An Insider's Guide To Jessica Biel's Life And Career

We have known and loved Jessica Biel since she was the sweet Mary Camden in "7th Heaven," and we still loved her when she played a murderous mom in "Candy." Biel's acting career took flight during her "7th Heaven" days, but her off-screen self was tired of staying in character. In an attempt to shake off the goody, two shoes label the Christian show bestowed upon her image, Biel's teenage self rebelled by cutting and dying her hair and stripping off for a controversial magazine cover. Her character was inevitably written off, but she became more popular than ever.

Biel appeared in a slew of movies after "7th Heaven," including "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Blade: Trinity," and "The Rules of Attraction" — but she felt trapped by how she'd been pigeonholed in Hollywood. In 2005 she was named "Sexiest Woman Alive" by Esquire. However, two years later she speculated that the title did more damage than good because filmmakers deemed her to be too sexy to play roles with the depth that she really wanted. And then there is her relationship with Justin Timberlake which can sometimes admittedly steal her limelight.

No matter where she falls within industry rankings, she's maintained a life and career as a successful actor with a beautiful family. So, suffice it to say, she seems to be absolutely thriving. Dive in to get to know Biel even better.

Jessica Biel has Jewish ancestry

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, Jessica Biel didn't know much of her family's ancestral history. While the actor was aware that she was of English, German, Choctaw, French, and Irish descent, as reported by, she didn't really know much about her dad's side of the family. It was only when she was filming TLC's genealogy series, "Who Do You Think You Are?" (via ET), that she discovered that the Biel family might not have come from Germany like she had been told.

In the episode, Biel was shown searching through the records of her family history with a census report, before ultimately discovering that her ancestors were Jewish. "Wow, I've never heard of this before in my family," she said. "That's kind of a big deal to not know about. That sort of changes everything."

According to Ancestry, Biel also took a DNA test, and the results concluded that she was a solid 8% European Jewish. Additional research revealed that her ancestors were Austro-Hungarian Jews and once inhabited Zsolna, a town in present-day Slovakia. After tracing her historical roots, Biel was determined to understand Jewish culture better.

She began her career as a vocalist

Many of us know Jessica Biel as an actress and a model, but before she took acting lessons, she dreamt of becoming a musician. During an episode of "Live with Kelly and Ryan," the star shared that she had once trained to be a vocalist. It all happened by chance when her mother couldn't find a babysitter before going for voice lessons — so she had to take Biel along. "And after I listened to her have her lesson, I said, 'I want to do this!'" she recalled. Her mother sacrificed her own training classes so Biel could get lessons, instead. She went on to sing in musicals like "Annie" and "Beauty and the Beast."

Although being a singer was not in the cards for Biel, she has kept her passion alive with small projects here and there. In 2009, she made her musical-theater debut in a three-night revival of the classic "Guys and Dolls" at the Hollywood Bowl. Speaking about the role, she told she told the Associated Press, "I'm definitely a shower singer and a car singer, but I haven't done anything like this in a very long time." Biel has also shared that she would love to do Broadway someday since it had been a dream of hers since she was eight years old.

Jessica Biel played soccer and trained as a gymnast

When Jessica Biel was working on her vocal chops, she also trained as a level-six gymnast and played soccer. Biel's parents, Kimberly and Jonathan Edward Biel have always been outdoorsy people on the lookout for a new adventure. As a result, the actor grew up to be adventurous and stayed active. Speaking with ESPN about her soccer days in 2009, Biel said she played soccer throughout high school but couldn't always find time for practice because of her acting schedule. Her team was supportive nonetheless. "The girls were incredibly accepting and fun and are still some of my closest friends to this day," she told the outlet.

According to Biel, her greatest trick on the pitch was that she could do a flip throw –  a flashy move wherein the ball is essentially held by hand for a front handspring move before being thrown back into play from the side of the field. However, despite being the fastest one on the team, she could never, for the life of her, score a goal. She told GQ that when she finally did score, she celebrated with vigor — "Sliding down on my knees, shirt up over my head," she shared.

She used to collect vintage glasses

Celebrities often have strange hobbies – Leonardo DiCaprio's hobby of collecting dinosaur bones became a trend that no one saw coming — and Jessica Biel is no exception. During GQ's "Actually Me" segment, the actor admitted she used to collect vintage glasses with no lenses. Biel doesn't do that anymore, but when she was around 14 years old, she thought wearing glasses without lenses was a premium look. "I thought I was pretty cool," she mused. 

As Biel mentioned during a Reddit AMA in 2017, some of the less weird things she liked to do as a kid included writing short stories and poetry, archeology, and photography. She might've taken archeology seriously if it wasn't for the realization that they spend most of their time brushing off dust from their finds. Professional photography couldn't be her hustle, either. "I used to fancy myself a very unique, interesting photographer until I realized I was sh*t at it. But I enjoyed it and had fun," she wrote. The star added that she continues to enjoy all these things to this day — however, she's well aware that acting is her true calling. 

She climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for a good cause

Growing up in the laps of the rocky Flatirons of Boulder, Jessica Biel spent her childhood climbing rocks and camping. In fact, she has such a great love for the picturesque heights of the great outdoors that she wants to be around them forever. "I think when I die, rather than being buried, I want my ashes scattered among the mountains," she told GQ In 2009.

A year later, Biel climbed a mountain for a good cause, when she and a bunch of actors, activists, and musicians climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro — the 19,340-foot mountain in Africa. They did so for the MTV documentary "Summit on the Summit," in a bid to raise funds and awareness for the global water crisis. "It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life — physically, mentally — I'm just so pleased I was a part of it," she gushed on an episode of "Larry King Live." 

In a clip aired during the episode, Biel can be seen struggling with some of the physical demands of the landscape and the climb, as she experiences dizziness, stomach upset, and nausea. However, according to the then-UN foundation executive, Elizabeth Gore, the actor was doing amazingly. "[Biel] and I are throwing jokes at each other back and forth every 10 steps," she said, per People.

She once asked a fan for an autograph

The way we see it, signing autographs must be exciting for an actor whose celebrity is on the rise. Sadly, Jessica Biel's experience was nothing of the sort — in fact, it was hilariously awkward. During GQ's "Actually Me" segment, Biel replied to a Twitter user who shared that the first time she gave someone an autograph, she asked for theirs in return. Biel said she felt really awkward regarding the interaction. "I just felt really shy about it," she noted. Regardless, we imagine she probably absolutely made that fan's day. 

While Biel considers it an embarrassing moment, it doesn't sound half as bad as her husband, Justin Timberlake's awkward dance moves at the Something in the Water music festival in Washington, D.C. Hilariously, he did apologize for the performance and stated that he'd had a stern word with both of his feet over the incident — he also added he would make it up to his fans. 

She regrets her controversial photo shoot with Gear

Jessica Biel proved she was cut out for Hollywood with her breakout role as Mary Camden in "7th Heaven." She scored the role when she was 14 years old and starred in the hit show for seven seasons. The all-American show leaned on the religious side of television programming, so when Biel decided to pose topless for her infamous Gear cover, many of the show's team didn't approve. Producer and star, Stephen Collins was particularly unamused by the then-17-year-old's decision to shed her on-screen goody-two-shoes persona and even told Daily News (via Us Weekly), "Jessica's photo spread was child pornography." (Ironically, years later TMZ broke the news that Collins had confessed to sexually abusing minors — however, he denied being a pedophile and no criminal charges were made against him). 

While Biel did the photo shoot of her own volition and didn't deserve crude comments, she does regret it. "I was shocked and my family was heartbroken about the pictures that ran," she told  Entertainment Weekly a year later. "It was really difficult, but you know, it's over now and I'm okay with it and my family knows that that's never ever going to happen again." Biel had a hard time on set for a while as her crew could barely look her in the eye after the cover was released. "I said yes to things that probably I should've said no to. It was just one of those things that got out of hand," she told E! News.

Her friendship with Beverley Mitchell stood the test of time

Jessica Biel's controversial Gear photoshoot might have irked many on the set of "7th Heaven," but her friendship with her on-screen sister, Beverly Mitchell, prevailed. In 2016, the actor behind Lucy Camden commemorated the 20th anniversary of "7th Heaven" with a nostalgic blog post where she said that she and Biel's chemistry was solid from the start. "We truly were the best of friends," she wrote. "I mean thank god for this girl, we have truly gone through it all and I couldn't have picked a better partner to have had this adventure with." Mitchell also shared that although they had their differences that she and Biel were more like sisters than friends.

The two continue to be good friends and Mitchell often leaves sweet comments on her pal's social media updates and remembers to celebrate her birthday. Per People, when she had a miscarriage in 2018, Biel was one of the first people to reach out and support her. Mitchell added that her bestie would always check on her and she was grateful for the friendship they share.

Jessica Biel and Chris Evans talked about marriage

Before Justin Timberlake came into Jessica Biel's life, she was in a long-term relationship with Chris Evans. It remains one of the longest public relationships the "Captain America" star has ever been in (as of this writing, at least), and as it turns out, the couple were getting pretty serious. In 2005, Biel opened up to Cosmopolitan about how romantic Evans was. "When I turned 21, I actually awoke to find my bed covered in rose petals. In the middle of the night, he had pulled apart at least 24 roses in all different colors and sprinkled the petals everywhere," she gushed. "He's definitely a keeper." Meanwhile, Biel was equally as romantic and divulged how much she loved having dinner ready for him when he got home from work. They even went skydiving together on Valentine's Day.

Although the couple were on and off during the five years they were together, they wanted to take things to the next level. Biel told Cosmopolitan, "We both want to be married, and we both want to have children. But we're not engaged, so the rumors are false ... so far." The couple broke up in June 2006, and while they never really revealed why they decided to end things or whether it was amicable, in 2017, Evans told Elle that he hadn't experienced a bad breakup before.

Justin Timberlake had to work hard for her love

A year after breaking up with Chris Evans, Jessica Biel was in for another high-profile relationship. It was the peak Justin Timberlake era, and after breaking up with Cameron Diaz, the "Sexy Back" hitmaker was ready for a new romance. According to Biel, she met the "Sexy Back" singer at a birthday party he had thrown for a friend. As Timberlake remembers it, their meeting was not meet-cute at all. "It was very un-Hollywood-esque, in fact. We met and got talking," the singer shared during a 2012 press conference, per Us Magazine.

One would think that he could woo any woman he wanted back then, but Biel didn't want to go out with him when he first contacted her after getting her number from a mutual friend. "I had to be pretty persistent in order to get her to say yes. But I have a fair amount of tenacity and if I want something I stick to it," Timberlake recalled. Biel finally gave in, and the pair started dating soon after. After five years of dating, a breakup, and a proposal that saw her fiance sink into a thick sheet of snow on his knees, Biel and Timberlake tied the knot with a dreamy Italian wedding in 2012.

Justin Timberlake inspired her to start a family

Jessica Biel was young when she said she wanted to have children with Chris Evans. However, she was also focused on her acting career, which was her top priority. That changed when she married Justin Timberlake. When a fan asked how she knew she was ready to expand her family in a Reddit AMA, Biel said meeting her hubby inspired her to have kids. "One day I just woke up and knew it's what I wanted to do and it's been the hardest, greatest thing ever and I wouldn't give it up for the world," she wrote.

The couple welcomed their first child, a son named Silas, in 2012. They secretly welcomed their second son, Phineas, in 2020. Motherhood has been a great teacher for Biel whose life changed after having kids. "You think you're a selfless person, and then you realize you're not. These little people come around, and they require so much, and your schedule is really not your own, nor is it important anymore ...," she told Marie Claire. Juggling family and work can be tough since she and Timberlake keep such a tight schedule. "When you're both doing unorthodox things, it can be really hard. Sometimes you just never see each other so it can be really good and it can be a real challenge at the same time," she told GQ.

Jessica Biel is proud of her marriage despite complications

Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake's marriage has seemingly been solid for years now, but it hasn't been without its challenges. From a brief breakup in 2011 to cheating allegations, the couple's love has weathered it all. In 2019, The Sun captured Timberlake holding hands with his "Palmer” co-star, Alisha Wainwright, as they drank at a New Orleans bar with other crew members. An onlooker told the outlet that the singer appeared to be drunk while clutching Wainwright's hand as she stroked his knee. After the news spread like wildfire, Timberlake felt compelled to set the record straight.

Maintaining that nothing happened between him and his co-star, Timberlake took to Instagram to admit that his drunk self didn't know any better. He remorsefully apologized to Biel and his family for the incident and wrote, "I am focused on being the best husband and father I can be. This was not that."

Biel has since moved on from the incident. In April 2022, she talked to Access Hollywood about how she continues to appreciate her marriage, saying, "We've had our ups and down like everybody and I'm just really proud of it and I'm still the happiest and loving my life." That Summer, the two renewed their wedding vows at a ceremony in Italy to celebrate their 10th anniversary.