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Marisa Tomei was born on December 4, 1964 in Brooklyn, New York. She is an Oscar-winning actress known for her roles in films such as My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, and In the Bedroom, and as Aunt May in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Tomei was raised in the Midwood area of Brooklyn and attended Andries Hudde Junior High School and Edward R. Murrow High School. She would also go on to study for one year at Boston University. After landing small roles in the television soap opera As the World Turns on CBS and the film The Flamingo Kid in 1984, her first break as an actor came in 1987 when she was cast as Maggie Lauten on NBC's A Different World, a spin-off from The Cosby Show, appearing in a total of 22 episodes.
After appearing in the 1991 films Oscar and Zandalee, she landed her breakout role as Mona Lisa Vito opposite Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny in 1992, ultimately winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Her film credits in the 1990s also include Chaplin (1992), Untamed Heart (1993), Only You (1994), The Paper (1994), Unhook the Stars (1996), and Slums of Beverly Hills (1998).
Throughout the 2000s, she continued to appear in a plethora of Hollywood films, earning an Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her performances as Natalie Strout in In the Bedroom and as Cassidy in The Wrestler in 2002 and 2009, respectively. Other standout film credits in this decade include What Women Want (2000), Anger Management (2003), Alfie (2004), Wild Hogs (2007), and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), as well as the recurring role of Angie Gavin on FX's Rescue Me in 2006.
In 2010s, she has found an entirely new audience thanks to her role as Aunt May in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, debuting in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and reprising the role in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Endgame (2019), Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). She has also appeared in Cyrus (2010), Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011), Parental Guidance (2012), Love Is Strange (2014), The Big Short (2015), and The First Purge (2018), and played a recurring role as Mimi Whiteman on Fox's Empire in 2015.
Tomei is also a prolific stage actor who made her Off-Broadway debut in 1986 as Cetta in Daughters at the Westside Theatre, receiving rave reviews alongside a Theatre World Award. She went on to appear regularly off Broadway, starring in Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw for Manhattan Theatre Club in 1989, as Adriana in the 1992 Shakespeare in the Park production of The Comedy of Errors at the Delacorte Theater, in Tony Kushner's Slavs! at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994, and in Second Stage's Dark Rapture and Playwrights Horizons' Demonology, both in 1996.
She made her Broadway debut in the 1998 revival of Wait Until Dark at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, playing Susy Hendrix. After appearing in The Vagina Monologues at the Westside Theatre, she returned to Broadway to take on the titular role in the 2003 revival of Oscar Wilde's Salome (opposite Al Pacino) at the Barrymore Theatre. In 2008, she starred in the Broadway premiere of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, earning her first Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress In A Play, and in 2011, she returned to the Off-Broadway stage to star as Marie in The New Group's production of Marie and Bruce. Her next Broadway venture would be the role of Pony Jones in the 2014 premiere of Will Eno's The Realistic Joneses at the Lyceum Theatre, and the cast (which also included Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, and Tracy Letts) would all receive tthe Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. She was then seen on the New York stage for Lincoln Center Theater, starring as George in Sarah Ruhl's How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, which played the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater from February through May 2017.
In June 2016, Tomei made her Williamstown Theatre Festival debut, starring as Serafina Delle Rose in an acclaimed revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo. The production transferred to Broadway, courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Company, and played a limited engagement at the American Airlines Theatre from September 19 through December 8, 2019.