Amanda Peet grew up in New York with her older sister and their parents, Charles, a lawyer, and Penny, a social worker. She made an unconventional stage debut at the age of three when she jumped onto the stage during a play yet despite this early start she later studied acting more as a hobby than anything else. She studied history at Columbia University where a drama professor convinced her to audition for acting teacher Uta Hagen, with whom she later went on to study for a four year period; during which time, she participated in the off-Broadway revival of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing". Voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the World in 2000 by People Magazine, she supported herself during the audition phase of her career by waitressing and with the residual checks she received from a Skittles candy commercial. Perseverance and hard work paid off, and in 1995 she was cast in a guest-starring role on the hit series "Law & Order" (1990). Her feature film debut came in 1995 in the movie Animal Room (1995). For a while after, Amanda continued to find steady work, but also found herself appearing in a depressingly large number of indie films that were never picked up. She did however, meet her boyfriend Brian Van Holt on the set of one of those indies; the movie Whipped (2000). But it was her turn as the dippsy hit-woman with the heart of gold in the hit comedy Whole Nine Yards, The (2000) opposite Bruce Willis, that took her from supporting role status to leading lady.