A native of Billingham, England, Jamie Bell is an example of endurance and dedication paying off if there ever was one. Though the aspiring young dancer was the object of frequent teasing by school classmates (who dubbed him "Poof" and "Ballerina Boy," among other unsavory monikers), he persevered and ultimately landed the lead in the affecting 2000 drama Billy Elliot. Bell's family has a rich history in the world of dance that dates back to his grandmother. Though at first shy about his ambitions, the boy quietly imitated the moves of his older sister as she practiced in the studio; by the time he was six, others began to recognize his natural talent and encouraged him to practice, though Bell tried to keep his extracurricular activities a secret from his classmates. He later enrolled in the Stagecoach Theater School in hopes of refining his acting skills. Practice in both arenas ultimately paid off when Bell was selected from more than 2,000 young hopefuls to fill the toeshoes of the titular character in Stephen Daldry's Billy Elliot. During the production of the film, the fresh-faced actor and veteran director developed a warm, father/son-like bond that helped Bell gain the confidence he needed to fully explore his talent. An unexpected hit that was embraced by critics and audiences around the world, Billy Elliot earned many prestigious nominations and awards, including BAFTAs for Best British Film and Best Actor for its young star, who was also named Best Newcomer at The British Independent Film Awards. Though he subsequently hung up his ballet shoes in favor of more acting roles, Bell continued to impress in such features as the horror-flavored war film Deathwatch and the Charles Dickens adaptation Nicholas Nickleby (both 2002). The following year, the busy young actor took the lead in no less than three films: Dear Wendy, Undertow and Who Goes There? -- all scheduled for release in 2004.
Bell continued to work with the best directors, signing on with Peter Jackson for his remake of King Kong and playing a part for Clint Eastwood in Flags of Our Fathers. In 2008 he appeared in the World War II drama Defiance. Three years later he had an international hit of a sort when he provided the physical basis for the lead character in Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tin Tin, and appeared in the well-reviewed adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi