Jessica Claire Biel (born March 3,
1982) is an American actress and former model, who has appeared in several
Hollywood films, including Summer Catch, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre, The Illusionist and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. 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
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.
Biel 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'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 straight to DVD in late 2007. Biel and Home of the Brave
co-star Samuel L. Jackson were nominated for Prism Awards for their
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
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
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 film opened to great reviews with the Hollywood
Reporter describing 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
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.
In 2009, Biel presented the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards
Biel performed 2 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.