While growing up, Biel played soccer  and also trained as a gymnast. Career beginnings[ edit ] Biel initially trained to be a vocalist. At the age of nine, she appeared in several musical productions in her hometown, playing lead roles in productions such as The Sound of Music and Beauty and the Beast.
At the age of fourteen, after auditioning for several television pilots, Biel was cast as Mary Camden , the second oldest child in the family drama 7th Heaven. Her performance earned her a Young Artist Award. Producers of 7th Heaven were outraged, and brought legal action against Gear. In , she starred as promiscuous college student, Lara, in the ensemble film The Rules of Attraction , an adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel.
The movie received mixed reviews, became a box office hit, and has since gained a cult following. In , Esquire magazine named her the " Sexiest Woman Alive " in a six-part series, with each month revealing a different body part and clue to the woman's identity.
While her casting was met with a mixed response, her performance was ultimately praised. James Berardinelli of Reelviews called her the "film's real acting revelation,  " while Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Handily employing a refined English accent where the others lay on a light Austrian veneer, Biel is entirely stunning enough to fight to the death over.
In , Stuff magazine's named her No. Like the play, the film is set in the s and Biel plays young widow Larita, who impulsively marries John Whittaker in France and must face her disapproving in-laws on returning to England. Biel performed the role of Sarah Brown with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a fully staged concert production of Guys and Dolls during the season at the Hollywood Bowl. She also appeared in Playing for Keeps with Gerard Butler.
The film centers around a woman who accidentally gets a nail lodged in her head, then travels to Washington, D. In May , Biel spoke about the film's production turmoil, saying: I am a huge David O. It's just heartbreaking that so many people put so much work into this particular project only to have it sit there, unfinished.
Biel also produced the project from its conception some years prior, and was directed by Bill Purple, who directed her in the short film Hole in the Paper Sky. The film was released in January Move into producing[ edit ] On August 2, , a project that she had been working on for some time came to fruition when the debut episode of USA Network 's new eight-episode, limited-series-format murder mystery, The Sinner , finally aired.
Biel stated that she moved into production so that she could develop projects with challenging and interesting roles rather than waiting for them to happen.