The daughter of a California-based civil engineer and a Costa Rican émigré, Madeleine Stowe attended the University of Southern California, but cut classes to watch plays. Her life as a waitress came to an end when she was fired for being "too spacey," but she was anything but spacey when it came to pursuing an acting career on the California theater circuit. Stowe eventually attracted the attention of Richard Dreyfuss' agent -- not for her stage work, but because the agent spotted her watching one of Dreyfuss' performances. This serendipitous turn of events enabled Stowe to get a bit part in the TV series Baretta, which led to more substantial roles on other shows. While working on the mid-'80s miniseries The Gangster Chronicles, the actress met her husband, future Dream On star Brian Benben. Stowe's screen career during the 1980s and '90s was not exactly a string of blockbusters, but she usually garnered excellent reviews and positive audience response, so that when she was in a bona fide hit, such as 1992's The Last of the Mohicans, reviewers were often inclined to credit her for at least some of the film's success. Stowe also starred in Robert Altman's critically-acclaimed Short Cuts in 1993 and Terry Gilliam's sci-fi cult film 12 Monkeys in 1995.