With just as much comic timing as beauty, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos made the transition from model to actress look easy. After a memorable stint on the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me, she parlayed her previous small roles in Dirty Work (1998) and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) into a full-fledged movie career.
Born on November 6, 1972, Romijn-Stamos is the daughter of a Dutch father and a Dutch-American mother. Her parents, a custom toy and furniture maker and an English as a Second Language teacher, divorced when she was seven. Romijn-Stamos, whose first language is Dutch, grew up in the hippie counterculture of Berkeley in the '70s. She attended Berkeley High School where her cheerfulness, blonde locks, and long legs earned her the nickname "Jolly Blonde Giant." After graduation, she enrolled in the music program at the University of Southern California at Santa Cruz to study singing. Partially into her freshman year, Romijn-Stamos grew restless. She yearned to travel but could barely afford her tuition. A friend introduced her to a Parisian modeling scout, who convinced her to move to Paris.
Within a short time, Romijn-Stamos landed the cover of French Elle and signed contracts with the cosmetics company Biotherm and the famed fashion houses of Christian Dior and Escada. Over the course of her extremely high-profile modeling career she has posed for Victoria's Secret and Sports Illustrated, been the Miller Light "fantasy girl" and the face of Tommy Girl, as well as graced numerous magazine covers. Yet, in 1996, Romijn-Stamos became bored with simply modeling. With the support of boyfriend John Stamos (whom she married in 1998), she took a chance on acting.
In the fall of 1997, Romijn-Stamos made her small-screen debut as David Schwimmer's outrageously sloppy girlfriend on NBC's Friends. Shortly afterward, she tried out to replace Daisy Fuentes as the host of MTV's House of Style, but bombed the audition. Romijn-Stamos, who as a child fantasized about becoming an anchorwoman, boldly called the producer from a pay phone to petition for the job. Impressed by her moxie, the station hired her for the two-year gig.
The burgeoning actress graduated to movies as the bearded lady in Bob Saget's Dirty Work (1998), before modeling lingerie for Mike Myers in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). She then returned to television to play David Spade's wife on Just Shoot Me in the fall of 1999. Originally hired to appear in three episodes, Romijn-Stamos was such a big hit that producers asked her to return later in the season.
Branching out from comedy, Romijn-Stamos portrayed Hugh Hefner's ex-wife, playmate Kimberly Hefner, in the television drama Hefner: Unauthorized (1999). She rang in the new millennium by donning head-to-toe blue body paint and scales for her role as Mystique in Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000). By then a savvy business woman, Romijn-Stamos negotiated to receive more money per word than any other of the film's cast members (which included Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, and Hugh Jackman) because she knew her role as the taciturn shape shifter required very few lines. Her work in the action-packed comic book adaptation lead to a part in John McTiernan's Rollerball (2002), a remake of the '70s film about the futuristic world of sports. That same year, she earned the title role in Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale (2002).
While Rollerball was maligned by critics and Femme Fatale had a mixed reception, Romijn-Stamos returned to the favor of audiences and critics in the 2003 sequel X2: X-Men United with a much meatier role for Mystique than the first film. 2004 found the actress sticking with Marvel comic adaptations as she costarred opposite Thomas Jane in The Punisher. That same year, she starred with Greg Kinnear and Robert De Niro in the thriller Godsend and in 2006, she reprised the role of Mystique once again for X-Men: The Last Stand. Romijn also assumed a recurring role on the series Pepper Dennis, an experience that worked out so well, the actress decided to pursue more television, with a cameo on the series Carpoolers in 2007, and a recurring role on the hit show Ugly Betty in 2008.