19 July 1976, Los Angeles, California, USA
Vinessa Elizabeth Shaw
5' 8" (1.73 m)
Daughter of Susan Damante with whom she appeared in Coyote Summer (1996).
Is also a model.
Attended Pitzer College, but never graduated.
Vinessa is named after her grandfather, Vincent.
Auditioned for the part of Jenny Everdeane in Gangs of New York (2002).
Ranked #66 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World" (2002)
Sister of Natalie Shaw.
Engaged to behind-the-scenes film artist Kristopher Gifford (February 2008).
On her mother's side, her mother's paternal grandparents were from Calabria and Naples, Italy. Her mother's maternal grandparents were from Sweden and Ireland.
I would never see this movie because I'm frightened of horror movies. Ever since I was a kid, my friends who always wanted to see them would mortify me by showing me clips from a movie, and I would have to run in the other room, call my parents, and go home -- that kind of thing. (on her film The Hills Have Eyes (2006))
Shaw made her film debut in a little-known-of 1981 slasher film called Home Sweet Home, which dealt with a serial killer at Thanksgiving time. She then landed parts in a handful of television roles. She played a considerably large role in Walt Disney's 1993 Halloween family film Hocus Pocus alongside Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Omri Katz, and a young Thora Birch. Shaw completed roles in various independent films for the remainder of the 1990s.
In 1999, she was cast in a small yet significant role by the legendary Stanley Kubrick in his final film Eyes Wide Shut, playing an HIV-positive prostitute who is encountered by Tom Cruise's character. In a 2008 interview, Shaw stated that director Kubrick was "very influential" to her and that he "was the first person who encouraged her to continue acting Following her role in Eyes Wide Shut, Vinessa played parts in a handful of films including the independent 2000 mystery-drama The Weight of Water with Sarah Polley and Sean Penn; the slapstick comedy Corky Romano alongside Chris Kattan; the romantic comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights, playing the fiesty ex-girlfriend of Josh Hartnett; and a very small role in Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda.
More low budget and independent films consumed Shaw's time until 2006, where she returned to the big screen in Alexandre Aja's remake of Wes Craven's exploitation-horror film The Hills Have Eyes, playing a young mother on a camping trip with her family who is attacked by bloodthirsty mutants in the New Mexico desert. Director Aja had wanted to cast her in the film after seeing her performance in Eyes Wide Shut. Asked why she wanted to act in a horror film, Shaw responded "Well, I guess I could be good in it since I'm so frightened of those kinds of concepts. But this one in particular really attracted me because of the filmmakers. I really thought that they had a great stance on it. Like it's very different, very heartfelt, and heartbreaking because of the characters involved. So that's kind of what made the difference. It was more of an actor's piece, if you can believe that, in a horror movie.Shaw was featured on the official one sheet promotion poster for the film,which was a box-office success.
Most recently, Vinessa has been seen in the 2007 remake of the classic Western film 3:10 to Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, the indie drama film Garden Party, as well as a leading role in Two Lovers alongside Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and was released theatrically in February 2009.
Shaw attended Barnard College in New York, but dropped out to pursue acting. Shaw was attending the college when she was approached by Stanley Kubrick for her role in Eyes Wide Shut.
She is a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, she chants Nam Myoho Renge Kyo daily,and is a facilitator of the SGI-USA Buddhist Association for Peace, Culture, and Education.Shaw mentioned her practicing of the religion in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in February 2009. Shaw has been engaged to behind-the-scenes film artist Kristopher Gifford since 2008.
Film Year Title Role Notes
1981 Home Sweet Home Angel Bradley Alternative title: Slasher in the House
1992 Ladybugs Kimberly Mullen
1993 Hocus Pocus Allison
1996 Coyote Summer Callie Carpenter
1998 L.A. Without a Map Barbara
1999 Eyes Wide Shut Domino
1999 Wayward Son Cordelia
2000 The Weight of Water Anethe Christenson
2001 Corky Romano Agent Kate Russo
2002 40 Days and 40 Nights Nicole
2004 Melinda and Melinda Stacey
2004 Along Came Polly
2006 The Hills Have Eyes Lynn Carter
2007 3:10 to Yuma Emmy
2007 Badland Nora Rice
2008 Two Lovers Sandra Cohen
2008 Garden Party Sally St. Claire
2009 Stag Night Brita
2010 Leave Amy
2011 Puncture Vicky
2012 Big Miracle
Television Year Title Role Notes
1991 Long Road Home Clara Tarpin Television film
1992 The Torkelsons Meredith Reed Episode: "Sweat Not by the Moon"
1992 Great Scott! Carolyn Cole
1993 Fallen Angels Jeannie Streeter Episode: "The Quiet Room"
1993 Country Estates Heather Calhoun Pilot
1994 McKenna Cassidy McKenna Episode: "Pilot"
1994 Murder, She Wrote Gloria Bryce Episode: "Murder by Twos"
1995 New York Undercover Teen Covergirl Episode: "Young, Beautiful and Dead"
2000 The '70s Eileen Wells Miniseries
2004 Bereft Molly Television film
2005 Fathers and Sons Nell Pilot
2005 World of Trouble Pilot
2010 House M.D. Doctor Benedict Episode: "Massage Therapy"