Stiles in 2007
|Born||Julia O'Hara Stiles
March 28, 1981
New York City, New York, U.S.
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 known for playing the supporting character Nicky Parsons in the Bourne film series and the leading role in Save the Last Dance.
Stiles was born in New York City, 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
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, Washington. 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 Almereyda'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 Illinois to live with her struggling musician father in Chicago 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 School. 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 Vermont, 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 College 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 Wisconsin college student who is swept off her feet by a Danish 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".
She returned to the Bourne series with a much larger role in The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007, and to this day it is her highest grossing film. 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.
Stiles's first theatrical roles were in works by author/composer John Moran with the group Ridge Theater, in Manhattan'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."
She reprised the role of Carol in a 2009 production, directed by Doug Hughes and co-starring Bill Pullman at the Mark Taper Forum. On June 30, 2009, it was announced that this production would be transferring to Broadway's John Golden Theatre, with previews beginning Sept. 29 before an Oct. 11 opening night.
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 the then 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 DC museum in the spring of 2004.
Stiles has also worked for Habitat for Humanity, building housing in Costa Rica, 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 County Youth Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania. 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.
|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 '60s||Katie Herlihy||Made for T.V. Movie|
|2000||Down to You||Imogen|
|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|
|2003||A Guy Thing||Becky|
|Mona Lisa Smile||Joan Brandwyn|
|2004||The Prince and Me||Paige Morgan|
|The Bourne Supremacy||Nicolette 'Nicky' Parsons|
|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|
|Cry of the Owl||Jenny||post-production|
|2010||The Bell Jar||Esther Greenwood||pre-production|