He just said, ‘Well, when you say your name over and over it just has a really strong rhythm: “Marisa Tomei. Marisa Tomei.”


More awards

There’s no doubt that Marisa Tomei’s role as Lola on the hit film, What Women Want where she starred alongside Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt has been one of her most memorable roles in her film history. She was nominated for her performance for different and probably less known awards including Favorite Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Romance in the 2001 Blockbuster Entertainment Award. She was nominated for the same category during the 2001 Golden Satellite Awards.


Did she win an Oscar by mistake?

After her big win in 1993 when she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, many rumors were going around whether or not Marisa had received the award by mistake. Many people in the entertainment industry claim that Marisa’s name was called by mistake by the presenter at the time, Jack Palance. Marisa was nominated for her role in My Cousin Vinny. The biggest rumor surrounding the 1993 Oscars was that the presenter had called her name because her name was the last one on the nominee list when Palance was reading off of the teleprompter.


What really happened at the Oscars?

Marisa Tomei being rumored to not really deserving to win an Oscar at the 1993 Awards was probably the most controversial story during the film celebration. Tomei was relatively new in the industry and she was up against veteran and respected actresses like Vanessa Redgrave and Joan Plowright. After the actress won the Oscar, people started saying that the real winner should have been Redgrave. However, despite all the harsh rumors, there was no way there could have been a mistake as multiple officials are placed behind the scenes to make sure that these kind of mistakes won’t happen.


Playing nana

Her role as May Parker on Spiderman: Homecoming was the youngest personification of the role yet. When Tomei was asked about playing the less stereotypical grandma role she said: ‘I’m figuring it out as I go along, actually. It’s really fun working on this Marvel movie. The essentials of Aunt May are that she’s helped raise Spiderman and she’s his moral compass. ‘


She’s a godparent

Marisa Tomei may not have her own biological children but she has a famous goddaughter. The actress is godparent to Big Little Lies actress, Zoe Kravitz, who happens to be her close friend and co-star, Lisa Bonet’s daughter. Marisa and Lisa starred together in the 80’s on the hit sitcom, A Different World and have remained close friends since. In fact, Tomei is godmother to all of Lisa’s children including the two she has with Jason Momoa.


She almost didn’t have a role

Nancy Meyers, the producer of the hit film from 2000, What Women Want was quoted in an interview as saying that :’there was no role for Helen Hunt or Marisa Tomei..I thought it was a great opportunity to show a certain kind of woman on screen, and [go] inside that woman who’s called a ‘b**** on wheels’ at work…it wasn’t the movie I wanted to do.’


Christian Slater

Marisa had a thing for her co-stars. She met fellow actor Christian Slater on the set of their film Untamed Heart in 1993. She was rumored to have been linked with him romantically outside of the set confines and we couldn’t be happier at the rumor since the two had such chemistry on screen. Marisa and Christian were said to have been together briefly during a little after the film came out.