A Look At Katie Holmes From Childhood Until Today

From her "Dawson's Creek" days to her highly publicized marriage to Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes' journey has taken a number of twists and turns. Her career as a professional actor officially began when she appeared in 1997's "The Ice Storm," a critically acclaimed drama directed by Ang Lee that stars Hollywood heavyweights like Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, and Sigourney Weaver. Scoring a part in such a major film is not a bad way to kick off a filmography, and it sounds like she recognized just how big a deal it was straight away.

"I remember I was a junior in high school and it was really exciting, and Ang [Lee] was so lovely. Fred Elmes was our cinematographer, and it was really thrilling," Holmes recalled in a 2022 chat with ET. "And I was so nervous, but I just did my lines."

So how did she go from being a minor character in an ensemble drama to a major Tinseltown star who has made her mark on the industry? From her big TV break to her role as a mother to her work as a director, let's get into the pieces that make up Katie Holmes' story.

Katie Holmes was 'a happy student'

Katie Holmes was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1978. The youngest of five children, she grew up in a Catholic household and attended Catholic school. Evidently, she left a good impression on the faculty. One of her teachers remembered in a chat with Hello, "I remember a bright-eyed, eager, happy student." This bright-eyed, eager student became a straight-A student who had a particular interest in drama class and participated in school plays. That interest would only continue to grow.

Her family was a bit surprised she was so drawn to the performing arts, as they were all more sports inclined. "We are all big people. I'm about six-foot-seven myself, my mother is about six feet tall, and we were all just bread-and-butter, Midwestern, generic athletes," her brother once told Rolling Stone. "Katie was dragged to more sporting events than anyone I know. ... So it's really ironic that she's had this kind of success, because no one in our family ever had theatrical interest. Or talent, for that matter." As fate would have it, the baby of the family seemingly paved her own way — and that road eventually took her to Hollywood. 

She started out as a model

Although she got into acting when she was still in school, Katie Holmes actually broke into the industry as a model, as part of the International Modeling and Talent Association. Her classes at IMTA led to her participation in their competition held in New York City in 1996.

"A lot's happened since IMTA, and I owe it all to this. It's a wonderful convention," said a very young Katie Holmes about the association that led her to become an actor and be part of so many different projects. In the beginning, she was an amateur contestant, but after a few years, she took acting classes, went back to compete, and ended up going home with the trophy.

Before she was involved with IMTA and before her life a professional actor began, Holmes was taken to Margaret O'Brien's Modeling School in Toledo. As she told Rolling Stone, her mother believed it would teach her manners. This ended up being a solid foundation for a long and successful career.

The audition that changed Katie Holmes' life

How many seniors in high school can say they received an opportunity that changed their lives? When Katie Holmes was still a student at Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, Ohio, she got an offer that so many aspiring young actors could only dream of. However, she turned it down.

After doing some auditions here and there, Holmes submitted a tape for a new show called "Dawson's Creek." She got a callback but, as she told Jimmy Fallon, she was torn about going to Los Angeles for the in-person audition because it conflicted with her school's production of "Damn Yankees." Holmes, who'd been cast as Lola, decided to honor her word to her school. "My dad who is very wise said 'well, Kate, what do you think is the right decision here?'" she recalled. "And I said 'well, I think I kinda made a commitment so I probably can't break that.'"

And yet, it all worked out. As she told Fallon, the taped audition alone — which was recorded over a recording of one of her sister's volleyball games — was enough to convince series creator Kevin Williamson that she was the right person for the role of Joey Potter. Holmes ended up being the sole cast member to appear in all 128 episodes of "Dawson's Creek," and unsurprisingly, she grew attached. As she told Stuff, "It was very difficult for me to leave Wilmington, to have my little glass bubble burst and move on. I hate change."

Dancing her way to SNL

For most artists, being a guest on "Saturday Night Live" is a real "you've made it" moment. Katie Holmes hosted an episode in 2001 at the age of 23. Her tap dancing monologue moment with Will Ferrell was surely memorable, but the whole opener wasn't exactly a hit with every viewer. "Will is very funny throughout this monologue, though this monologue itself is coming off fairly redundant after a while. It also doesn't feel right how Katie herself is almost a complete non-factor in this monologue so far," wrote One SNL a Day

That said, there is no denying Holmes put in the work. The week of her episode, she took a break from rehearsals and stopped by Conan O'Brien's late-night show, still wearing one of her wigs. She told the host that after one of the read-throughs, she was so stressed about the upcoming show that she struggled to get her hotel door open. "I was so nervous that I just started sobbing in the hallway," she shared. "It's been a really tough week."

Another memorable episode moment was her Mr. Peepers sketch. As Chris Kattan told The Hollywood Reporter, he accidentally bit the insides of his mouth during his apple-eating frenzy, and Holmes, who was lying on the ground through the sketch, was not thrilled. "She peeked her eye out, like 'don't you dare bleed on me,'" he remembered. Of the sketch, One SNL a Day wrote, "Credit goes to Katie for keeping a straight face while acting unconscious."

Critics praised her work in Pieces of April

Television made Katie Holmes a household name, but that's not to say her film career is anything to sneeze at. After scoring the leads in teen thrillers like "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" and "Disturbing Behavior," she landed the titular part in 2003's "Pieces of April." Her turn in the indie flick became her first starring role recognized by the critics.

In 2004, she was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical at the Satellite Awards. She didn't take home the award, but she still received a lot of praise. In his review of "Pieces of April" for Variety, David Rooney said, "Balancing her character's edges by presenting an indifferent exterior while quietly reaching out to repair the damage, Holmes gives one of her best film perfs." And in his review for The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell noted, "Each actor shines, even Ms. Holmes, whose beauty seems to have fogged the minds of her previous directors. ... she has a defined role and her hyperambition grows out of April's spiteful streak."

Holmes proved she was not only a teen soap actor, but a movie star who could take on the big screen.

Katie Holmes took the stage

After "Dawson's Creek," Katie Holmes took a break from television, but she returned in 2008 as Grace Fuller on "Eli Stone" alongside Jonny Lee Miller. In a recap, Tim Stack from Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Holmes was sweet and charming ... And she displayed impressive singing and dancing skills while performing Duke Ellington's 'Hit Me With a Hot Note' during an Eli hallucination."

That same year, Holmes made her Broadway debut in "All My Sons." The "Dawson's Creek" star shared the stage with legends John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest, and by all accounts, she held her own. As Ben Brantley wrote for The New York Times, "Ms. Holmes delivers most of her lines with meaningful asperity, italicizing every word." Critics weren't the only ones who were impressed by her work. Lithgow, who played Joe Keller in this particular production of the Arthur Miller classic, said to NPR, "Just watching Katie achieve things that she never expected she could do or would ever be called upon to do. It's been absolutely wonderful and astonishing."

Once again, Holmes proved she's a true talent, a gifted actor who is more than just a pretty face.

She made her directorial debut

A number of actors have tried their hand working on the other side of the camera, whether it be producing, writing, or directing. Katie Holmes has done all three. She made her directorial debut with 2016's "All We Had," which she also produced and acted in.

However, that wasn't the only time she stood behind the camera. Holmes wrote, directed, produced, and, of course, starred in 2022's "Alone Together." While wearing so many hats on one production may sound like an overwhelming endeavor, Holmes seems to enjoy the challenges that come with it. Per Reuters, she shared, "It's my second film that I directed and I feel like I learn every single time. And with this, I have a special sense of pride because it's all of our film and there was so much collaboration." 

Actor Jim Sturgess, who stars opposite Holmes in "Alone Together," praised her directorial instincts. "She gives you this incredible space between action and cut," he told Yahoo! Entertainment. "I love that she was always searching for those little nuggets of authenticity."

Her clothing line hit New York Fashion Week

If you are a big name in the entertainment industry with a noteworthy sense of style, there is a good chance you'll make an appearance at New York Fashion Week. Such is the case for Katie Holmes. In addition to attending the biannual fashion event as a spectator, she's participated in the show. In 2009, she and stylist Jeanne Yang launched a line called Holmes & Yang, and as People reported at the time, the brand made its NYFW debut in September 2012. 

However, by 2014, Holmes & Yang was no more. While there were rumors of behind-the-scenes drama, the actor's team maintained it came to an end on good terms. A rep told E! News, "Katie and Jeanne had a wonderful experience with Holmes & Yang. They had planned on ending the line at this time." Beyond NYFW and getting into the designing game, Holmes has also modeled for retailers like Ann Taylor and J. Crew.

Holmes' personal style has also received a lot of positive attention over the years, but she'll be the first to say she isn't solely responsible for her chic looks. As she told Elle, it's been a group effort. "I depend on other people to help me, and to collaborate with, and to bounce ideas off of, things like that," she shared. 

Her whirlwind romance with Tom Cruise

It's one thing to have a crush on an A-list celebrity. It's an entirely different thing to date, marry, and eventually divorce one of the A-list celebrities you grew up watching in movies. In 2005, Katie Holmes entered into a relationship with Tom Cruise, who is 16 years her senior. 

At first, there were rumblings that they struck up this relationship to generate buzz around their respective careers. As per People, while promoting "Batman Begins" in London, Holmes was quick to shut that speculation down. She also shared that she was on board with the Church of Scientology, of which Cruise has been a member since the early '90s. According to People, Holmes said, "I'm really excited about (Scientology). I know how important it is to Tom, and I want to be able to share that with him."

That same year, the couple got engaged in Paris, and they shared the big news during a press conference. As recounted by People, Cruise spoke while Holmes smiled and showed off her ring. "Yes, I proposed to her. ... It was early this morning at the Eiffel Tower, so I haven't slept at all," announced the action star. "Today is a magnificent day for me, I'm engaged to a magnificent woman."

Katie Holmes' marriage came to end

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' wedding took place in Italy in November of 2006, and it was nothing short of a star-studded, glamorous occasion. As reported by The Toledo Blade, Holmes not only wore an Armani gown, but carried a bouquet of flowers also made by Armani. As beautiful as the wedding may have been, the fairytale didn't last long.

Seven years after their engagement announcement, Holmes and Cruise announced their divorce. Their attorneys told CNN that the exes would be making a point to put their daughter first throughout the difficult time. 

Not long after the split, People reported Holmes had moved to an apartment in New York with their daughter while Cruise remained in Los Angeles. A friend of Holmes said in The New York Post, "Katie did convert when she and Tom were married, but she didn't take to [Scientology]. Behind closed doors, and when the private planes and the red carpets were gone, she didn't like it. And she decided she does not want that for Suri." At the same time, a member of the Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City told HuffPost, "Everyone is thrilled to have Katie join us. She has not yet attended a service, but when she does she will be welcomed with open arms."

Katie Holmes loves life as a mom

On April 18, 2006, Katie Holmes gave birth to Suri Cruise. In a statement provided to Today, Tom Cruise's spokesperson confirmed her arrival and that she was a healthy baby. Shortly after Suri's birth, Tom told ABC News, "It was everything that we wanted it to be. ... It was spiritual. It was powerful. It was indescribable."

Though there was a great deal of hoopla surrounding the arrival of TomKat's child, Holmes has since made an effort to keep Suri out of the public eye and give her a relatively normal childhood. Following her split from Tom, the "Dawson's Creek" alum got primary custody of Suri, and the two have since lived a low-key life in New York City. "My biggest goal has always been to nurture her into her individuality," Holmes once said of her daughter in InStyle. "To make sure she is 100 percent herself and strong, confident, and able."

Holmes and Suri have always had a close mother-daughter relationship, and now they have a professional relationship. In a July 2022 chat with Yahoo! Entertainment, Holmes opened up about bringing her child aboard to sing a song for her movie "Alone Together" — and no, Suri didn't get the gig only because she's the daughter of the person in charge. "I always want the highest level of talent. So I asked her!" the actor shared. "She said she would do it and she recorded it, and I let her do her thing."