When Minnie Driver appeared in Circle of Friends in 1995, she showed so much promise as a young unknown actress. She was luminous as the unconventionally pretty girl in a story about first love and enduring friendship. Driver portrayed Benny with a naturalness and honesty that made the character endearing, touching and funny, and that role opened many doors for Driver who followed it up with several other noteworthy appearances in the late ‘90s.
She was a tour de force then and seemed poised to become the next “it girl” thanks to a captivating screen presence and proven versatility as an actress. She shone in Circle of Friends, tickled our funny bones in Grosse Pointe Blank, held her own in the male-centric thriller Sleepers alongside Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro, and earned an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Good Will Hunting.
After that strong string of good films, Driver’s filmography suffered from a string of mediocre films like Hard Rain and Return to Me. Rather than continue the upswing, her film choices took a nosedive and her movies failed to become commercial successes. She turned to television for a time with a guest starring role in Will and Grace and a full-time stint on the short-lived TV series The Riches.
Driver’s got skills that go way beyond acting. She’s a talented songstress too. She’s got a lot going for her, but she kind of faded to the background as other actresses of her generation began to emerge (Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale). Many of the strong lead roles for women in film went to them and Driver was more often seen in straight-to-DVD releases or in modestly commercial vehicles. Driver deserves some good scripts and another chance to shine and hopefully she’ll land a plum role before “The Kates” soon.
Career Highlights: Circle of Friends (1995); GoldenEye (1995); Sleepers (1996); Grosse Pointe Blank (1997); Good Will Hunting (1997); An Ideal Husband (1999); Owning Mahoney (2003); The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
Low Points: Hard Rain (1998); The Governess (1998); Return to Me (2000); Beautiful (2000); Slow Burn (2000); High Heels and Low Lifes (2001); Hope Springs (2003); Ripple Effect (2007)
Last Seen on the Big Screen: Barney’s Version (2010)
Where will you see her next?: Goats (2011)