Rachel Emily Nichols (born January 8, 1980) is an American actress and model. Nichols began modeling while attending Columbia University in New York City in the late 1990s. She transitioned into television and film acting in the early 2000s; she had a part in the romantic drama film Autumn in New York (2000) and a one-episode role in Season 4 of the show Sex and the City (2002).
Her first major role was in the comedy film Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003). She had the main role in the crime drama television series The Inside (2005), though it was cancelled after one season. Nichols gained recognition playing Rachel Gibson in the final season of the serial action television series Alias (2005–06) and for her role in the horror film The Amityville Horror (2005).
Nichols' first starring film role was in the horror-thriller P2 (2007). She had a supporting role in the coming-of-age film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008) and appeared in Star Trek (2009). She starred in the action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) and also in the sword and sorcery film Conan the Barbarian (2011). She played lead roles in the television series Criminal Minds (2010–11) and Continuum (2012–15). She starred in the 2011 movie A Bird of the Air.
Early Life and Modeling Edit
Rachel Nichols was born January 8, 1980 in Augusta, Maine,[to Jim, a schoolteacher, and Alison Nichols. She attended Cony High School, where she competed in the high jump. Nichols said in an interview that she was not the hot chick in high school and her mother would euphemistically refer to her as 'a late bloomer', "which meant that I had uncontrollable arms and legs, I had very long appendages. I took several years of very highly structured dance classes for me to be able to control myself."
Upon graduating in 1998, she enrolled at Columbia University in New York City, aiming for a career as a Wall Street analyst. She was noticed by a modeling agent during lunch one day and was invited to work in Paris; she eventually paid her tuition with the proceeds from her modeling work. She worked on advertising campaigns for Abercrombie & Fitch, Guess, and L'Oréal; she also hosted several MTV specials. Nichols studied economics and psychology, as well as drama, graduating from Columbia in 2003. with a double major in math and economics. Nichols said in September 2008 that "the modeling shoes have been hung up."
Acting Career Edit
2000–04: Early acting credits Edit
Nichols had done commercial work and had a bit part as a model in the romantic drama film Autumn in New York (2000) when her modeling agent helped her get a one-episode role in the fourth season of Sex and the City (2002). She later said she had "never really done a proper audition before", and added that "I had such fun [filming on set], that day actually made me want to pursue [acting] more seriously." Later that year she was cast in her first major film role as Jessica, a dogged student newspaper reporter, in Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003). Although the film was panned by critics, making it was a learning experience for Nichols. She said, "I was a sponge for the entire time I was in Atlanta [during filming] and freely admitted that I had no idea what was going on. I had never done a big film before, I had never been the lead in a film before and any advice anyone wanted to give me, I was more than willing to take." The following year, Nichols played a member of a high school debate team in the independent film Debating Robert Lee (2004) and had a two-episode role in the crime drama television series Line of Fire (2004), which was cancelled after 11 of 13 produced episodes were broadcast. By August 2004, she was cast in supporting roles in the horror films The Amityville Horror (2005) and The Woods (2006).
In late February 2004, Nichols was cast in a starring role in a then-untitled drama pilot for the Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox). According to Variety, her character was to be "a DEA agent who goes undercover at a high school". Todd and Glenn Kessler were developing the series, ultimately titled The Inside. The pilot they produced did not satisfy studio executives, however, and Tim Minear was brought in to create a new pilot for the series in late September 2004, replacing the Kesslers as executive producer and showrunner. The Inside was originally supposed to air midseason, but the new pilot itself was reshot and the series was pushed back. The new concept made Nichols' character a rookie FBI agent assigned to the FBI's Los Angeles Violent Crimes Unit. The series premiered in June 2005 and critical reception was mixed; it had been scheduled opposite the popular Dancing with the Stars on ABC, and due to low ratings six of the 13 produced episodes were aired. It was not picked up for further episodes.
2005–09: Breakthrough Edit
Following The Inside, Nichols found work on the fifth season of the serial action series Alias in 2005, being cast that July. Nichols starred as Rachel Gibson, a computer expert who thought she was working for the CIA when in fact she was working for a dangerous terrorist organization—a situation similar to that of the series' main character Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) the first season. Discovering the truth, Gibson joins the real CIA and becomes Bristow's protégé. Of working on Alias, Nichols said that "to say it's the nicest set on the planet is an understatement". Her role involved multiple fight sequences, as did Garner's. Nichols worked with Garner's personal trainer; she said she "already knew that [Garner's] job was extremely hard. But I didn't know how difficult it was until I started training for just one fight." Nichols was being groomed to replace Garner as the main character due to the latter's pregnancy, which had been written into the storyline. But Alias was cancelled in November 2005, making its fifth season its final. "I think everybody knew that the show wouldn't work without Jennifer", Nichols said, "But still, they were grooming me, so it was heartbreaking when it happened."
She had a small role in the 2005 romantic drama Shopgirl and played the babysitter of George and Kathy Lutz's children in The Amityville Horror (2005). For the latter role she was nominated for the Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Scream Scene and the MTV Movie Award for Best Frightened Performance. She later revealed that she almost did not audition for the film due to her fear of dogs. "[Producer] Michael Bay has these gigantic [dogs]. [...] And, when I went to audition for The Amityville Horror, I went into his offices and literally these three huge dogs were there, and I almost turned around. I was like, 'No, I'm not going to read for this film.' I actually used the dogs in my audition to think of what would scare me the most." The Amityville Horror received generally negative reception from critics, but was a commercial success.
The Woods, which had been shelved for some 18 months, was released directly-to-video in October 2006. The film opened to favorable reviews and critics acclaimed the individual performances of the actors. Nichols had a small part in the drama film Resurrecting the Champ (2007), in which she played the assistant to a sportswriter (Josh Hartnett) who believes he has found a former boxing legend (Samuel L. Jackson) living homeless on the streets. Also that year, Nichols had a bit part in the fact-based political drama Charlie Wilson's War (2007) and was cast in a new science fiction drama television series Them, which was ultimately not picked up by Fox.
Her first starring film role was in the 2007 horror–thriller P2, in which she played a businesswoman who becomes trapped inside a public parking garage with a deranged security guard. About the dress her character wears for much of the film, Nichols said, "When I read the script originally, it wasn't a dress, it was a small nightgown with no bra or underwear. Then I read the first scene where she gets wet, and I went: 'OK, this has got to be altered!'" Nichols said in an interview that among the rules established in her contract were: "I will not get wet and show nipples" in addition to no nudity. A bra was sewn into the "Marilyn Monroe dress" she wore in the film. She said, "I wasn't going to run around for two months without a bra, I thought that was inappropriate. But in place of the nipples there's clearly a lot of cleavage. So we made a compromise." P2 was generally disliked by critics. Reviewer James Berardinelli said that her performance was "admirable, although one wonders whether she was cast more for her physical assets than her acting ability." John Anderson of Variety wrote that "Nichols is in territory well trod over the years by everyone from Fay Wray and Grace Kelly to Heather Langenkamp, the terrified but gutsy heroine, who in this case has been chloroformed and put into a sheer white evening dress by her abductor—who must have anticipated that his captive would try to escape in an elevator, which he could then fill with water. (Nichols' considerable physical attributes, henceforth, seem to occupy most of the screen.) She's sympathetic, hysterical when required and likeable."
Nichols had a supporting role in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (2008), playing a jealous friend of America Ferrera's character. Overall, the film was well received by critics. Roger Ebert commented that Nichols as her character Julia "proves a principle that should be in the Little Movie Glossary: If a short, curvy, sun-kissed heroine [Ferrera] has a tall, thin blond as a roommate, that blond is destined to be a bitch. No way around it." Stephen Holden, writing for The New York Times, similarly said, "It falls to Ms. Nichols to play the movie's designated blond baddie, a cold, arrogant vixen who tries to undermine [Ferrera's character's] triumphs in romance and onstage." Nichols was cast in Star Trek (2009) in November 2007, but due to the project's secrecy her role was initially unknown even to her; she said that month she did not even know her character's name. It was speculated that she would play Janice Rand, but she would actually play an Orion cadet at Starfleet Academy, as revealed by TrekMovie.com the following month.
Nichols was cast as Shana "Scarlett" O'Hara in the live-action film adaptation of the G.I. Joe franchise G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) in late 2007. She later said that she accepted director Stephen Sommers' offer for the role without having read the actual script. "I'd heard from other people that the script was quite good. And then when I finally got to read it myself ... I really, really liked it ... I liked that there were two kick-ass female roles. And I liked the fact that it wasn't just a big action movie ... And there was comedy in it. I was genuinely really happily surprised when I read the script." She put on approximately 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of muscle for the role and trained in mixed martial arts with co-star Sienna Miller for some of the film's action sequences. Nichols was burned by a flame during the filming of a fight scene with Miller. Like The Amityville Horror, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was not well received by most critics, but performed well at the box office. Richard Corliss of Time wrote that Nichols had "an appealing manner and comely biceps" as Scarlett O'Hara and took notice of her "savory girl fight with Sienna Miller, as the mostly villainous Baroness." After G.I. Joe, Nichols' next project was the horror film For Sale by Owner, where she played Anna Farrier. Going straight-to-video on October 27, 2009, the movie went largely unnoticed by critics and audiences alike.
She starred as Leslie Spencer in the indie crime-drama Meskada, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and had no domestic distributor as of April 2010. However, the film received a limited release on December 3, 2010 in the United States. Nichols was cast in the 3-D sword and sorcery movie Conan the Barbarian in March 2010, as the character of Tamara, a master of martial arts, a priestess, and also the potential Conan's love interest. The film, released on August 19, 2011, was a reimagining of the 1982 film of the same name which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. It received mostly poor reviews, and was a box office bomb.
Nichols guest starred in three episodes of CBS's Criminal Minds, and was then promoted as a series regular. Her role was Ashley Seaver, an FBI cadet assigned to the BAU. The casting choice came amid uproar from the series' fanbase as she was brought in to replace exiting actresses A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster; she told Parade magazine that the show' fans at first "hated" her, with many sending her hate messages through Twitter, because "[...] they were very angry about [the Paget and A.J.] situation." However, as the season went on, viewers eventually gave her character a warm reception. "It just kind of worked. It was a long process," she said. It was later informed that Nichols had been let go from the show. Nichols next starred in the indie drama-romance feature A Bird of the Air (formerly known as The Loop), where she played Fiona "a librarian who joins a highway patrolman to uncover the mysteries behind the cryptic sayings spoken by an ancient parrot." She described the film as a "quirky, edgy love story" and felt that playing her role "was great for me, because [Fiona] is a departure from some of the roles I've been offered". It was released in selected theaters on September 23, 2011, to mixed reviews; while The New York Times remarked that the actress "is consistently appealing in the kind of role Zooey Deschanel has pretty much cornered", Village Voice felt her character was "a grating twit" in her hands.
On May 27, 2012, Continuum, a Canadian science fiction series starring Nichols, premiered on Showcase. The show centers on the conflict between a police officer and a group of rebels from the year 2077 who time-travel to Vancouver, British Columbia in the year 2012. The pilot brought 900,000 viewers, becoming the highest-rated single episode ever on the network. A ratings success in its four seasons, Continuum also earned Nichols a Constellation Award and two Saturn Award nominations for Best Actress on Television. Also in 2012, she appeared in the thriller film Alex Cross, which garnered negative reviews and premiered with a disappointing $11.4 million opening weekend gross.
Her next movie appearance was in the exploitation film Raze, where she played a character named Jamie. Directed by Josh C. Waller, the movie co-starred Zoë Bell as a woman forced to fight against various other women for the twisted entertainment of the wealthy elite. It was released on April 21, 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival and then received a very limited release in New York City and Los Angeles in early 2014. She was cast opposite Nicolas Cage in the action-crime feature Rage, which focused on a reformed criminal seeking his own brand of justice after his daughter gets kidnapped. The film premiered through selected theaters and video-on-demand in the U.S. between June and July 2014. The same year, she guest starred in one episode of the Lifetime series Witches of East End and debuted as a recurring character in the short-lived USA Network show Rush.
Personal Life Edit
Nichols married film producer Scott Stuber on July 26, 2008, in Aspen, Colorado. Nichols allowed her hair to return to its natural blond color for the ceremony, as it had been dyed red for her consecutive roles in Star Trek and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. They were working on building a home in Cabo San Lucas shortly after their honeymoon. Seven months later, in February 2009, Nichols and Stuber separated due to irreconcilable differences.
On December 30, 2013, Nichols confirmed her engagement to Michael Kershaw, a real estate developer. They married in September 2014.
|2000||Autumn in New York||Model at Bar|
|2003||Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd||Jessica Matthews|
|2003||Relationship 101||Jennifer Masters|
|2004||Debating Robert Lee||Trilby Moffat|
|2004||A Funny Thing Happened at the Quick Mart||Jennifer||Short film|
|2005||The Amityville Horror||Lisa|
|2005||Mr. Dramatic||Girl at Bar|
|2006||The Woods||Samantha Wise||Straight-to-video|
|2007||Resurrecting the Champ||Polly|
|2007||Charlie Wilson's War||Suzanne|
|2008||The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2||Julia Beckwith|
|2009||Star Trek||Gaila||Orion Starfleet cadet|
|2009||G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra||Shana "Scarlett" O'Hara|
|2009||For Sale by TelevisionOwner||Anna Farrier||Straight-to-video|
|2010||Meskada||Leslie Spencer||Limited release|
|2010||Ollie Klubershturf vs the Nazis||Daniella||Short film|
|2011||Conan the Barbarian||Tamara|
|2011||A Bird of the Air||Fiona||Limited release|
|2012||Alex Cross||Monica Ashe|
|2013||Raze||Jamie||Limited release and VOD|
|2014||Rage||Vanessa||Limited release and VOD|
|2002||Sex and the City||Alexa||Episode: "A 'Vogue' Idea"|
|2004||Line of Fire||Alex Myer||Episode: "Eminence Front" (parts 1 and 2)|
|2005||The Inside||Special Agent Rebecca Locke||Lead role (13 episodes)|
|2005–06||Alias||Rachel Gibson||Main role (Season 5; 17 episodes)|
|2007||Them||Donna Shaw||Television pilot|
|2009||U.S. Attorney||Eve Chase||Television pilot|
|2010–11||Criminal Minds||Ashley Seaver||Recurring role (Season 6, ep. 10–12);|
Main role (Season 6, ep. 15–24)
|2012–15||Continuum||Kiera Cameron||Lead role (42 episodes)|
|2014||Witches of East End||Isis Zurka||Episode: "The Brothers Grimoire"|
|2014||Rush||Corrine Rush||Recurring role (4 episodes)|
|2015||Chicago Fire||Jamie||6 episodes|
Awards and Nominations
|2005||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Scream Scene||The Amityville Horror||Nominated|
|2006||MTV Movie Awards||Best Frightened Performance||The Amityville Horror||Nominated|
|2006||Method Fest||Best Cast||Debating Robert Lee||Won|
|2013||Constellation Awards||Best Female Performance||Continuum||Won|
|2014||Saturn Awards||Best Actress on Television||Continuum||Nominated|
|2015||Saturn Awards||Best Actress on Television||Continuum||Nominated|
|Nichols talks Continuum|