For an actress with little training and experience, Catalina Sandino Moreno made a seismic impression with her first feature film role. In "Maria Full of Grace" (2004), Moreno played the title charact...
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|Feature acting debut, playing a young girl who consents to transport heroin into the US, in director Joshua Marston's "Maria Full of Grace"; received SAG and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress|
|Portrayed Ernesto Guevara's daughter in Steven Soderbergh's biopic, "Che"|
|Co-starred with Matthew Broderick in The New Group's Off-Broadway premiere of Kenneth Lonergan's "The Starry Messenger"|
|Played a supporting role in the Mike Newell adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera"|
|Played the villainous vampire Maria in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"|
|Portrayed a Mexican immigrant working in a slaughterhouse in Richard Linklater's "Fast Food Nation"|
|Co-starred in Ethan Hawke's adaptation of his own novel, "The Hottest State"|
|Made her New York stage debut in an Off-Off-Broadway staging of Shakespeare's "King John"|
Born in Bogota, Columbia into a middle class family, Moreno was lucky enough to avoid the abject poverty her character Maria suffers. In fact, Moreno had the luxury of not having to work to earn money-she did it only because she wanted to. Moreno became interested in acting, particularly on stage, at a young age. While in high school, she enrolled in the Ruben Di Pietro theater academy in Bogota and from there began acting in various stage productions, including "Acuerdo para Cambiar de Casa", "Laughing Wild", Christopher Durang's comedy about life modern life in urban America, and Tennessee Williams' "The Dark Room." It was while still living at home that Moreno got a call for an audition-someone knew that she was studying theater in college and passed her name along. Surprised to hear that an American, Joshua Marston, was making a movie in her country, Moreno was eager to audition. Two weeks later, she got another call saying she had landed the part.
Filming for "Maria Full of Grace" began in September 2002 in her native country, then shifted to New York City. After filming was over, Moreno relocated to New York to attend the Lee Strasberg Institute, but a funny thing happened along the way. Moreno had to go back to Columbia to get her student visa, and on the return trip to New York she was pulled away by Customs officials believing that she was a potential drug mule. Moreno was brought to a small room for questioning and had her bag and clothes searched. Though freaked out at the time, Moreno appreciated the irony later. Meanwhile, Moreno quickly became a known commodity, earning an Independent Spirit Award as Best Actress and nominations for a Screen Actors Guild award, and an Oscar. Moreno then returned to her original love-the stage-making her New York debut as the Spanish princess, Blanche, in the Frog & Peach Theatre Company's production of Shakespeare's "King John".
|David Elwell||Husband||Met during the production of "Maria Full of Grace" (2004)|
|Lee Strasberg Institute|
|Pontificia Universidad Javeriana|
|"After I first saw Catalina, I said, 'We're going to make her a star.'" Marston says. "We didn't make her a star, of course. She made herself a star. Since doing the film, Catalina, in a way, has discovered herself." - Joshua Marston, director of "Maria Full of Grace" to Premiere magazine, February 2005|
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