Kim Basinger started her big screen career in a series of roles as blonde arm candy, but eventually acted her way out of that status with an Academy and Golden Globe Award-winning performance in Curtis Hanson's neo-noir crime drama, "L. A. Confidential" (1997). It was a cruel twist of fate that the leggy bombshell was born shy and panic-stricken over being the center of attention, but she managed to build a steady career out of fighting her fears; first as a model and then as an actress. While often cast for her ethereal beauty, the root of Basinger's real gift was the ever-present internal struggle, which imbued even her most extroverted characters with a gentle vulnerability. Basinger weathered a storm of unflattering publicity surrounding her marriage and acrimonious divorce from loose cannon Alec Baldwin, but settled into a respectable middle-aged film career that offered well-crafted characterizations of increasingly interesting and complex women.