Minnie Driver has fond memories of filming Slow Burn in 1998, despite the fact she once called it "a truly tragic film that I hope will never see the light of day". "We never even finished it," she said. "Everything that could go wrong went wrong. We had no money, we had a director who just wandered off into the desert one day... As an actor I could just go \'It\'s not my problem\'. But it was my problem, because I was one of the producers. But we laughed an awful lot."
Laughing in the face of challenge is a typical response from the London-born actress and producer, who is alternately described as everything from earthy to intellectual. Both her career and love life have been hit and miss, sometimes at the same time she met her ex-fiancé Josh Brolin on the set of Slow Burn, which, incidently, went straight-to-video but Minnie seems to take it all in her stride.
Born on January 31, 1971, and given the name Amelia Driver ("I\'d love to be an Amelia, but frankly then I think I should be a German woman with a horned hat," she says) the actress was raised in Barbados, returning to England along with her elder sister Kate after her parents Ronnie, a financier, and Gaynor Churchward, an interior designer and former model split in 1976. Five years later, she was sent to renowned Hampshire boarding school Bedales, where the budding jazz vocalist and guitarist began to explore her interest in theatre.
Minnie went on to enrol in the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, making her stage debut just two weeks after graduating with an acting degree in 1991. Her career in Britain quickly took flight with roles in BBC TV productions and a series of her own before she made an international splash in Circle Of Friends, for which she gained two stone in weight.
The part boosted her to fame in the US, and she soon found herself newly slimmed down and every inch the budding Hollywood star on the A-list. Critically acclaimed roles followed as she mastered American accents in Sleepers and Grosse Point Blank.
She cemented her hot property status when she garnered a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for Good Will Hunting. She also made headlines when co-star and then-boyfriend Matt Damon dumped her live on the Oprah Winfrey Show, a move she later called "fantastically inappropriate". "It was such a great shame it ended the way it did," she says. "Well, we learn! Or at least I learn!" And she didn\'t miss a beat, gaining the admiration of spurned girlfriends everywhere when she was the belle of the ball at the Oscars weeks later, drop dead gorgeous in a scarlet dress.
While the actress didn\'t win that night, she seemed well-entrenched in Tinseltown, buying an LA home, producing films with her own production company Two Drivers with her sister Kate, and starring in a big budget action flick, Hard Rain. However, she often returns to her English roots, making The Governess for which she was paid just £75,000 in 1998, as well as the London-lensed An Ideal Husband. The UK filming of her latest release, High Heels And Low Lifes,held a range of experiences, including an attack of appendicitis ("I thought it was wind!" she jokes) and a surprise opportunity to meet the Queen, who was "in one of the back tents" at a polo match.
The actress, single after her break-up with Barbra Streisand\'s stepson Josh Brolin in late 2001, and rumoured romantic links with Dougray Scott and Harrison Ford, is now living quietly back in LA. "The British tabloid press have Hollywood painted as a place where they hand you some silicone implants as you go through passport control," she says. "But my life there is so much more low-key than that."