Cementing her reputation as a femme fatale in the mold of classic screen sirens proved to be both a blessing and a curse for actress Linda Fiorentino, who struggled to move beyond Hollywood typecasting after early breakout performances. With her very first role, Fiorentino was cast as the sensual "older woman" in the niche teen movie "Vision Quest" (1985). Further buttressing the perception were two more roles as highly sexualized and dangerous ladies in the films "Gotcha!" (1985) and "After Hours" (1985), all in that same debut year. The suddenly in-demand bombshell experienced a period of self-imposed exile as she turned down role after role while attempting to mount a personal project that was never produced. When Fiorentino did return, she found herself settling for parts in several underwhelming movies, until a role as yet another dangerous sex kitten revived her flagging career. Ruthless to a nearly sociopathic degree, the character of scam artist Bridget Gregory in "The Last Seduction" (1994) brought Fiorentino accolades and awards, even as it cemented her persona as a wicked woman. However, a follow-up part as another morally-deficient dame in the box office disaster "Jade" (1995), counter-balanced by a decidedly dissimilar role in the disappointing "Unforgettable" (1996), derailed what had looked to be a career comeback. Although the sci-fi comedy was a huge hit, a somewhat superfluous turn in "Men in Black" (1997) did little to put her back on track. While Fiorentino continued to appear infrequently in various projects, often with some of filmdom's biggest talents, none of the subsequent roles could eclipse her unforgettable portrayals of dangerous females who drew unsuspecting men in like moths to a flame.
Born Clorinda Fiorentino on March 9, 1960 in Philadelphia, PA to Italian-American parents, she was raised with her six brothers and sisters in Sewell, NJ. Fiorentino graduated from Washington Township High School in 1976, where she played basketball and joined the cheerleading squad. After graduation, she studied political science and performed in various theatrical productions at Pennsylvania's Rosemont College, earning her BA in 1980. Immediately following her time at Rosemont, Fiorentino made the move to New York City, where she was accepted into the prestigious Circle in the Square Professional Theater School, one of only 54 applicants taken from a field of 1,200. While studying at Circle in the Square, the aspiring actress supported herself as a bartender at Manhattan's Kamikaze nightclub, along with fellow mixologist at the time, Bruce Willis. Incredibly, Fiorentino's big break came with her first professional audition for a feature film, when she landed the co-starring role in the coming-of-age romantic drama "Vision Quest" (1985). Cast as the enigmatic artist, Carla, she sizzled on screen as high school wrestler Louden Swain's (Matthew Modine) object of desire, and jumpstarted her nascent movie career virtually overnight.
That same year, she starred in the lightweight Cold War action-adventure "Gotcha!" (1985) as a sexy secret agent who entangles a naïve college student (Anthony Edwards) in a deadly game of international intrigue. Almost simultaneously, she made a memorable appearance in Martin Scorsese's nightmarish comedy of errors "After Hours" (1985) as kinky SoHo sculptor and dominatrix, Kiki Bridges. Deciding that mainstream Hollywood was not for her, she took herself out of the running for the "Top Gun" (1986) role eventually played by Kelly McGillis, and instead focused her efforts on a biopic about Andy Warhol contemporary Edie Sedgwick that was to be written and directed by then-husband John Byrum. The film never went into production, and Fiorentino - whose career suffered from being away from screens for so long - eventually acquiesced to appear in the subpar romantic adventure "Wildfire" (1988), helmed by first-time director Zalman King. Much more favorably received was her vulnerable performance alongside Keith Carradine and John Lone in "The Moderns" (1988), a period drama revolving around American expatriates in 1920s Paris. For the next few years, she disappeared into a string of disposable ensemble pieces like "Queens Logic" (1991), Shout" (1991) and "Chain of Desire" (1993).
After taking part in the dismal, made-for-cable biker movie "Beyond the Law" (HBO, 1994) co-starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Madsen, Fiorentino was in desperate need of a career boost. Thankfully, that game-changing part came when she took on the challenging role of ruthless femme fatale Bridget Gregory in John Dahl's neo-noir "The Last Seduction" (1994). Her merciless swindling of her ethically-challenged husband (Bill Pullman) and her sexual manipulation of a small town boy (Peter Berg) impressed audiences and critics alike, drawing comparisons of the actress to such classic screen sirens as Barbara Stanwyck. Although Fiorentino would win several awards for the performance - including Independent Spirit and New York Film Critics Circle awards for Best Actress - she was deemed, in a controversial decision, to be ineligible for an Oscar due to the fact that "The Last Seduction" had premiered on cable television. The rave reviews and media attention proved to be a mixed blessing, as most of the offers generated by the film called for her to essentially reprise her heartless sex kitten persona. Fiorentino finally caved, and took on a co-starring role in director William Friedkin's disastrous "Jade" (1995), as a psychologist-hooker suspected of murder.
In the wake of the career-destroying fiasco that was "Jade," Fiorentino jumped at a chance to reteam with Dahl for the sci-fi thriller "Unforgettable" (1996); this time as a reserved scientist who has discovered a way to transmit memory via chemical injection. Unfortunately, the film failed to live up to its name or to recapture the magic of Fiorentino's previous collaboration with the director, and was soon forgotten. The actress' fortunes improved when she landed the female lead in director Barry Sonnenfeld's summer blockbuster "Men in Black" (1997). Despite the film's success, Fiorentino's role as a NYC coroner was little more than window dressing for the special effects-laden comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Once again, the actress found herself lacking for quality film projects. In the meantime, she made due with turns in such lackluster efforts as the nostalgic crime comedy "Kicked in the Head" (1997) and the by-the-numbers heist movie "Body Count" (The Movie Channel, 1998). Fiorentino enjoyed a small bump with her appearance in Kevin Smith's controversial, scathing satire of Catholicism, "Dogma" (1999), although the outspoken director's well-publicized remarks about her diva-like behavior on the set of the film was far from the press she needed at the time.
"Where the Money Is" (2000) may have paired Fiorentino with screen legend Paul Newman as unlikely partners in an aging criminal's last job, but the barely-seen film did little to increase her profile. A role in revered director Mike Nichols' "Which Planet Are You From?" (2000), starring Garry Shandling as an alien sent to earth to procreate with Annette Bening, continued her streak of working with Hollywood's best and brightest in films that sank at the box office. Next, she starred as an international arms dealer held hostage by the vengeful father (Wesley Snipes) of a girl killed by one of her weapons in the direct-to-video release "Liberty Stands Still" (2002). After a period of relative obscurity, Fiorentino made headlines late in 2008 when her then-boyfriend, ex-FBI agent Mark T. Rossini, was charged with accessing sensitive bureau computer files regarding legally-challenged L.A. private investigator Anthony Pellicano, at Fiorentino's behest. For her part, the actress claimed that it was in order to research a film based on Pellicano that she hoped to produce. Prosecutors, on the other hand, felt that it was an attempt by the actress - who knew the P.I. - to help Pellicano in his wire tapping and racketeering trial. Ultimately, the end result was the break-up of Fiorentino and Rossini, his resigning from the FBI in disgrace, and Pellicano being sentenced to 15 years in prison. Fiorentino resurfaced the following year as yet another femme fatale in the karaoke drama "Once More With Feeling" (2009), appearing opposite Chazz Palminteri.