With her unconventional, quirky beauty and memorably tormented roles in the made-for-television remake of Stephen King's Carrie and independent director Lucky McKee's art-house horror hit May (both 2002), actress Angela Bettis is quickly gaining a reputation as something of a scream queen despite talent that could easily find her accelerating far beyond genre work. A Texas native whose free-spirited mother encouraged her acting endeavors, it was at age six that Bettis first began to realize her love of performing. A thriving community theater environment in Austin served to inspire Bettis and provide her with her earliest roles; with each passing year, what had begun as a hobby began to look more and more like a career. Eventually performing opposite such screen heavies as Al Pacino (in Salome) and Liam Neeson (in The Crucible), Bettis was honored with both Drama-Logue and Garland awards for her turn in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.
Bettis' screen debut in director Franco Zeffirelli's Sparrow (1993) found the then 18-year-old actress gaining her first positive screen notices directly out of the gate, and though it would be six years before she would again go before cameras, a pair of notable efforts in 1999 would find many agreeing that it was worth the wait. In addition to a moving turn as a sympathetic teen who develops feelings for a wanted man in the little-seen indie drama The Last Best Sunday, Bettis gained exposure, and critical kudos, for her role as an anorexic teen in the Winona Ryder drama Girl, Interrupted. Though Girl, Interrupted co-star Angelina Jolie would take home the Oscar for Best Supporting Performance that year, many would agree that Bettis' considerably less substantial supporting role packed as much if not more dramatic impact than the much-celebrated Jolie.
Making her maiden voyage into horror with a role as Kim Basinger's sister in the horror outing Bless the Child, Bettis wetted her toes in the genre despite the fact that it would be two full years until her standout performances in May and the otherwise forgettable Carrie. In the meantime, Bettis would continue to gain notice in such dramas as Perfume and Falling (both 2001). The same year Bettis established genre credibility, she could be spotted in Love Rome before she began gearing up for her role in Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper's horror remake The Toolbox Murders.