Though she spent the first two decades of her career languishing in small, thankless parts or leading roles in erotic thrillers, actor Virginia Madsen finally had the role of a lifetime with her subtle, touching portrayal of a waitress and wine connoisseur in Alexander Payne's critically acclaimed "Sideways" (2004). Nominated for her first Academy Award, Madsen earned a large degree of respectability that had previously been lacking despite a long and varied career in film and on television. Prior to "Sideways," she went back and forth between rather forgettable movies like "Zombie High" (1987) and "Hot to Trot" (1988) to more interesting small screen fare like "Third Degree Burn" (HBO, 1989) and "Blue Tiger" (HBO, 1994). A turn to series television in the late 1990s, including a co-hosting job on "Unsolved Mysteries" (CBS/NBC, 1988-1999), as well as recurring stints on "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004) and "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), helped Madsen branch out and put her talents on full display. But after "Sideways," she found herself at the top of her game, starring opposing top leading men like Harrison Ford and Jim Carrey, and finally enjoying the successful career many felt the actress had long deserved.