Austin Powers' Sexy Spy
"I have three lives: actress, model, producer. Sometimes I'm aware that there's a fourth life, which is somewhat neglected, which is living a bit." Elizabeth Hurley
British actress/model/ producer/ Elizabeth Hurley initially received recognition for her outstanding portrayal of Christabel Bielenberg in the BBC drama Christabel (1988, written by the late Dennis Potter). She next broke into American film when she was cast as a terrorist named Sabrina Ritchie in the 1992's Wesley Snipes action film Passenger 57.
Hurley's career quickly skyrocketed after she wore the low-cut, risqué black Versace dress at the London premiere of Grant's 1994 movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, which brought her a contract with top cosmetic house Estee Lauder.
In 1997, the 83rd of 100 Sexiest Stars in film history according to Empire magazine (1995), Hurley gained worldwide fame after playing sexy detective Vanessa Kensington in the blockbuster hit Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997, starring Mike Myers)) and briefly reprised her role in the comedy sequel Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). In addition to her success, she was awarded a NATO/ShoWest for Supporting Actress of the Year (1997). Recently, Hurley is reported to be appearing with Lucy Liu in the action comedy The Cleaner (2005).
Not only well liked for her acting performances, Hurley was also noticed for her works as a producer with Simian Film's (a film production company she formed with Huge Grant) Extreme Measures (1996, starring Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman and Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mickey Blue Eyes (1999, starred Huge Grant). She also acted, and worked behind the scenes in Method (2004).
Off screen, 5' 9" inch tall Hurley was listed as one of the Most Intriguing People in 1995 and 1996 by People Weekly. She also ranked number four on the Greatest British Film Actresses' list with the Orange Film Survey (2001) and was voted number 13 in the Sexiest Female Movie Stars by the Australian Empire Magazine (2002). As for her private life, Hurley had dated several men including executive Ted Forstmann, actor Hugh Grant (together from 1986-2000) and producer/writer Steven Bing (dated 2000-2001). She is currently dating Textile mogul Arun Nair (together since 2003) and the couple is rumored to be planning their wedding. Hurley is also the mother of son Damian Charles Hurley (born April 4, 2002, father Stephen Bing).
Childhood and Family:
In Hampshire, England, UK, Elizabeth Jane Hurley was born on June 10, 1965. Growing up in a suburb of Basingstoke, England, Hurley was raised by an army officer father and an elementary school teacher mother. She has one older sister named Katie (literary agent) and a younger brother named Michael (engineer).
As a child, Hurley wanted to become a successful dancer. To help fulfill her dream, she briefly attended a Boarding school to study ballet when she was twelve. Unfortunately, she was quickly sent home.
"When I was sixteen -- this was about 1981, '82 -- the thing to be in Basingstoke, the suburb I grew up in, was punk. Which, as any hip person will tell you, was way past its sell-by date. But the thing to do was to have a pierced nose and spiky hair. And I loved the music. Still do." Elizabeth Hurley
At age sixteen Hurley was caught up in the English punk-rock scene, wore pink hair and had a nose ring. In spite of her pink-haired punk, she won a scholarship to study Dance and Theatre at the London Studio Centre, London, England. After college, Hurley worked in the theatre, touring in Asia and the Middle East. She next started a career in acting as soon as she made her screen debut in Aria (1987). While pursuing an acting career, Hurley, who once formed the dance troupe Vile Bodies, also worked as a model for such companies as Estee Lauder.
Listed 83rd of Empire magazine's 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (1995), Hurley currently owns houses in London, Ampney Crucis in Gloucestershire, and Beverly Hills, where she lives with her only son Damian Charles Hurley (born April 4, 2002, father Stephen Bing).
Craving to be a dancer, Elizabeth Hurley briefly attended a ballet school. With her scholarship, she studied drama and theatre and worked in theatre. After touring in Asia and the Middle East, Hurley eventually made her screen-acting debut as Marietta in the feature film Aria (1987). In 1988, she subsequently landed her first lead role as Claire Clairmont, opposite Hugh Grant, in the Spanish movie Remando al viento (aka Rowing with the Wind).
Moving on to TV projects, Hurley gained her big break after having the title character in the BBC drama Christabel (1988, written by the late Dennis Potter), in which she received rave reviews from critics. Some guest spots on TV shows followed, including an appearance on Inspector Morse (1988, Last Seen Wearing) and Rumpole of the Bailey (1988, Rumpole and the Barrow Boy) before emerging on the made-for-television movies Act of Will (1989) and Death Has a Bad Reputation (1990).
Hurley next was seen acting in such movies as Skipper, Der (1990, aka The Storm), The Orchid House (1991, TV) and Largo invierno, El (1992) before breaking into the Hollywood scene with Wesley Snipes' action film Passenger 57 (1992, played the terrorist Sabrina Ritchie). She followed it up with a guest role in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (appeared in 2 episodes). However, Hurley decided to go back to England because she was upset about not finding more prominent roles after two years of auditions in Hollywood.
"That dress was a favor from Versace because I couldn't afford to buy one. His people told me they didn't have any evening wear, but there was one item left in their press office. So I tried it on and that was it." Elizabeth Hurley
She continued acting in Beyond Bedlam (1993) and Sharpe's Enemy (1994,TV) before drawing attention with her presence at the London premiere of Grant's 1994 movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, by wearing the low-cut, risqué black Versace dress that was held together by nothing more than safety pins. Following her sensational performance, Hurley was chosen to be the model for Estee Lauder cosmetics and perfumes in 1995. With her boyfriend, Hurley then formed the production company Simian Film. That same year, Hurley's romance with actor Hugh Grant also helped launch her career.
After The Shamrock Conspiracy (1995, TV), Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1995) and Harrison: Cry of the City (1996, TV), Hurley tried her hand as a producer with Simian Film in the 1996 thriller Extreme Measures, starring Hugh, Gene Hackman and Sarah Jessica Parker. Returning to acting, she landed a starring role in the TNT miniseries Samson and Delilah (1996).
"Thanks to Austin Powers, I'm earning more money acting than I have before and getting better scripts. But that film was not what I feel comes naturally to me. I'm actually a more melancholy, more serious actress. I mean, in England I got known for very sad, dramatic, quite heavy emotional BBC dramas." Elizabeth Hurley on Austin Powers
In 1997, following a pivotal role in Dangerous Ground (1997), Hurley rose to fame with the huge success of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), portraying the sexy spy Vanessa Kensington, alongside Mike Myers. Through Hurley's comedic character, she found her first blockbuster success. Adding to her success, she won a NATO/ShoWest for Supporting Actress of the Year in 1997.
With stardom in her pocket, Hurley received more offers to play roles in such remarkable movies as Permanent Midnight (1998, starring Ben Stiller, portrayed Sandra, the wife of a drug addicted writer), My favorite Martian (1999, played Brace Channing), Ron Howard's Edtv (1999, as Jill) and the comedy sequel Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999, reprised her character). During her hectic schedule, Hurley again served as a producer for her second film Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), a fish out of water comedy starring Hugh Grant.
Entering the new millennium, model-turned-actress Hurley joined the cast of 2000's The Weight of Water, with Sean Penn and Catherine McCormack. She also played the sexy temptress, The Devil, with Brendan Fraser in the remake of Bedazzled (2000). Hurley then went on to appear in Double Whammy (2001), Bad Boy (2002, alongside Denis Leary) and the comedy Serving Sara (2002, co-starring Matthew Perry). In 2004, she both acted and served as an executive producer in Method (2004). Hurley will host a reality television show, Project Catwalk (2006), where she also will serve as an executive producer.
- NATO/ShoWest: Supporting Actress of the Year, 1997