Catherine Keener Biography
Catherine Ann Keener is an American actress.
Keener, the third of five children, was born in Miami, Florida, the daughter of Evelyn and Jim Keener, a manager of an automotive store. She is of Irish descent on her father's side and of Lebanese descent on her mother's. Her sister Elizabeth is also an actress. Keener attended Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Hialeah, Florida. Although she didn’t get into trouble growing up, by the time she reached high school at Monsignor Edward Pace High School, Keener began rebelliously acting out. She was eventually expelled from the 11th grade, although she later returned to school, and kept her grades up enough to be accepted into college.
She attended Wheaton College, in Norton, Massachusetts, where she lived with an aunt in order to save on room and board, feeling out of place among her more privileged peers. Keener majored in English and history, enrolling in a theater course only when she was unable to get into a photography class. Her first theatrical production was the Wendy Wasserstein play, "Uncommon Women and Others," during her Junior year at Wheaton. She took on the character, "Rita."
After graduating in 1983 Keener moved to New York, where she interned as an assistant to casting agent Gail Eisenstadt. When Eisenstadt relocated to Los Angeles shortly afterward, Keener followed, although she was still relatively unambitious. But when Eisenstadt had a heart-to-heart with her about her future, she admitted that she wanted to try acting - an unusual transition from the casting industry. Eisenstadt pulled some strings and Keener began landing small acting parts.
Keener's first film appearance was one line in About Last Night (1986). Although she struggled professionally over the next few years one low-quality project had an unexpected dividend. Keener met her future husband, actor Dermot Mulroney in 1987 while working on Survival Quest (1989), after Mulroney became stuck while attempting to scale a cliff.
She also guest-starred as an artist on an episode of Seinfeld called "The Letter". She played Jerry's girlfriend, an artist who painted the infamous portrait of Kramer. Keener then earned her first starring role in Johnny Suede with the then unknown, Brad Pitt. Her performance gained critical acclaim and earned her her first Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.
She went on to work with director Tom Dicillo, again, in Living in Oblivion (1995). Two years later she was once again nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her performance in Walking and Talking, an independent cult-comedy film. Critics fell in love with Keener's naturalness onscreen.
In 2000, Keener earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Being John Malkovich directed by Spike Jonze. In 2001, she worked with director Nicole Holofcener in Lovely and Amazing garnering her a third Independent Spirit Award nomination. In 2002, she co-starred with Edward Norton in the off-Broadway revival of Burn This and the films Full Frontal, and S1m0ne, all of which were box office disappointments when released, but many have since gained a following.
In 2005, she made a huge comeback starring in the political thriller The Interpreter, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, and was cast as the love interest of the main character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Keener's performance as writer Harper Lee in Capote (also 2005) earned her several awards and nominations, including her second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In 2006, she starred in the film Friends with Money, directed by Nicole Holofcener.
In 2007, Keener played Jan Burres in Sean Penn's critically acclaimed film Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer's best-selling book of the same name. In 2008, her film An American Crime, the true story of Gertrude Baniszewski, a middle-aged mother who tortured and killed Sylvia Likens in her Indiana home, will be aired on Showtime. Keener plays Baniszewski. Her portrayal earned her an Emmy nomination in the Best Actress TV Mini-Series or Movie category. Keener will be playing a happy mom in the movie 'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' which is set to be released next year. The Percy Jackson movie is based on the series of books by Rick Riordan.
Keener married actor Dermot Mulroney in 1990. The couple had a son Clyde Keener Mulroney (born June 21, 1999), before separating in September 2005. In June 2007, Mulroney filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce became final on December 19, 2007. Keener is a close friend of actors Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Pitt and Keener having met while filming Johnny Suede. Keener has homes in Los Angeles and North Carolina.