Martha Plimpton is an American award-winning actress best known for her role in the film ‘The Goonies.’ She started her career as a child actress and went on to make it big in Hollywood in the ensuing years with her sheer talent and acting prowess. Besides movies, she has also done some serious theatre work. During the 1990s, when film roles began to dry up for her, she turned her attention to television which offered her a wide variety of roles and allowed her to explore her full potential as a character actress. In her movie roles, she was mostly portrayed as a rebellious and loud mouth character; however, in television shows she was able to experiment with different characters. Besides acting, Martha is also known for her activism on issues like women’s rights and LGBTQA+ rights. She is quite vocal about the right of women to get abortions and has lobbied Congress to keep the Planned Parenthood program funded.
Childhood & Early Life
Martha Plimpton was born on November 16, 1970, in New York City, New York, USA. She is the daughter of Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton, both of whom are actors. They first met on the sets of the Broadway production of ‘Hair’ (1970). Her parents never got married and she was raised by her mother.
Since both of her parents were actors, it came as no surprise that she too decided to become an actress at the age of eight. Elizabeth Swados, a friend of her mother, enrolled her in an actor’s workshop and she landed her very first role soon thereafter.
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Martha Plimpton’s career in movies started in 1981 with a small role in ‘Rollover,’ which was a political thriller starring Jane Fonda and Kris Kristofferson. Her tomboyish looks also got her a few Calvin Klein commercials the same year.
Her first substantial movie role was in the movie ‘The River Rat’ (1984). The young actress was noticed for her portrayal of Jonsy, Tommy Lee Jones’ daughter in the movie.
She bagged a part in the film ‘The Goonies’ (1985) and her portrayal of Stef made her a star. ‘The Goonies’ became a cult classic and is regarded as Martha’s biggest box office success. The same year, she appeared in an episode of the highly popular television show ‘Family Ties.’
Martha Plimpton’s tough tomboyish looks and attitude landed her a role in ‘The Mosquito Coast’ (1986), starring Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, and River Phoenix. This was her first movie with River Phoenix.
She was then seen essaying the role of Grace, a cocaine-addicted teenager, in ‘Shy People’ (1987).
In 1988, she was again paired opposite River Phoenix in ‘Running on Empty.’ She essayed the role of Lorna Phillips, the love interest of River Phoenix, and was nominated for the ‘Young Artist Award’ under the category of Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture.
The film ‘Parenthood’ in 1989 was another success story for Martha Plimpton. In this movie too, she essayed the role of a rebellious teenager. In the next few years, she either played a troubled teenager or a secondary character in movies like ‘Stanley & Iris’ (1990), ‘Inside Monkey Zetterland’ (1992), and ‘Last Summer in the Hamptons’ (1995).
In 1996, she ventured into theatre as well and debuted in ‘The Libertine’ by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts award in 1998 for being part of the ensemble.
In 1997, she played the lead role in ‘Eye of God,’ a film which was critically acclaimed. ‘The Sleepy Time Gal’ (2001), ‘Hair High’ (2004), ‘Small Town Murder Songs’ (2010), and ‘Honey Bee’ (2019) are her other significant movies.
Martha Plimpton has also done meaningful work in the television field. She appeared in four episodes of ‘ER’ in 1999. In 2010, she got the lead role in ‘Raising Hope.’ The show ran for five seasons and her role was highly appreciated. She also got an Emmy nomination for this role.
The TV series ‘The Good Wife,’ ‘The Real O’Neals,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and ‘At Home with Amy Sedaris’ are some of the other television shows in which she has done commendable work.
The film ‘The Goonies’ is considered one of her major works, because it established her as a teen star and was a precursor to all her other great works.
Family & Personal Life
She has never been married and has no children. Her first serious relationship was with River Phoenix, whom she started dating in 1986. They broke up in 1989. She was briefly engaged to John Patrick Walker in 1995 but they called it off in 1996. From 2005-06, she was linked with Fred Armisen.