In 1998, Gretchen Mol appeared in several notable films including
starring Matt Damon and Woody Allen's Celebrity opposite Leonardo
DiCaprio. It was in 1998 that she also came to prominence and notoriety
when she was featured on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Her
appearance was both a triumph and a failure - it brought her great
attention, but her movies bombed. Dubbed the "It Girl of the Nineties"
by the magazine, her career did not live up to the hype - her early
success was not sustained and she faced several lean years before a
notable comeback with The Notorious Bettie Page in 2006.
While major roles have been sporadic, Mol has been in more than thirty
feature films. And though the films have often been small, she has
worked for a number of important directors. Her first role came in
Spike Lee's 1996 film, Girl 6. She said "I was auditioning for Guiding
Light and I was happy I got a Spike Lee movie, which was a tiny part,
but all of a sudden I had Spike Lee on my resume. I didn't audition for
day player anymore".
Girl 6, New York filmmaker Abel Ferrara took notice and cast her
in two movies, The Funeral (1996) and New Rose Hotel (1998). She had a
small role in Donnie Brasco (1998). But by now, she was being typecast
as "the girlfriend," which she attempted to change by taking a role
opposite Jude Law in Music From Another Room (1998), a romantic comedy.
Unfortunately, the film went virtually unnoticed by critics and
For her second film with Woody Allen, 1999's Sweet and Lowdown, she
played a minor role which the Greenwich Village Gazette called
"notable". She played the victim of a con in the 2003 film, Heavy
Put-Away based on the Terry Southern story. In 2006, she shared the
lead in a romantic comedy, Puccini for Beginners, in which her
character has a lesbian affair.
Mol worked with Mary Harron for two years as the director struggled to
finance The Notorious Bettie Page: "I kind of felt like I lived with it
for a while; certainly not as long as Mary Harron did but I got a good
chance to really feel like I knew something about Bettie so by the time
the role was mine and I was on set I was pretty confident. I felt like
I really worked for it".
The next year, 2007, was one of her busiest, with four films in
production or in release, including a remake of 3:10 to Yuma starring
Russell Crowe, and An American Affair in which her character, Catherine
Caswell, has an affair with John F. Kennedy. When released in February
2009, the film was harshly criticized by New York Times critic Stephen
Holden, though he said that Mol's part was "quite well acted".
In April 2008, she began filming Tenure in Philadelphia, working
opposite Luke Wilson, and Andrew Daly. Though it had received some good
reviews after being screened at several film festivals, it was released
direct-to-video in February 2010.