Oscar winners Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey star in this gripping story of a radio astronomer who receives the first extraterrestrial radio signal ever picked up on Earth. As the world powers scramble to decipher the message and decide upon a course of action, she vies to fulfill her dream of becoming the first human being to make contact with alien beings.

  • 2 hr 33 minNRHDSD
  • Jul 11, 1997
  • Drama

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Cast & Crew

  • James WoodsActor

    James Howard Woods was born on April 18, 1947 in Vernal, Utah, the son of Martha A. (Smith) and Gail Peyton Woods, a U.S. Army intelligence officer who died during Woods' childhood. James is of Irish, English, and German descent. He grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, with his mother and stepfather Thomas E. Dixon. He graduated from Pilgrim High School in 1965, near the top of his class. James earned a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; dropping out during his sophomore year in 1967, he then headed off to New York with his fraternity brother Martin Donovan to pursue aspirations to appear on the stage. After appearing in a handful of New York City theater productions, Woods scored his first film role in All the Way Home (1971) and followed that up with meager supporting roles in The Way We Were (1973) and The Choirboys (1977). However, it was Woods' cold-blooded performance as the cop killer in The Onion Field (1979), based on a Joseph Wambaugh novel, that seized the attention of movie-goers to his on-screen power. Woods quickly followed up with another role in another Joseph Wambaugh film adaptation, The Black Marble (1980), as a sleazy and unstable cable-T.V.-station owner in David Cronenberg's mind-bending and prophetic Videodrome (1983), as gangster Max Bercovicz in Sergio Leones mammoth epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984), and scored a best actor Academy Award nomination as abrasive journalist Richard Boyle in Oliver Stone's gritty and unsettling Salvador (1986). There seemed to be no stopping the rise of this star as he continued to amaze movie-goers with his remarkable versatility and his ability to create such intense, memorable characters. The decade of the 1990s started off strongly with high praise for his role as Roy Cohn in the television production of Citizen Cohn (1992). Woods was equally impressive as sneaky hustler Lester Diamond who cons Sharon Stone in Casino (1995), made a tremendous H.R. Haldeman in Nixon (1995), portrayed serial killer Carl Panzram in Killer: A Journal of Murder (1995), and then as accused civil rights assassin Byron De La Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi (1996). Not to be typecast solely as hostile hoodlums, Woods has further expanded his range to encompass providing voice-overs for animated productions including Hercules (1997), Hooves of Fire (1999), and Stuart Little 2 (2002). Woods also appeared in the critically praised The Virgin Suicides (1999), in the coming-of-age movie Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), as a corrupt medico in Any Given Sunday (1999), and in the comedy-horror spoof Scary Movie 2 (2001). A remarkable performer with an incredibly diverse range of acting talent, Woods remains one of Hollywood's outstanding leading men.
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  • Jodie FosterActor

    Jodie Foster started her career at the age of two. For four years she made commercials and finally gave her debut as an actress in the TV series Mayberry R.F.D. (1968). In 1975 Jodie was offered the role of prostitute Iris Steensma in the movie Taxi Driver (1976). This role, for which she received an Academy Award nomination in the "Best Supporting Actress" category, marked a breakthrough in her career. In 1980 she graduated as the best of her class from the College Lycée Français and began to study English Literature at Yale University, from where she graduated magna cum laude in 1985. One tragic moment in her life was March 30th, 1981 when John Warnock Hinkley Jr. attempted to assassinate the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. Hinkley was obsessed with Jodie and the movieTaxi Driver (1976), in which Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, tried to shoot presidential candidate Palantine. Despite the fact that Jodie never took acting lessons, she received two Oscars before she was thirty years of age. She received her first award for her part as Sarah Tobias in The Accused (1988) and the second one for her performance as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
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  • Tom SkerrittActor

  • William FichtnerActor

    A small-town guy with a big heart, William Fichtner has been captivating the hearts of Western New Yorkers for decades. Bill was born in 1956 on Long Island, New York, to Patricia A. (Steitz) and William E. Fichtner. He is of German, Irish, and English descent. Fichtner was raised in Cheektowaga, and graduated from Maryvale High School in 1974. His first roles were in soap operas such as As the World Turns (1956) and sitcoms like Grace Under Fire (1993). He has also been in films such as Armageddon (1998), Empire Falls (2005), as The Marriage Counselor, uncredited, in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), and in The Dark Knight (2008). A fan of the Buffalo Sabres, Bill always stays true to his roots. He is married to actress Kymberly Kalil.
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  • Jake BuseyActor

    Jake spent his childhood in sunny southern California, as well as a plethora of film sets around the country. His childhood similar to a "military brat", a series of strung-together extended-stay location shoots, alternating with tours on the road with his father's various bands and associates. In a world of gypsies & artists, spending many years on tour buses and side-stage-studying such acts as Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Little Feat, the Band, and Fleetwood Mac, Jake found his passion for music and performing live. Busey entered the industry at the age of 5 in his first motion picture, Dustin Hoffman's opus, "Straight Time" (1977) playing Son to his father and Cathy Bates, . After finishing high school at Crossroads School, and college in Santa Barbara , Jake returned to L.A to study the craft of acting for film seriously. He started auditioning at 20yrs old, and booked his first role in a PBS film, "Shimmer", shot on location in Iowa. Slowly but surely bit parts playing supporting characters in independent films would follow. After a few years of hard work and little returns, He was Cast as the villain in Showtimes "rebel highway series" Motorcycle Gang, by Director John Milius. The film was part of an 8 film series, and drew great attention amongst the "up and coming actor" buzz of hollywood. He made his true debut to the big screen in 1994 alongside Stephen Dorff and Reese Witherspoon in grind house grunge film "SFW", but that Buzz caught the eye of Robert Zemekis & Peter Jackson which led jake to star opposite Michael J. Fox in the Frighteners. .soon after wrapping, big changes came from a 3 page monologue about religion vs. science, when he landed "Contact" with Jodi Foster and Matthew McConnaghey. Then "Enemy of the State", then Vince Gilligan scribed "Home Fries," and most memorably as the smart-mouthed Private Ace Levy in the Sci-Fi cult classic "Starship Troopers." Jake was a force to be reckoned with in the late 1990's A-list film market. Then in the early 21st century, after the great success of "Identity", Jake took some risks with projects, leaps of faith, stepping up into starring roles in such studio disasters as "Tomcats" and "the First 20million is always the hardest", Films hyped to glory among the Hollywood machine, which failed miserably, and left him needing to reassess his position . It was time for a break.some time away was needed. After a few-year hiatus from acting as he pursued directing films, "road-tripping" the country , and playing in his band around hollywood, he was ready for his come-back. Jake blasted onscreen as a pyrotechnic specialist in the final season of FX's hit series "Justified", leaving many an audience member aghast, having thought he was a solid new addition to the show...alas, just a masterfully crafted cameo, blowing up in 30 seconds. When Robert Rodriguez cast him as the new Sex Machine for all three seasons of "From Dusk Till Dawn, Things started heating up again. In The History Channel mini-series "Texas Rising", Busey plays Samuel Wallace, the man credited with reciting the legendary warning, "Remember the Alamo!" directed by Roland Joffe. His recent projects include "Mr. Robot", and Stranger Things", Showtime's "Ray Donovan", CBS television's "NCIS" Episode 346(1516) , ABC's "Marvels agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.., Episode 513 & 519, and in the summer of 2018 he made his return to the summer tent-pole event scene with 20th Century Fox's "the_Predator". A bit of a modern-day Renaissance man, Jake's passions in life includes fatherhood, acting, desert racing, architecture, playing music, flying planes when necessary, and fabricating anything mechanical in his metal shop. .
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  • Rob LoweActor

  • Matthew McConaugheyActor

    American actor and producer Matthew David McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas. His mother, Mary Kathleen (McCabe), is a substitute school teacher originally from New Jersey. His father, James Donald McConaughey, was a Mississippi-born gas station owner who ran an oil pipe supply business. He is of Irish, Scottish, English, German, and Swedish descent. Matthew grew up in Longview, Texas, where he graduated from the local High School (1988). Showing little interest in his father's oil business, which his two brothers later joined, Matthew was longing for a change of scenery, and spent a year in Australia, washing dishes and shoveling chicken manure. Back to the States, he attended the University of Texas in Austin, originally wishing to be a lawyer. But, when he discovered an inspirational Og Mandino book "The Greatest Salesman in the World" before one of his final exams, he suddenly knew he had to change his major from law to film. He began his acting career in 1991, appearing in student films and commercials in Texas and directed short films as Chicano Chariots (1992). Once, in his hotel bar in Austin, he met the casting director and producer Don Phillips, who introduced him to director Richard Linklater for his next project. At first, Linklater thought Matthew was too handsome to play the role of a guy chasing high school girls in his coming-of-age drama Dazed and Confused (1993), but cast him after Matthew grew out his hair and mustache. His character was initially in three scenes but the role grew to more than 300 lines as Linklater encouraged him to do some improvisations. In 1995, he starred in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1995), playing a mad bloodthirsty sadistic killer, opposite Renée Zellweger. Shortly thereafter, moving to L.A., Matthew became a sensation with his performances in two high-profile 1996 films Lone Star (1996), where he portrayed killing suspected sheriff and in the film adaptation of John Grisham's novel A Time to Kill (1996), where he played an idealistic young lawyer opposite Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey. The actor was soon being hailed as one of the industry's hottest young leading man inspiring comparisons to actor Paul Newman. His following performances were Robert Zemeckis' Contact (1997) with Jodie Foster (the film was finished just before the death of the great astronomer and popularizer of space science Carl Sagan) and Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997), a fact-based 1839 story about the rebellious African slaves. In 1998, he teamed again with Richard Linklater as one of the bank-robbing brothers in The Newton Boys (1998), set in Matthew's birthplace, Uvalde, Texas. During this time, he also wrote, directed and starred in the 20-minute short The Rebel (1998). In 1999, he starred in the comedy Edtv (1999), about the rise of reality television, and in 2000, he headlined Jonathan Mostow's U-571 (2000), portraying officer Lt. Tyler, in a WW II story of the daring mission of American submariners trying to capture the Enigma cipher machine. In the 2000s, he became known for starring in romantic comedies, such as The Wedding Planner (2001), opposite Jennifer Lopez, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), in which he co-starred with Kate Hudson. He played Denton Van Zan, an American warrior and dragons hunter in the futuristic thriller Reign of Fire (2002), where he co-starred with Christian Bale. In 2006, he starred in the romantic comedy Failure to Launch (2006), and later as head coach Jack Lengyel in We Are Marshall (2006), along with Matthew Fox. In 2008, he played treasure hunter Benjamin "Finn" Finnegan in Fool's Gold (2008), again with Kate Hudson. After playing Connor Mead in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009), co-starring with Jennifer Garner, McConaughey took a two year hiatus to open different opportunities in his career. Since 2010, he has moved away from romantic comedies. That change came in 2011, in his first movie after that pause, when he portrayed criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer (2011), that operates mostly from the back seat of his Lincoln car. After this performance that was considered one of his best until then, Matthew played other iconic characters as district attorney Danny Buck Davidson in Bernie (2011), the wild private detective "Killer" Joe Cooper in Killer Joe (2011), Mud in Mud (2012), reporter Ward Jensen in The Paperboy (2012), male stripper club owner Dallas in Magic Mike (2012), starring Channing Tatum. McConaughey's career certainly reached it's prime, when he played HIV carrier Ron Woodroof in the biographical drama Dallas Buyers Club (2013), shot in less than a month. For his portrayal of Ron, Matthew won the Best Actor in the 86th Academy Awards, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, among other awards and nominations. The same year, he also appeared in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). In 2014, he starred in HBO's True Detective (2014), as detective Rustin Cohle, whose job is to investigate with his partner Martin Hart, played by Woody Harrelson, a gruesome murder that happened in his little town in Louisiana. The series was highly acclaimed by critics winning 4 of the 7 categories it was nominated at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards; he also won a Critics' Choice Award for the role. Also in 2014, Matthew starred in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Interstellar (2014), playing Cooper, a former NASA pilot.
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  • John HurtActor

    One of stage, screen and TV's finest transatlantic talents, slight, gravel-voiced, pasty-looking John Vincent Hurt was born on January 22, 1940, in Shirebrook, a coal mining village, in Derbyshire, England. The youngest child of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Reverend Arnould Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician, his quiet shyness betrayed an early passion for acting. First enrolled at the Grimsby Art School and St. Martin's School of Art, his focus invariably turned from painting to acting. Accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1960, John made his stage debut in "Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger" followed by "The Dwarfs." Elsewhere, he continued to build upon his 60's theatrical career with theatre roles in "Chips with Everything" at the Vaudeville; the title role in "Hamp" at the Edinburgh Festival; "Inadmissible Evidence" at Wyndham's; and "Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs" at the Garrick. His movie debut occurred that same year with a supporting role in the "angry young man" British drama Young and Willing (1962), followed by small roles in Appuntamento in Riviera (1962), A Man for All Seasons (1966) and The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967). A somber, freckled, ravaged-looking gent, Hurt found his more compelling early work in offbeat theatrical characterizations with notable roles as Malcolm in "Macbeth" (1967), Octavius in "Man and Superman" (1969)," Peter in "Ride a Cock Horse (1972), Mike in '"The Caretaker" (1972), and Ben in "The Dumb Waiter" (1973). At the same time he gained more prominence in a spray of film and support roles such as a junior officer in Before Winter Comes (1968); the title highwayman in Sinful Davey (1969); a morose little brother in In Search of Gregory (1969); a dim, murderous truck driver in 10 Rillington Place (1971); a skirt-chasing, penguin-studying biologist in Cry of the Penguins (1971); the unappetizing son of a baron in The Pied Piper (1972); and a repeat of his title stage role as Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs (1974). Hurt shot to international stardom, however, on TV where he was allowed to display his true, fearless range. He reaped widespread acclaim for his embodiment of the tormented gay writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp in the landmark television play The Naked Civil Servant (1975), adapted from Crisp's autobiography. Hurt's bold, unabashed approach on the flamboyant and controversial gent who dared to be different was rewarded with the BAFTA (British TV Award). This triumph led to the equally fascinating success as the cruel and crazed Roman emperor Caligula in the epic television masterpiece I, Claudius (1976), followed by another compelling interpretation as murderous student Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment (1979). A resurgence occurred on film as a result. Among other unsurpassed portraits on his unique pallet, the chameleon in him displayed a polar side as the gentle, pathetically disfigured title role in The Elephant Man (1980), and as a tortured Turkish prison inmate who befriends Brad Davis in the intense drama Midnight Express (1978) earning Oscar nominations for both. Mainstream box-office films were offered as well as art films. He made the most of his role as a crew member whose body becomes host to an unearthly predator in Alien (1979). With this new rush of fame came a few misguided ventures as well that were generally unworthy of his talent. Such brilliant work as his steeple chase jockey in Champions (1984) or kidnapper in The Hit (1984) was occasionally offset by such drivel as the comedy misfire Partners (1982) with Ryan O'Neal in which Hurt looked enervated and embarrassed. For the most part, the craggy-faced actor continued to draw extraordinary notices. Tops on the list includes his prurient governmental gadfly who triggers the Christine Keeler political sex scandal in the aptly-titled Scandal (1989); the cultivated gay writer aroused and obsessed with struggling "pretty-boy" actor Jason Priestley in Love and Death on Long Island (1997); and the Catholic priest embroiled in the Rwanda atrocities in Beyond the Gates (2005). Latter parts included the recurring role of the benign wand-maker Mr. Ollivander in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), and the voice of The Dragon in Merlin (2008). Among Hurt's final film appearances were as a terminally ill screenwriter in That Good Night (2017) and a lesser role in the mystery thriller Damascus Cover (2017). Hurt's voice was also tapped into animated features and documentaries, often serving as narrator. He also returned to the theatre performing in such shows as "The Seagull," "A Month in the Country" (1994), "Afterplay" (2002) and "Krapp's Last Tape," the latter for which he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award." A recovered alcoholic who married four times, Hurt was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen in 2004, and Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in 2015. That same year (2015) he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In July of 2016, he was forced to bow out of the father role of Billy Rice in a then-upcoming London stage production of "The Entertainer" opposite Kenneth Branagh due to ill health that he described as an "intestinal ailment." Hurt died several months later at his home in Cromer, Norfolk, England on January 15, 2017, three days after his 77th birthday.
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  • Jena MaloneActor

    Jena Malone was born in Sparks, Nevada, to Deborah Malone and Edward Berge. Her grandfather owned a casino, Karl's Silver Club, in Sparks. She was raised by her mother and her mother's partner. Beginning as a child actress, and then stepping up to roles as a young adult, Malone's career path has been compared to that of Jodie Foster, herself a former child actress and who has co-starred with Malone in two movies. Jena is often described as having a maturity beyond her years and, in her career thus far, she has often tackled roles that are difficult and are not standard fare for actors her age. Malone's first claim to fame was in performing the title role in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996) for which she won the Young Artist Award, and which she filmed when she was merely ten years old. This movie dealt with issues of child abuse, violence and sex. Jena has said in later interviews that this movie and her participation in it continue to influence her life substantially. Showing self-assurance and a clear vision of personal goals from an early age, Jena, at age 14, was encouraged to try out for Air Force One (1997), a movie that was virtually guaranteed to be a success since box-office king Harrison Ford was cast in the lead, but Jena said she'd prefer to seek other roles that were of more interest to her. In the following years, Malone appeared in several made-for-TV movies for which she won or was nominated for many awards. In 1997, she lucked in to being cast in the blockbuster Contact (1997) where she portrayed the child version of Jodie Foster's lead character. Foster stated that she built her character by mimicking Jena. And, in 1998, Jena was cast in the major film Stepmom (1998) where she co-starred with Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris. Jena was given what was likely the best line in that movie where her character, bitter over her parents' divorce, confronts her father who has returned home briefly; at a moment of crisis, her dad tells her "You do NOT run out on your mother", and the rueful Malone exclaims "No -- that's YOUR job". Also, in 1998, Malone appeared in a two-part episode of the critically acclaimed TV series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993). Contrary to what might usually be expected of a teenage actress, in this episode, Jena played the complex role of the perpetrator of a crime, which she portrayed with subtlety. At age 15, Jena was legally emancipated and thus took direct control of her finances and her career. Malone began getting more attention and acclaim in her next set of films: the artistic cult film Donnie Darko (2001); the teenage journey The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) where she again co-starred with Jodie Foster; and the satirical Saved! (2004) which debuted Jena as the lead in a movie. Jena has expressed an interest in directing some day, and so she is preparing for roles behind the camera as well as in front. In 2002, she co-produced American Girl (2002) while also starring in it. And, in 2003, she undertook a formal study of photography. In early 2006, Malone debuted on the Broadway stage in the play "Doubt". A review by Broadway.com characterized her performance as "astonishing". Many people in Hollywood have jobs as actors. Watch for Jena Malone. She is an artist.
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  • Angela BassettActor

    Captivating, gifted, and sensational, Angela Bassett's presence has been felt in theaters and on stages and television screens throughout the world. Angela Evelyn Bassett was born on August 16, 1958 in New York City, to Betty Jane (Gilbert), a social worker, and Daniel Benjamin Bassett, a preacher's son. Bassett and her sister D'nette grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida with their mother. As a single mother, Betty stressed the importance of education for her children. With the assistance of an academic scholarship, Bassett matriculated into Yale University. In 1980, she received her B.A. in African-American studies from Yale University. In 1983, she earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Yale School of Drama. It was at Yale that Bassett met her husband, Courtney B. Vance, a 1986 graduate of the Drama School. Bassett first appeared in small roles on The Cosby Show (1984) and Spenser: For Hire (1985), but it was not until 1990 that a spate of television roles brought her notice. Her breakthrough role, though, was playing Tina Turner, whom she had never seen perform before taking the role, in What's Love Got to Do with It (1993). Bassett's performance earned her an Academy Award nomination and a Golded Globe Award for Best Actress.
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