Carla N. Gugino was born on August 29, 1971 in Sarasota, Florida to her Susan and Carl Gugino. Her mother is of English-Irish descent, while her father is of Italian descent. Carla’s parents divorced when she was two years old and she would travel between her father’s home in Sarasota and her mother’s in Paradise, California from the time she and her mother moved to the West Coast when she was four. She as one half-brother, Carl Jr. Carla described her upbringing as living two separate childhoods while traveling between both homes across the country. She also spent summers traveling Europe, but Carla worked as a teen fashion model and took acting classes and legally emancipated herself, with her parent’s support, at the age of sixteen when she made enough money to support herself. Though she worked and traveled between homes, Carla remained a straight-A student throughout high school and graduated as valedictorian.
She began her acting career by appearing as Jane on an episode of Who’s The Boss in 1988, followed by Good Morning, Miss Bliss as Karen. The next year, Carla played Laura in an episode of ALF before making her film debut as Chica Barnfell in Troop Beverly Hills, starring Shelley Long as a Beverly Hills mother who decides to become troop leader of her daughter’s Wilderness Girls troop. She would have her first recurring role as Sydney St. James on the romantic drama series Falcon Crest the same year. In 1990, Carla played Young Jessica in the pilot inside of American Dreamer, as well as Ann Peyson of the Ferris Bueller television series. Her next film role came as Young Roxy in the comedic drama Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael, starring Winona Ryder and Jeff Daniels. She next had appearances on Doogie Houser, M.D. as Sara Newman, and Sandy on The Wonder Years the following year. Carla played Allison Connors in the 1992 television movie Murder Without Motive, a film following Edmund Perry where everything appears to go his way when he graduates from Phillips Exeter Academy with a scholarship to Stanford, until he has an unfortunate meeting with a police officer that ends his life. She would next portray Mary Beth in the television movie A Private Matter, starring Sissy Spacek and Aidan Quinn. Carla also appeared in an episode of Quantum Leap as Michelle Temple Cutter and two episodes of Davis Rules as Kathy the same year. 1993 began with the biographical drama This Boy’s Life, where she portrayed Norma starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, followed by starring as Valentina in Red Hot opposite Balthazar Getty. Carla would also star opposite Pauly Shore in the romantic comedy Son in Law, which follows a farm girl returning home for Thanksgiving break with her best friend, who’s a flamboyant party animal who’s a fish out of water in a small farm town.
The next year, she starred opposite Jake Busey as Leann Morris for the television movie Motorcycle Gang, a film about Cal and his family traveling to their new home in California, where they’re being terrorized by a motorcycle gang along the highway. Carla would also appear in the Bon Jovi music video for their song “Always”. In 1995, she starred as Nan St. George in the television mini-series The Buccaneers alongside Alison Elliot and Mira Sorvino. Carla also appeared in the Sarah Jessica Parker-led film Miami Rhapsody as Leslie, a romantic comedy following Gwyn doubting her “yes” to her fiancé’s wedding proposal when she hears about her parents’ and brother’s adultery. 1996 began with Carla voicing the character of Delilah for the Disney live-action movie Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, followed by appearing in Emilio Estevez’s drama The War at Home, where she played Melissa. Later, she portrayed Violet in the romantic comedy Wedding Bell Blues, as well as the Bride in the comedic drama Michael starring John Travolta. Carla joined the cast of Spin City playing the role of Ashley Schaeffer for a total of thirteen episodes throughout the series. In 1997, she starred alongside Peter Krause for the comedic drama LoveLife as Amy. Carla began 1998 starring as Megan ‘Meg’ Harris in Jaded, a drama following Megan’s choices that led to her being raped in an unusual way with unexpected turns and surprises while the truth is unfolded. She next portrayed Julia Costello in the crime thriller Snake Eyes, starring Nicolas Cage, followed by the crime drama Judas Kiss where she plays the role of Coco Chavez opposite Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. In 1999, Carla starred in the television mini-series Hotel Alexandria alongside James Duval and Heather Graham and a recurring role as Dr. Gina Simon on Chicago Hope. Later that year, she appeared in the television movie thriller Bonne Nuit as Carol Reeves and Emilie Thompson in the television movie drama A Season for Miracles.
2001 began with the family adventure film Spy Kids, in which Carla played Ingrid Cortez, a spy and mother to the spy kids Carmen and Juni. She next portrayed Jerri in The Center of the World, a romantic drama following a successful computer engineer meeting a stripper in a café and offers her a $10,000 while she offers him 3 days and nights in Vegas. Carla next would play Annie in the comedic drama The Jimmy Show alongside Frank Whaley and Ethan Hawke. The story revolves around a failed New Jersey inventor embarking on a career as a standup comic. Continuing, she played Lily in the television movie She Creature, a fantasy thriller following two marines abducting a mermaid and decide to take her from Ireland to America. Carla’s final project of the year came in Jet Li’s sci-fi thriller The One, where she steps into the role of T.K. Law/Massie Walsh. Her lone project in 2002 was reprising her role as Ingrid Cortez in Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, followed by Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over the next year. She appeared in the crime comedy The Singing Detective as Betty Dark/Hooker, starring Robert Downey Jr., Robin Wright, and Mel Gibson. Carla would also play the title character in the short-lived television series Karen Sisco that follows the adventures of the U.S. Marshall in Miami. 2005 brought her into the fantasy world of Frank Miller’s graphic novel Sin City, appearing and Lucille before playing Carla in the comedy The Life Coach. Carla returned to television with a thirteen-episode appearance on the series Threshold as Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey. In 2006, she played Veronica in the crime drama Even Money, starring Kim Basinger and Forest Whitaker. Carla joined the world of living exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in New York as Rebecca in Night at the Museum, which starred Ben Stiller. She appeared in the Roundabout Theatre Company play After the Fall opposite Six Feet Under‘s Peter Krause. In late 2006, Carla appeared in an Off-Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer opposite Blythe Danner.
2007 started with the film The Lookout in which she portrayed Janet opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels. She would next star alongside Lucy Liu in Sebastian Gutierrez’s crime Rise: Blood Hunter as Eve, followed by Laurie Roberts in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster starring Denzel Washington. Carla would also join the cast of Entourage as Amanda Daniels, Vincent Chase’s agent, for a dozen episodes throughout the series. She starred opposite Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in the 2008 crime drama Righteous Kill as Karen Corelli. The next year began by portraying Janey Beldon in the thriller The Unborn, a film about a young woman fighting the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her. At the beginning of 2009, Carla starred in Chicago’s Goodman Theater production of Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms as Abby. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times praised Gugino’s performance stating: “Ms. Gugino displays a depth and range of expression that I cannot imagine any other actress achieving with such blazing honesty and wrenching truth. She is simply magnificent.” Later in the year, she received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Play for her performance in the play. Carla starred in the short film Sparks as Robin before being cast alongside Patrick Wilson and Malin Akerman in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen playing Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre. She earned a Scream Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Next came the Disney adventure film Race to Witch Mountain, where Carla portrayed Dr. Alex Friedman. She would also star as Elektra Luxx in the comedic drama Women in Trouble, which also starred Adrianne Palicki and Connie Britton. Carla would end up reprising her role in the 2010 film Elektra Luxx as well. Later in 2009, she appeared as Woman in the short film Apocrypha before starring in the sports drama Mighty Macs as Cathy Rush. The film revolves around her character becoming the head basketball coach at a tiny, all-girls Catholic college in the early 1970s looking to steer the team to their first national championship. Carla started the next year off in the short film Tell Tale as the Femme Fatale, followed by starring alongside Live Schreiber and Helen Hunt in the romantic comedy Every Day. Carla also appeared in Dwayne Johnson’s crime drama Faster playing Cicero in 2010.
She began 2011 with Girl Walks Into a Bar as Francine Driver, the film is a romantic comedy revolving around a group of apparent strangers in interlocking stories taking place in ten different bars in one evening in Los Angeles. Carla appeared alongside Emily Browning in Zack Snyder’s fantasy film Sucker Punch, playing the role of Dr. Vera Gorski. Next came starring opposite Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, as well as the drama I Melt With You as Officer Boyde. Carla even spent ten episodes in the fourth season of David Duchovny’s Showtime series Californiacation as Abby Rhodes, his attorney and love interest. Continuing on, she starred alongside Jessica Biel and Seth Myers as Spiritual Dr. Morriset in the segment “Maternity Ward” in Garry Marshall’s star-studded film New Year’s Eve. Carla would lastly star opposite Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the TNT television movie Hide as D.D. Warren. The film is based on the novel by Lisa Gardner about a Boston detective investigating mummified remains of six women. 2012 became with a guest appearance on the television series Justified where Carla played A.D. Karen Goodall before starring alongside Sigourney Weaver in Greg Berlanti’s USA mini-series Political Animals stepping into the role of Susan Berg. Next came a three-episode appearance on the popular FOX series New Girl, where she played Emma before portraying Hanna Click in the romantic drama Hotel Noir, based in 1950s LA where a police detective checks into a hotel with a bag of money, hoping to go away with Swedish Mary. The next year, Carla voiced the character of Kelor for the DC film Man of Steel before starring as Monica in the television movie Doubt. In 2014, she appeared in an episode of HitRECord on TV as the character Aliens, followed by starring opposite Patrick Stewart as Lisa Davis for the comedic drama Match. Carla portrayed the role of Emma Gaines for the thriller San Andreas, also starring Dwayne Johnson and Alexandra Daddario. She would next have a six-episode stint as Joanne Larson on the series The Brink, an HBO series following the top U.S. government and military scramble to prevent World War III from happening amidst the chaos of a geographical crisis before a recurring role as Kate Hewson on the series Wayward Pines.
In 2016, Carla voiced the character Catherine for the animation comedy Bling which also starred Taylor Kitsch and Jennette McCurdy before voicing the Ship in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Next, she starred opposite Michael Shannon in the sports drama Wolves as Jenny Keller. The film is about a teenage athlete hoping his basketball talents will get him into Cornell after high school, with the obstacle of his father’s gambling problem. She would continue on to the television series Roadies, where she would have a recurring role as Shelli Anderson before joining other celebrities for the newest version of the “Where Is The Love?” music video by The Black Eyed Peas. In 2017, Carla portrayed Kendra Wyndham in the sci-fi romance The Space Between Us, which is about the first human born on Mars who travels back to Earth for the first time and experiences the wonders of the planet. Then, came the thriller Gerald’s Game where she starred alongside Bruce Greenwood as Jessie. Carla earned a Best Actress award for her performance at the Fright Meter Awards, as we ll as the iHorror Awards. She appeared in an episode of Nashville as Virginia, followed by voicing the character of Joyce Byers and Meg Altman in an episode of the series Robot Chicken. Carla would next portray Claire in the sci-fi thriller Elizabeth Harvest, a film about a brilliant man marrying a beautiful woman, telling her that their home is all hers, with the exception of one room; finding out that the one room she isn’t allowed to enter is where he might be cloning humans. Lastly in 2018, she starred as Olivia Crain in the Netflix mini-series The Haunting of Hill House. Her portrayal of Olivia earned Carla a Best Actress in Streaming Presentation at the Saturn Awards, as well as a Gold Derby TV Award nomination for Movie/Limited Series Lead Actress. She would next star as Daisy ‘Jett’ Kowalski in the series Jett, which follows her character, a world-class thief just out of prison and being forced back into the job by a group of eccentric and dangerous criminals. In 2020, Carla continued on television with portraying Kathy Scruggs on Manhunt before voicing the Storyteller and playing Older Jamie on Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor, which became one of Netflix’s most popular shows when it was released.
Carla’s upcoming projects include Gunpowder Milkshake, a thriller about a secret sisterhood coming to the rescue of a mother-daughter assassin team. She plays the role of Madeline alongside Karen Gillan, Angela Bassett, and Lena Headey. The film is currently in post-production. Also in the post-production process are the drama With/In, in which Carla is in the segment “Twenty Questions” with Adrianne Palicki, and a television series called Leopard Skin. It has also been announced that she will reprise the role of Emma Gaines in San Andreas 2.
During her free time, Carla enjoys yoga, traveling, and spending time with her friends in Los Angeles.