Robin Wright became famous at an early age through her role in the soap opera Santa Barbara, after which SHE SWORE SHE WOULD NEVER AGAIN PLAY IN A TV SERIES. But she broke this self-prescribed rule to play Claire Underwood in House of Cards
From early childhood Robin Wright remembers just one episode: her energetic mother, Gayle, takes Robin and her elder brother from their home, gets into the car, and good bye! Gayle left their father forever, while he watched them depart with tears in his eyes. Later, Robin’s mother told her that nothing of the kind actually happened; it’s just that her parents’ divorce became stamped on her young mind like a dramatic scene from a soap opera. Gayle was able to look after her children herself. Her mother’s inexhaustible energy was instrumental in beautiful blonde Robin beginning her own career in the modelling business when she was still at school; at the age of 14 she signed an extensive contract to work in Japan.
From the catwalk Robin stepped right onto the TV screen, without going to college. Subsequently, she would regret that she had joined the acting profession so young without having time to finish school. In 1984 Robin appeared on the set of the soap opera Santa Barbara as the daughter of oil magnate Kelly Capwell.
Although Santa Barbara gave the young actress a firm dislike for television, Robin nevertheless had this in some ways wonderful soap opera to thank for two things - her ability to play any scene in one take and her first marriage. Robin married her partner on the set, Dane Witherspoon. This rushed alliance, however, did not last long - leaving in Robin’s life only vague memories of a youthful mistake and the successful investment of her fees for playing Kelly: her then father-in law owned an oil company and, at his suggestion, she acquired two oil derricks in Texas.
Robin did not spend long on her own. On the set of the crime thriller State of Grace she met the man of her life - or, to be more accurate, of the next 20 years of her life. In this him Robin had a number of steamy love scenes with Sean Penn, and, as the saying goes, a ‘spark ran between them'. In Hollywood Penn had a name for being a big talent, but extremely rude and debauched. At the moment when he met Robin, Penn’s scandalous marriage to Madonna, whom Penn used sometimes to beat up in fits of jealousy, had just fallen apart. His explosive temperament and foul character were no secret to anyone. Robin was an utterly different kind of person - a real princess bride. For a while, it seemed that her mild character and endless patience would be able to bridle fiery Penn.
To begin with, this was indeed the case, and soon Robin fell pregnant. When their daughter Dylan was bom, she had to turn down the part of Maid Marian in Robin Hood with Kevin Costner; and this was not the last sacrifice that she made for the sake of her family. A couple of years later, a second pregnancy deprived Robin of another promising role, when she gave birth to their son Hopper, allowing another actress to play alongside Tom Cruise in The Firm. Nevertheless, fate was kind to Robin: the infrequent roles which she chose were usually extraordinary ones which brought her well-deserved success. This was precisely the case in 1994, when she was invited to playjenny, Forest Gump’s girlfriend in the him of that name. Jenny has lived through all the passions of the riotous 1960s - from pacihsm, folk rock, and anti-war marches to participation in actions by the radical Black Panthers and dangerous experiments with drugs.
After the him came out, Robin found herself in high demand, but turned down new offers, preferring to keep her distance. She made an exception only for projects where she played alongside Penn, such as The Crossing Guard and Loved. But the idyllic love ‘between the lady and the hooligan’ could not last forever: Penn had an affair on the side and then in one unfortunate interview let drop that he was “dead tired of Robin”. She responded by taking their children and leaving him - as decisively as her mother had left her father so many years before. But this was by no means the end of the story. The couple finally divorced in 2010:
“Divorce was a very painful, exhausting process for us,” says Robin. “We honestly tried to do things the best way!”
In fact, it was mainly Robin who tried; Sean, who soon embarked on a relationship with Charlize Theron, had no compunction about making offensive remarks about his ex.
If Robin Wright had played only two roles in her career - in The Princess Bride and Forest Gump - she would still have earned a place in the history of him. Fate rarely gives those who fail to build on early success a third chance. However, after a long break, a new star role literally fell out of the sky on Robin. She played in David Fincher’s thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the director, after observing her closely, began courting her for a part which he told her no one else could play - Claire Underwood, the wife of the power- obsessed senator in House of Cards. Robin was worried that she didn’t fit the part: her character, a real lady Macbeth of Capitol Hill, was an iron lady and a tough manager; Robin herself has admitted that she is unable to sack even her cleaner. But, after throwing off the shackles of an exhausting marriage, she felt ready to experiment:
“It took a long time for me to develop as a personality. It was only on the brink of turning 50 that I finally felt that I was me!” For the role of Claire Robin Wright (no longer Wright Penn!) fundamentally changed her image, opting for short hair: “I think that’s the best decision I've ever made!” she jokes.
Once again, she was able to achieve what few have managed to do before — to avoid getting stuck in older roles , even in the most outstanding series. Soon we shall see her in a new blockbusting action him. Wonder Woman. Clearly, as with every successful woman, Robin Wright still has many best decisions and wonders ahead of her. ♦