Linda stars as "Nurse Samantha Taggart" on NBC's medical drama series "ER". In addition to her role on “ER,” Cardellini recently completed filming the sequel to the hit live-action animated feature “Scooby-Doo,” which also starred Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard. Cardellini reprises her role as Velma Dinkley, the brains of Mystery, Inc., in “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.” Making her mark in the critically acclaimed series “Freaks and Geeks,” Cardellini starred as Lindsay Weir (a precocious academic decathlete who experiences a crisis of faith after witnessing the death of her grandmother). Her witty and biting portrayal of the teen still resonates among the shows cult following. Among Cardellini's other film credits are “Legally Blonde,” “Good Burger,” “Dead Man on Campus” (with Tom Everett Scott and Marc-Paul Gosselaar), the thriller “Strangeland,” and the independent feature “The Unsaid,” opposite Andy Garcia. She also recently completed work on another independent project, “Welcome to LaLa Wood,” opposite Martin Short. Cardellini’s other television work includes “The Lot,” “Guys Like Us” and “Bone Chillers.” Her guest appearances include “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Boy Meets World,” “Clueless” and “Pacific Palisades.” A native of Mountain View, California, Cardellini always wanted to entertain and loves the art of bringing written characters to life. She currently lives in Los Angeles..
Linda Edna Cardellini was born in Redwood City, California on June 25th, 1975, the youngest of four children. She made her public performing debut at the age of 10, when she sang a song in a school play. She was immediately bitten by the acting bug, and soon began attending drama courses and getting involved in school productions. Following her graduation from Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California, she received her first break in 1996 when she landed a starring role as Sarah on ABC's Saturday morning live-action children's series, Bone Chillers. She also made guest appearances on prime-time programs such as Step by Step, Clueless and 3rd Rock from the Sun.
Cardellini made her movie debut with a small part in the comedy Good Burger (1997), and next appeared in the 1998 dark comedy Dead Man on Campus, portraying the girlfriend of a violent college student (played by her future Freaks and Geeks co-star and boyfriend Jason Segel). That same year, she played Genevieve Gage, one of Internet predator Captain Howdy's victims in Strangeland. She returned to the small screen during the 1998-1999 season with recurring roles on Guys Like Us and Boy Meets World, where she was cast as Lauren, the girl that would come between the show's star couple, Cory and Topanga. She had a supporting role in the UPN made-for-TV movie Dying to Live, and received favorable reviews for her portrayal of a young starlet in 1930s Hollywood in AMC's miniseries The Lot (both 1999). Cardellini spent the summer of 1999 in Europe as part of a touring production of Lancelot, a 14th century Dutch tragedy. The highlight of the tour was a special performance as part of an international medieval play conference in Italy.
Her biggest break to date came when she landed one of the starring roles in the NBC series Freaks and Geeks, which debuted during the 1999-2000 season. Cardellini's portrayal of high school student Lindsay Weir received positive reviews, but despite critical acclaim and a sizable cult following, the show was canceled mid-season. She began dating co-star Jason Segel in 2001, the same year she graduated Loyola Marymount University with a degree in theater. She re-emerged on the silver screen later that year, with a small part in 2001's hit comedy, Legally Blonde. After a part in 2001's The Unsaid (aka The Ties That Bind), Cardellini co-starred along with Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and a CGI canine in the live-action Scooby-Doo movie (2002). Despite critics' predictions that the film would flop, it boasted the best June opening to date. Cardellini joined the cast of NBC's ER as a free-spirited single mom, Nurse Samantha Taggart, in the fall of 2003. You can catch Cardellini in the recently released La La Wood, and in Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, set for release in 2004.
"I love cartoons and childlike things, and this was my favorite. You can't escape it. It has always been on television, at least for my life. If someone would have told me when I was a kid I would be playing Velma in a Hollywood movie, I'd have said they were crazy."
-Linda Cardellini, on her Scooby-Doo role
Linda Cardellini Wins Over Single Mothers
SCOOBY-DOO star LINDA CARDELLINI is enjoying support from a new set of fans since landing her role in hit medical drama ER - single mothers.
The 29-year-old actress plays struggling single mum SAMANTHA TAGGART in the show, and she's thrilled with the number of women in the same situation she's touched.
She says, "I get a lot of great fan mail from single parents. Being a nurse is not an uncommon job for woman who are single and raising kids. It's must be the hardest job in the world."
But there's one element of the job which Cardellini admits she'll probably never like - the blood.
She adds, "I'm still a little squeamish. At six in the morning, it's hard to look into an open chest cavity!"
Linda Cardellini Is Happy to Grow Up
Even though she works in a business that puts a premium on youth, Linda Cardellini is delighted that she finally gets to act her age. She's one of ER's newest cast members, portraying Samantha Taggart, an unflappable emergency room nurse -- a major change from the spate of teenage girl roles she has done as a woman out of college and in her 20s. "It's nice," she says simply, "to get to grow up."
Cardellini first made a name for herself in '99 as the heart and soul of Freaks and Geeks, an acclaimed but short-lived TV series about life in high school. More recently, she was a huge hit as Velma Dinkley, the fashion-challenged brains of the ghostbusting Scooby-Doo gang. But even loyal, longtime Cardellini fans see her ER performance as a revelation. As Sam Taggart, she has elevated the bar, establishing herself as a dynamic acting presence that's impossible to ignore. "I just love this character," Cardellini gushes. "She's incredibly capable. She's very smart. And she's not worried about what others think of her, so she says and does as she pleases. She is really good at her job, but the thing she cares about most is her 9-year-old son."
That's right. Just four years after playing Lindsay Weir, a gifted high school student who became a social dropout on Freaks and Geeks, Cardellini has successfully made the transition to portraying a young working mother. "I loved the idea of playing a single mom. The kid that I have on the show, my character had him when she was really young, like 15, 16 years old. And that gives me things to play that I haven't had the chance to play before. The stories before were usually about a girl struggling to become a woman. These stories on ER are about a woman struggling. And that's exciting to me."
Not that Cardellini has ever really minded playing teenage girls. Until Sam, her Freaks and Geeks character was her all-time favorite. "High school is such an interesting time," she says. "Every day of high school feels like high drama or high comedy, especially when you look back with a little distance. So I think it's great to play." And getting the chance to become Velma was a dream come true (she's also in the Scooby-Doo sequel, due in theaters in March 2004). "I was a huge fan of the cartoon, which was why I was so excited just getting to audition," Cardellini says. "I went in in the costume and I had the voice and all these mannerisms down. But I didn't get much of a reaction at the actual audition, so I came home thinking, 'My God, I've made such an idiot of myself.' Then, much to my disbelief, I got the part. But when they wanted to update Velma, make her a little more modern and sassy, I really fought hard to keep that frumpy hairdo. I said, 'Leave all the glamorous stuff to Daphne.'"
That anecdote reveals a lot about Linda Cardellini's approach to acting. She believes in being true to her character, even if it means concealing her own leading-lady good looks. "All I really want," she points out, "is to be a great actress and a good person." This has been her life's ambition since childhood. "I was one of those kids who'd put on a show in the living room, much to my brother's annoyance. And I remember making videos, making my mom hold the camera while I performed. They thought I was strange. But it all paid off. Because I can't imagine anything I'd rather be doing with my life."
Beautiful Linda Cardellini Plays The Brainy Velma
Growing up in Redwood City, Linda Cardellini was glued to the set whenever the cartoon series "Scooby Doo" came on. The future actress was particularly fascinated with Velma, the brainy member of the Coolsville crime- solving gang known as Mystery Inc.
Jinkies! Now Cardellini finds herself playing Velma Dinkley in the "Scooby-Doo" sequel "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," which provides the bespectacled sleuth with a romantic story line -- she develops a crush on a cute museum curator (Seth Greene). Self-conscious for the first time about her sex appeal, Velma gets a makeover from best friend, Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), but winds up "squeaking" in her skintight red leather jumpsuit and quickly reverts to the comfort of her trademark turtleneck sweater.
"I remember wondering if Velma was a boy or a girl, but the way I could tell was that Velma always had, uh ... um ... breasts," Cardellini says of the somewhat androgynous cartoon character. "So in my mind, Velma was always voluptuous, but she hid it. And now, I think it's pretty funny when she gets into this outfit and suddenly has these curves that she usually hides under her sweater."
The romantic interlude in "Scooby-Doo 2" provides another dimension for a character who's always had more on the ball than your average cartoon sidekick. "It would have been easy to play Velma as just your typical nerd," Cardellini says. "That wouldn't be fun for me, and that wasn't what I remembered about her. Besides the turtleneck and the glasses, she had that voice!"
Cardellini shares her character's fondness for articulating hyper-crisp "R's," but looks so unlike Velma that she's been able to stand right next to people looking at "Scooby-Doo" movie posters without being noticed. Currently sporting long blond hair, Cardellini, 28, is outfitted today in a diaphanous black silk blouse, blue jeans and Charles David high heels and a diamond ring, given to her by her boyfriend, actor (and former "Freaks and Geeks" co-star) Jason Segal.
But back in 2001, Cardellini presented herself for the Velma audition completely in character. She even did intensive homework, mimicking the voice by culling Velma sound bites from the Internet. "Linda was the only actress who came in dressed like Velma," says producer Richard Suckle. "She wore the sweater and glasses and even captured the little things, like pointing her finger up. We met loads of people over the next month or two, and nobody gave us that feeling."
When Cardellini was 10, one of her teachers at St. Pius School in Redwood City cast her as old lady Alma in a community theater production of "The Music Man."
"I wore a wig, a hat and stuffed my bra," Cardellini says. "I really hammed it up and sang 'Pick a Little, Talk a Little' in this huge auditorium at Sequoia High. That was it. I totally fell in love with acting."
From the fifth grade on, Cardellini played soccer and hung out after school at Barone's Restaurant in Menlo Park, but mainly she focused on acting. "I was serious when I was little ... maybe too serious. My parents aren't into theater at all, and I would always be doing something very dramatic," she says.
Cardellini appeared in the school production of "Rebel Without a Cause" during her freshman year at Mountain View's St. Francis High School. "I didn't have any lines, but I remember trying to gasp the loudest when the car went off the cliff so people would notice I was onstage."
Cardellini became a star performer at St. Francis, appearing in at least three shows each school year. After taking classes one summer at the American Conservatory Theater and working at the Fortier-Bonneau Casting agency, she graduated from high school in 1993 and moved to Los Angeles, where she studied theater at Loyola Marymount University.
In 1999 she landed her breakthrough role, playing conflicted high school sophomore Lindsay Weir (another sort of nerd goddess -- she was a "mathlete") in the short-lived NBC series "Freaks and Geeks."
"That's really the thing that people started to notice me in," she says. "The characters were underdogs and they didn't often win. It was this bittersweet, honest portrayal that happened to be funny, heartwarming and devastating."
But "Freaks and Geeks" was canceled after its first season. Diehard fans lobbied obsessively for a "Freaks and Geeks" DVD (it will be released as a six-DVD set on April 6).
After filming "Scooby-Doo 2" last summer, Cardellini was invited to join the cast of "ER," a show she had auditioned for many times before."
"I immediately fell in love with the idea of playing this struggling single mother who cared more about her kid than anything else," says Cardellini, who considers her "ER" character, Samantha Taggart, to be her first truly adult role. "For the first time, I'm playing a full-fledged woman who's passionate, impulsive, who doesn't always do the right thing and who gets involved in this love relationship. I have a lot of friends who really relate to her."
Many of those friends still live in the Bay Area, and Cardellini plans a reunion for the red carpet premiere of her new film this weekend when 17 relatives and old pals travel down to Los Angeles for the "Scooby-Doo 2" premiere.
Cardellini says the classmates who remember her one-line appearance in the community theater production of "Bye Bye Birdie" are thrilled to see her starring in hit movies and holding her own opposite heartthrob Goran Visnjic in TV's most popular dramatic series.
"As much as they can't believe it, I can't believe it," Cardellini marvels. "It's so exciting that I was able to turn what I wanted to do as a kid, doing theater in Redwood City, into my job." •
Linda Cardellini is all that and 'Scooby-Doo 2'
Linda Cardellini couldn't be much hotter at the moment -- even if she seems to be the last to know.
"Really?" she asks. "I didn't realize that I'm hot right now."
Really. Cardellini was on the cover of TV Guide, she's a regular on the ever-popular "ER" and she reprises her role as dorky detective Velma Dinkley in "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," the sequel to 2002's family-friendly surprise hit.
"I guess that is exciting," the 28-year-old actress says. "I think you don't realize it, because you're working and you're always worrying about the next thing. So it's hard to assess yourself and where you're at.
"I'm just really pleased," she says. "It's so funny that all these things are happening at once. I've got 'Scooby-Doo 2' coming out and 'ER,' and 'Freaks and Geeks' (1999-2000) is coming out on DVD too. So it's a really exciting time for me -- but I can't think too much about anything but the work."
"Scooby-Doo 2" follows the Mystery Inc. team -- Velma, Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Fred (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Shaggy's dog Scooby -- on its latest adventure. This time around, during a presentation of the costumes belonging to the various villains whom Mystery Inc. has defeated through the years, the villains spring back to life, and the gang has to figure out who's behind it all in order to save Coolsville.
Velma, always the brains of the group, once again sports her trademark orange turtleneck sweater and black-rimmed glasses. But this time fans also will see her in formfitting red leather, as she tries to impress Patrick (Seth Green), curator of the Coolsville Criminology Museum.
"Patrick tells Velma that he thinks she's this glamorous and mysterious detective," Cardellini says with a laugh, "and so she's afraid that she's not what he thinks she is. So Velma dresses herself up to become what he thinks she is. And, of course, that's just totally contrary to what he actually likes about her.
"But it was definitely fun to wear a different kind of outfit than what you usually see Velma in."
Bottom line, Cardellini thinks "Scooby-Doo 2" rates at least three Scooby Snacks.
"I really like the movie," she says. "I think it's really cute. I've seen it. I think it's a lot of fun, and I like it better than the first one."
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Cardellini began her stage career as a child, working her way up to guest spots on such sitcoms as "Boy Meets World" (1993) and "3rd Rock from the Sun" (1996), then roles in such films as "Good Burger" (1997) and "Legally Blonde" (2001). She also was a regular on three series: "Bone Chillers" (1996), "The Lot" (1999) and, most notably, "Freaks and Geeks," the critically acclaimed but short-lived coming-of-age drama in which she played a rebellious-but-smart teen who straddled the line between school nerd and cool kid.
"Freaks and Geeks" lasted only one season, but it led to her casting in "Scooby-Doo." Between "Scooby-Doo" adventures Cardellini made a couple of television guest appearances, including a 2002 episode of "The Twilight Zone," and co-starred in Martin Short's as-yet-unreleased Jiminy Glick feature, "La La Wood."
About a week after returning to Los Angeles from shooting "Scooby-Doo 2" in Australia, Cardellini met several times with "ER" executive producer John Wells. It was on a Monday, she recalls, that she decided to accept Wells' offer to join the show, and by Wednesday she was on the set, playing nurse Samantha Taggart.
Sam is a new nurse at Chicago's County General Hospital, and Cardellini says that she wouldn't mind playing the part for as long as Wells will have her.
"I love my role," Cardellini says. "Sam has so much going on, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to do the show. She has such an arc, doing her job and raising her son (Oliver Davis), and with her romance with Kovac (Goran Visnjic)."
Once "ER" shuts down for its summer hiatus, Cardellini would like to make a film -- but if she can't find a script that she likes, she doesn't mind simply taking some time off. Even if it might cool her down a little. "I'm just enjoying the ride," she says. "People spend so much time worrying about things in this business, because there's no such thing as job security. You have to work really hard to just enjoy the moment.
"So right now, as of this moment, I'm having fun and I'm really excited," Cardellini concludes. "And we'll see what happens after that. You never know."
Out of her Scooby do, Linda Cardellini turns bow into wow
If actress Linda Cardellini ever wins an Oscar, she can display it on the mantel of her first big prize: the $1,000 gas fireplace she won on The Price Is Right in 1997. "I was jumping up and down. I was saying 'Oh, I need that,'" recalls Cardellini. Alas, her supermarket savvy wasn't strong enough to win her that black lacquer bedroom setL "It was the honey that killed me. To this day I don't eat Sue Bee."
Still, she's creating plenty of buzz. After graduating from TV's Freaks and Geeks to a small role in last year's hit Legally Blonde, Cardellini, 27, scored the part of Velma in the much-hyped Scooby-Doo. As the brainy one in the Doo crew, she doesn't vamp, "but because she's Linda, she's sexy as hell," says director Raja Gosnell. "Linda's like your best friend's girlfriend."
Or just your best friend. During the shoot Cardellini quickly fell in step with costars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard, who were already pals. "We bonded in the ladies' room," says Gellar. "I came out and said, 'You guys are going to love her.' They were likem 'We know. We could hear you yapping all the way from the bathroom.'"
The garrulous gene kicked in early for Cardellini, who entertained her three siblings and parents, businessman Wayne and homemaker Lorraine, both 60, as a tot in Mountain View, Calif. "Before I could talk, I would try to sing," she says. She found a bigger audience as a theater major at Loyola Marymount University, where she finally earned a degree last year. "My mom and dad always told me to take typing," says Cardellini, who lives in L.A. and dates actor Jason Segel, 22, "so I would have something to fall back on." That and game shows.