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Linda Fiorentino: From ‘The Last Seduction’ to ‘Men in Black’ a Look Back at the ’90s Femme Fatale

The star had a surprising career trajectory


During the ’90s, actress Linda Fiorentino helped define the cool and charismatic femme fatale archetype that dominated movie screens. Her raven hair, intense gaze and low voice made for a commanding presence that livened up erotic thrillers like The Last Seduction and Jade and high-concept comedies like Men in Black and Dogma alike.

As the subject of gossip and offscreen scandal, the star’s career began to dry up in the ’00s, and she hasn’t acted in 15 years. Here’s a look back at Fiorentino’s fascinating Hollywood story.

Read on for more of our favorite ’90s stars!

Linda Fiorentino’s early roles

Linda Fiorentino grew up in a large Italian-American family in South Philadelphia and following her college graduation in 1980, she trained at New York’s Circle in the Square Theater School while working as a bartender at a nightclub (alongside another then-unknown actor, Bruce Willis!).

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From her earliest days, the actress projected a captivating self-possession and maturity, and she made her debut with a starring role in the 1985 coming-of-age film Vision Quest, playing a drifter who catches the attention of a struggling high school wrestler.

Linda Fiorentino in 'Vision Quest' 1985
Linda Fiorentino in Vision Quest (1985)Warner Brothers/Getty

That same year, she played a sexy spy in the comedy Gotcha! and an artist/dominatrix in Martin Scorsese‘s madcap journey through ’80s New York, After Hours. She then appeared in The Moderns, a ’20s period piece, and steamy dramas like Wildfire and Chain of Desire.

Linda Fiorentino becomes a ’90s it girl

In the ’90s, Fiorentino reached her peak when she starred in the 1994 erotic thriller The Last Seduction, playing the deliciously unhinged Bridget Gregory, a scheming seductress who steals money from her sleazy husband and double-crosses every man who comes her way. Fiorentino won much acclaim for her performance, which harkened back to the unforgettable femme fatales of classic ’40s and ’50s film noir thrillers.

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30 years later, Bridget remains the actress’ signature role, and she played a string of bad girls before and after her crowning achievement — one could say she was typecast, and perhaps this is part of the reason why her career was cut short.

Linda Fiorentino in 1994
Linda Fiorentino in 1994mikel roberts/Sygma via Getty

In an interview with film critic Roger Ebert shortly after The Last Seduction came out, Fiorentino admitted that men she met in real life expected her to be like her devious character, and said when it came to the parts she was being offered, “Maybe others see in me what I don’t necessarily see in myself. And a lot of it in Hollywood has to do with what you look like. I’m dark and my eyes are dark and my voice is deep, and how the hell could I play a Meg Ryan role, the way I look?”

Fiorentino knew from the beginning that her Last Seduction character was special, telling Ebert, “I had never read anything so unique in terms of a female character” and recalling how she told the film’s director, John Dahl, “John, you are not allowed to hire anyone but me for this film.”

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Linda Fiorentino in 'The Last Seduction' 1994
Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction (1994)@bbc_culture/Instagram

The success of The Last Seduction led to her being cast in another sexy role, as a psychologist by day/prostitute by night in Jade the next year. The 1995 film was a notorious box office flop, and Fiorentino admitted she was skeptical about it from the beginning, and wasn’t a big fan of her part.

Linda Fiorentino in 'Jade' 1995
Linda Fiorentino in Jade (1995)Hulton Archive/Getty

In the latter half of the ’90s, Fiorentino branched out with her role as a medical examiner who ultimately becomes Will Smith‘s professional partner in the 1997 sci-fi blockbuster Men in Black. She then played a woman who gets called upon to save the universe in Dogma, the subversively silly 1999 religion-themed comedy from cult-favorite director Kevin Smith.

Linda Fiorentino with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in 'Men in Black' 1997
Linda Fiorentino with Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men in Black (1997)Hulton Archive/Getty

Both of these roles raised Fiorentino’s profile even more, but her career slowed down in the ’00s, as she appeared in just five more films post-Dogma, most of which were direct-to-video. Unfortunately, these last films were all poorly reviewed and ultimately unsuccessful, and she had her final role in the straight-to-video 2009 film Once More With Feeling.

Linda Fiorentino in 2000
Linda Fiorentino in 2000Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty

What Linda Fiorentino is doing now

It’s been well over a decade since we’ve seen Fiorentino on the screen. Her departure from Hollywood was plagued with largely unconfirmed rumors of her being difficult to work with, and the fact that she was not brought back for the Men in Black sequel became fodder for gossip.

She also hasn’t spoken about the end of her acting career in interviews, leaving room for speculation that often equated the actress with the bad-girl characters she played.

Linda Fiorentino in 2007
Linda Fiorentino in 2007Jamie McCarthy/WireImage/Getty

It didn’t help that in 2008, Fiorentino landed in the news when she dated an FBI agent and allegedly lured him into giving her classified documents about a high-profile case involving a private investigator she’d previously been involved with, leading the agent to lose his badge — a wild scenario that sounds like it could’ve been a deleted scene from The Last Seduction.

While there’s been much talk about life imitating art when it comes to Fiorentino, and she’s kept a low profile since the scandal, we still always enjoy seeing her play women you don’t want to mess with. No one else has come close to capturing the onscreen toughness and savvy she had in the ’90s.

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