Marisa Tomei ( ; born December 4, 1964) is an American actress of film , stage and television who has appeared in more than 30 motion pictures , about 10 plays and a few television shows. Regarded as one of the finest actresses of her generation. In a career spanning three decades, Tomei has received critical acclaim for many of her performances for which she received various awards and accolades. After attending Boston University for an year , Tomei decided to pursue a full time acting career. Following her work on famous television show As The World Turns, Tomei came to prominence as a cast member on The Cosby Show spinoff A Different World in 1987. After she had appeared in a few films making her debut in 1984 with The Flamingo Kid in a minor role she came to international attention in 1992 with comedy My Cousin Vinny, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.