Family & Companions
Though primarily recognized for her many collaborations with husband David Mamet, actress Rebecca Pidgeon branched out on her own on occasion to tackle roles in a variety of film and television projects. But it was her being cast in Mamet's London production of "Speed-the-Plow" (1989) that sparked both a romance that turned into a long-running marriage, and prominent roles in the playwright's more invigorating work. After roles in "Homicide" (1991) and Mamet's adaptation of "Uncle Vanya" (PBS, 1994), Pidgeon had a pivotal role in the crime drama "The Spanish Prisoner" (1997) before delivering an astute performance in the period remake of "The Winslow Boy" (1999). Following more supporting parts in her husband's directorial efforts, "State and Main" (2000) and "Heist" (2001), she had a recurring role on "The Unit" (CBS, 2006-09) before going off on her own in "How to Be" (2008) and "Red" (2010). But it was her work with Mamet that provided Pidgeon with her most demanding roles, allowing her to display considerable skills that might have otherwise remained under wraps.
Born on Oct. 25, 1965 in Cambridge, MA, Pidgeon was raised by her British-born parents; her father was a visiting physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her mother was a yoga instructor. In 1970, her father earned a teaching position in Edinburgh, which necessitated a family move to Scotland where she spent the remainder of her childhood and adolescence. Taking an interest in acting, Pidgeon studied her craft at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before performing in productions of "The Changeling" and "The School for Scandal" at the Cambridge Theatre Company. Meanwhile, she also served as the lead singer for the British pop band, Ruby Blue, and recorded four albums with them before leaving in 1990. But she continued performing, making her film debut in "The Dawning" (1988), playing a young woman who befriends an Irish revolutionary (Anthony Hopkins) on the run from the British army. The following year, she starred as the sole female character in a London production of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" (1989), a role that sparked a romance with the playwright at a time he was married to actress Lindsay Crouse.
Pidgeon left England to return to the United States, where she married Mamet in 1991 and spent the remainder of her career acting almost exclusively in his film, television and stage productions, while also raising their children. Upon her return to America, Pidgeon had a starring role in Mamet's crime drama, "Homicide" (1991), which starred Joe Mantagna as a disillusioned cop who rediscovers his ethnic and spiritual roots while investigating the murder of an elderly Jewish woman. Following her television debut in her husband's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" (PBS, 1991), she appeared opposite William H. Macy in Mamet's incendiary treatise on sexual politics, "Oleanna," which staged off-Broadway in 1992. She next had a smaller role in a small screen adaptation of "The Water Engine" (TNT, 1992), before writing the score for the Mamet-directed feature version of "Oleanna" (1994), with Bill Macy reprising his off-Broadway role and actress Debra Eisenstadt taking over for Pidgeon. Taking some time off to raise her daughter, Clara, the actress returned for a starring role in Mamet's suspense thriller, "The Spanish Prisoner" (1997), playing the loyal assistant to a corporate executive (Campbell Scott) who proves to be an integral piece to a long con perpetrated by a scam artist (Steve Martin).
After appearing in the world premiere of Mamet's play "The Old Neighborhood" (1997) at Cambridge's American Repertory Theater, Pidgeon had a major supporting role as the suffragette daughter of a retired British banker (Nigel Hawthorne) in the remake of "The Winslow Boy" (1999). Back on stage, she played the director's assistant in a production of Samuel Beckett's short play, "Catastrophe" (2000), before falling for a Hollywood screenwriter (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in Mamet's sharp Hollywood satire "State and Main" (2000). Pidgeon next played the young wife to an aging thief (Gene Hackman) whose career is jeopardized after being caught on a security camera, only to find himself blackmailed by his longtime fence (Danny DeVito) in the underrated crime drama, "Heist" (2001). Branching out on her own, Pidgeon co-starred opposite Claire Danes and Steve Martin in the coming-of-age dramedy "Shopgirl" (2005), before reuniting with her husband for the Mamet-penned thriller, "Edmund" (2005). Meanwhile, she returned to television for a recurring role on "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08) and found herself starring opposite Miranda Richardson and Aishwarya Rai in the docudrama "Provoked" (2007). While retaining a recurring part as Washington insider Charlotte Ryan the Mamet-created drama "The Unit" (CBS, 2006-09), she also took roles outside her husband's world in films like "How to Be" (2008) and "Red" (2010).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Was the lead singer with the British band Ruby Blue
Made her feature acting debut in "The Dawning"
Played the sole female character in the London stage production of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow"
Appeared in the film "Homicide," written and directed by David Mamet
First TV role was Mamet's adaptation of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya"
Made off-Broadway debut, starring opposite William H. Macy in Mamet's "Oleanna"
Acted in the TNT adaptation of Mamet's "The Water Engine"
Wrote the score for the Mamet-directed film adaptation of "Oleanna"
Released her debut solo album, <i>The Raven</i>
Appeared in world premiere of Mamet's "The Old Neighborhood" at Cambridge's American Repertory Theatre
Had pivotal role in the film "The Spanish Prisoner," written and directed by Mamet
Had a supporting role in Mamet's feature remake of "The Winslow Boy"
Had leading role in premiere of Mamet's play "Boston Marriage"
Portrayed a feisty New Englander who falls for a screenwriter in Mamet's "State and Main"
Appeared in the Mamet directed short "Catastrophe," based on the Samuel Beckett play
Had featured role in Mamet's film "The Heist"
Co-starred with Steve Martin and Claire Danes in "Shopgirl"; Martin also wrote the screenplay, which is based on his 2000 novella of the same name
Had a regular role on the CBS drama "The Unit" as Charlotte Ryan
Cast opposite Miranda Richardson and Aishwarya Rai in "Provoked"
Cast as Tim Allen's wife in "Redbelt," a martial arts film written and directed by David Mamet
Appeared in the action-comedy film, "Red"