Her first television credit came in 1986 when she landed a part in the TV movie "Manhunt for Claude Dallas." Two years later she appeared in her first major film, "The Great Outdoors," starring Dan Aykroyd.
She received an Oscar nomination for playing scam artist Myra Langtry in 1990's "The Grifters." The next year she starred as Virginia Hill in "Bugsy," where she met her husband, actor Warren Beatty.
Her most acclaimed role may be her turn as real estate agent Carolyn Burnham in 1999's "American Beauty," for which she received an Oscar nod. In 2004, she was nominated for another Oscar for her portrayal of aging actress Julia Lambert.
In 2006, she was nominated for an Emmy for her role as quirky murderess Jean Harris in HBO's "Mrs. Harris."