Marisa Coughlan was born March 17, 1974 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She graduated from Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and in high school, landed a role in Untamed Heart. She took up Theatre at the University of Southern California, where she founded the Trojan Backgammon Society, and spent her junior year of college studying in Paris. She has a knack for baking and has been known to make sumptuous seven-layer cakes called Bars, from an old Minnesota family recipe. She was a prize-winning archer back in high school and still enjoys shooting arrows out on her ranch. In 2001, she won Movieline’s Young Hollywood One to Watch award.
Coughlan ventured into the acting profession with guest appearances on a string of television shows, such as episodes of The Magnificent Seven, High Society, Diagnosis: Murder, Weird Science, and Step by Step. In 1996, she was featured in First of the North Star and the made-for-TV movie Our Son, the matchmaker on CBS. She was cast in her first regular capacity as a graduate student on the short-lived drama Wasteland on ABC in 1999. Wasteland is called Dawson’s Creek for the older generations, as it followed the exploits of twentysomethings in New York.
In 1999, Coughlan achieved a breakthrough via a starring role alongside Katie Holmes in Williamson’s directorial debut and highly anticipated black comedy Teaching Mrs. Tingle. A couple of years later, she proved she is one of the rising Hollywood celebs to watch out for with a featured role on the 2000 college-themed psychothriller Gossip. She then appeared in a couple of comedies, Freddie Got Fingered and Super Troopers, and eventually into more cerebral roles, such as the 2002 feature Pumpkin with Christina Ricci, Hank Harris, and Dominique Swain. Coughland played Ricci’s sorority sister in this Francis Ford Coppola-produced romance.