Young Julia Stiles: Debut Performance

Young Julia Stiles, who once wrote to New York Mayor Ed Koch demanding more garbage cans on city streets, was no shrinking violet. At 11, inspired by an avant-garde performance by New York's Ridge Theater Company, Julia Stiles wrote a letter, decorated in crayon, along with several photos (of Julia dressed up in different costumes) to the company's director, Bob McGrath, asking for a chance to act. Impressed by her precocity, McGrath created a role for her in his next production. "Julia is so smart and so focused and so mature that you'd have to remind yourself that she was young," McGrath later recalled. "She was more mature than we were."

Indeed, she reportedly debuted in an oddball play spoofing jungle movies from the 1940s, with Julia lip-synching over pre-recorded tapes about cannibalism.

[By 12, Julia had an agent, was cast as a know-it-all kid in an Apple Jacks commercial, and was soon on her way.]

[Julia Stiles taught herself to act by watching "The Honeymooners" and acting out a different role every night. Stiles voted for Ralph Nader in the 2000 election.]

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