Family & Companions
Prior to being literally plucked off the street to star in Larry Clark's controversial "Kids" (1995), actress Rosario Dawson exhibited little interest in what became her eventual career. The 15-year-old was discovered on the front steps of her building by the director, a life-changing event for a young girl still trying to figure out what life had to offer outside the confines of New York City. Ever since her breakthrough performance, which attracted the attention of numerous critics, as well as Hollywood, Dawson ran the film gamut, starring in such critically-appreciated independents like "He Got Game" (1998) and "25th Hour" (2002), and Hollywood duds like "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002) and "Alexander" (2004). But her good looks gave Dawson the opportunity to explore a variety of roles without being typecast, leading to films as divergent as "Rent" (2005), "Sin City" (2005), "Grindhouse" (2007) and "Top Five" (2014), resulting in a vibrant career in which she was able to chart her own path.
Born on May 9, 1979 in New York, NY, Rosario Dawson was raised by her father, Greg, a construction worker and her mother, Isabelle, a professional vocalist. Her upbringing, however, was anything but conventional. When she was six, her parents became squatters in an empty building which they spent years transforming into a habitable living space by rewiring the electricity and drawing water from a nearby fire hydrant. Some years later, while hanging out with friends on the stoop of her building, Dawson attracted the attention of screenwriter Harmony Korinne and controversial director Larry Clark, who had heard the 15-year-old laughing uproariously. Almost on the spot, she was cast in "Kids" (1995), Clark's dark and much-criticized look at New York teenagers indulging in sex, drugs and endless amounts of trouble. The unseasoned Dawson was a standout amongst the ensemble cast, playing Ruby, a free-speaking sexually promiscuous teen who tests negative for HIV, while her best friend, Jeannie (Chloë Sevigny), is not so lucky. "Kids" was both praised and derided for its depiction of American urban youth, making Dawson in demand with a much larger audience than was expected. Though her performance was appropriately chilling, it was her unsettlingly attractive appearance that separated her from the rest.
Despite the initial impact she made with her debut performance, Dawson remained uncertain about what to do next, even though agents and casting directors were banging on her door. She spent some time away from distractions in Texas, then was encouraged by her grandmother to study acting at the acclaimed Lee Strasberg Institute. She then landed her next major role in Spike Lee's "He Got Game" (1998), playing a bewitching, but opportunistic girlfriend to an uncommonly talented basketball player (Ray Allen) eager to get her share of his potential fame and wealth. After appearing in the New York-based episodic comedy "Side Streets" (1998), Dawson paired up with Prince for his timely re-release of his 1980s hit single, "1999." The remixed version featured Dawson in an introductory voiceover, offering commentary on the state of the world on the cusp of a new millennium. Later that year, she was featured in the New York City high school hostage drama "Light It Up" (1999), playing a brainy, cool-headed student trying to encourage moderation in an explosive situation. Meanwhile, her first stab at lighthearted romantic comedy fare proved disappointing after a small role as a stoner in "Down to You" (2000).
Despite the setback of "Down to You," Dawson's career was assuredly on the rise. She landed a co-starring role in the Edward Burns romantic comedy "Sidewalks of New York" (2000), then was cast as Valerie in the live-action adaptation of "Josie and the Pussycats" (2001). Dawson made the jump to blockbuster territory with the summer sequel hit "Men In Black II" (2002), playing a waitress who lures the attention of Agent Jay (Will Smith) after witnessing an alien attack at her restaurant. She next made the mistake of starring as a naïve, futuristic singer who gets involved with a retired smuggler and nightclub owner (Eddie Murphy) in "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002), one of the biggest box office disasters of all time. Dawson fared much better as the girlfriend of a man (Edward Norton) spending his last day of freedom before doing a seven-year prison sting in Spike Lee's excellent crime drama "The 25th Hour" (2002). Following her breakup with rap mogul Jay-Z that same year, Dawson played a South American rebel leader in "The Rundown" (2003), before a small part in "Shattered Glass" (2003).
Dawson delivered a fiery performance as Alexander the Great's (Colin Farrell) hellcat wife Roxanne, which - along with her erotic, but violently charged nude scenes - were among the best elements in "Alexander" (2004), Oliver Stone's epic about the conflicted conqueror struggling to find purpose through never-ending imperial conquest. As the niece of a professional cartoonist, Dawson was naturally drawn to appear in director Robert Rodriguez's visually arresting adaptation of writer-artist Frank Miller's crime noir comic book series "Sin City" (2005), playing the dominatrix prostitute/"warrior woman" Gail in "The Big Fat Kill" sequence. She then had an arresting, carnally-charged turn as the alluring heroin-addicted dancer Mimi Marquez in the big screen adaptation of the smash Broadway musical "Rent" (2005), revealing an aptitude for song and dance. Although the film's cast was populated by many of the stage play's original players, Dawson pulled the rug out from under them all. Returning to her low-budget roots, she played the owner of a fast food joint who develops feelings for career-slacker Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) after a one-night stand in Kevin Smith's "Clerks II" (2006).
After co-starring in "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" (2006), a low-budget drama about a successful writer (Robert Downey, Jr.) returning home to Astoria, Queens, where he encounters the ghosts of his turbulent past, Dawson was one of four friends (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tracie Thoms and Zoë Bell) stalked by a psychopathic stuntman (Kurt Russell) who mows people down with his '69 Dodge Charger in the "Death Proof" segment of "Grindhouse" (2007), directed by Quentin Tarantino. Dawson made the jump to actor-producer on "Descent" (2007), an independent drama about a bright and promising young college student (Dawson) whose life falls apart after being brutally raped by a frat boy (Chad Faust). She next had a successful stint in blockbuster territory with "Eagle Eye" (2008), a techno-thriller about two strangers (Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan) brought together by a mysterious phone call that leads both down an increasingly dangerous path to them becoming fugitives. Dawson next co-starred in "Seven Pounds" (2008), playing a woman with a heart condition who complicates a guilt-ridden IRS agent's (Will Smith) plans for suicide after he falls in love with her.
After appearing in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (2010) as the Greek goddess Persephone, Dawson co-starred in Tony Scott's thriller "Unstoppable" (2010) and in ensemble comedy "Girl Walks Into A Bar" (2011) before playing Kevin James' love interest in family comedy "Zookeeper" (2011). After appearing in romantic comedy "10 Years" (2011) and action thriller "Fire With Fire" (2012), Dawson appeared in drama "Hotel Noir" (2012) and Danny Boyle's psychological thriller "Trance" (2013). Following co-starring role in homeless-teens drama "Gimme Shelter" (2013) and biographical drama "César Chávez" (2014), Dawson co-starred in ensemble drama "Parts per Billion" (2014), Dawson returned to the role of Gail in "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" (2014) and appeared as herself in indie drama "The Ever After" (2014). Dawson starred opposite Ryan Reynolds in Canadian-made thriller "The Captive" (2014) and co-starred as a journalist in Chris Rock's romantic comedy "Top Five" (2014). Fish out of water comedy "Puerto Ricans in Paris" (2015) and thriller "Unforgettable" (2017) followed. During this period, Dawson also began working extensively as a voiceover actress, performing in a number of direct to video animated films.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made her feature debut with a supporting role in "Kids"
Co-starred as the opportunistic girlfriend of basketball star Jesus in Spike Lee drama "He Got Game"
Featured in New York City-set episodic comedy feature "Side Streets"
Played a cool-headed student with high aspirations in "Light It Up"
Contributed introductory voiceover commentary to Prince's remixed timely release of his hit "1999"
Cast in supporting role in romantic comedy "Down to You"
Featured in Edward Burns directed romance "Sidewalks of New York"
Cast as rocker Valerie in live action adaptation of popular cartoon series "Josie and the Pussycats"
Acted in Ethan Hawke's feature directorial debut "Chelsea Walls"
Appeareed in Spike Lee's ensemble crime drama "The 25th Hour"
Starred opposite Eddie Murphy in sci-fi comedy "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"
Cast alongside Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in hit summer sequel "Men In Black II"
Featured with Seann William Scott and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in "The Rundown"
Co-starred in "Shattered Glass," based on the true story of <i>New Republic</i> journalist Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen)
Co-starred in Oliver Stone's "Alexander" as Roxane, the wife of Alexander (Colin Farrell)
Played Mimi Marquez, an HIV-positive exotic dancer and drug addict in big-screen adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Tony Award-winning musical "Rent"
Co-starred in feature adaptation of Frank Miller's uber-noir series of graphic novels "Sin City"; co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez
Cast in Kevin Smith's "Clerks ll" the sequel to his 1994 film
Co-created (with friend David Atchison) comic book <i>Occult Crimes Task Force</i>
Reunited with Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Tracie Thoms, her "Rent" co-stars for drama thriller "Descent"
Apeared in "Death Proof," Quentin Tarantino's half of gore-tastic double feature "Grind House" (a collaboration with Robert Rodriguez)
Played a woman with a heart condition who falls in love with Will Smith in drama "Seven Pounds"
Cast as Persephone, goddess of Springtime and Queen of the Dead in film adaptation "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"
Co-starred with Chris Pine and Denzel Washington in thriller "Unstoppable"
Played Kevin James' love interest in "Zookeeper"
Cast alongside Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt in high school reunion drama "10 Years"
Joined all-star cast for Lifetime anthology movie "Five"
Co-starred with James McAvoy in Danny Boyle drama-thriller "Trance"
Returned to "Sin City" for the disappointing sequel "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"
Co-starred on Netflix's Marvel adaptation "Daredevil"
Reprised Daredevil role on Netflix's "Luke Cage"
Reprised Claire Temple role yet again on the Netflix flop "Iron Fist"
Continued her association with the small-screen Marvel universe in "The Defenders"