Maverick Spirit Award: Minnie Driver

Mav Spirit Minnie Driver

Maverick Spirit Award: Minnie Driver

Running Time: 90 mins

“Nothing is impossible. With the right attitude, you can do anything you want. It's all about choosing to be positive instead of being negative about things."

– Minnie Driver

When she was just twelve, while growing up in the tiny Lesser Antilles island state of Barbados, Amelia Fiona Driver sat in a local movie theater, enraptured by Meryl Streep’s Academy Award-winning performance as Sophie Zawistowska in Alan Pakula’s Sophie’s Choice. Though still a very young girl, Minnie, as she was nicknamed by her younger sister, knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life when she grew up.

Born in London and educated in Europe, Minnie Driver ultimately returned to the U.K. to study acting at the prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts, whose alumni include Terrence Stamp, Julia Ormond, and Angela Lansbury. She soon found work in local theater and television, and it wasn ’t long before she made her film debut, co-starring with Chris O’Donnell in Circle of Friends (1995). The depth of her eclectic talent became evident early on, playing drama and comedy with equal facility. Following winning portrayals in Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci’s surprise hit, Big Night (1996), Barry Levinson’s Sleepers (1996),and Grosse Point Blank (1997)with John Cusack, Driver had her breakout role as Will Hunting’s (Matt Damon) rich and brilliant girlfriend, Skylar, in Good Will Hunting. Her finely nuanced performance in Gus Van Sant’s riveting drama earned her both Oscar and Screen Actor’s Guild nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Since then she has been continually honing her skills in a variety of films, appearing most recently as opera diva Carlotta in Joel Schumacher’s version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

Diversity has always been a driving force throughout Ms. Driver’s career. A tireless worker, she has demonstrated time and again that she is both richly talented and never shy about tackling new challenges. For instance, she has provided numerous voices for animated features, such as that of Lady Eboshi in the English version of Princess Mononoke, a deft impersonation of Brooke Shields in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and as Jane in Disney’s Tarzan. In 2003, she gained millions of new fans guest starring as Lorraine Finster on the hit NBC series, Will and Grace, and also returned to the London stage alongside Matthew Perry and Hank Azaria in David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago.

With music being another of Driver’s life-long passions, it’s not surprising that she also possesses considerable talent as a singer-songwriter. In 2004, she released her first CD, Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket, penning 10 original songs and performing a haunting and memorable cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart. She is currently at work on her second album, while also starring in The Riches for the FX network.

Though steeped in the world of make believe, Driver is also firmly grounded in the real world. As spokesperson for the venerated Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam), Driver continually strives to draw attention to the plight of impoverished and underpaid garment workers throughout Southeast Asia.

Cinequest is proud to present Minnie Driver with the festival's highest honor, the Maverick Spirit Award.