Also Credited As:Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders
|Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders on April 3, 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia, CA|
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Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders was born on April 3, 1982, in Vancouver, B.C. to a Dutch father and an English mother. Named after a great-aunt, "Cobie" grew up in the Canadian city, speaking fluent French and dreaming of becoming a doctor or marine biologist when she was not busy playing sports. These plans, however, were quickly set aside once she got a taste of performing in various high school plays. While she was still in her teens, a second career venue opened up after an agency contracted the willowy brunette for modeling work. Despite a whirlwind tour of Europe and Asia on assignments, Smulders still managed to graduate from her school with high honors in 2000. After a brief return to modeling, Smulders came to the decision that she had had enough of the profession - which she increasingly found to be neither challenging nor satisfying - and relocated to Los Angeles to pursue acting full-time.
Smulders' television debut came in the form of a guest role for the short-lived fantasy-action program, "Special Unit 2" (UPN, 2001-02) in 2002. The neophyte actress' first turn as a series regular played out on the ambitious, but ratings-deprived "Veritas: The Quest" (ABC, 2003), for which she played a member of an adventure team investigating historical mysteries. Just as with "Special Unit 2," the show's lifespan was exceptionally brief. Guest shots on such series as "Tru Calling" (Fox, 2003-05) and the long-running "Smallville" (The WB, 2001-2011) preceded a four-episode recurring role on the groundbreaking cable drama "The L Word" (Showtime, 2004-09) as a photographer who entices Jennifer Beals' character, Bette. Smulders also appeared in her first lead role in the short film, "Candy from Strangers" (2002), which was directed by fellow Canadian performer (and "Smallville" actor) Eric Johnson.
The 2004-05 season saw Smulders make moves toward the big screen, though the roles she landed were either minor parts in major movies like "Walking Tall," (2004), or supporting roles in such little-seen films as "The Long Weekend" (2005), with Chris Klein. But her visibility changed dramatically when she joined the cast of the hit sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005- ) as high-strung reporter Robin Scherbatsky. Robin's relationship with the lovelorn Ted (Josh Radnor) and how it may - or may not - have resulted in a happy ending, was the engine that drove the charming show. Boasting an impressive supporting cast that included Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris as Radnor's sidekick Barney, the show's premise posited that Radnor's character would explain to his children how he met their mother, which would then cue episodes to unveil as flashbacks. The catch to the whole set-up was that while the audience was led to believe that Radnor would end up with Smulders' Robin, the fact was that the couple did not stay together. How past, present and future were reconciled was another element to maintain viewer loyalty, but credit for the latter was also due to Smulders' believability as a smart, attractive woman for which a man might give up his fiancée to pursue.
The series quickly became a ratings boon for CBS and was nominated for several awards, including Emmys and Golden Globes, with co-star Harris receiving a great deal of attention. Enjoying the opportunities the sitcom's success provided, Smulders later joined the Broken Lizard comedy troupe for "The Slammin' Salmon" (2009). Given only a limited release, the raunchy restaurant lampoon featured Smulders and the Broken Lizard boys as a group of waiters challenged by their high-strung, ex-prize fighter boss (Michael Clark Duncan) to see who can rack up the highest sales in a single night. The winner gets $10,000 - the loser, a beat-down, courtesy of the imposing Duncan. Other than a guest spot on the pilot episode for the short-lived dramedy "How to Make it in America" (HBO, 2010-2011), Smulders primarily kept busy with her duties on "How I Met Your Mother," a show that continued to dominate in its timeslot as it entered the next decade.
When Smulders next appeared on theater screens, not only was it in the biggest feature film of her career, but one of the most commercially successful blockbusters of all time. At one time considered for the titular role of Wonder Woman for Joss Whedon's abandoned superhero film, Smulders was given a significant part in the writer-director's big-budget adaptation of the superhero adventure "The Avengers" (2012). Cast as S.H.E.I.L.D Agent Maria Hill, she served as Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) right-hand operative, as he assembled a volatile team of super-powered beings in a last ditch effort to save Earth from an alien invasion. The very definition of an event movie, it starred Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner and smashed several box office records. Handling herself admirably in the film with her demeanor of strength and resolve, Smulders was positioned to continue the role in several of the Marvel Studios spin-offs and sequels that were planned. Another, albeit far less visible project for Smulders that same year was the indie political comedy "Grassroots" (2012), starring Jason Biggs as an out of work journalist involved in a campaign to win his idealist friend (Joel David Moore) a seat on the Seattle City Council. On a personal note and to the delight of fans, Smulders and longtime boyfriend, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) cast member Taran Killam were married in the fall of 2012, following the birth of their daughter in 2009 and engagement the year after.
By Bryce Coleman