Michelle grew up in a rural farm community in Winthrop, Iowa. After graduating from high school, she went to Chicago to study journalism while doing modeling jobs and commercials to pay for her tuition. She then decided to pursue a career in modeling and eventually became interested in acting.
Initially, Michelle was cast in minor parts of episodes in TV series such as Young Americans and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Her roles in TV paved the way for roles in movies such as Perfume and Unfaithful. Her big break came when she co-starred in one season of Boston Public in 2002.
2005 was a major year for her when she did several movie projects alongside the biggest names in Hollywood: Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand in North Country and Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible III.
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