Julia Stiles was once a promising teen movie queen, but the actress is all grown up now. The 10 Things I Hate About You star has always put personal development before Hollywood fame—but even if she failed to ride the momentum of the early 2000s, she was still destined for career success. Stiles now enjoys a new chapter as a TV star across the pond, and she’s thrilled that she got there on her own terms. Get the details on her latest projects, and find out how the Julia Stiles of 2022 compares to the high school rom-com star of yore.
Julia Stiles Began Acting As A Teenager
Stiles, now in her forties, rose to fame after co-starring with the late Heath Ledger in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You. The teen rom-com’s success naturally led to parts in similar films like Down to You and Save the Last Dance.
What some people might not know is that Stiles had an impressive resume before her breakout role. She starred with Claire Danes and Jude Law in I Love You, I Love You Not (1996); she also had a small part in M. Night Shyamalan’s Wide Awake (1998). Her first leading part in the thriller Wicked generated major buzz at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.
Stiles had everything going for her, but she was too grounded and self-aware to get swept up by fame. Instead of going down the same road as Tara Reid or Lindsay Lohan, she forged her own path.
Stiles Started To Worry About Her Career After Initial Success
Stiles may have been selective about the projects she accepted, but she couldn’t avoid having an existential crisis.
“I felt like I was sort of jumping from job to job that I wasn’t really connected to, and worried about where my career was going,” Stiles told the Daily Beast in 2019. “I think a few years ago my frustration was feeling like nobody knew what to do with me. You know, I had had some success in my twenties and now I’m in a different place in my life and I didn’t really fit anywhere.”
One decision that may have saved her was taking the early 2000s to invest in herself. She enrolled at Columbia University and graduated with a degree in English literature in 2005. She still shot the occasional film while matriculated, but the partial hiatus from Hollywood was good for her.
“Academic professionals don’t really give a shit about me being in a movie or having to go the MTV Movie Awards,” she said. “But then also people in the entertainment industry don’t really care about university. That helped me a lot.”
But She Never Stopped Acting
Even though she’s armed with an Ivy League degree, Stiles is grateful to have an acting career as a backup. And it’s not like she ever totally disappeared. With the exception of a single year (2011), she has worked every year since 1996. Some of the roles were forgettable, but others—like Silver Linings Playbook and the Jason Bourne series—sustained her legitimacy.
“My other English major friends are having to answer to their parents right now, ‘What will you do with an English major?’ I mean, you can do anything and you can do nothing,” she told the Mercury in 2014. “Honestly, I have no idea what I’d do if I weren’t acting.”
It’s hard to imagine her giving it all up to become an English professor—especially when she had A-listers like Julia Roberts singing her praises: “Julia Stiles was slightly intimidating to me,” said Roberts, her Mona Lisa Smile co-star. “I mean, she’s so smart, and she’s a breathtaking girl. She can do anything.”
What Is Julia Stiles Doing Now In 2022?
Stiles currently plays Georgina Clios in Riviera, a British TV series that airs on Sky Atlantic. The program, which debuted in 2017, is the network’s most successful original series. (It also airs on Ovation in the U.S., but it’s a much bigger success abroad.)
Stiles is also starring in the new Prime Video series The Lake, a comedy series about a family trying to connect and struggling—hard. The Lake was filmed completely in Canada, a first for a Prime Video series. The show’s producers, Michael Souther and Teza Lawrence, shared that they were inspired to use the setting by all the summers they spent at the lake during childhood. The series will premiere on June 17, 2022, at the Inside Out Film and Video Festival.
The move from big to small screen feels right. Stiles has already earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for joining Showtime’s Dexter in 2010. But she hasn’t neglected film altogether. In 2019 she starred alongside Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu in Hustlers; she also just finished roles for The God Committee (with Kelsey Grammer) and Orphan: First Kill.
Stiles seems satisfied with where her career is currently at. And even if she’s not into rewatching 10 Things I Hate About You (“If you had your prom video or a home video from high school, I don’t know that I’d watch it,” she said), she appreciates the love she gets for it.
“I don’t take it for granted that people are talking about the movie 20 years later,” Stiles told People in 2019. “It’s an affirmation that even back then the things, the stories, and the roles that I was drawn to, other people were interested in as well. That was the first time I really read a female character, especially as a teenager, who was feisty and opinionated and unapologetic.”