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|Also Known As:||Rebecca Augusta Miller||Died:|
|Born:||September 15, 1962||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Roxbury, Connecticut, USA||Profession:||Cast ... director actor screenwriter nanny bookstore clerk painter|
Inheriting a legacy of letters, Rebecca Miller established herself as a latter-day Renaissance woman, successfully mastering her work as novelist, screenwriter and director of both stage and film productions. The daughter of canonical playwright Arthur Miller, she began her career in fine arts as a painter and sculptor before she gravitated towards the dramatic, landing prominent supporting roles in big-budget films such as "Regarding Henry" (1991) and "Consenting Adults" (1992). In 1995, she put herself on the indie film map by directing "Angela," which earned a nomination for the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury prize. She would go on to win that award for her next directorial outing, "Personal Velocity: Three Portraits" (2002), the adaptation of her own book. In 2009, she similarly adapted her novel The Private Lives of Pippa Lee into a star-studded film of the same name. Married to Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, himself the son of a one-time poet laureate of the U.K., the couple merged their family of literary royalty, all of which would befit her growing reputation as a multifaceted indie auteur with a flair for creating layered characters coping with transitional stages in their lives.
She was born Rebecca Augusta Miller in Roxbury, CT, on Sept. 15, 1962, the first of two children of the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of "Death of a Salesman" and the Austrian-born photographer Inge Morath. Though Rebecca grew up in the relative cloister of the family's Connecticut farmhouse, her literary pedigree exposed her to profound cultural experiences, such as French photographic pioneer Henri Cartier-Bresson reading stories to her when she was a child or her parents taking her to Cambodia when she was only nine while her mother photographed the ruins of Angkor Wat.
Imbued with artistic sensibilities, Rebecca initially followed in her mother's footsteps, gravitating towards visual art. After graduating high school, she attended Yale University, majoring in art and working in paints and sculpture. She made that her profession for a few years, but also decided to hone her dramatic skills to pay the bills. With her stunning beauty as a calling card, she enjoyed some initial success, netting roles in such plays as The Manhattan Theater Club's production of the "The American Plan," and the celebrated Peter Brook production of "The Cherry Orchard" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which then toured abroad. She landed the female lead in the German-made film "Georg Elser - Einer aus Deutschland" (1989), playing the love interest of the title character, a German carpenter who in 1939 planned to assassinate Hitler.
In 1991, Miller scored her first big-budget Hollywood film, playing the former "other woman" to an amnesiac Harrison Ford in "Regarding Henry." She nabbed another other-woman role in "Consenting Adults," appearing as Kevin Spacey's wife and Kevin Kline's sultry neighbor who turns up dead after a tryst with the latter. She followed these higher profile pictures with a supporting role in the sailing-themed feature, "Wind" (1992). She found herself mostly netting smaller roles thereafter, including one in a TNT production of her father's play "The American Clock" (1993), so in the meantime, she had begun expanding her creative predilection by conceiving her own projects.
Applying her visual art skills to her burgeoning dramatic work, she first got behind the camera in 1990 for the short film "Florence," about a woman with amnesia, starring Marcia Gay Harden in the title role. She directed her first theatrical production two years later, a Cincinnati staging of her father's "After the Fall" - a curious choice, as it was largely considered Arthur Miller's infamous and thinly veiled autobiographical account of his rocky marriage to Marilyn Monroe which had ended only a year before his daughter was born. For her first full-length film, "Angela" (1995), Miller would tap into her own fanciful memories of growing up, with her 10-year-old title character (Miranda Stuart Rhyne) coping with her mother's mental infirmity by developing a series of rituals to invoke angels and ward off devils she sees plaguing them. "Angela" was nominated for the Sundance Festival's Grand Jury prize, and Miller won the Filmmaker's Trophy, voted on by the festival's other directors in tribute to their peer with the most impressive work during that year.
In spite of such acclaim for her freshman outing, no distributor picked up the picture. But 1995 would prove portentous in another way when her father, then contributing to the movie adaptation of his play "The Crucible," introduced her to the film's star, Daniel Day-Lewis, another literary scion as the son of Cecil Day-Lewis, the Irish-born poet laureate of Great Britain from 1968 to 1972. Two people with common interests and history, Day-Lewis and Miller began a passionate relationship, culminating in getting married in November 1996. As an added touch, her father wrote a poem for the occasion - though the ceremony itself stirred some whispers of scandal as Day-Lewis's live-in girlfriend at the time reportedly learned of his relationship with Miller upon news of their nuptials.
Splitting time between Day-Lewis's home in Ireland and their home in New York, Miller took a shot at fiction, penning a volume of stories, Personal Velocity, short slice-of-life tales about women of different backgrounds at different stages of their lives. The next year, she adapted three of these stories into the film, "Personal Velocity: Three Portraits" (2002), starring Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk. Produced for just $200,000, it afforded her a triumphant return to Sundance, winning the Grand Jury Prize as well as the Spirit Awards' John Cassavetes Award for Best Film Made for Under $500,000. The year 2005 would see two of her works released - Miramax's "Proof," a Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins-starring drama made from her screen adaptation of David Auburn's play about a young woman dealing with the legacy of insanity of her late, genius father, and the more personal "The Ballad of Jack and Rose." The latter, Miller's rough homage to Shakespeare's "The Tempest," followed the insular relationship between a teenager and the eccentric ex-hippie father (Day-Lewis) who raised her on a remote commune, and whose terminal heart condition tests their bond and calls into question the choices he has made as a parent.
In 2008, Miller next tried her hand at long-form fiction, publishing the novel The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, the tale of a pacific, outwardly proper middle-aged suburban woman whose abrupt bouts of sleepwalking prompt her to reflect on a troubled, much darker cosmopolitan past concealed by her gentility. As with Personal Velocity, Miller would adapt and direct the film version of the book, this time drawing an impressive cast featuring Robin Wright Penn in the title role, supported by Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore, Alan Arkin and Winona Ryder. The film premiered in the U.K. in the summer of 2009 to mixed reviews, with its U.S. release following in November 2009.
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