Also Credited As:Elisha Ann Cuthbert
|November 30, 1982|
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The oldest of three children, Elisha Ann Cuthbert was born on Nov. 30, 1982 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A performer all her life, she was encouraged by her parents, Kevin and Patricia Cuthbert, to pursue her dreams. A successful child model from the age of seven, Cuthbert made the leap to television at age 15 when she landed a gig hosting "Popular Mechanics for Kids" (CTV, 1997-2000), a syndicated educational program on Canadian television. Two years later, the actress made her feature film debut in the indie drama, "Dancing on the Moon" (1997), the story of a young girl trying to deal with her dysfunctional family life. Unfortunately, the movie was scarcely seen outside of the lower-tiered film festival circuit. Luckily, Cuthbert's career got a boost when she began starring in a string of TV movies. At age 15, she landed the lead role in "Airspeed" (HBO, 1998), an adventure-thriller about a spoiled 13-year-old girl who is forced to fly her father's private jet after a freak bolt of lightning incapacitates everyone else on board. Next was "Time at the Top" (Showtime, 1999), where Cuthbert - then 16 - old played another 13-year-old, but this time, one who discovers a time machine and travels back to 1881 in order to help a young girl and her family. Cuthbert enjoyed the presidential treatment for her next outing, "Mail to the Chief" (ABC, 1999), in which she played the daughter of the President of the United States.
As she got older, however, Cuthbert's growing sex appeal became too pronounced to ignore. In response, the actress began branching out into more adult roles. In "My Daughter's Secret Life" (Lifetime, 2001), Cuthbert played a teenaged girl living a privileged existence who suddenly develops a serious gambling addiction. Cuthbert's performance won her a Gemini Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries - one of the highest bestowed by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
Cuthbert's breakthrough role, of course, would be on "24." As Kim Bauer, Cuthbert not only filled the damsel-in-distress archetype on the show, but also lent a hand in developing storylines, especially after she became a trusted member of her father's elite counter-terrorist squad at the beginning of season three. Fans who breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that this "desk job" would signal Kimberly's days of peril were behind her, though, would be in for a rude awakening.
In 2002, Cuthbert dropped many a jaw when, after gaining attention for her breakthrough role on "24," she posed for spreads in Maxim and FHM, thus completing her transition from little-known child actor to well-known sex symbol. Her appearance in the popular men's magazines grabbed the attention of filmmakers, leading her to soon be cast in small, but noticeable roles in such movies as "Old School" (2003), in which she played the sexually precocious daughter of the dean who beds an unwitting Luke Wilson, and "Love Actually" (2003) as one of a trio of sexually charged American girls who make a Brit's improbable U.S. fantasies come true.
In 2004, Cuthbert received her chance to headline her first feature in "The Girl Next Door," a teen comedy directed by Luke Greenfield. In it, she played the sexy housesitting neighbor of a horny high school senior (Emile Hirsch) who turns out to be a porn star. At first, the idea of playing a porn actress did not appeal to the Cuthbert, but when her agent encouraged her to read the script anyway, Cuthbert got hooked halfway through the read. After a rigorous back-and-forth negotiation with the filmmakers over exactly how much of the actress' nude body would be revealed onscreen, Cuthbert signed on. In the end, the film revealed more of Cuthbert's easy warmth and charisma than her skin. Ever serious about her craft, Cuthbert did extensive research by thumbing through volumes of Playboy and Hustler, while hanging out with stars of San Fernando Valley's chief export.
Meanwhile, Cuthbert's work on "24" continued through its third season, with the actress earning a nomination for the 2002 Teen Choice Award for Breakout TV Actress, but her character was not a part of 2005's fourth season. This freed her to seek out more big screen roles. First up was the sub-par horror remake, "House of Wax" (2005), in which she played a typical slasher flick heroine. Adding insult to injury, her co-star, the non-actress party-hopping heiress Paris Hilton, received the majority of the attention when the cast promoted the film. Her next film "The Quiet" (2006) proved to be an emotionally trying experience; she played a sexually abused teenager whose familial secrets are divulged when her parents (Edie Falco and Martin Donovan) decide to adopt a recently orphaned girl (Camilla Belle).
In 2006, Cuthbert returned to "24" for two guest star shots, reprising her role as Kim Bauer. For the most part, however, the majority of Cuthbert's time was spent shooting "Captivity" (2007) for Lion's Gate Entertainment. Under the vision of Oscar-nominated director, Roland Joffe, Cuthbert played a fashion model who is kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by a madman. The ads for the film alone stirred up controversy, as pictures depicted various ways to kill a person - including one of Cuthbert being buried alive. The highly-controversial ads were pulled and the picture - labeled as "irredeemable" and "torture porn" by many critics - did not fare well at the box office. Even less seen than "Captivity," was her work alongside Christian Slater in the drama "He was a Quiet Man" (2007), in which she played an office worker paralyzed after a co-worker's deadly shooting spree.
Cuthbert was next cast in "My Sassy Girl" (2008), a remake of the hit South Korean romantic comedy of the same name about an awkward shy guy (Jesse Bradford) who falls in love with a free-spirited girl (Cuthbert) he meets on the subway. Back on television, she reteamed with Slater for the "The Forgotten" (ABC, 2009-2010), a short-lived crime drama in which Slater led a team of amateur sleuths investigating murder cases involving unidentified victims. Switching to comedy, Cuthbert hoped for more long term success on the ensemble sitcom "Happy Endings" (ABC, 2011- ), in which she played, Alex, a girl whose last minute decision to leave her fiancé (Zachary Knighton) throws the dynamic of their circle of mutual friends into turmoil. Initially a mid-season replacement, the familiar formula of a group of twenty-something friends finding their way in the big city performed well enough to be given a second season.