Martha Campbell Plimpton (born November 16, 1970) is an American stage, film, and television actress, singer, and former model. She rose to prominence in the Richard Donner film, The Goonies (1985). She has also appeared in the films, The Mosquito Coast (1986), Running on Empty (1988), Parenthood (1989), Samantha (1992), and Small Town Murder Songs (2011). Additionally, she has starred on television programs, such as Raising Hope, and currently as Eileen O'Neal on The Real O'Neals. She Also has appeared in numerous Broadway productions including The Coast of Utopia, Top Girls, Pal Joey, A Delicate Balance, and Shining City.
Martha Plimpton was born into the prestigious Carradine family, to parents Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton. Her parents met while performing in the original Broadway run of Hair. Her paternal grandfather was actor John Carradine.
She attended the Professional Children's School in Manhattan. Her first stage appearance was when her mother brought her on stage in costume for the curtain call of the short-lived Broadway play The Leaf People then another play in The Ass and the Heart.
Plimpton began her career as a model, securing an early 1980s campaign for Calvin Klein, making an impression as a sophisticated but tomboyish little girl. She made her feature film debut in 1981, when at the age of eleven, she had a small role in the film Rollover. In 1984, she appeared in the Deep South drama The River Rat opposite Tommy Lee Jones, as his "hoydenish daughter". Her breakthrough performance was as Stef Steinbrenner in the 1985 film The Goonies. She also appeared that year on the sitcom Family Ties.
This began Plimpton being cast in the role of a rebellious tomboy, beginning with her performance as the Reverend Spellgood (Andre Gregory)'s daughter in the 1986 film The Mosquito Coast, starring Harrison Ford. The critically praised but commercially unsuccessful 1987 film Shy People (co-starred with Barbara Hershey and Jill Clayburgh) was followed by a performance in the 1988 ensemble comedy Stars and Bars.This was released shortly before Running on Empty, an Academy Award-nominated film starring River Phoenix, for which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award.
She began a career making small independent film appearances with supporting roles in big-budget films. She appeared in the 1988 Woody Allen film Another Woman. She co-starred with Jami Gertz as a cancer patient in the German film Zwei Frauen (1990) (released in America as Silence Like Glass).The film was nominated for Outstanding Feature Film at the German Film Awards. Plimpton shaved her head to play a cancer patient in Zwei Frauen.
She played the role of the independent teenage daughter of Dianne Wiest in Parenthood. Plimpton appeared with Joaquin Phoenix (then credited as Leaf Phoenix), who portrayed her brother. Parenthood grossed over $126 million and received two Academy Award nominations, one of her most successful movie appearances since The Goonies.
Plimpton appeared in the Robert De Niro 1990 film Stanley & Iris in a supporting role. She also appeared in the 1991 TV movie A Woman At War as the lead, "Helene Moskiewicz", alongside Eric Stoltz.
Plimpton played the starring role of "Samantha" in the film Samantha (1992). She appeared as an activist in the independent film Inside Monkey Zetterland released in 1993.
She appeared with Cuba Gooding Jr., in the television film Daybreak (1993, HBO). She appeared in the Showtime television film Chantilly Lace.
She had a featured role in the film Josh and S.A.M. (1993) as a runaway who takes care of the two boys. She played the lead in the 1994 film adaptation of the Carolyn Chute novel The Beans of Egypt, Maine. Plimpton also appeared as herself in the independent film by Eric Schaeffer My Life's in Turnaround (1993), a movie about filmmakers trying to make a movie. She appeared as a close friend of radical feminist Valerie Solanas in the film I Shot Andy Warhol (1996).
In 1997, the Showtime Network cast Plimpton as the female lead in the television film, The Defenders: Payback. Two more episodes (The Defenders: Choice of Evils and The Defenders: Taking the First) were aired in 1998. This show was a retooling of the classic television show by the same name, and the characters were descendants of Lawrence Preston, a role reprised by actor E.G. Marshall. Plimpton played the granddaughter, "M.J. Preston". The intent was to spin the program off as a series, but Marshall died in 1998. The decision was made to not continue production due to Marshall's death.
Plimpton became involved with The Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, appearing in Hedda Gabler (2001) among others.
In 1999, Plimpton had a recurring role in the sixth season of the NBC medical drama ER as "Meg Corwyn".
In 2001, she co-starred with Jacqueline Bisset in The Sleepy Time Gal. In 2002, she appeared in the documentary Searching for Debra Winger and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award] for her guest appearance on the television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Plimpton was the voice of Miss Crumbles in the 2004 animated film Hair High by Bill Plympton. In 2004, she guest-starred on an episode of 7th Heaven. She wrote the episode of the show entitled "Red Socks", which aired in 2005. She had a recurring role on the NBC show Surface (2005–06).
Plimpton attending the 63rd Tony Awards, 2009 From October 2006 to May 2007, she was in the stage play The Coast of Utopia, a trilogy of plays by Tom Stoppard at Lincoln Center. She won a Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a Tony award, Featured Actress in a Play. From August to September 2007 Plimpton appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park production as "Helena".
She co-founded a production company, Everything is Horrible, which has produced short films for the Internet.
Plimpton received her second nomination for a Tony Award in 2008, Best Performance by a Featured Actress In a Play, for her work in Top Girls at the Biltmore Theater. In November 2008, she earned a positive review from Ben Brantley in The New York Times for her role as Gladys Bumps in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Pal Joey on Broadway. "...the ever-daring Ms. Plimpton exudes a been-there, frowzy sensuality that summons a host of hard-bitten dames from 1930s movie melodramas. Leading the nightclub act 'That Terrific Rainbow,' she has the period style down pat and a more than passable voice." She received her third consecutive Tony nomination, for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
In November 2009, Plimpton signed on for the Fox sitcom Raising Hope. The show premiered on September 21, 2010, receiving strong reviews for Plimpton and the pilot. The New York Times called Raising Hope "the most promising" of "the best new fall shows," and said "Plimpton isn't the only reason 'Raising Hope' could be the best new sitcom of the season, but she is the main reason." Plimpton was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal as Virginia Chance in Raising Hope.
From 2009 to 2013 she had a recurring role on the CBS legal drama The Good Wife. She played attorney Patti Nyholm who appeared through four seasons. Her performance earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2012.
Plimpton sang "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch of Game 3 of the 2010 World Series in Texas on Fox, October 30, 2010.
On December 15, 2010, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre announced that Plimpton would be the guest of honor at their second-annual "Salute to Women in the Arts".
In 2010, she starred in Ed Gass-Donnelly's independent crime thriller Small Town Murder Songs, and was given a trophy for best actress by the Whistler Film Festival.
In 2014, Plimpton returned to Broadway as Julia, the daughter of Glenn Close and John Lithgow in a revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance. The limited engagement ran 18 weeks at the Golden Theatre and co-stars Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban and Clare Higgins
Plimpton currently stars in the ABC sitcom The Real O'Neals, that premiered on March 2, 2016.