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Why Julie Finlay From CSI Looks So Familiar

The new female lead of "CSI" after Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) exited the show was Julie Finlay, the new assistant supervisor of the CSI team. Nicknamed the "blood whisperer," the forensics investigator has a talent for tracking killers and attackers through stains and spatter.

The character debuts in Season 12 when D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) recruits her while she's teaching a seminar. However, Finlay has a contentious past with Russell. The two worked together in the Seattle Police Department, until he forced her to resign after she crossed the line with a suspect. But they work to settle their differences and once again become close friends and co-workers.

The actress playing Finlay appeared on network TV before the CBS crime procedural, though her breakout role was in a beloved hit feature film. She also appeared in several 1980s cable TV movie staples and was nominated for an Academy Award. Here's where you've seen this veteran actress prior to "CSI."

Shue appeared in 22 episodes of Call to Glory

The first of 59 IMDb screen credits for Elisabeth Shue is 1982's "The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana." However, the actress' first big screen role was on a highly promoted network show.

ABC series "Call to Glory" aired in the 1984-85 television season, and stars Craig T. Nelson as Colonel Raynor Sarnac, an Air Force pilot stationed with his family in an isolated area of California during the 1960s. Shue plays the oldest child of three, rough-edged teenager Julie.

The actress told The AV Club, "I remember that was my first real acting job, and how grateful I was that I had incredible actors around me to inspire me to want to be a great actor one day, and not just to be whatever an actor might become if they don't care at all about their art."

"Call to Glory" had a unique premise, especially for 1980s network television, but that wasn't enough for ABC to renew a second season. The show was ultimately canceled after 22 episodes. Shue still thinks she's lucky to have started out in a supportive environment: "I did not know much about the world at that time, and I could have gotten lost, you know, in some other zone of reality."

Her movie breakthrough was The Karate Kid

The young actress' first major movie role was as Ali Mills, the wealthy cheerleader who strikes up an unlikely bond with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), in "The Karate Kid."

Decades later, Shue told Entertainment Weekly that she'd made fun of the film off and on: "Because at the time, 'Karate Kid,' it sounded like, what kind of movie is that? I would even make fun of Ralph, like, 'He didn't look like anyone who could win a karate tournament!'" But the high school movie was not only big with critics, it also grossed nearly four times its budget (via Box Office Mojo).

The actress may have teased her co-star about the movie. Yet when she was filming the sequel show "Cobra Kai" with Macchio and Billy Zabka, she also saw how much of an impact "The Karate Kid" had on her career. "We're all struck with the fact that this one movie has shaped all three of our lives in such an intense way," she said to EW. 

She was the hero of Adventures in Babysitting

Shue's first lead role after "The Karate Kid" would be in the 1987 comedy "Adventures in Babysitting." She recalled to The AV Club, "That was really a very special experience for me, because it was the first movie I was kind of the star of, and it was Chris Columbus' first movie."

The actress plays a heartbroken teenager, Chris, who's asked to sit for the Anderson children one evening. However, Chris gets way more than she bargained for when a flat tire gets her and the kids into a series of wild Chicago mishaps. This includes dealing with a violent husband and Chris being forced to sing an entire blues number in a club. Shue even called that sequence "probably the best scene I've ever gotten to do. So fun."

"Adventures in Babysitting" was a sleeper hit at the box office and seems to be fondly remembered by fans. Indeed, the film later helped Shue receive one of her biggest roles to date (via Today).

The actress was the romantic lead of Cocktail

1988's Tom Cruise vehicle "Cocktail" doesn't actually debut Elisabeth Shue's character, Jordan Mooney, a wealthy artist — until 35 minutes or so into the movie. Star bartender Brian Flanagan (Tom Cruise) meets Jordan while working at a bar in Jamaica. Brian and Jordan fall in love, but their romance is complicated by Brian's ambition and ego, as well as Jordan's disapproving family.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the production for Shue was that she nearly walked into the spinning tail rotors of a helicopter. She would've been instantly killed, but Cruise, having trained as a pilot for "Top Gun," tackled her to the ground, saving her life (via Insider).

"Cocktail" was another hit for the actress at the box office. However, the film was poorly reviewed by critics, and even Cruise himself eventually called it "not my crowning jewel" in Rolling Stone (via Heavy). Vulture later suggested that Shue was typecast as the "go-to Sweet Girl Next Door." Her next major movies only continued this trend. 

Shue was the second Jennifer in the Back to the Future sequels

In the first "Back to the Future" trilogy entry, Jennifer, Marty McFly's (Michael J. Fox) loyal girlfriend, is played by Claudia Wells. But Wells had to drop out of the sequels because of family problems (via The Huffington Post).

Instead, Elisabeth Shue was cast for the character's return in "Back to the Future Part 2" and "Part 3." Her role is very small, as Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) puts Jennifer in cryogenic sleep for most of the two films. Shue told The AV Club, "I was trying to not distract anyone from the fact that the original girl [Claudia Wells] was not coming back, so I was just trying to kind of hide behind whoever she was, and not do too much to alert people to the fact that she was not there."

The actress really took the role as a favor to director Robert Zemeckis. Ultimately, the back-to-back production schedule of the two films wasn't difficult, either. "I don't remember it being too grueling for me, but I'm sure it was for the other guys."

She's a TV ingenue in Soapdish

Shue had been typecast as a "Girl Next Door" type in "The Karate Kid" and "Cocktail," but the 1991 comedy "Soapdish" allowed her to give a different kind of performance on screen. "Soapdish" depicts the absurd machinations behind a long-running soap opera, "The Sun Always Sets."

Shue plays Lori, a messenger girl who finds herself playing a part on the series alongside her long-lost aunt: the show's lead actress, Celeste Talbert (Sally Field). Where Shue's characters before weren't always well-rounded, Lori goes through a real journey throughout the comedy. She not only jumps from courier to actor, but she also discovers some major revelations about her long-lost parents, in keeping with a soap opera setting.

The film was critically acclaimed and is still fondly remembered, despite the controversial ending (via Ultimate Movie Year). Currently, there are plans for "Soapdish" to return as a television series at Paramount+, though Shue's involvement hasn't been confirmed yet (via TV Line).

Her work in Leaving Las Vegas received an Oscar nomination

If "Soapdish" had demonstrated Shue's range, "Leaving Las Vegas" helped shatter her popular image as a "goody two shoes." Yet ironically, Shue revealed that director Mike Figgis cast her in "Leaving Las Vegas" because he loved "Adventures in Babysitting" so much (via Today).

This dark, uncompromising 1995 drama features Nicholas Cage as an alcoholic, Ben, who has moved to Las Vegas, intent on drinking himself to death. Shue plays Sara, the sex worker he hires at first simply to spend time with him. The odd couple start to fall in love, though their romance is impacted by Ben's simple death wish.

To prepare to play Sara, Shue spent time with actual sex workers on the Vegas strip. The actress also improvised her scenes with an unseen therapist, which were later edited into the film (via TCM). The result won rave reviews, and Cage and Shue both were nominated for Oscars, with Cage winning his (via IMDb). "Leaving Las Vegas" is bleak to watch, but Shue insisted that she had fun making it: "There's a real easiness to it that was very beautiful. It was romantic" (via The AV Club).

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She's a conflicted scientist in The Saint

Elisabeth Shue followed up "Leaving Las Vegas" with "The Trigger Effect," but the limited release film made little impact (via The Numbers). Instead, her next big film would be the 1997 pulp adaptation "The Saint," starring Val Kilmer.

Simon Templar (Kilmer) is a thief, nicknamed "the Saint," who uses disguise and technology to pull off major robberies. But he bites off more than he can chew when he tries to steal a clean energy formula from electrochemist Emma Russell (Shue). Emma has to work with the Saint to retrieve it, while also evading the villainous Ivan Tretiak (Rade Šerbedžija).

"The Saint" was based on a successful series of novels as well as a hit Roger Moore show, so it must have seemed like a no-brainer for the studio to develop the project (via Saint.org). But alas, the action thriller received bad reviews, and while it made back its costs, $169 million on a $90 million budget was obviously disappointing (via The Numbers). If there had been any plans for a sequel with Kilmer and Shue reprising their roles, they quickly died out.

Hollow Man was Shue's last big project for a few years

Shue appeared in a number of smaller films in the late 1990s, including "Molly" and "Deconstructing Harry," before making Paul Verhoeven's blockbuster "Hollow Man."

Inspired by H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man," the film centers on Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), a scientist who is also the first test subject for an invisibility serum. However, as in the original novel, Caine becomes violently insane while invisible. His team, including his ex-girlfriend Linda McKay (Shue), now have to figure out how to stop him before he wreaks any more havoc.

Production shut down briefly after Shue's Achilles tendon was torn on set, but filming on the Paul Verhoeven movie eventually continued (via Empire). "Hollow Man" ultimately received negative reviews, with Roger Ebert eviscerating the horror thriller as "just a slasher film with a science gimmick." It was a hit at the box office, nevertheless.

Shortly after the movie wrapped, Shue took a break from acting to return to school(via Movie Hole).

She was a complicated mother in Mysterious Skin

"Hollow Man" was Shue's last big-budget release for quite some time. The actress largely took smaller projects and roles in the years after, including "Leo" and the TV film "Amy & Isabelle." However, she explained to Movie Hole that she didn't regret turning down bigger movies while in school: "It was my greatest achievement so far, apart from being a mom, that I experienced with graduating."

She does have a sizable part in the Gregg Araki drama "Mysterious Skin" playing Mrs. McCormick, Neil's (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) mother. Shue told The AV Club, "I love that movie. I really am very proud of that movie."

Mrs. McCormick is one of the actress' most complex screen characters, a loving but neglectful mother who couldn't protect her son from his coach's (Bill Sage) abuse. She said of her role, "She was more of a child. I just find those characters really fun to play, because there's a freedom in them. So that was really a great movie. I loved doing it."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Elisabeth Shue in Hamlet 2 as...Elisabeth Shue

The part of "Elisabeth Shue" in 2008's "Hamlet 2" wasn't actually written for her originally. The real Shue explained to The AV Club, "It was actually supposed to be a real sad, has-been actress, which I found hilarious."

Film producers were originally concerned that Shue would be offended by her characterization. In the film, "Elisabeth Shue" eventually became tired of acting and went into nursing instead. But she agrees to help misguided stage director Dana (Steve Coogan), who considers her his favorite actress, with his egregious production of a Shakespeare sequel. Jokes abound in the indie comedy about "Leaving Las Vegas" and Shue missing make-out scenes with good-looking actors.

Luckily, Shue has a sense of humor about her ups and downs, and seemed to enjoy parodying her career for the movie. "It was so fun to laugh at myself, and Steve Coogan is such a huge talent, and I just felt really grateful to do it."

She's Elissa's mother in House at the End of the Street

In 2012, Shue agreed to play the part of Sarah, the mother of Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence), in the psychological horror film "House at the End of the Street." After Sarah's divorce, the two move into a new home, but they're next door to a house where a girl infamously murdered her parents. Things only get more complicated when Elissa befriends the girl's older brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot).

Shue told The Columbus Dispatch that she was able to expand the character with the help of the director: "He was so open to the idea of her at least being a mom who's a little more complicated — who, in some ways, was more of a child than her daughter." She also drew on her performance as a mother in "Mysterious Skin" as well (via The AV Club).

"House at the End of the Street" made back more than its budget (via The Numbers), though critics largely disliked the twisty thriller.

Shue gives a rare villainous performance in The Boys

An adaptation of the Vought Guy character from the original comic, Madelyn Stillwell is the Senior Vice President of Hero Management at Vought-American on Season One of Amazon series "The Boys." A major executive at the corporation, Stillwell manages and works closely with the Seven "superheroes." She's also one of the only people who can control the anti-social Homelander (Antony Starr), in part because she sexually manipulates him.

Shue wasn't sure about the part at first, but was attracted to Stillwell's weird dynamic with Homelander. "I was instantly attracted to how complicated their relationship is, the power struggle between them, the neediness, the insecurity they bring out in each other, the lust for power they both share," she told The Boston Globe.

Ironically, Shue isn't a fan of superheroes either: "But the show looks at that head-on. It asks: Why are we giving our culture over to this mythical hero [expletive]?"

Stillwell ultimately pays the price for her continued deceit of Homelander. When the superpowered figure finds out that his son is alive, he gives her a literal "face-melting" experience.

She reprised her role as Ali on two episodes of Cobra Kai

When Elisabeth Shue reprised her role as Ali Mills from "The Karate Kid" on Netflix series "Cobra Kai" decades later, it truly brought her career full circle. She explained to Entertainment Weekly that a director on "The Boys," Dan Trachtenberg, originally persuaded her to appear on the show: "It would just be devastating—'devastating,' he kept saying—for the fans and for the memory of The Karate Kid if I wasn't [on the show]. I was like, 'Whoa–okay!'"

Shue appears as Ali in two episodes of Season Three after reconnecting with Johnny (Billy Zabka) online. When her relationship with Daniel (Ralph Macchio) ended, Ali went to medical school and got married, but she's now in the process of a divorce. She also reaches out to Daniel as well, and lectures him and Johnny about their rivalry. Still, both Johnny and Daniel apologize to Ali for their mistakes in their relationships. She accepts this, and encourages them to live for the future.

It was a fun, if emotional, experience for Shue, but she also loved appearing on the show. "I just couldn't get over how we hadn't changed at all, and yet we had changed—but I would say for the better."