Exclusive: Marisa Tomei Isn’t Messing Around

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Exclusive: Marisa Tomei Isn’t Messing Around featured image
Photography + Makeup: Tina Turnbow using Ogee | Hair: Kendall Shira | Styling: Marisa’s own

This spring, Marisa Tomei has a new film, High Tide, coming out as she concurrently garners buzz for her “bad boss” role in Amazon Prime’s Upgraded, a bit of a modern-day Cinderella tale. Much like the fairy tale, the Academy Award–winning, Brooklyn-born actress’s journey has been woven with magical onscreen moments that have left an indelible mark. Her portrayal of Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny wasn’t just a role—it was a revelation. With a blend of sass and sophistication and lots of hairspray, we can safely say Tomei set the standard for the Mob-wife aesthetic. But her allure extends beyond her iconic roles. From her unforgettable turn in The Wrestler to tugging at our heartstrings as Peter Parker’s beloved May Parker in Spider-Man, she has the ability to navigate between comedic charm and raw emotion.

Let’s first talk about Amazon Prime’s Upgraded. I saw it as soon as it came out; I think we’re all collectively waiting for a new release to be streaming. How was that project for you? It seemed really fun.

“Oh, it was very fun. It was really a character that…let’s just say she doesn’t pussyfoot around. That was a really fun one to play. Yet, she’s still good. In the end, she’s very supportive of her protege and she wants the best for her, but she can be more than forthright, which I really enjoyed playing. It was very fun.”

It was a great role. Out of all your projects, are there any big beauty or glam moments to get into character that stuck with you, or anything you really loved getting into character for?

“The costumes and the hair and makeup are absolutely crucial to any role. I take a lot of time with that, and sometimes it’s really my first way into the character. What is this person wearing? Where has she shopped? What’s her experience with that? What kind of underwear does she wear? All of that. 

In terms of the look, usually, I try to get together ahead of time with the hair and makeup team if possible—at least a few weeks in advance—to start working on different combinations of: ‘If we do this hair, how will this eye look? If we do this eye…do we want a shorter cut? Can we do a wig? Can the production afford a wig?’

Then, it becomes a matter of how quickly it all can be executed in the mornings, because I really get antsy sitting in that chair. I don’t like being in that chair for more than an hour, soup to nuts. I like to just get into work mode and get going. It’s best to work it out, understand where the character is coming from, and then get it going quickly on the day.”

I like that. Do you have any favorite products that you use in on-set or in your day-to-day that you really love?

“A lot of times, it’s what the makeup artist has when I’m on set. For skin, I really keep it simple. I have very sensitive skin. Right now and for a while, I’ve been using Intelligent Nutrients moisturizer ($75). I always like to put a 111Skin eye patch ($110) under my eyes to depuff them as much as I can. I still use ‘Mr. Big’ Lancôme mascara (originally $30, now $25.50), but I do an undercoat a lot of times with Benefit’s They’re Real! mascara ($29). That’s not for characters. That’s just for me.”

Marisa Tomei March Digital Cover 2
Sweater: Batsheva

Those are all good ones. I haven’t heard about Intelligent Nutrients in forever, but their products are vey good.

“I know. That’s a throwback, but it’s good. My skin doesn’t really like to switch around too much.”

Are there any treatments or facials that you like going to either in New York or L.A., or anything spa-like that you like?

“I don’t really do that. I just never got in the groove. As I’m getting older, I realize that I need it more, but I still have to work at making it more a part of my routine. Because, as I said, my skin is sensitive, I have to steer clear of some things. In L.A., what I do really like more than anything is a good facial massage. I love a facial massage. I also like it when there’s lymphatic drainage and when really your jaw gets massaged out, and the facial muscles fall into place more. That’s something I look forward to. I always fall asleep, though. I love it.”

That’s great. I know that you’ll turn 60 this year. Is there any thoughts that’s coming with that? Are you excited for it, or where are you with that?

“I think it’s a silly thing to be quantified by.”

That’s totally fair. Do you have any advice that you’d like to give to your younger self when you were starting out, either professionally or personally?

“My advice to my younger self is keep partying and keep having fun and do all the late nights and do everything that comes across your plate. That’s the time to do it, really.”

Marisa Tomei March Digital Cover 3

I love it. What else are you excited about this year, or as we get into spring finally? Is there anything you’re really looking forward to?

“In the spring, I have a new film coming out. It’s called High Tide. It’s directed by Marco Calvani. It was just at South by Southwest. It’s a really beautiful love story. I play an artist in it and I’m really looking forward to people seeing that film. What else am I looking forward to in the spring? I guess I’m just always looking forward to spring. I love it. I love that first day. I love when Easter comes around, and we just feel that crispiness in the air and a little bit of fertility; I think we all just feel like jumping around.”

Photography + Makeup: Tina Turnbow using Ogee; Hair: Kendall Shira; Styling: Marisa’s own; Sweater: @batshevadress

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