Minnie Driver's Biggest Life And Career Moments

"The idea of maintaining, of being a movie star, for decades. I clearly did not have that. I did not have the appetite," Minnie Driver told The Guardian in an April 2021 interview. Well, she might not have wanted it, but Driver sure has the fame that comes with being a movie star. After her breakout role in 1995's "Circle of Friends," Driver made a name for herself, eventually landing a spot in the '90s indie classic "Good Will Hunting," alongside Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (per Elle).

Despite her undeniable success, which has earned her an estimated $14 million net worth (via Celebrity Net Worth), Driver has faced challenges in her career. Mostly due to her looks. Once, she was made to stand in a ditch to match the shorter physique of a male co-star playing her love interest. "I was hock high in a bog," she once recounted. "I was thinking, 'Oh my God, this is just bananas – can't he stand on something? Or why don't we both sit down and shoot it like that?.”' Still, not even outright discrimination or passive-aggressive directors could stop this actor. In the 30-plus-years that she has been active in Hollywood, Driver has racked up plenty of accolades — some in her career, others in her personal life. From a brief engagement to Josh Brolin to an Oscar nomination, here are some of Minnie Driver's biggest moments.

Minne Diver started her acting career in the early 90s

In 1991, after obtaining an acting degree from the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, Minnie Driver's career immediately began. She made her debut in the same year as her graduation — first as a stage actor, per Hello Magazine, and then as a model in an ad for a deodorant company. According to her IMDb filmography, Driver also made a few appearances on television after landing minor roles in two 1991 shows, "The House of Elliot" and "Casualty." In addition to these, some other minor role credits from the '90s also include "Maigret," "The Day Today," "Lovejoy," and "Peak Practice."

Driver's natural talents combined with her formal education, made her seemed destined for the big screen. But even though Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art is where she had her tertiary education, Driver's stellar acting and commitment to understanding each of her characters can be traced back to her high school days. "I had three really incredible English teachers. And they just enforced reading, and then in class, breaking down character and story and really bringing those things alive," she told the Independent in a 2021 interview. "That was the basis of all my acting."

Minnie Driver landed a recording contract when she was only 19

Not only did Minnie Driver learn about acting in high school, she apparently was able to pursue another interest of hers — music. Eventually, a teenage Driver started performing gigs in different jazz clubs in London, according to BMI. And then her first major milestone came — a record deal. "I got a record deal at 19 with a group called the Milo Roth Band; then I followed the acting path, but I've always made music as well," she told The Guardian.

In what appeared to be the beginning of her journey as a solo artist, Driver signed a new record deal with EMI and Rouder Records in 2001. Her debut album "Everything I've Got in My Pocket" was released in 2004. With the album peaking as high as 43 on the Heatseekers Albums, per Billboard, it is safe to say the album was a success in its own right. But this was not the only big moment the "Circle of Friends" star recorded in 2004. That same year, Driver served as an opening act for the famous rock band Finn Brothers who were in the UK chapter of their global tour (via Oxford Mail).

1995 was a big year for Diver

Minnie Driver's breakout role came in 1995 when she was cast as Bernadette "Benny" Hogan in "Circle of Friends," a film chronicling the lives of three Irish women as they navigate womanhood. Driver, however, almost did not get this role. The character Benny was written to be plus-sized, Driver was not. "I begged. I wanted this role more than I wanted to live," she told Entertainment Weekly. So, in an effort to convince the producers she was the right fit, Driver willingly gained over 20 pounds.

And even after getting the part, she was required to add more weight. "Pat's criterion was 'keep eating,' " Driver said in an interview with the Los Angles Times. "But really, I was sent off set a few times to go change because I didn't look big enough. I didn't wear padding, but while I did gain weight, it was as much psychological as anything. I was never allowed to show my waist; always everything was big."

Of course, even at that time, the young actor's unwavering commitment did not go unnoticed. "It takes courage to be that dedicated," director Pat O'Connor once said of the budding star. "But I think in the end it will pay off for Minnie — it really comes through in her performances."

Diver's confidence was tested in 1997

In 1997, Minnie Driver further cemented her status as a stellar actor in "Good Will Hunting." But she almost missed out on the role due to a certain person at Miramax. As revealed in an interview with The Times, director Harvey Weinstein was initially skeptical about casting her, on the basis that she did not have as much sex appeal as was required of the character. "Nobody would want to f*** her," he allegedly told casting directors. Weinstein was however not the only one in the crew that had a problem with her looks.

Speaking to The Cut in 2022, Driver opened up about being told by a producer that she was not hot enough to get the lead role. "It was devastating," she told the outlet. "To be told at 26 that you're not sexy when you maybe just got over all your teenage angst, and started to think, you know, Maybe in the right light and the right shoes and the right dress, I'm all right."  

And while these comments shook her self-confidence, Driver shook it off just as fast. "I remember feeling so devastated until I realized, 'Hold on, just consider the source for a minute," she said. "That is an unutterable pig – why on earth are you worried about this f*** saying that you are not sexy?"

An Oscar moment

Maybe it was the initial resistance she faced on the set of "Good Will Hunting," or she's just one hell of an actor. Whatever it is, Minnie Driver delivered on her role as Skylar — so much so that it landed her the biggest nomination of her career at the time. In 1998, the-then 28-year-old was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category at the Oscars — and although she lost to Kim Basinger, for the actor, it will always be a night to remember. "I'll never forget the night of the Academy Awards because I was actually with my dad who has since gone and I was with my mum and my sister," she explained during an appearance on Jay Rayner's "Out to Lunch" podcast (via Yahoo! News). "I can only describe it as I imagine walking into the Roman Colosseum, with just these shrieking hordes and utterly overwhelming and terrifying."

In the years since, Driver has continued to rack up more accolades including two Emmy nominations — the first in 2007 for her role as Dahlia Malloy in the FX television drama "The Riches" — and then in 2014 for her stellar portrayal of Maggie Royal in Sean Hanish's "Return to Zero," per her IMDb page. In addition, the actor also has a Golden Globe nomination and two London Critics Circle Film Awards under her belt.

She got engaged in 2001

After meeting on the set of the 1998 movie "Slow Burn," Minnie Driver started dating her costar actor Josh Brolin. Two years into their romance, Brolin proposed. "I can confirm that they are engaged," a representative for Driver confirmed at the time, per News 24. Sadly, only a few months into their engagement, Driver and Brolin called things off. "Minnie Driver and Josh Brolin have decided to cancel their wedding plans. Their decision is mutual and amicable," a statement read according to ABC News.

Throughout her career, Driver has been linked to several high-profile Hollywood stars, including Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. The most memorable, however, was her relationship with actor Matt Damon. As reported by E! News, the pair started dating after meeting on the set of "Good Will Hunting," where they played on-screen lovers. But even though it appeared to have been written in the stars, Damon and Driver's romance was short-lived. Things between the two awkwardly came to an end after the "Jason Bourne" star blindsided Driver and went on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" to announce he was single. Driver admitted to the Los Angeles Times that she found the move "fantastically inappropriate." Yet, despite the drama surrounding it, she continues to remember the whirlwind romance fondly. "That was just a sweet romance that was just a sweet love affair in the center of all of that stuff, but had a combustible ending, which then became the focus," she said during a chat with ET.

Diver's memorable return to television in 2007

After a long hiatus from television, Minnie Driver made a big comeback in 2007 as Dahlia Malloy, the erratic recovering addict wife of Eddie Izzard's Wayne Malloy. According to her IMDb, Driver's fantastic performance on the show earned her two major recognitions — an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series in 2007 and a Golden Globes nominations for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2008. 

Despite that recognition, for Driver, portraying Dahlia came with its own challenges. "I think I just get so emotionally wound up by this character, by where she's coming from, where she's so high octane, 99% of the time. It can become super inflammatory -you know she's just a huge character and I definitely get exhausted, but also get very over emotional, which is a challenge," she once admitted to Movie Web in an interview. "You kind of exhaust yourself and exhaust the people around you as well."

While "The Riches" was eventually canceled, the Will & Grace" star landed more television roles in subsequent years. In December 2009, the BBC announced that Driver would appear in "The Deep," a BBC One miniseries slated for release the following year. Similarly, in 2016, the veteran actor was cast as Maya Dimeo in the ABC family drama "Speechless."

Minnie Driver became a mom in 2008

After welcoming son Henry Story in September 2008, Minnie Driver was ushered into the joys of motherhood. "You know, it's so, it's so extraordinary and I, you know, everyone tells you that and everyone says that. You can't know until you have it. It just blows your mind. Yeah, Henry," Driver said about motherhood in a 2009 with CinemaBlend. Initially, the "Conviction" star kept the identity of her son's father from the public on the premise that she chose to protect him because they were never in a relationship. In 2012, however Driver revealed that Henry was fathered by a writer she met on the set of "The Riches" — though she did not name him, he has since been outed as Timothy J. Lea. "I don't need to protect him any more," she told The Guardian in 2012. "He can fend for himself. He's a grown-up." Is he a good dad? "Sort of. He's figuring it out ... I mean, he hasn't been that involved; his choice. But he is now."

These days, when she is not on set, you will most likely find Driver publicly gushing over her son. " I can't believe you're 13 today. In some ways, you've always seemed older than you were (see moustache) You are GOLDEN my love. Happy, happy birthday," the iconic actor wrote in an Instagram birthday tribute to Henry in 2021. Clearly, like many other stars, for Driver, motherhood will always remain the best role ever!