Marisa Tomei burst into the spotlight with her Academy Award-winning role in “My Cousin Vinny.” Now, Tomei is acquiring new Oscar speculation for her film “In the Bedroom,” costarring Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek and Nick Stahl. Actor Todd Field wrote the script and makes his directorial debut, but he was also the main reason Tomei became a part of the film.

Paul Wong
With a wink and a smile, Marisa and Sissy flirt with the camera.<br><br>Courtesy of Miramax

Field”s enthusiastic approach and experience as an actor attracted Tomei. “It”s exciting to work with someone who has no preconceived ideas and who has a lot of fresh energy,” said Tomei. “I love working with actor directors, it”s my absolute favorite. I think that actors really (possess) a sense of the truth about human nature so I really trust actors to be good directors. And most of the time they are drawn to doing things that are character driven because that”s their first passion.”

Field”s presence may have helped lure the talented and charming actress, but the cast was also a dream come true for Tomei.

“I was so lucky, they”re just the finest. Each person I was just blown away by.” At the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize for acting was awarded to Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson. Tomei confessed that “working with Sissy was something that was a dream of mine.” And she also wasted no time on the set, trying to learn as much as she could from her fellow actors. Tomei giggles when reminiscing, “I tried to pick Tom”s brain a lot ask him how he became such a genius, but he really couldn”t explain it to me.”

While Spacek and Wilkinson have been hailed for their performances, Tomei”s own, as a divorced mother of two dating a much younger man, was equally challenging and rewarding.

“I didn”t really think it was going to be as much of a challenge as it was when I got there but what I would realize for myself is that I would do a scene where it was emotional and it required a lot of concentration and I would think OK, well that is out of the way, the hard scene is out of the way, and then the next day there would be another quote unquote “hard scene.” I didn”t realize how once you”re involved in it it”s really a portrait of grief.”

Tomei has shown a flair for both dramatic and comedic acting, but admits no preference.

After her Oscar win, she appeared in romantic comedies (“Untamed Heart”) and tender dramas (“Unhook the Stars”). Last year, she co-starred in the hit comedy “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson, and now has an upcoming role in the romantic comedy “Just a Kiss.”

She laughs at the idea of being labeled an “Indie Film Goddess” and reveals, “I have to say for myself that wherever there is a good script that I feel like I can believe in, I”m happy to be there.”

Tomei expresses uncertainty concerning the lack of good roles for female actors, but hopes for a more peaceful film industry.

“I can only hope that there is, especially after what we all went through on the 11th, less emphasis on violent films and more emphasis on character, or comedy something that has more heart in it, more resonance. And reflects half the culture that would reflect women, too.”

Marisa Tomei may retain the Brooklyn accent that made her famous in the role of Mona Lisa Vito with the “tickin” biological clock” in “My Cousin Vinny,” but Tomei constantly proves with distinguished performances in a variety of roles, that her much disputed Oscar win was just a hint of more greatness to come.

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