- Birth name:
- Julia O'Hara Stiles
- Date of Birth:
- 28 March 1981 New York City, New York, USA
- 5' 8" (1.73 m)
Already critically acclaimed for a number of youthful film roles, it's just a matter of time before fresh-faced blonde Julia Stiles reaches the height of heights as a new tier of adult talent starts hitting the screen. Born Julia O'Hara Stiles on March 28, 1981, in New York City, she is of Irish, Italian and English stock. The outgoing daughter of an elementary school teacher (father) and a Greenwich Village artist (mother), she is the eldest of three children. Encouraged to take modern dance lessons at an early age, she was introduced to Shakespeare and theater as well. At age 11, she made her debut as a child actress with the experimental off-Broadway La MaMa Theatre. Her passion grew and by the next year was performing professionally and working in commercials. A bright, precocious student, she was seriously considered for the child vampire role of Claudia in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) but lost out in the end to Kirsten Dunst. She continued training at New York's Professional Children's School and, at 15, made her cinematic bow with I Love You, I Love You Not (1996) with Claire Danes. Next featured as the daughter of Harrison Ford in The Devil's Own (1997), her breakout role came on TV with the hard-hitting mini-movie Before Women Had Wings (1997) (TV), which was produced by Oprah Winfrey and dealt with child abuse. As Ellie Christianson in Wicked (1998), Julia demonstrated a more evil side to her budding versatility. Her wish to play Shakespeare was granted threefold with her participation in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), which was based on the Bard's "The Taming of The Shrew" and won her the Chicago Film Critics Award as the volatile teen Kat; an updated version of Hamlet (2000) which paired her Ophelia with Ethan Hawke; and another updated version of "Othello" entitled O (2001), which had her high school character of Desi (Desdemona) involved in a mixed romantic relationship with African-American Mekhi Phifer. The violent-edged film was made in 1998 but not released until three years later due to the tragic Colorado student shootings at Columbine High School. In addition, Julia later portrayed Viola off-Broadway in a Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of "Twelfth Night" in 2002. She temporarily interrupted her career after deciding to enroll at Columbia University in 2000, majoring in English. Moving into mainstream roles by the millennium, she co-starred with the popular Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity (2002) and its sequel, appeared opposite Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile (2003) and won offbeat notice in the title role of Carolina (2003/I) with Shirley MacLaine and Randy Quaid as the granddaughter of an eccentric who tries to find happiness and love in Hollywood. Most recently she returned from Iceland where she filmed A Little Trip to Heaven (2005). Unable to find that one role to put her over the top, this lovely actress continues to engage movie audiences with a potent range of characters in the meantime.