Elizabeth Peña

Elizabeth Peña

  • Highest Rated: 100% Things Behind the Sun (2001)
  • Lowest Rated: 5% Vibes (1988)
  • Birthday: Sep 23, 1961
  • Birthplace: Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
  • For some performers, the art of entertainment is discovered early on and tirelessly studied in an endless quest for perfection, and for others, a career on the stage and screen is a birthright that they are seemingly destined to fulfill. This isn't to say that they don't work just as hard to become the best they can be at their craft, but simply that actors such as the lovely and talented Elizabeth Peña had a distinct advantage in coming from a long line of talented entertainers. The daughter of a well-known Cuban-American writer/actor/director who founded the off-Broadway Latin American Theater Ensemble, Peña was born in New Jersey and raised in New York. By the tender age of eight, young Peña -- having been reared in a household of creativity and parental encouragement -- had realized without question that she wanted to dedicate her life to a career in the entertainment industry. Peña's education at New York's High School of the Performing Arts was complimented by a series of simultaneous roles in repertory theater and a handful of commercial appearances. At the age of 17, the rising starlet gained positive notice for her film debut as a rebellious teen in the award-winning independent movie El Súper. Subsequent roles in Times Square (1980), They All Laughed (1981) and Crossover Dreams (1985) may have done little to expose audiences to Peña's true dramatic abilities as an actress, but it was only a matter of time before a move Los Angeles found her star beginning to burn brighter than ever. Determined to make an impression in her new surroundings, Peña placed her demo tape and future fate as an actress in the hands of a security guard at a major studio -- and the gamble paid off more than she might have ever imagined. Not only did the guard stay true to his word and deliver the tape to the studio's casting director, but it was only 45 minutes until Peña received a phone call requesting that she return to the lot to meet director Paul Mazursky -- who was preparing to cast the role of lusty maid Carmen in the upcoming comedyDown and Out in Beverly Hills. Peña landed the part, and the rest is history. In the years that followed, Peña made quite an impression with parts in such high-profile features as La Bamba (1987) and Blue Steel (1990), and her role as the mysterious girlfriend of a haunted Vietnam veteran in Jacob's Ladder proved that Peña could skillfully alternate between tender and menacing within a single scene. Peña dabbled in television work with roles in I Married Dora and Shannon's Deal, and would continue to alternate between the large and small screens in the years that followed. As the 1990s rolled on, Peña landed an Independent Spirit Award for her role in John Sayles' Lone Star, cracked skulls opposite action superstar Jackie Chan in Rush Hour, and earned positive critical nods for her supporting performance in the Latino-themed television series Resurrection Blvd. In 2001, Peña charmed audiences as never before with her role as a well-fed daughter hungering for fulfillment in the romantic comedy drama Tortilla Soup. If roles in such big-budget movies as Imposter (2002) offered Peña the sort of exposure that independent films such as ZigZag (also 2002) and Sueño (2004) could not, those smaller, more dramatic efforts offered her a chance to truly shine as an actress.She continued to work as a prolific actress, voicing the character Mirage in The Incredibles (2004), guest-starring on a number of television shows like Numb3rs and the Ghost Whisperer and taking supporting roles in films like Transamerica (2005). She booked a recurring gig playing Gloria's (Sofia Vergara) mother on Modern Family, and appeared in the first season of Matador, which was produced by Robert Rodriguez. The fact that she was working so frequently made her death in 2014 at age 55 following a short illness all the more shocking.

Photos

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

42% The Song of Sway Lake Marlena 2018
91% Grandma Carla 2015
50% Ana Maria in Novela Land Senora Soto 2015
No Score Yet Girl On The Edge Esther 2015
No Score Yet In the Dark Dr. Weinette 2013
No Score Yet Blaze You Out Actor 2013
48% The Perfect Family Christina Reyes $0.2M 2012
No Score Yet Down For Life Mrs. Castro $40.1K 2011
78% Mother and Child Amanda $1.2M 2010
53% Nothing Like the Holidays Anna $7.5M 2008
71% Love Comes Lately Esperanza 2008
79% How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer Lolita Garcia $91.9K 2008
No Score Yet Racing for Time Actor 2008
No Score Yet Racing for Time Superintendent Pamela Flores 2008
44% Adrift in Manhattan Isabel Parades 2007
28% Dragon Wars Agent Linda Perez $11M 2007
52% Down in the Valley Gale $0.5M 2006
77% Transamerica Margaret $8.8M 2006
43% Sueño Mirabella 2005
25% The Lost City Miliciana Munoz $2.5M 2005
No Score Yet Keep Your Distance Holly 2005
No Score Yet Maya & Miguel - Funny Fix-Ups Actor 2005
No Score Yet Maya & Miguel - Twice the Fun Actor 2005
97% The Incredibles Mirage 2004
No Score Yet Suburban Madness Clara Harris 2004
No Score Yet The Hollywood Mom's Mystery Det. Terry Shoe 2004
No Score Yet Ten Tiny Love Stories Actor 2002
44% Zigzag Ms. Tate 2002
22% Impostor Midwife $5.3M 2002
74% Tortilla Soup Leticia Naranjo $3M 2001
No Score Yet On the Borderline Connie 2001
100% Things Behind the Sun Carmen 2001
50% Seven Girlfriends Martha 1999
6% Strangeland Toni Gage 1998
60% Rush Hour Tania Johnson 1998
No Score Yet Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within Rosario Ames 1998
No Score Yet The Pass Zeena 1998
No Score Yet The Second Civil War Christina Fernandez 1997
88% Gridlock'd Admissions Person 1997
No Score Yet Contagious (Virus) Lou 1997
No Score Yet Pass Actor 1997
94% Lone Star Pilar 1996
No Score Yet It Came from Outer Space II Ellen Fields 1996
12% Fair Game Actor 1995
31% Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home Dr. Kate Haley 1995
No Score Yet Dead Funny Vivian 1995
No Score Yet The Invaders Actor 1995
No Score Yet Across the Moon Carmen 1994
93% The Waterdance Rosa 1992
72% Jacob's Ladder Jezzie 1990
71% Blue Steel Tracy Perez 1990
5% Vibes Consuela 1988
60% *batteries not included Marisa Esteval 1987
96% La Bamba Rosie Morales 1987
81% Down and Out in Beverly Hills Carmen 1986
No Score Yet Crossover Dreams Liz 1985
44% They All Laughed Rita 1981
93% Thief Actor 1981
50% Times Square Disco Hostess 1980
No Score Yet El Super Aurelita 1979

TV

Rating

Title

Credit

Year

67% Matador
2014
Maritza Sandoval
  • 2014
86% Modern Family
2009
Pilar
  • 2013
48% Common Law
2012
  • 2012
0% Charlie's Angels
2011
Warden Gloria Galvez
  • 2011
18% Off the Map
2011
Inez
  • 2011
6% Outlaw
2010
  • 2010
80% FlashForward
2009-2010
Sally
  • 2009
No Score Yet Ghost Whisperer
2005-2010
Marla
  • 2009
No Score Yet American Dad (target for inaccurate feed data)
2005
Voice
  • 2007
  • 2006
No Score Yet Numb3rs
2005-2010
Sonya Benavides
  • 2005
No Score Yet Without a Trace
2002-2009
Rosie Diaz
  • 2005
No Score Yet NCIS
2003
Lina Reyes
  • 2004
No Score Yet Boston Public
2000-2005
Elizabeth Vasquez
  • 2003
  • 2002
No Score Yet Resurrection Blvd.
2000-2002
Bibi
  • 2002
  • 2001
  • 2000
No Score Yet The Outer Limits
1995-2002
Dr. Martinez
  • 1995
83% Shannon's Deal
1989-1991
Lucy Acosta
  • 1991
  • 1989

QUOTES FROM Elizabeth Peña CHARACTERS

Mirage
If you want to bet on something, bet on your own life!
Pilar Cruz
Nobody Stays In Love For 23 Years...
Mirage
Next time you gamble, bet your own life!
Mirage
[through her teeth] Next time you gamble, bet *your own* life.
Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible
Wait. I bet Syndrome's changed the password by now. How do I get into his computers?
Mirage
[over microphone] Say please.