Born Katherine Noelle Holmes on December 18, 1978 in Toledo, OH, Katie Holmes embodies the wholesomeness and charm of the prototypical All-American girl while exhibiting just enough dark undertones to let her audience know that America's Sweetheart has a few tricks up her sleeve. As angst-ridden tomboy Joey Potter on the WB network's Dawson's Creek, Holmes went from relative unknown to, as indicated by a 1999 Teen People ranking, one of the "21 Hottest Stars Under 21."
Holmes grew up as part of a close-knit family in Toledo and first acted in high-school productions. Participation in a national model and talent convention landed her a trip to Los Angeles when she was 16, and it was there that Holmes auditioned for a role in Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. The film, which was released in 1997, won critical acclaim, and Holmes' role as the object of Tobey Maguire's affections caught the attention of Kevin Williamson. Williamson, known for his screenplays for such movies as Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, was casting roles for his new TV series, Dawson's Creek. Holmes was asked to audition, and did so via videotape. She won the part of Joey Potter, and the series, which premiered in January of 1998, met with a positive reception from both critics and television viewers. Soon the series' young stars were in hot demand, with Holmes in particular receiving attention for her measured and insightful performance as Joey.
It was not long before Holmes appeared in her second film, 1998's teen conspiracy thriller Disturbing Behavior, which met with lackluster reviews but did fairly well at the box office. Holmes' next venture, Doug Liman's 1999 Go, found greater favor with the critics. In her role as the sweet and slightly insecure Claire Montgomery, Holmes won praise even from critics who disliked almost everything else about the film. Coupled with the continuing success of Dawson, the film helped to set the foundations for what is shaping up to be a lengthy and illustrious career.
In 2000, Holmes further built upon this foundation with high-profile turns in Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys and Sam Raimi's The Gift. The former featured her as a college student with a crush on her English professor (Michael Douglas), while the latter, a Southern gothic thriller co-starring Cate Blanchett and Greg Kinnear, saw her subvert her nice-girl image by playing a scheming and promiscuous young socialite -- and in the process flashing the audience with substantially more than her famous grin. Holmes alternated between a Joey Potter-esque innocent and a particularly delusional psychopath in 2002's Abandon, and while the movie itself did not fare well with critics or audiences, Holmes won more praise for her versatility. After the long-anticipated end of Dawson's Creek, Holmes could be seen in the psychological Phone Booth with Colin Farrell, and in 2003's Pieces of April, which found the young actress in the part of a punky family outcast. In 2004, Holmes starred alongside Michael Keaton in director Forest Whitaker's First Daughter. In 2005 she will appear in Batman Begins playing Rachel Dawes, a childhood sweetheart and love interest to Batman/Bruce Wayne.