Julia Stiles broke through with lead roles in two of the best teen movies of their era: 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You, a clever modern take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and 2001’s Save the Last Dance, in which she plays a wannabe professional dancer who incorporates some street moves into her routine ahead of a big audition.
Since then, the New York-born actress has appeared in a varied range of movies including Mona Lisa Smile, the Bourne franchise, Blackway opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins, Silver Linings Playbook (as Jennifer Lawrence‘s sister), and The Omen. She’s also taken on exciting TV roles in Dexter and now Riviera, in which she plays an upscale American art curator whose moral code may not be quite as flawless as her taste in paintings.
With season two two debuting last Thursday (Jun 20) on the Sundance Now streaming service—check out every episode here—it’s the perfect time to find out a little more about Julia Stiles.
1. When she filmed her famous ‘drunk table dance’ scene in 10 Things I Hate About You, she’d never actually been drunk.
Stiles told Metro recently that her co-star Heath Ledger helped her out by “talking [her] through” what being drunk felt like.”
2. She once sang with actual Prince on stage.
When Prince died in April 2016, Stiles shared a picture of herself performing with him. “That was because he came to the premiere of The Bourne Ultimatum in London,” she told Yahoo! a few moths later. “And Matt [Damon] and the rest of the cast and I got to meet him. And then he got us tickets to one of his shows at The O2 Arena. I would have worn a better outfit if I had known this was going to happen. It was a total surprise. He brings women up onstage to dance during a song. So I grabbed my sister, and we got up onstage and were dancing, and that would have been enough. And he kind of nudged me toward the microphone and made me sing. It was not one of his songs. It was like “Play That Funky Music,” and I didn’t know any of the lyrics. I’m sure that it was terrible, and I’m glad that was before camera phones were really popular. But it was really fun.”
3. She’s written and directed her own web series.
It’s called Paloma and it starred Meryl Streep‘s daughter Grace Gummer as a young woman dealing with a range of tricky personal and professional relationships. It aired on YouTube’s WIGS channel in 2013, but you can still find it on regular YouTube now.
4. She was an early fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s risqué British sitcom Fleabag.
“There’s a show that I absolutely loved that’s not very well know in the States – Fleabag,” Stiles said in a 2017 interview. “I adore that show. I thought it was so charming and simple and also sad and, at times, dark—so creative. It was really good to see [Phoebe Waller-Bridge] had written it too. I really want them to make a second series.”
Luckily, Stiles’ wish for a second series was granted!
5. She pretty much grew up on theater.
“I was exposed to performance quite a bit—everything from Broadway to off-Broadway and dance and music as well,” Stiles told Interview magazine in 2017. She also hailed Janet McTeer‘s Tony-winning performance in the 1996 Broadway revival of A Doll’s House as the first piece of acting that really resonated with her. “My grandmother took me and we had seats in the very back row, but her performance was so powerful—it was very accessible. I felt like I was much closer than I was,” Stiles recalled.
6. Her first big screen role was in the PBS/BBC children’s mystery series Ghostwriter.
Stiles was just 12 at the time and played a precocious character called Erica Dansby, who was the editor of the Hurston High School newspaper as well as a teenager hacker–check out that oh-so-’90s nose ring!
And she also appeared in a Cyndi Lauper video–for the singer’s 1993 ballad “Sally’s Pigeons.”
7. She claims to have been kicked out of a Morrrissey concert.
Did teenage Julia Stiles have a wild streak? We need to hear more on this story!
8. After her breakout movies roles in 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance, she slowed down her acting career so she could study at Columbia University.
And lived in regular dorms with her fellow students. She graduated with a degree in English literature in 2005.
9. She wrote a thoughtful op-ed on feminism for The Guardian way back in 2005.
“Women of my generation have not employed self-censorship,” Stiles concluded, “but rather we challenge the notion that being a feminist is in opposition to being feminine.”
10. She once played herself, and herself, in a vodka commercial.
Two Julias for the price of one!
Which Julia Stiles role is your favorite?Read More