Green-eyed former model Denise Richards went in a few short years from complete obscurity to one of the many "Next Big Things" to entice filmgoers in the late 1990s. Born February 17, 1971 in a Chicago suburb, Richards moved with her family to San Diego at the age of twelve. Following a modeling stint in New York (which was of limited success due to Richards' 5' 6" height), Richards moved to Los Angeles to try her hand at acting. She found work in shows such as Doogie Howser, MD and Saved By the Bell before getting her first break in 1993 as Ben Affleck's girlfriend in the short-lived Against the Grain.
1993 also marked Richards' film debut in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1. This led to her first starring role in the bizarre 1994 "family film" Tammy and the T-Rex. Following a small part in Gregg Araki's Nowhere (1997), Richards acquired relative fame, not to mention a dedicated group of male followers, for her role in Paul Verhoeven's $100 million sci-fi action film Starship Troopers. Featuring an army of giant ants doing battle with an army of tawny-skinned, white-toothed young men and women who appeared to have wandered off a Nordic Track commercial, the movie met with enough success to constitute Richards' "big break." She gained further exposure (literally) and fame with her next venture, 1998's Wild Things. Cast as spoiled socialite Kelly Van Ryan, Richards gave a delightfully trashy performance in a film that called for her to lie, cheat, scheme, seduce, kill, and even perform a lesbian love scene with co-star Neve Campbell. The film was successful in its ability to satisfy its audience's desire for tacky and oversexed fun, and it provided Richards with further opportunities, including 1999's Drop Dead Gorgeous. Co-starring with Kirsten Dunst, Richards played a small-town beauty pageant contestant in a film that gleefully plays with America's beauty ideals, something that was undoubtedly familiar territory for the actress.