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Minnie Driver's Long Ride

From the NBC sitcom ”About a Boy” to the Lifetime miniseries ”The Red Tent”, Minnie Driver is having one very busy fall; we asked the 44-year-old actress (also appearing in NBC’s upcoming ”Peter Pan Live!”) to share some memories of the projects that paved her path

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1. Circle of Friends, 1995
”I had been working pretty consistently in television in England, but that was my first big film role. I was so broke. I was trying to be a musician. I had been living in Uruguay with my sister, and I came back for Christmas and I met with Pat O’Connor, the director. I don’t think I looked the part, but he clearly saw Benny in me. I remember the casting director saying, ‘The girl that they cast as the beautiful girl is going to get all the attention, and you need to just know that you’re going to do a wonderful job.’ It gave me my whole career, that movie.”

2. Grosse Pointe Blank, 1997
”The script wasn’t right when we began shooting, and John Cusack went to the head of the studio — Joe Roth — and said, ‘Can we improvise? If you don’t like it after two days, we’ll stop.’ And he gave us two days, so we would sit in someone’s hotel room and throw out ideas, and someone would be on the computer writing lines down. They had an amazing story to begin with. It was this amazing mishmash of how we got it done.”

3. Good Will Hunting, 1997
”I actually watched four or five scenes of Good Will Hunting over this dude’s shoulder on the plane the other day. Matt [Damon] and Ben [Affleck] had this incredible, innocent enthusiasm and love for what they were doing. It’s not like we knew we were making this movie that would be a classic. At the time, Miramax was genuinely turned towards Jackie Brown. We were the total redheaded stepchild. They weren’t paying attention to us until the movie was made, and then they really sat up when they saw it.”

4. Return to Me, 2000
”You have to understand, people only really knew David Duchovny from The X-Files; I don’t think they realized how insanely clever, dark, funny, and brilliant he is. I liked doing something that was romantic and heartfelt. You want to do as many different things as you can if you’re trying to run a marathon in a career and not just sprint. That movie, it seems to be in the heart of a lot of people, in terms of people coming up to me on the street.”

5. Owning Mahowny, 2003
”I made a film with Philip Seymour Hoffman that I don’t think anybody saw, and it was a crime because he was just magical in that. I’d make it again tomorrow because of my experience with him and what I learned from watching and being around him. You’re programmed to believe that success is measured in dollars, but as an actor you have to figure out a way of knowing that that’s not true.”

6. Will & Grace, 2003-04
”They asked me what kind of character I wanted to play. They said, ‘Do you want to play a character that Will has had a sexual affair with, or do you want to play the slutty English version of Karen?’ And I was like, ‘No offense to Will, but I want to be a slutty Brit.’ All we did was die laughing and try not to laugh during takes. When I dropped the tiara out of my hoo-ha, I can’t believe we got past the censors. When we did it the first time, the audience laughed for 10 minutes.”

7. The Riches, 2007-08
”That was the greatest part I ever had. It still kills me that we got axed. We got slammed by the writers’ strike, and then FX didn’t have the budget, or the inclination, or both, to really re-promote us when we came back for the second season. I get people begging us to do a movie or for there to be some sort of ending. I just saw [costar] Eddie [Izzard], we went to Robin Williams’ memorial together, and we were talking about it. I think there’s legitimate potential in it. That’s the true only regret in my career.”

8. The Red Tent, 2014
”This was not the glamorous Morocco with blue crystal-lined pools. This is the really hardcore Sahara, the hardest place I’ve ever made a film. It was very difficult to make. Rebecca Ferguson is amazing in this film. I’m horrified because she’s, like, 10 years younger than me, and I’m playing her mom. But still! I think for people who love the book, which I did, it’s going to satisfy that fantastic female-driven biblical story, and you don’t have too many of those.”