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Mary Elizabeth Winstead Biography

Mary Elizabeth Winstead


Name: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Profession: Actress
Birth Date: November 28, 1984
Height: 5' 8 ½"

Mary Elizabeth Winstead was born Nov. 28, 1984 in Rocky Mount, N.C. to James Ronald Winstead and Betty Lou Knight, the youngest of five siblings after three older sisters and an older brother. When she was five, the Winsteads moved to Sandy, Utah. In elementary school, she was a bright student, reaching the upper echelon of the school's advanced classes. Her interest in performing art also began to emerge with interests in ballet and acting. In the fourth grade, she played Juliet Capulet in a school production of William Shakespeare's world-renowned tragedy "Romeo and Juliet" — around the same time her parents revealed she was a distant cousin of screen legend Ava Gardner.

As a child, Winstead appeared in the Mountain West Ballet's version of "The Nutcracker." Hoping to become a ballerina, at the age of 11, she received the opportunity to study dance in a summer program of the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. There, she studied ballet and jazz dance, but decided to also study acting. Winstead ended up appearing on Broadway during Donny Osmond's successful run of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." She also was also a member of the International Children's Choir during her youth and honed her skills performing at her church.

Winstead began acting in the late 1990s, appearing in episodes of the television series "Touched by an Angel" and its spinoff, "Promised Land." Following eighth grade, Winstead made the leap toward Hollywood, heading to Los Angeles in 1999 after landing the role of Jessica Bennett on the NBC soap opera "Passions," which she filled until 2000, while being home schooled. The role netted Winstead a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001.

She subsequently appeared in the short-lived series, "Wolf Lake," and in the made-for-television film, "Monster Island." In 2005, Winstead officially made herself known to mainstream moviegoers in a slew of genre films, kicking off with the long-awaited "The Ring Two" (2005), in which she briefly appeared in flashback as the mother of the murdered, evil Samara. Trying her hand at comedy, she went the independent route as the Jewish daughter of a large zany family in the indie feature "Checking Out" (2005), but her screen time fared better in the more mainstream Disney confection, "Sky High" (2005) — in which she memorably starred as Gwen Grayson, the in-disguise alter ego of the superhero Royal Pain.

After the exposure "Sky High" provided, 2006 saw her forge a professional relationship with the creative team of James Wong and Glen Morgan, formerly best known for their memorable contributions to "The X-Files." She and her co-star, Ryan Merriman, landed in the path of the grim reaper's master plan in "Final Destination 3." Morgan and Wong wanted to collaborate with her again and convinced her to reluctantly appear in their sorority slasher, "Black Christmas." One day, she inadvertently received a chance to lampoon horror scream queens when "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno, unaware of who she was, knocked on her front door and included her in a comedy segment spoofing horror movies.

The same year, she appeared in Emilio Estevez's "Bobby," a valentine to the politics and morals of Robert F. Kennedy. As the more established star of Andy Warhol's orbit, Ingrid Superstar, Winstead then moved on to "Factory Girl."

In 2007, she appeared in a pair of high-profile event films. Quentin Tarantino cast her as a well-intentioned, but vapid and naïve actress in his high-speed "Death Proof." Winstead then received another shot at action with a tent pole sequel movie, "Live Free or Die Hard," landing the role of daughter Lucy McClane — a coveted role Jessica Simpson and many other celebrities had auditioned for.