Julia O'Hara Stiles is well known for her roles in a number of youthful films. In fact, she is not only a movie star, but also a stage actress and a talented writer whose screenplay entitled "The Anarchist's Daughter" was selected to be included in the Sundance Institute's Writers Lab. Being often seen in teenager movies does not indicate that she is merely an ordinary actress for she has been praised by many, like Stephen Holden of The Washington Post who's claimed her as "One of Hollywood's brightest young stars." New York critic, Ben Brantley, in addition, perceived her as "The thinking teenager's movie goddess," while The Jerusalem Post described her as "A young, serious looking Diane Lane." All of them approve that Julia Stiles is indeed a promising young actress, and surely one will have the same thoughts when looking upon her performances, either in movies or televisions, and also theaters.
Born on March 28, 1981, in New York City, Julia is the eldest of three children of John O'Hara and Judith Stiles. All of them lived at Soho in a loft apartment where it was functioned as home and studio for the parents' pottery business. Julia Stiles' interest in acting began at her very young age, proven by her eagerness in playing roles of "The Honeymooners" after watching the TV series. Her parents realized this, thus encouraged Julia to attend acting class and modern dance lessons besides often took her to the theaters. After writing a letter to the director asking for an audition in which she got accepted, she performed with New York's La MaMa Theatre Company at age 11. She also joined "Kitchen Theater" to play roles in the plays "Matthew: School of Life" and "The Sandalwood Box" before continuing to appear in some commercials when she was twelve. However, Julia did not push aside her education for she entered New York's Professional Children School which prepares children to develop their career in arts.
Julia first appearance in movie was in "I Love You, I Love You Not" (1996) together with Jude Law and Claire Danes, playing small role in a non-speaking part. In the following year, she acted as Harrison Ford's daughter in "The Devil's Own" in which Brad Pitt was also cast as an IRA terrorist. Still in the same year, Julia made her debut and also her breakthrough in the television, starring in Oprah Winfrey's production entitled "Before Women Had Wings" which dealt with child abuse. This led her to earn her first leading role in "Wicked"(1998), playing as an evil teenage girl named Ellie Christianson followed by a small role in M. Night Shyamalan's "Wide Awake." Through "Wicked," Julia got her first award for the best actress in Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (1998). In spite of the fact that the film was also acclaimed at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, it went directly to home video without ever being released commercially in U.S. Nevertheless, Julia kept going on, making her another breakthrough in the TV miniseries " The 60's" in which she had a prominent part as a teenage girl who finds herself caught up in the social upheaval of the time.
Julia then reached a great success when she was in the cast with Heath Ledger in Gil Junger's "Ten Things I Hate About You" (1999) which was adapted from Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew." She was granted two more awards based on her role there in the following year: Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for The Most Promising Actress and MTV Movie Awards for Breakthrough Female Performance. This triumph was later on followed by her enrollment at Columbia University to take English major. Studying in university did not prevent Julia to continue her career as an actress, proven by her appearances in some movies, such as "Down to You" (2000), "State and Main" (2000), two more adaptations of Shakespeare's plays: "Hamlet"(2000) and "O" (2001), and the successful "Save the Last Dance" (2001). The last one received great responses, leaped to the top position of box-office movies chart for three weeks with over 27 million dollars income. All her efforts in practicing ballet and dancing until her toes bled were proven worthy. Afterwards, "Save the Last Dance" has led Julia to achieve two MTV Movie Awards, plus two Teen Choice Awards, in 2001.
She took one step higher, playing her first mature role in Patrick Stettner's independent movie "The Business of Strangers"(2001). Although this particular film was reviewed negatively, the critics were impressed by Julia, thus gave her praise and admiration. During the period of 2002-2004, she kept being seen in some notable movies, among others "The Bourne Identity" (2002) with Matt Damon, "arolina" (2003), "A Guy Thing"(2003), "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003) with Julia Roberts, "The Prince & Me" (2004), and "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004), once again being in one scene with Damon. Year 2005, in the meantime, found her appearing in both "A Little Trip to Heaven" and "Edmond" followed by a horror turn in 2006's "The Omen", which was a remake of the 1976 film of the same name. Not resting on her acting laurels, the beauty next made her writing and directing debut in "Raving", a 2007 short feature for Elle Magazine before returning to stand in front of the camera in "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007), "Gospel Hill" and "The Bell Jar" (2008).
As a stage actress, Julia took part in "Vagina Monologue" (2000) together with Gloria Reuben and Mary Testa. She also acted as Viola in "Twelfth Night" which was performed at Delacorte Theatre in 2002. The others were "Necessary Targets" (2002) and "Oleanna" (2004). What's more, Julia has also appeared in some other TV series, such as "Ghostwriter" (1993), "Promised Land" (1996), "Chicago Hope" (1997), and she also hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2001. In May 2005, Julia has graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English. She once dated actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, her co-star in "Ten Things I Hate About You" who is also a star of TV comedy series "3rd Rock from the Sun". This charming actress has also dedicated herself to help building houses in Costa Rica through Habitat for Humanity and worked with Amnesty International in raising awareness of the harsh conditions of immigration detention of unaccompanied juveniles.