Jennifer Love Hewitt (born February 21, 1979) is an American actress, producer and singer. Hewitt began her career as a child actress and singer, appearing in national television commercials before joining the cast of the Disney Channel series Kids Incorporated (1989–1991). She had her breakthrough as Sarah Reeves Merrin on the Fox teen drama Party of Five (1995–1999) and rose to fame as a teen star for her role as Julie James in the horror films I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and its 1998 sequel, as well as her role as Amanda Beckett in the teen comedy film Can't Hardly Wait (1998).
Hewitt's other notable films include Heartbreakers (2001), The Tuxedo (2002) and the two Garfield live-action films (2004–2006). She has starred as Melinda Gordon on the CBS supernatural drama Ghost Whisperer (2005–2010), Riley Parks on the Lifetime drama series The Client List (2012–2013), Special Agent Kate Callahan on the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds (2014–2015), and since 2018, Maddie Buckley on the Fox first-responder procedural 9-1-1. She was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for The Client List pilot film (2010).
In music, Hewitt has released four studio albums to date. After her debut album, Love Songs (1992), was released at age 12 exclusively in Japan, she went on to record Let's Go Bang (1995), Jennifer Love Hewitt (1996) and BareNaked (2002), the latter of which became her first album to chart in the United States, peaking at number 37 on the Billboard 200 chart. Her most successful single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was the 1999 release "How Do I Deal", which peaked at number 59. In addition to music and acting, Hewitt has served as a producer on some of her film and television projects. She has appeared in several magazines' lists of the world's most beautiful women.
Jennifer Love Hewitt was born in Waco, Texas to Patricia Mae (née Shipp), a speech-language pathologist, and Herbert Daniel Hewitt, a medical technician. She grew up in Nolanville in Central Texas, and has close kinship ties in parts of Arkansas. After their parents divorced, Hewitt and her older brother Todd were raised by their mother.As a young girl, Hewitt was attracted to music, which led to her first encounters with the entertainment industry. At age three, she sang "The Greatest Love of All" at a livestock show. The following year, at a restaurant-dance hall, she entertained an audience with her version of "Help Me Make It Through the Night". By age five, she had tap dancing and ballet in her portfolio. At nine, she became a member of the Texas Show Team, which also toured the Soviet Union.At age ten, at the suggestion of talent scouts and after winning the title of "Texas Our Little Miss Talent Winner", she moved to Los Angeles with her mother to pursue a career in both acting and singing. In Los Angeles, she attended Lincoln High School where her classmates included Jonathan Neville, who became a talent scout and recommended Hewitt for her role in Party of Five.
Early acting credits, 1989–1994
After moving to Los Angeles, Hewitt appeared in more than twenty television commercials, including some for Mattel toys. Her first break came as a child actress on the Disney Channel variety show Kids Incorporated (1989–1991), which earned her, as a member of the cast, three Young Artist Award nominations. In 1992, she appeared in the live action video short Dance! Workout with Barbie (1992), which was released by Buena Vista, and obtained her first feature film role in the independent production Munchie, in which she played Andrea, the love interest of a bullied young boy. A year later, she had her first starring role in Little Miss Millions, as a wealthy nine-year old who runs away from her stepmother to find her real mother, and appeared as a choir member in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Hewitt played Pierce Brosnan's daughter in a pilot for NBC called Running Wilde (1993), which featured Brosnan as a reporter for Auto World magazine, whose stories cover his own wild auto adventures, but the series was not picked up and the pilot never aired. Hewitt later had roles in several short-lived television series, such as Fox's Shaky Ground (1992–1993), ABC's The Byrds of Paradise (1994), and McKenna (1994–95).
Rise to stardom, 1995–1999
Hewitt rose to teen idol status after landing the role of Sarah Reeves Merrin on the popular Fox show Party of Five (1995–99). Originally cast for a nine-episode arc in season two, reception from producers and audiences was so positive that she became a series regular, continuing to play the character until the show's sixth and final season. Co-creator Amy Lippman once stated: "She was a crazy professional. You didn't have to ask yourself, ‘I don't know if she'll be able to work up a head of steam here, I don't know if she'll be able to cry.' She wasn't running to her trailer [between takes] to smoke cigarettes or play with a toy poodle. She was reading material and trying to plot her career". For her performance, Hewitt garnered nominations for a Kids' Choice Award, a Teen Choice Award and a YoungStar Award.Hewitt became a film star with the release of the horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), in which she starred opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze, Jr, portraying Julie James, the final girl. She was cast in the role based on her "ability to project vulnerability," which the producers, director Jim Gillespie, and writer Kevin Williamson unanimously agreed upon. While the film received mixed reviews, an Entertainment Weekly columnist praised Hewitt's performance, noting that she knows how to "scream with soul". Budgeted at US$17 million, the movie made US$125 million globally. For her role, she received a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film — Leading Young Actress and the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Female Newcomer. She appeared in the sequel I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), which, though not as successful as the first film, took in more money on its opening weekend.Hewitt starred as Amanda Beckett, the most popular girl in school and the senior class prom queen, in the teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait (1998). Critic James Berardinelli asserted that Hewitt was "so likable that it's hard not to have at least a minor rooting interest" in her character, and with a US$25.6 million gross at the North American domestic box office, the film emerged as a moderate commercial success. Telling You, another 1998 teen comedy, featured Hewitt as the annoyingly sweet ex-girlfriend of a college student working in a pizza joint. In 1999, she played a record company executive in the independent comedy The Suburbans and starred in and produced Time of Your Life, a Party of Five spin-off following her character as she moved to New York City to learn more about her biological parents. Despite Hewitt's popularity at the time, the show received a lackluster viewership and was cancelled after only half the season had aired.
Steady film work, 2000–2004
In The Audrey Hepburn Story (2000), a biographical drama television film based on the life of actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn, Hewitt starred as the title role and served as an executive producer. She had been recommended for the role by director Steven Robman, who had previously directed her in Party of Five. The production aired as a three-hour film on ABC on March 27, 2000, and drew mixed reviews. Entertainment Weekly wrote that Hewitt had "guts" to take on the role and called her "excellent at conveying Hepburn's studied modesty", while The Baltimore Sun review stated: "What's impossibly wrong with this film is that Hewitt has no physical grace while Hepburn was the very embodiment of it".Hewitt starred alongside Sigourney Weaver in the romantic comedy Heartbreakers (2001), playing a mother-daughter team setting up an elaborate con to swindle wealthy men out of their money. Roger Ebert noted that Hewitt "spends the entire film with her treasures on display, maybe as product placement for the Wonderbra", while BBC.com asserted: "Hewitt though, lacks the necessary duplicity for her character and is too patently agreeable to bitch convincingly, ultimately reducing her to eye-candy among the professionals. Still, she has the right cleavage for the role, and there's sure to be legions of men thankful for that alone".
The film made a moderate US$57.7 million globally.Hewitt starred as a genius scientist with aspirations of field work, alongside Jackie Chan, in the action comedy The Tuxedo (2002). Robert Koehler of Variety noted that Hewitt "has displayed a Chan-like sweetness herself in past roles" and was disappointed that her character is "a haggling, high-strung shrew who's instantly repellent" rather than an amusing sidekick as Chan has had in other Hollywood films. The film made US$104.4 million worldwide. In 2002, she also lent her voice for two direct-to-DVD animated films —The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and The Adventures of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina.In 2004, Hewitt starred as a musician in the romantic fantasy drama If Only, the love interest of Ebenezer Scrooge in the television film A Christmas Carol, and Dr. Liz Wilson in the live-action comedy Garfield. With a worldwide gross of US$200 million, Garfield became Hewitt's highest-grossing film to date.
Return to television, 2005–2010
Hewitt portrayed Melinda Gordon, a woman with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts, on the CBS television series Ghost Whisperer, which ran on CBS for five seasons and 107 episodes, from September 23, 2005, to May 21, 2010. She also served as a producer and directed three episodes, including the 100th episode. In his review for the first season, David Bianculli, of New York Daily News, wrote: "If [television] really wants a success built around this actress, someone in Hollywood should pay attention to her chameleonic and comedic role in Heartbreakers, and give her a role that plays to those strengths, instead of something this translucent". Nevertheless, the series emerged as a ratings success and earned Hewitt two Saturn Awards for Best Television Actress. In 2005, she played a happily married English woman in the romantic comedy The Truth About Love, and a 28-year-old advertising executive more concerned with being a well-known socialite than being a good person in the television film Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber.
Hewitt reprised her role as Dr. Liz Wilson for Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006), which, though it did not perform as well as its predecessor, achieved a strong box office gross. Her next film release was the comedy Shortcut to Happiness, in which she starred as The Devil, opposite Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Filmed in NYC in early 2001, the film became an asset in a federal bank fraud trial when investor Jed Barron was convicted of bank fraud while the film was in production. The film was eventually acquired by The Yari Group and was finally released in 2007. In 2008, she made a cameo appearance in the successful action comedy Tropic Thunder, and reunited with Freddie Prinze Jr. in the animated production Delgo which, when released, was a massive box office bomb, taking in only US$694,782 in North America.In 2010, Hewitt portrayed a good-hearted barista in the independent drama Café, and a struggling prostitute in the Lifetime film The Client List. While a reviewer felt that Hewitt did "a surprisingly credible job of acting seen-it-all exasperated and emotionally mature without once going giggly-girly" in Café, Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker felt that the actress was able to sell The Client List to the audiences due to her "talent for communicating sincerity and charm". She received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for the latter.
Continued television roles, 2011–present
Hewitt starred as a journalist, opposite Betty White, in the Hallmark Hall of Fame film The Lost Valentine (2011). While reviewers unanimously praised White's performance, Variety wrote: "The same can hardly be said of Hewitt, who —in her current TV movie phase— was put to better use as a mom turned hooker in Lifetime's The Client List. With 14.53 million viewers, the film won its time period and represented the most-watched Hallmark movie in four years.
In 2012, Hewitt starred as the love interest of a gentile pretending to be Jewish, alongside Ivan Sergei and Joel David Moore in the independent comedy Jewtopia, and played an erotic massagist in the television series The Client List. Based on the 2010 television film of the same name, the series ran for two seasons and featured Hewitt as a different character in a premise that was slightly different from the film.
Between 2014 and 2015, Hewitt played the regular role of Kate Callahan, an undercover agent who joins the BAU, in the tenth season of Criminal Minds. She left the series at the end of the season due to her second pregnancy, and decided to take a career hiatus for the next three years. In an interview with Elle magazine, Hewitt remarked: “I was looking in the mirror, talking with myself, going, ‘Hey, we started something, remember? We were gonna take a step back. So let's do that.'"Beginning in 2018, Hewitt has played Maddie Buckley, an ER nurse working as an 9-1-1 operator after leaving an abusive relationship, on the Fox police procedural 9-1-1. Describing her character, she stated: "Maddie has a toughness to her. But she's also empathetic and sensitive. People will see her composed on the phone, but fully dealing with the pain and anguish of the callers [once she hangs up]".
Hewitt was one of the back-up singers in Martika's number-one single, "Toy Soldiers" (1989). At age 12, Meldac funded the recording of Hewitt's debut studio album, Love Songs (1992). The album was released exclusively in Japan, where Hewitt became a pop star. Her explanation for her success in Japan is that the Japanese "love perky music. The poppier the music, the better." She was subsequently signed to Atlantic Records, who released her next two albums —Let's Go Bang (1995) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (1996). The albums, along with their singles, failed to chart and Atlantic dropped Hewitt, who did not return to the music scene for three years.Hewitt recorded the single "How Do I Deal" (1999) for the I Still Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack, which became her first charting single, climbing to No. 59 on the Hot 100 and No. 36 on the Top 40 Mainstream. It reached No. 8 in Australia. She also recorded a cover of the Gloria Gaynor song "I Will Survive", which is featured briefly in the film.Hewitt appeared in the LFO video for "Girl on TV" (1999), a song which band member Rich Cronin band wrote for her while the two were dating. She also appeared in the music video for the Enrique Iglesias song, "Hero" (2001), as the singer's love interest.In 2002, Hewitt signed to Jive Records and recorded her fourth studio album, BareNaked, with singer, songwriter, and producer Meredith Brooks. The first single, "BareNaked" (2002), became her biggest radio hit to date when it peaked at No. 24 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, No. 31 on the Adult Top 40 and No. 25 on the Top 40 Mainstream. It climbed to No. 6 in Australia, remaining there for two weeks, and reached No. 33 in the Netherlands. The song later featured in two episodes of Ghost Whisperer: "The Vanishing" (Season 1, episode 20) and "The Collector" (Season 2, episode 20). The moderate success of the single propelled the album to peak at No. 37 on the Billboard 200 and No. 31 in Australia. However, it only remained on the chart for three weeks. The second single, "Can I Go Now" (2003), failed to chart in the US, while managing to peak at No. 8 in the Netherlands and No. 12 in Australia.Since 2004, Hewitt has remained mostly inactive in the music industry, but she released the compilation albums Cool with You: The Platinum Collection (2006) in Asia and Hey Everybody (2007) in Brazil. In 2013, she recorded a cover of "I'm a Woman" to promote the second season of The Client List and shot a music video for the song, which reached the top ten in the iTunes Music Video chart.
In November 2009, Hewitt made a foray into comic books, when writer Scott Lobdell scripted the five-issue anthology, Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box (2009–2010), based on Hewitt's ideas. The series was published by IDW Publishing and was collected in a trade paperback.She wrote a book titled The Day I Shot Cupid (2010), in which she speaks of her experiences with love and dating. While promoting the book during a January 2010, interview on Lopez Tonight, Hewitt said that there is a chapter in it about "vajazzling" (decorating a woman's pubis with crystals or rhinestones). This became a big internet hit with the video going viral, widespread news coverage and the term "vajazzling" becoming one of the most searched terms on Google the next day. She has since been credited for the popularization of this trend. Helium.com gave the book a positive review, stating: "Jennifer Love Hewitt's book provides some good guidelines for those that need to work on clarifying their relationship desires before trying to establish their relationships". It was commercially successful upon its release, becoming a New York Times bestseller within a week.
Regarded as a sex symbol, Hewitt's public "narrative" throughout her career has been that of "the sexy girl next door [or] the MVP of Maxim". As noted by Elle magazine, it was "bequeathed" to her around the time she turned 18 and starred in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Can't Hardly Wait (1998), roles which, along with Party of Five, "cemented her status as an icon to a whole generation. Every girl wanted to be her, and every boy had a poster of her on his wall". On her public image, she said: "I think when you start [in Hollywood] younger, the narrative takes off without you. And you kind of go, ‘Oh, okay [...] so I'm that person? Great!’ Before I ever knew in my life what 'sexy' was, I was on the sexy list”.Hewitt has appeared in several magazines' lists of the world's most beautiful women. In 2002, she was voted 7th in FHM's Sexiest Girls poll, 14th in Rush's Sexiest Women list, and 11th in Stuff's "102 Sexiest Women in the World". She has ranked 32nd, 20th, 35th, 20th, 6th, and 35th in Maxim magazine's Hot 100 Women in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013, and 2014 respectively. Hewitt was identified as the "number one reader choice" on the November 1999 and May 2009 covers of Maxim. TV Guide named her the sexiest woman on television in 2008.Hewitt graced the February 1997 cover of Seventeen, and in subsequent years, the list went on to include Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, GQ, CosmoGirl, Shape, Health, Maxim, FHM, Vanidades and Jane. Hewitt has appeared in numerous print advertisements and commercials for brands such as Victoria Golf, Mrs. Smith, Colonial's Iron Kids Bread, Levi's, Barbie, LA Gear, Chex, Proactiv, Hanes, Neutrogena, Nokia, Jansport and America's Dairy Producers. In 2000, Hewitt was named the "most popular actress on television", as her Q Score —the industry's measure of celebrities' likability— was 37, and in 2008, she ranked as 96th on the annual Celebrity 100 list by Forbes magazine, which ranks the most powerful and best-paid celebrities in Hollywood.
Relationships and family
Between the 1990s and the 2000s, Hewitt dated several high-profile figures, including Joey Lawrence, Will Friedle, Carson Daly, Rich Cronin, Patrick Wilson, John Mayer and Jamie Kennedy.In 2005, Hewitt began dating Scottish actor Ross McCall after he made an appearance on Ghost Whisperer. They became engaged in November 2007, while vacationing in Hawaii. People magazine reported that Hewitt called off their engagement in late 2008.On November 20, 2013, Hewitt married actor Brian Hallisay, whom she met on the set of The Client List. Their daughter, Autumn James, was born in November 2013. Their son, Atticus James, was born in June 2015. In May 2021, Hewitt reported on Instagram that she is pregnant with her and Hallisay's third child. In September 2021, their third child was born, a son named Aidan James.
In 2002, at the Grammy Awards, Diana Napolis, a conspiracy theorist and former social worker, "verbally confront[ed]" Hewitt and attempted to pose as a friend of hers in order to enter the premiere of The Tuxedo; she was then arrested for stalking and uttering death threats against Hewitt and Steven Spielberg. Napolis was charged with six felonies related to the incidents. After a year of involuntary commitment, Napolis pleaded guilty and was released on probation with a condition that she was barred from any contact with both Spielberg and Hewitt.
As a director
As a producer
Studio albumsLove Songs (1992)
Let's Go Bang (1995)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (1996)
Credits as an author:
The Day I Shot Cupid (2010)Other credits:
Jennifer Love Hewitt's Music Box (2009–10) (creator)Awards and nominations
Jennifer Love Hewitt at IMDb
Jennifer Love Hewitt at the TCM Movie Database
Jennifer Love Hewitt on Twitter