Jessica Claire Biel, (born March 3, 1982) is an American actress and model, who has appeared in several Hollywood films, including Summer Catch, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Illusionist, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Valentine's Day. She is also known for her television role as Mary Camden in the long-running family-drama series 7th Heaven.
Jessica Claire Biel was born in Ely, Minnesota, to Kimberly Biel (née Conroe), a homemaker and spiritual healer, and Jonathan Biel, an entrepreneur and international business consultant. She has a younger brother, Justin, born in 1985. Biel has German, French, English, and Choctaw ancestry. Biel's family moved frequently during her childhood, living in Texas, Connecticut and Woodstock, Illinois, before finally settling in Boulder, Colorado.
Biel initially trained to be a vocalist, and appeared in several musical productions in her hometown, playing lead roles in productions such as Annie, The Sound of Music and Beauty and the Beast.
At 12 years old, Biel attended The International Modeling and Talent Association conference in Los Angeles, where she was discovered and signed on by a talent agency. She began doing modeling work in print ads, as well as appearing in commercials for products such as Deluxe Paint and Pringles.
Biel also played a lead role in a low-budget musical short titled It's a Digital World, but the film was never released. At age 14, after auditioning for several television pilots, Biel was cast as the oldest daughter in the family drama, 7th Heaven. The show was originally scheduled to air on Fox, but was picked up by The WB Television Network instead. 7th Heaven would go on to last for 11 seasons, making it the longest-running family drama in U.S. television history, and also became the highest-rated show on The WB.
Jessica Biel on board the USS Abraham Lincoln on June 18, 2004Biel landed her first feature film role, playing Peter Fonda's granddaughter in the critically-acclaimed drama Ulee's Gold, released in 1997. Her performance earned her a Young Artist Award. In spring 1998, during a break from filming 7th Heaven, Biel starred in the holiday movie I'll Be Home for Christmas, playing opposite Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
In 2000, during the fourth season of 7th Heaven, Biel commented that she grew tired of playing the wholesome preacher's kid, and blamed the show for giving her a squeaky-clean image, which caused her to lose out on a role in American Beauty (the part went to Thora Birch). In a last ditch attempt to be let out of her contract, she posed semi-nude for the cover of Gear magazine. Fans and producers of 7th Heaven were outraged, and the shoot also sparked a lot of controversy, as Biel was still under 18 at the time, but Aaron Spelling made it clear that Biel would be staying with the show until her contract was due to expire (although, she appeared in minimal episodes in season five, due to her attending college out of state). She has now claimed that she regrets the Gear shoot, but considers it a learning experience.
In 2001, Biel played the love interest of Freddie Prinze, Jr. in the baseball themed movie, Summer Catch. The next year, she starred as promiscuous college student Lara in the ensemble, The Rules of Attraction, a film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name.
After leaving 7th Heaven at the end of the sixth season, Biel was cast as the lead heroine in the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The film was met with mixed reviews, but became a box office success, scoring the number one spot in its opening week.
In fall 2003, Biel began working on the third installment of the Blade film series, Blade: Trinity. Almost immediately after finishing Blade Trinity in 2004, she headed to Australia to shoot the action/thriller Stealth. Both movies were critical and box office failures. Stealth had a budget of $130 million, but grossed just $76 million worldwide. Biel also made a notable cameo appearance in the 2004 film Cellular, which starred her then real-life boyfriend Chris Evans.
Biel went on to audition for the role of Claire Colburn in the romantic comedy Elizabethtown, but the role was eventually given to Kirsten Dunst. Biel was instead cast as Ellen Kishmore, a smaller role. She then played in the indie flick London, opposite then-boyfriend Chris Evans.
Biel at the 2005 Stealth premiereBiel's film career blossomed when she played a turn-of-the-century duchess in the period piece, The Illusionist, co-starring Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti. The movie received mostly-positive reviews, and was a turning point for Biel, who had previously played more contemporary roles. She was awarded the Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and won an Achievement Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival for her performance.
Biel played an Iraq War veteran in the 2006 film Home of the Brave, a drama about soldiers struggling to adjust back into society after facing the hardships of war. Her performance was well-received, but the movie was a commercial failure. After being pulled from theaters twice, it eventually went to DVD in late 2007. Biel and Home of the Brave co-star Samuel L. Jackson were nominated for Prism Awards for their performances.
Meanwhile, after a three-year absence from the series, Biel returned for what was to be the series finale of 7th Heaven (the show was later unexpectedly renewed at the last minute by The CW Television Network). The episode had already been initially shot, but producer and creator Brenda Hampton was determined to have Biel featured in the episode, so Biel agreed to shoot her scenes during a break from filming her upcoming 2007 movie Next.
In Next, Biel played alongside Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore. She then played in the summer comedy, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, co-starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Like her earlier film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Chuck and Larry received mixed reviews, but opened its first week at number one at the box office. She also produced and starred in a short film titled Hole in the Paper Sky, which was released in 2008.
Biel was invited to announce nominations at both the Golden Globe Awards (with Rosario Dawson and Matthew Perry) and the Academy Awards in 2007.
In late 2007, Biel signed on to play a stripper in Powder Blue, alongside Forest Whitaker (who also produced the film) Ray Liotta and Patrick Swayze.
Biel with Josh Lucas on the Stealth set.At the start of 2008, Biel shot Easy Virtue, an adaptation of the play by Noël Coward. Like the play, the movie is set in the 1920s and Biel plays young widow Larita, who marries John Whittaker in a spur-of-the-moment in France, but must face her disapproving in-laws when they return to England. The film premiered in September 2008 at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter described her performance as "an irresistible force of nature — a kind, witty, supremely intelligent and beautiful woman who ... is capable of rejoinders that thoroughly undercut her opponent's withering criticism." In 2009, Biel lent her voice to the animated sci-fi film Planet 51.
In April 2008, Biel began working on the political satire Nailed, with Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie centers around a woman who accidentally gets a nail lodged in her head, then travels to Washington D.C. to fight for better health care. Filming wrapped up in late-June after several production shut downs. She is also co-producing and starring in Die a Little, a contemporary adaptation of the novel by Megan Abbott. A start date for filming has not yet been set.
Biel performed two songs on the Easy Virtue Soundtrack, Mad About the Boy and When the Going Gets Tough.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced that Biel would perform the role of "Sarah Brown" in a fully-staged concert production of Guys and Dolls during the 2009 season at the Hollywood Bowl
On July 18, 2006, Biel participated in a charity auction to raise medical funds for Colorado teen Molly Bloom, who was injured in an auto accident. John Schiffner of Fergus Falls, Minnesota successfully bid $30,000 to have lunch with Biel. "I promise I'm a cheap date," Biel quipped. Biel and Schiffner lunched at Denver's The Palm restaurant on August 18, 2006.
In early 2007, Jessica co-founded the Make the Difference Networkwith her father and another business partner, Kent McBride. Make the Difference Network (MTDN) is a cause-oriented social network that connects non-profit organizations with potential donors and increases the awareness for small-to-medium non-profit organizations. MTDN's misson is to democratize giving by increasing the visibility of thousands of non-profit organizations and empowering potential donors to search, select and fund these organizations’ specific "wishes" and then to see the results of their giving.Make the Difference Network was also featured at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, where they made a commitment to democratize giving through the use of a social network
1998: Young Artist Award — Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress in Ulee's Gold
2005: ShoWest Award Female Star of Tomorrow — 2005 ShoWest Convention
2007: Rising-Star Award — Palm Springs International Film Festival 2007 Gala Awards
Ranked as #5 on Maxim's Hot 100 for 2007 and #11 on Maxim's Top 100 for 2009.
Ranked #5 by AskMen.com readers in the list "Top 99 Women 2007."
Esquire magazine named her the "Sexiest Woman Alive" in a 2005 six-part series, with each month revealing a different body part and clue to the woman's identity. One clue given was that her last name rhymes with an animal sigillographers are interested in (seal).
Ranked #98 on VH1's "100 Hottest Hotties."
Ranked #99 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World" (2002).
Ranked #1 in Stuff magazine's "100 Sexiest Women" (2007).
Ranked #4 by FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women"