Her early experience a testament to the dangers of premature publicity, Gretchen Mol was all but declared Hollywood's new "it" girl before her career had even left the gates. After appearing in only a handful of films, Mol was chosen to star as Matt Damon's girlfriend in John Dahl's Rounders. A highly touted film that also starred Edward Norton, it was endlessly publicized before its 1998 release. Mol was made part and parcel of this publicity, and her blonde, milk-fed looks were the subject of numerous magazine articles, including a memorably provocative Vanity Fair September cover story. Rounders, however, turned out to be a sizable disappointment, and the slavish attention surrounding its female lead virtually evaporated. Mol continued to work steadily though, apparently refusing to disappear with the hype that had initially surrounded her.
Born in Deep River, Connecticut, on November 8, 1973, Mol entertained performing ambitions from a young age, studying musical theatre in addition to receiving a regular public school education. Following her high school graduation, she moved to New York, where she did a stint at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and began performing in a number of stage productions. To support herself, Mol also worked a number of odd jobs, the most fortuitous of which was as a coat-check attendant at a popular industry restaurant. There she was "discovered" by an agent, who subsequently got her work in commercials and on the TV sitcom Spin City.