Ellen Burstyn is born in Detroit, 1932. In the late 1990s, she viewed Darren Aronofsky’s Pi (1998) and—after initially turning it down—finally agreed to perform in the director’s next movie. The film was Requiem for a Dream (2000) and her character was Sara Goldfarb, a diet pill-addicted woman living near Coney Island and dreaming of being on her favorite television show. It is perhaps her greatest performance.
It’s a tough, dark film, and Burstyn earned an Oscar nomination for her surprisingly raw turn. “Burstyn isn't afraid to play Sara Goldfarb flat-out as a collapsing ruin,” wrote Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, while Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chonicle wrote that her “grueling, vulnerable performance exists in a place beyond praise.”