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The American

Martha Plimpton

Martha arrived in a wet, gale-battered London to appear in Other Desert Cities attheOldVic. Honest, Martha, it’s not always like this!


artha Plimpton has become one of the most recognizable faces in American movies and TV. You will have seen her in Raising Hope, The Good Wife [in which she won an ‘Outstanding Guest Actress' Emmy as multiple baby-toting hotshot lawyer Patti Nyholm], ER, Grey’s Anatomy, How To Make It In America and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and films such as The Mosquito Coast and The Goonies when she was a child, Running on Empty, Stanley & Iris, Dante’s Inferno and Parenthood. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But many people on the eastern side of the Atlantic are not as aware of her equally successful stage career. Then again, she has not appeared on the London stage... yet. That’s all about to change as she arrives to star in Other Desert

Cities, the new play by Jon Robin Baitz which has been a smash in the States. It won the Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, five Tony nominations and was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. New York is in Martha’s genes, and acting (you won’t be surprised to learn) is in her DNA too, she explains: “My father is an actor [Keith Carradine, with whom she acted recently in Raising Hope - his character is Colt Palomino, spoofing classic western roles]. My mother [Shelley Plimpton] was an actress - they met when she was in the original cast of Hair, on Broadway and he joined a year later. And that’s how I came to be. My father moved back to California, where he’s from, and my mother stayed in New York and raised me.”

That makes two great dynasties in American creative arts from which Martha is descended, as she is a distant cousin of the writer George Plimpton and the cartoonist Bill Plympton (same family, different spelling). Martha was in the business from a very early age, so early that she attended the Professional Children’s School in Manhattan, a small private school for children who are already working in ballet, music, the theater, sports and so on. Most articles about Martha talk about her modeling, but she’s quick to point out that was only a ‘temporary job’. “I don’t know where people get that from,” she says. “I had started acting in downtown avant garde musicals at the Public Theater. That was where my first plays were, at the age of eight or nine. When I was eleven I once did a Calvin Klein

March 2014 37

The American March 2014  

The American has been published for Americans in Britain since 1976. It's also for Brits who like American culture.

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