At 62 years old, Virginia Madsen has this physical status:
Madsen made her acting debut at age 22, in a bit part where she landed her role as Lisa in the comedy film Class (1983). She next appeared in Kenny Loggins' music video for "I'm Free (Heaven Helps the Man)" from the Footloose soundtrack.
She portrayed a cellist named Madeline in Electric Dreams (1984). She was cast as Princess Irulan in David Lynch's science fiction epic Dune (1984). In 1986, she starred as Boris (Vincent Spano)'s romantic interest Barbara in the film Creator, which also starred Peter O'Toole.
Madsen first became popular with audiences in 1986 with her portrayal of a Catholic school girl who fell in love with a boy from a prison camp in Duncan Gibbons' Fire with Fire. As beauty queen Dixie Lee Boxx, she was the love interest of minor league baseball manager Cecil "Stud" Cantrell (William Petersen) in the HBO original film Long Gone (1987). That same year she also appeared in the music video for "I Found Someone" by Cher. She played a secretary named Allison Rowe in the comedy film Hot to Trot (1988). She also starred as Helen Lyle in the horror film Candyman (1992).
She appeared in a small role in the Francis Ford Coppola drama The Rainmaker (1997) alongside Matt Damon and Claire Danes. Film critic Roger Ebert said that Madsen had a "strong scene", while reviewer James Berardinelli noted that "the supporting cast is solid, with turns from . . . Virginia Madsen as a witness for the plaintiff".
Madsen delivered a critically acclaimed performance in Sideways (2004), directed by Alexander Payne. Her role catapulted her onto the Hollywood A-list.
Her first major role after Sideways was opposite Harrison Ford in Firewall. She later appeared in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, in a key role as the angel. She co-starred alongside Jim Carrey in The Number 23 and Billy Bob Thornton in The Astronaut Farmer; both films were released in North America on February 23, 2007. She voiced Queen Hippolyta, mother of Wonder Woman, in the animated film Wonder Woman (2009).
In 1988, Madsen appeared as Maddie Hayes' cousin in the fifth and final season of the ABC drama series Moonlighting. She has since made various television appearances, including Star Trek: Voyager, CSI: Miami, Dawson's Creek, The Practice, Frasier, and other television series. She was also co-host of the long-running television series Unsolved Mysteries in 1999, during the show's eleventh season (which was also the second and final season on CBS). She starred alongside Ray Liotta in the short-lived CBS crime drama series Smith. She also had a recurring role in the eighth and final season in the USA Network comedy-drama series Monk.
In 2010, she landed the starring role of Cheryl West in the ABC comedy-drama series Scoundrels. In December 2010, it was announced that she would be joining the cast in the NBC science fiction series The Event. In 2012, she joined the cast of the AMC western drama series Hell on Wheels as Mrs. Hannah Durant, first appearing in episode eight of season 2, "The Lord's Day". In 2013, Madsen began appearing on Lifetime's Witches of East End as Penelope Gardiner, the main villainess of the first season.
She starred as Speaker Kimble Hookstraten in the first season of the ABC political drama series Designated Survivor.
In 2008, she formed her own film production company called Title IX Productions. Her first project was a film made with her mother titled I Know a Woman Like That. The film is a documentary about the lives of older women. On the creation of the film, she said her mother's active lifestyle was an inspiration to start filming.