Gretchen Mol was born on November 8, 1972 in Deep River, Connecticut, the daughter of a school principal and his artist wife. Deep River is a small community located on the Chester Bowles Highway (Route 9), nine miles northwest of Old Saybrook (home of the legendary Katharine Hepburn), within commuting distance of New York City. The young Gretchen was bit by the acting bug and participated in high school theatrics, then moved to the Big Apple as a teenager to study acting and musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and at the William Esper Studio.
Although only 5'6" tall, too short for a traditional modeling career, her unique beauty brought her modeling jobs as she pursued her dream of becoming a professional actress. Her image began appearing in magazines in 1994. Mol worked at such time-honored Manhattan jobs as restaurant hat-check girl, and while working that gig, she was discovered by a talent agent. The talent agent landed Mol her first acting job, a television commercial for Coca-Cola. She continued to hone her acting skills in summer stock, appearing in such productions as "Bus Stop", "No Exit" and "Godspell".
The 23-year-old Gretchen made her film debut in Spike Lee's Girl 6 (1996), a small role that came to her serendipitously, after she had gone for an audition for the soap opera "The Guiding Light." Her career began to quicken, and she appeared in small parts, mostly "girlfriend" roles, in Rounders (1998) starring Matt Damon, and in Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998), opposite Kevin Branagh and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Gretchen Mol was touted as the "Next Big Thing" after appearing on the cover of the September 1998 of "Vanity Fair". Over a striking picture of a blonde Mol in a sheer white gown, strained by her erect nipples, "Vanity Fair" asked "Is She Hollywood's Next 'It' Girl?" Her most memorable role up to that time was as a mobster's moll in the minor cult classic Donnie Brasco (1997), which was mostly remembered for cinematic turns by Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Anne Heche, another young, blonde actress just starting to making a name for herself. Nonetheless, her beauty and presence led "Vanity Fair" to hype the blonde beauty, heralding the arrival of a major new star. She seemed poised to move up to featured roles. but the announcement turned out to be premature. Brunette Angelina Jolie proved to be Hollywood's Next 'It' Girl.
During the seven years that followed the "Vanity Fair" cover story , Mol continued to appear in films and on the stage, including the part of Jennie in the London and New York productions of Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things (2003) in 2001. (She also appeared in the 2003 film.) Proving herself to be not just a pretty face, Mol won good reviews. In 2004, Mol displayed her singing and dancing chops by playing Roxie Hart in the Broadway production of "Chicago."
Though still on the radar, Gretchen Mol had fallen out of the celebrity limelight that had briefly fallen on her in 1998. She worked steadily (she appeared in another small role in Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown (1999), and eventually, Mol won the lead in David E. Kelly TV series "Girls Club" (2002). The series bombed and was canceled after two episodes. However, the intervening period allowed her to develop as an actress. In 2004, the blonde beauty finally had the role that proved to be her acting breakthrough, playing the brunette bombshell The Notorious Bettie Page (2005). Many brunettes have gone blonde, but Mol - the blonde who went brunette rocked the screen with her presence. Her embodiment of the legendary Bettie Page garnered excellent reviews and propelled the flick into art house hit status.
Mol married film director Tod Williams on June 1, 2004 and they became parents a little over three years later, when a son, Ptolemy John Williams, was born on October 10, 2007. While not yet having achieved a place on the "A-list" of movie stars, she has established her credibility as an actress and character-lead and should have a long and productive career in the industry.