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Julia O'Hara Stiles (born March 28, 1981) is an American stage and film actress.

After beginning her career in small parts in a New York City theatre troupe, she has moved on to leading roles in plays by writers as diverse as William Shakespeare and David Mamet. Her film career has included both commercial and critical successes, ranging from teen romantic comedies such as 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) to dark art house pictures such as The Business of Strangers (2001). She is also well known for playing the supporting character Nicky Parsons in the Bourne film series.

Early life

Stiles was born in New York Citymarker, the daughter of Judith Stiles, a potter, and John O'Hara, a businessman. Her father is of Irish descent and her mother is of half Italian and half English ancestry. She started acting at age eleven, performing with New York's La MaMa Theatre Company

Career

Film career

Stiles's first film was a non-speaking part in I Love You, I Love You Not (1996), with Claire Danes and Jude Law. She also had small roles as Harrison Ford's daughter in Alan J. Pakula's The Devil's Own (1997) and in M. Night Shyamalan's Wide Awake (1998). Her first lead was in Wicked (1998), playing a teenage girl who might have murdered her mother so she could have her father all to herself. Critic Joe Balthai wrote she was "the darling of the 1998 Sundance Film Festival" and Internet movie writer Harry Knowles said she was the "discovery of the fest", but the film was not commercially released in the U.S. and went direct-to-video in 2001, after Stiles had become better known.

The role that gained Stiles renown was Kat Stratford, opposite Heath Ledger, in Gil Junger's 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew set in a high school in Tacoma, Washingtonmarker. She won an MTV Movie Award for "Breakthrough Female Performance" for the role, and the Chicago Film Critics voted her the most promising new actress of the year. Foreign critics applauded her work as well, including Adina Hoffman, who praised her as "a young, serious looking Diane Lane" and Martin Hoyle, who commented that Stiles played Kat "with bloody-minded independent charm from the beginning with hints of wistfulness beneath the determination."

Her next starring role was in Down to You (2000), which was panned by critics, but earned Stiles and her co-star Freddie Prinze, Jr. a Teen Choice Award nomination for their on-screen chemistry. She subsequently appeared in two more Shakespearean adaptations. The first was as the Ophelia in Michael Almerayda's Hamlet (2000), with Ethan Hawke in the lead. The second was in the Desdemona role, opposite Mekhi Phifer in Tim Blake Nelson's O (2001), a version of Othello set in a private boarding school. Neither film was a great success; O had been subjected to many delays and a change of distributors, and Hamlet was an art house film shot on a minimal budget.

Stiles's next commercial success was in Save the Last Dance (2001), as an aspiring ballerina forced to leave her small town in downstate Illinoismarker to live with her struggling musician father in Chicagomarker after her mother dies in a car accident. At her new, nearly all-black school, she falls in love with the character played by Sean Patrick Thomas, who teaches her hip-hop dance steps that get her into The Juilliard Schoolmarker. The role won her two more MTV awards for "Best Kiss" and "Best Female Performance", and a Teen Choice Award for best fight scene for her battle with Bianca Lawson. Rolling Stone pronounced her "the coolest co-ed," putting her on the cover of its April 12, 2001 issue. She told Rolling Stone that she performed all her own dancing in the film, though the way the film was shot and edited might have made it appear otherwise.

In David Mamet's State and Main (2000), about a film shooting on location in a small town in Vermontmarker, she played a teenage girl who seduces a film actor (Alec Baldwin) with a weakness for young girls. Stiles also played opposite Stockard Channing in the dark art-house film The Business of Strangers (2001) as a conniving, amoral secretary who exacts revenge on her boss. Channing was impressed by her co-star: "In addition to her talent, she has a quality that is almost feral, something that can make people uneasy. She has an effect on people." Stiles also had a small but crucial role as Treadstone operative Nicolette "Nicky" Parsons in The Bourne Identity (2002), a role that was enlarged in The Bourne Supremacy (2004), then greatly expanded in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).

Between the Bourne films, she appeared in Mona Lisa Smile (2003) as Joan, a student at Wellesley Collegemarker in 1953, whose art professor (Julia Roberts) encourages her to pursue a career in law rather than become a wife and mother. Critic Stephen Holden referred to her as one of cinema's "brightest young stars," but the film met with generally unfavorable reviews.

Stiles played a Wisconsinmarker college student who is swept off her feet by a Danishmarker prince in The Prince and Me (2004), directed by Martha Coolidge. Stiles told an interviewer that she was very similar to the character, Paige Morgan. Critic Scott Foundas said while she was, as always, "irrepressibly engaging," the film was a "strange career choice for Stiles." This echoed criticism in reviews of A Guy Thing (2003), a romantic comedy with Jason Lee and Selma Blair. Critic Dennis Harvey wrote that Stiles was "wasted," and Stephen Holden called her "a serious actress from whom comedy does not seem to flow naturally".

In 2005, Stiles was cast opposite her Hamlet co-star Liev Schreiber in The Omen, a remake of the 1976 horror film. The film was released on June 6, 2006.

She returned to the Bourne series with a much larger role in The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007. Producer Lynda Obst said that Stiles was "turning into the next Meryl Streep." She will next work on a film adaptation of The Bell Jar, which coincidentally was a book her character was seen reading in her breakthrough film 10 Things I Hate About You. Stiles also appears in the forthcoming film Gospel Hill. She will act in the role of a woman who falls in love with her stalker in the upcoming thriller Cry of the Owl, based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith.

Stage career

Stiles's first theatrical roles were in works by author/composer John Moran with the group Ridge Theater, in Manhattanmarker's Lower East Side from 1993-1998. She later performed on stage in Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, in the summer of 2002 and appeared as Viola, the lead role in Shakespeare in the Park's production of Twelfth Night with Jimmy Smits. Reviewing the production, Ben Brantley of The New York Times saluted Stiles as "the thinking teenager's movie goddess" who put him in mind of a "young Jane Fonda."

In the spring of 2004, she made her Londonmarker stage debut opposite Aaron Eckhart in a revival of David Mamet's play Oleanna at the Garrick Theatremarker.

She reprised the role of Carol in a 2009 production, directed by Doug Hughes and co-starring Bill Pullman at the Mark Taper Forummarker. On June 30, 2009, it was announced that this production would be transferring to Broadway's John Golden Theatremarker, with previews beginning Sept. 29 before an Oct. 11 opening night.

Other work

On March 17, 2001, Stiles hosted Saturday Night Live and, eight days later, she was a presenter at the 73rd Academy Awards. She returned to Saturday Night Live on May 5 in a cameo as President George W. Bush's daughter Jenna Bush in a skit that poked fun at the two first daughters being arrested for underage drinking. MTV profiled her in its Diary series in 2003, and she was Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher at a Washington DCmarker museum in the spring of 2004.

Stiles made her writing and directorial debut with Elle magazine's short Raving starring Zooey Deschanel. It premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

She has also starred in three modern adaptations of Shakespeare's plays: 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew), Hamlet (based on Hamlet), and O (based on Othello).

Personal life

Stiles graduated from Columbia University in 2005, with a degree in English literature.

Stiles has also worked for Habitat for Humanity, building housing in Costa Ricamarker, and has worked with Amnesty International to raise awareness of the harsh conditions of immigration detention of unaccompanied juveniles; Marie Claire magazine, in January 2004, featured Stiles's trip to see conditions at the Berks Countymarker Youth Center in Leesport, Pennsylvaniamarker. Stiles also serves on the Board of Directors of Amend.org, a New York-based nonprofit that implements childhood injury prevention programs in Africa. She attended parties to promote buildings by Manhattan real estate developer Louis Dubin.

An ex-vegan, now occasionally eating red meat, Stiles says she gave up veganism after she developed anemia and found it difficult to get proper nutrition while traveling. Stiles has described herself as a feminist and wrote on the subject in The Guardian.

An avid baseball fan, she roots for the New York Mets. She threw the ceremonial first pitch before their May 29, 2006 game.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1996 I Love You, I Love You Not Young Nana's Friend Non-speaking role
1997 The Devil's Own Bridget O'Meara
1998 Wicked Ellie Christianson filmed in 1998; direct-to-video in 2001
1998 Wide Awake Neena Beal
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Katarina "Kat" Stratford
The 60's Katie Herlihy Made for T.V. Movie
2000 Down to You Imogen
Hamlet Ophelia
State and Main Carla
2001 Save the Last Dance Sara Johnson
O Desi Brable filmed in 1998
The Business of Strangers Paula Murphy
2002 The Bourne Identity Nicolette 'Nicky' Parsons (Uncredited)
2003 A Guy Thing Becky
Mona Lisa Smile Joan Brandwyn
Carolina Carolina Direct-to-video
2004 The Prince and Me Paige Morgan
The Bourne Supremacy Nicolette 'Nicky' Parsons
2005 Edmond Glenna limited release
A Little Trip to Heaven Isold
2006 The Omen Katherine Thorn
2007 Raving (Writer & Director)
The Bourne Ultimatum Nicolette 'Nicky' Parsons
2009 Gospel Hill Rosie awaiting release
The Bell Jar Esther Greenwood pre-production
Cry of the Owl Jenny post-production


Notes

  1. Julia Stiles Biography (1981-)
  2. Joe Balthai. "Screen Idol-escents". The Arizona Republic. October 28, 1999.
  3. Adina Hoffman. "Good teen fun". The Jerusalem Post. July 26, 1999.
  4. Martin Hoyle. "Martin Hoyle enjoys a film that turns the Bard's almost unplayable comedy into a teenage coup". Financial Times. July 8, 1999. 18.
  5. Jancee Dunn. "Is Julia Stiles too cool for school?" Rolling Stone. Issue 866. April 12, 2001.
  6. Dave Kehr. "At the Movies: Understanding a Dragon Lady." The New York Times. December 7, 2001. E8.
  7. Stephen Holden. "Creeping 1953 Feminism Without Quite Dispelling Dreams of Prince Charming." The New York Times. December 19, 2003. B8.
  8. Scott Foundas. "Not a Fresh 'Prince'." Variety. March 29, 2004. 80, 86.
  9. Dennis Harvey. Review of A Guy Thing. Variety. January 20, 2003.
  10. Stephen Holden. "A Hangover Is the Least of His Problems." The New York Times. January 17, 2003. B31.
  11. Aimee Agresti. "Type A Student." Premiere. v. 15, n. 12. August 2002. 74-6.
  12. Ben Brantley. "Wayward Currents in Uncharted Waters". The New York Times. July 22, 2002.
  13. Julia Stiles. "Who's afraid of the 1950s?" The Guardian (London). June 17, 2004. Retrieved February 27, 2006.
  14. [1], a 2009 "Broadway World" article
  15. 'Oleanna' set for Golden Theater from Variety
  16. Julia Stiles visits children in detention. Amnesty International. Retrieved February 27, 2006.
  17. On the Front Lines. Amnesty International. Retrieved February 27, 2006.
  18. MLB.com, (June 3, 2005). Notes: Celebrities take BP for charity. Accessed 2006-12-19.
  19. Reuters, (May 30, 2006). Actress Julia Throws First Pitch. Accessed 2006-12-19.


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