Born on January 11th, 1972, Amanda Peet grew up in New York and made a decidedly unconventional debut into showbiz: At three-years-old, a thoroughly uninvited Peet jumped onto a stage during the middle of a play. Despite the auspicious beginning, Peet treated acting as more of a hobby than anything else, and only began to consider it a potential career after her drama professor at Columbia University encouraged her to audition for renowned acting teacher Uta Hagen. Peet studied with Hagen for four years, during which time she participated in the off-Broadway revival Awake and Sing. Though she would eventually be voted one of the year's 50 most beautiful people in a 2000 issue of People magazine -- not to mention participate with the likes of Susan Sarandon, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jack Nicholson -- Peet worked as a waitress during the first few years of her acting career.
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The sloe-eyed brunette made her onscreen debut in Craig Singer's Animal Room (1996). That same year, she could also be seen in an episode of Law & Order, and went on to play a role in Grind (1996), a crime drama starring Billy Crudup. Before long, Peet landed a small role in the Michelle Pfeiffer-George Clooney romantic comedy One Fine Day. Since then, the actress has continued to build both her film and television credits: in 1997, she appeared in the AIDS drama Touch Me, and the following year she had sizable roles in South Boston crime drama Southie with Donnie Wahlberg and Rose McGowan, which won the American Independent award at the 1998 Seattle Film Festival. On television, she could be seen guest starring on a number of shows including Seinfeld and Ellen Foster. In 1999, she got her own television show, Jack & Jill, on the WB network. That same year, she could be seen playing Sean Patrick Flanery's fiancée in Simply Irresistible and then acting as his bedmate in Body Shots, another in the long line of explorations into pre-millennial twentysomething dating angst.
After starring in director Neil Turitz's debut Two Ninas, Peet landed a leading role in Peter M. Cohen's independent comedy Whipped. While the film itself performed dismally, Peet met her boyfriend, Brian Van Holt, on the set. Despite it's independent status, Whipped was given a solid amount of mainstream marketing, and Peet was praised for a game performance in the face of an admittedly weak script.
After a small role in 2000's Isn't She Great with Bette Midler and Nathan Lane, Peet was finally recognized by critics and audiences alike in The Whole Nine Yards. Though the film itself did not fare particularly well, Peet was praised for holding her own against Hollywood heavy-hitter Bruce Willis, which certainly didn't hurt her when it came time to audition for Saving Silverman, which placed her opposite Jason Biggs while he was still reeling from the success of American Pie. In 2002, Peet played a considerably less vicious wife in Changing Lanes with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson, and won no small amount of praise for her performance as the heroin-addled mistress of Kieran Culkin's godfather in Igby Goes Down. Peet would go on to star opposite film veterans Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Nancy Meyers' Something's Gotta Give, in which she stars as Nicholson's scandalously young girlfriend, as well as James Mangold's psychological thriller Identity with John Cusack. In 2004, Peet signed on for the sequel to The Whole Nine Yards (aptly titled The Whole Ten Yards), and acted alongside Will Ferrell, Chloë Sevigny, and Josh Brolin in the Woody Allen feature Melinda and Melinda.
The next year, Peet starred alongside Ashton Kutcher in the romantic comedy A Lot Like Love, before joining the cast of the politically charged thriller Syriana. Then, in 2006, the actress accepted a recurring role on the one-hour drama Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. The Aaron Sorkin written series received major critical acclaim but was cancelled after just one season. Undeterred, Peet next teamed up with John Cusack for the quirky, heartfelt drama Martian Child. The sci-fi theme continued with voice work in Battle for Terra (2007), The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and 2012, though by 2010 Peet seemed to be focusing on honing her comedy skills with toles in Wainy Days, Important Things with Demetri Martin, and How I Met Your Mother. In 2010, after receiving numerous critical accolades for her performance in Nicole Holofcener's Please Give, Peet plunged into televosion full-time with Bent -- an NBC series that found her cast as a high-strung lawyer contening with a free-spirited construction worker. Unfortunately for Peet the series failed to perform, and was swiftly cancelled by the network, freeing her up to appear in such high profile fare as director Terrence Malick's romantic drama To the Wonder (2012), though her scenes were ultimately cut from the final film. She had a guest arc on The Good Wife and played a supporting role in the indie flick The Way, Way Back in 2013. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi