Ellen Rona Barkin (born April 16, 1954) is an American actress.
Barkin was born in the Bronx, New York, to a chemical-salesman father and a hospital-administrator mother who worked at Jamaica Hospital. Barkin was raised in a lower-middle-class Jewish family, a descendant of immigrants from Siberia and the Russia-Poland border. Barkin received her high school diploma at Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts. She then attended Hunter College and double majored in history and drama. At one point, Barkin wanted to teach ancient history. She continued her acting education at New York's Actor's Studio. According to Time, she studied acting for seven years before landing her first audition.
Barkin became a notable actress in the 1980s. Her break-out role was in Barry Levinson's Diner (1982), for which she received favorable reviews. Barkin was cast in the 1983 film Tender Mercies after impressing director Bruce Beresford during an audition in New York City, despite her inexperience and his lack of familiarity with her work. Actor Robert Duvall, who played the lead role in Mercies, said of Barkin, "She brings a real credibility for that part, plus she was young and attractive and had a certain sense of edge, a danger for her that was good for that part."
Barkin would later appear in several successful films, including the thrillers The Big Easy (1987), opposite Dennis Quaid and Sea of Love (1989), opposite Al Pacino. Barkin also appeared in off-Broadway plays, including a role as one of the roommates in the memorable Extremities, about a would-be rape victim played by Susan Sarandon who turns the tables on her attacker. About her performance in the play Eden Court, New York Times critic Frank Rich summarized: "If it were really possible to give the kiss of life to a corpse, the actress Ellen Barkin would be the one to do it. In Eden Court, the moribund play that has brought her to the Promenade Theater, Miss Barkin is tantalizingly alive from her bouncing blond ponytail to the long legs that gyrate wildly and involuntarily every time an Elvis Presley record plays on stage".
Barkin has also done work in made-for-television films like Before Women Had Wings (1997) and The White River Kid (1999). Currently, she voices the start of each Theme Time Radio Hour with host Bob Dylan on XM's "Deep Tracks". In 2005, Barkin set up a film production company with her brother, George, along with her ex-husband and billionaire investor, Ronald Perelman.
Barkin has a brother, George, who was formerly the editor in chief of National Lampoon and High Times. Barkin is the mother of two children, Jack Daniel (born 1989) and Romy Marion (born 1992), from her first marriage to actor Gabriel Byrne.
The two separated in 1993 and divorced in 1999, but are still close; Byrne even attended Barkin's 2000 wedding to businessman Ronald Perelman. According to New York Magazine, that marriage ended in a messy divorce in 2006 with Barkin receiving $40 million. Barkin is currently suing Perelman for $3.4 million in investment funds he reportedly promised to invest in their film production company, but has yet to deliver.
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