Lucy Liu is turning 49 today. She studied at Michigan and began working in film and television in the early 1990s. She began getting larger film roles later in the decade, in films like City of Industry and Payback, and also landed two regular roles on television. CBS’s Pearl was canceled after one season, but in 1998 she joined the regular cast of Ally McBeal as Ling Woo, for which she received an Emmy nomination.
Early in the 2000s, Liu appeared in what are probably her most famous film roles, as Alex Munday in the Charlie’s Angels films, and as the assassin O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill. She also was a kidnapped princess in Shanghai Noon and a perky and quirky romantic lead in Lucky Number Slevin. These days, most of her feature film work is as a voice actor—she is the voice of Silvermist in the Disney Fairies series and Master Viper in the Kung Fu Panda franchise. For the last five years, she has also been back on series television, as Joan Watson in Elementary, which will return for season 6 next year.