Real name: Julia O'Hara Stiles
Birthdate: March 28, 1981
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After beginning her theatre 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). Stiles also actively supports a variety of progressive causes.
Stiles began her acting career in television roles. After two appearances as the computer punk "Erica Dansby" on the PBS series Ghostwriter in 1993 and 1994, she appeared as a guest star on the medical drama Chicago Hope. She has been seen in two made-for-TV movies: in Before Women Had Wings (1997) on CBS, she played opposite Ellen Burstyn and Oprah Winfrey in an adaptation of the novel by Connie May Fowler; and she played a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant and runs away from her unforgiving father (Bill Smitrovich) in NBC's miniseries The '60's (1999), a film Caryn James of The New York Times dismissed as "conspicuously idiotic." Stiles was the public face of the film, with NBC using her face, painted with a peace sign and the American flag, both in its advertising and on the cover of the soundtrack album.
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 near Tacoma. 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 film role was 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 becoming 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.
In the spring of 2004, she made her London stage debut opposite Aaron Eckhart in a revival of David Mamet's play Oleanna at the Garrick Theatre.
In 2007 Stiles made her writing and directoral debut with Elle magazine's Raving starring Zooey Deschanel. The film will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Stiles is a Democrat and supported John Kerry's candidacy for President of the United States. Her official site, which her mother helps to maintain, provides a link to Moveon.org.
Stiles is also an avid baseball fan. Her favorite team is the New York Mets. She threw the ceremonial first pitch before their May 29, 2006 game.
On August 17th 2007, Julia joined Prince on stage at the O2 in London. Prince then handed her a mic and got her to sing Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music in front of a 20,000 strong crowd.