Who: Indie film queen Julianne Moore has turned in critically-acclaimed performances in Boogie Nights, Far From Heaven, and The Hours.

Backstory: An Army brat who grew up on various bases in Germany and the U.S., Julie Anne Smith started acting while attending Boston University. She moved to New York in after graduating in 1983, supporting herself as a waitress while performing in off-Broadway plays like Serious Money. In 1985 she landed the part of Frannie Hughes on As the World Turns—she'd later play Frannie's half-sister Sabrina as well—and earned an Emmy for her over-acting on the soap in 1988.

In the 1990s, Moore turned away from soaps and focused on her film career, clinching roles in Hollywood schlock like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The Fugitive as well as in the sort of edgier fare that would become her bread-and-butter, like Benny & Joon and Todd Haynes' Safe. The turning point in Moore's career came in 1997, when she starred as coke-addled porn star Amber Waves in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights and earned an Academy Award nod for her efforts; breathless critics hailed her utterly transcendent acting, a term that's been applied to almost every role she's had since.

Lately, Moore's been in her "Eisenhower phase," playing a series of put-upon 1950s women in Far From Heaven, The Hours, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, and 2009's A Single Man, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Between movies she periodically returns to the stage, as in 2006 when she starred in the Sam Mendes-directed The Vertical Hour on Broadway. And she also serves as a spokesmodel for Revlon.

Of note: Despite her soap opera origins, Moore has blossomed into the rare celebrity who's a bona fide movie star with unimpeachable indie cred to boot. Long sought after by filmmaking's top auteurs, she's worked repeatedly with certain directors such as Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) and Todd Haynes (Safe, Far From Heaven, I'm Not There). But at some point or another she's done a picture for practically every established indie director, including Gus Van Sant (Psycho), the Coen brothers (The Big Lebowski), and Stephen Daldry (The Hours). Moore's most recent projects include an adaptation of Portuguese Nobel winner Jose Saramago's allegorical novel Blindness (2008); Chloe, an erotic thriller directed by Atom Egoyan; and 2010's The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko.

The look: If her carrot-topped kids are any indication, Moore is a natural redhead. Although those who've seen her famous scene in Shortcuts, where she argues with Matthew Modine while naked from the waist down, already know that.

Personal: Moore has been married three times; her first two marriages were to Sundar Chakravarthy from 1983 to 1985 and to producer John Rubin from 1986 to 1995. After dating for seven years and having two children, Caleb and Liv, she and director Bart Freundlich finally tied the knot in 2003. Freundlich later directed her in the 2006 rom-com stinker Trust the Man, which prompted the Times to gripe that she was "poorly served by Mr. Freundlich's unfunny, unfocused screenplay." (Here's hoping that he's a better husband than filmmaker.) Moore, Freundlich and their kids live in a West 11th Street townhouse that was put up for sale in 2009 for $11.9 million.

Vital Stats

Birth Name: Julie Anne Smith
Date of Birth: 12/03/1960
Place of Birth: Boston, MA
High School: American High School (Frankfurt)
Undergrad: Boston University
Residence(s): New York (West Village)
Filed Under: Celebrity

[Photo via Getty Images]