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Julia stiles

With a number of high-profile projects, a variety of magazine covers, and a spot on Teen People's 1999 The 21 Hottest Stars Under 21 list under her belt, actress Julia Stiles has come a remarkably long way in a very short time. Born March 28, 1981, in New York City, Stiles was interested in performing from a very young age. When she was 11 years old, she wrote a letter to a Manhattan theater director asking to be cast in a production, and was soon acting onstage in avant-garde plays at both the La Mama and Kitchen Theaters. In 1996, Stiles made her film debut with a small part in I Love You, I Love You Not and, the following year, had her television debut in the Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings, in which she played an abused child. The same year, she made a brief appearance as Harrison Ford's daughter in The Devil's Own and followed this with roles in two 1998 films, Wide Awake and the Sundance entry Wicked.

1999 proved to be Stiles' breakthrough year, as she played a prominent part in the television miniseries The '60s and the lead role in 10 Things I Hate About You, the latest film to mine gold and product endorsements out of William Shakespeare. The film was a hit and Stiles was soon being heralded as one of the Hottest Young Things of her generation. With her name attached to a number of future projects, it seemed that Stiles would indeed have success in living up to this label.

Sure enough, Stiles was almost immediately cast in two modernized-for-the-MTV-generation Shakespeare flicks; namely, director Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (2000) with Ethan Hawke, and O, a teen-oriented adaptation of Othello starring Josh Hartnett and Mekhi Phifer. As classic literature once again fell in place behind predictable romantic comedies, Stiles could be found playing the romantic lead in Down to You with teen-movie veteran Freddie Prinze, Jr., and alongside Sean Patrick Thomas in Save the Last Dance, which featured Stiles in the role of a grieving ballet dancer who attends and eventually finds love within a primarily black high school. Though the film was not a critical success, Save the Last Dance (2001) and Ten Things I Hate About You nonetheless helped construct Stiles a respectable fan-base, and the young actress -- now with a Saturday Night Live credit under her belt -- would continue to build her resume throughout the early 2000's. In the film adaptation of novelist Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity (2002), Stiles had the chance to participate in a film starring Hollywood golden boy Matt Damon, and will return to the role in 2004's The Bourne Supremacy. Stiles was praised for holding her own against Stockard Channing in The Business of Strangers (2001), which was shown at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, and fared decently in A Guy Thing, a romantic comedy-of-errors co-starring Jason Lee and Stiles' fellow Down to You alumna Selma Blair. In 2003, Stiles would play opposite the Oscar-winning Julia Roberts in Mona Lisa Smile, which finds Stiles playing a conservative 1950's college student whose beliefs undergo some serious scrutiny after coming in contact with an uncharacteristically progressive teacher (Roberts).

2004 promises more teen-styled roles -- Stiles will play the eccentric title character in Carolina under the direction of Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris, and work with director Martha Coolidge and 28 Days Later's Luke Mahby in The Prince and Me.

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