Whatever Happened to Samantha Mathis?

When Samantha Mathis started her acting career in the late 1980s, it didn’t take long for her to become one of the most talked-about young stars in the entertainment industry. Her talent, tenacity, and versatility allowed her to play a variety of roles and she moved between genres with ease. Some of her most well-known projects include Little Women, Pump Up the Volume, Super Mario Bros., and American Psycho. However, like many actors who started their careers relatively young, Samantha eventually began to fade into the background a little bit. What many of her fans may not realize, however, is that she is still sharing her talent with the world in more ways than ever before. Keep reading to find out what happened to Samantha Mathis.

Samantha’s Acting Journey

Samantha was born in Brooklyn. Her mother, Bibi Besch, was born in Germany and went on to have a successful acting career in the American entertainment industry. Samantha’s maternal grandmother, Gusti Huber, was also a successful actress. When Samantha was young, she and her mother relocated to the Los Angeles area. Despite Bibi being an actress, she didn’t want Samantha to follow in her footsteps. However, Samantha knew that she wanted to act from a very early age.

By the time Samantha was 16, she was making her way into the industry. She started her career doing commercials and it quickly became clear that she was a natural in front of the camera. She made her TV debut in 1988 in a short-lived TV series called Aaron’s Way. By 1990, she had landed her first film role in the movie Pump Up the Volume. Throughout the decade, she got the chance to work with some of the biggest names in the industry, and she became well-known and highly respectedHowever, by the late 1990s, things started to slow down for Samantha, but it wasn’t due to a lack of talent or drive.

Personal Tragedies

River Phoenix’s Death

In an interview with The Guardian, Samantha explained that the change in pace in her career was largely due to two life-changing tragedies. In 1993, she was with her then-boyfriend and fellow actor River Phoenix when he died of a drug overdose at just 23 years old. For years, Samantha was quiet about the situation, but in 2018, she opened up about her relationship with River Phoenix and how his death impacted her life. In a separate interview with The Guardian, Samantha explained her relationship with Phoenix by saying, “We met when we were both 19, and he bummed a cigarette off me in an LA club. This sounds incredibly cheesy but I knew I would be with him one day. It just felt fated between us, and there was such chemistry…We came from very different families, but perhaps there were some broken parts in each other we recognised. We found safe harbour.”

In speaking of the night he died, Samantha said, “I knew he was high that night, but the heroin that killed him didn’t happen until he was in the Viper Room. I have my suspicions about what was going on, but I didn’t see anything…I think if River was still here, I think he’d be acting, directing, saving the environment, just living and hanging out. Oh gosh, wouldn’t that be nice?”

Her Mother’s Death

Three years later, her mother died after a battle with breast cancer. Losing two important people in her life so close together really shook Samantha to her core. Samantha told The Guardian, “It was just too much loss. I had to stop.” She continued,  “I stepped away from the business for two years. I fell apart.”

What Has Samantha Been Up To?

Even after the losses Samantha suffered, she didn’t stay down for long. When she decided to step back into the acting world, she chose to focus her attention on theater opportunities.  She even got the chance to be in a Broadway play where she starred opposite the legendary Jane Fonda. She was set to be in a musical in 2020 called Whisper House, but the show was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha hasn’t completely given up on the on-screen world, though. She appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2020. She will also be in an upcoming movie called The Georgetown Project.  She’s also been a regular on the show Billions. Outside of acting, Samantha has chosen to be private when it comes to her personal life. From what we can tell, she is single and doesn’t have any children. Although she doesn’t have a verified Instagram account, she is very active on Twitter.


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