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Mandy Moore's Best TV And Movie Roles To Date

Singer, songwriter, and actress Mandy Moore has been in the entertainment business for decades and is now in the prime of her career. Starting as a singer during the pop starlet craze of the late '90s and early '00s, Moore could've ended up as just another wannabe chasing music fame. Instead, Moore leveraged her early music industry success into a prolific acting career — one that's enjoyed a longevity unmatched by most of her contemporaries.

Moore's wide-ranging acting talents have led her to roles in comedies, dramas, and musicals, both in movies and television. Moore is a charismatic performer, and she holds her own with legendary actors. From teen comedies and action thrillers to her dramatic TV work, Moore's diverse filmography has more than proven her acting skills. A closer look at some of her best performances is an opportunity for some fun nostalgia and provides insight into her future successes. Without further ado, here are Mandy Moore's greatest roles in movies and TV to date.

Warning — some minor spoilers below.

Rebecca Pearson in This Is Us

Arguably Mandy Moore's most successful and well-known role is Rebecca Pearson on the NBC hit drama "This Is Us." The series follows the Pearson family through the decades, examining the bonds forged through love, loss, and circumstance. "This Is Us" tells immensely relatable stories about family life, covering topics like death, sibling rivalry, mental health, and sexuality. The lives of the Pearsons are explored through complex narratives constructed through non-linear storytelling. The show jumps around in time, creating emotional through-lines for understanding the characters and their relationships to each other.

As for Moore, her Rebecca is the matriarch of the Pearson family, and the actress plays her as a young adult, mother, and mature elder. Skillfully interpreting the subtle shifts of aging, Moore is more than up to the dramatic challenge. She admitted to Howard Stern that playing Rebecca happened by chance, as her team had advised her to seek roles not on network television. But after getting the script, Moore became enamored by the role. Plus, she experienced instant chemistry with her on-screen husband, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), and soon after, she got the part. The chemistry between Rebecca and Jack, plus the rest of the cast, has made "This Is Us" a smash hit, and it's clear the show wouldn't be as successful without Moore's Emmy-nominated performance.

Rapunzel in Tangled

The late 2000s was a tumultuous point in Moore's career. In 2007, she began her relationship with musician Ryan Adams, which was subsequently revealed to The New York Times as "psychologically abusive." Her screen credits during this time are scarce, with a few music videos and guest appearances on popular television shows. Moore's been frank about how her marriage limited her career, but during this period, she managed to land one of her signature roles — the voice of Rapunzel in the 2010 Disney animated feature film "Tangled."

"Tangled" is a modern reimagining of "Rapunzel," the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. A princess kidnapped by the villainous Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) for the healing properties of her golden hair, Rapunzel is sequestered in a remote tower, unaware of her true royal lineage. Longing for independence, Rapunzel's chance encounter with roguish thief Flynn (Zachary Levi) gives her an opportunity to escape her confinement and discover her true identity. Moore's malleable voice gives Rapunzel depth, humor, and grace, making Rapunzel a perfect addition to the pantheon of Disney princesses. "Tangled" was a critical hit and brought back to the big screen what film critic A.O. Scott, in his review of the film, called "old-fashioned Disneyness."

Lana Thomas in The Princess Diaries

By the time Mandy Moore made her major film debut in 2001, she was best known for her music career. Moore's musical contribution during the late '90s/early '00s was her song "Candy," a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Not as overtly sexual as her pop music contemporaries Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Moore served up bubblegum pop realness that was perfectly packaged for the after-school "Total Request Live" crowd. Her music was catchy and fun, and Moore's image was accessible to her fans.

Moore's first live-action movie role in "The Princess Diaries" in 2001 coincided with the release of her second album, "Mandy Moore," which took her music in a more mature direction. Moore's role as mean girl Lana Thomas fit perfectly with this career pivot. In the film, Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is an unpopular and awkward high school student who finds out she's heir to the throne of Genovia. With a glow-up courtesy of her royal grandmother Clarisse (Julie Andrews), Mia gets the courage to stand up to Lana's bullying and shoves an ice cream cone onto Lana's perfectly starched cheerleading outfit. And it's with this role that Moore knew she wanted to be an actor (via Cosmopolitan).

Jamie Sullivan in A Walk to Remember

Moore's first attempt at dramatic acting and her first lead movie role, 2002's "A Walk to Remember," is based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks. The film is one of many big- screen adaptations of Sparks' work (the classic weepy "The Notebook" is pure Sparks melodrama) and has plenty of emotion and heartbreak. Moore plays Jamie Sullivan, the minister's daughter, who helps rebellious Landon (Shane West) with his "punishment" of participating in the school play. Despite Jamie warning him not to fall in love with her, the two teenagers who reside on opposite ends of the high school social hierarchy develop feelings for each other. All is well until Jamie reveals the reason why she warned Landon against love — she's dying of leukemia. Cue the tissues!

Moore's gentle vulnerability anchors this story of tragic teen love. Still firmly rooted in her singing career at the time, Moore showcases her vocals with the song "Only Hope." Because what's a weepie movie without putting feelings to song?

Hilary Faye in Saved!

With a cast filled with notable aughts teen stars and a snarky, quotable script that skewers conservative Christian morals, "Saved!" has become a beloved cult classic. Playing Hilary Faye, a devout and self-righteous high schooler at American Eagle Christian High School, Moore yet again nails her performance as the popular girl with a mean streak. 

Leader of the girl group the Christian Jewels, Hilary rules over her friends with a level of judgment that's usually reserved for a higher authority. When she finds out her friend and fellow Christian Jewel, Mary (Jena Malone), is having a crisis of faith, Hilary banishes her from the friend group and does what any loving friend would do for a friend in trouble — attempt to kidnap her and perform an exorcism by hitting her with a Bible. Hilary sabotages her fellow classmates' reputations by blaming vandalism incidents on them, but her schemes are eventually revealed by her victims. Hilary may be filled with Christ's love, but she's also a sloppy liar.

Moore's over-the-top energy as Hilary makes it one of her most memorable on-screen performances. "Saved!" has some serious social and religious critiques, and Moore's ability to play sweet and savory simultaneously centers the cultural satire and allows the film to transcend the genre of early 2000s teen films.

Sally Kendoo in American Dreamz

Mandy Moore's mid-2000s film work finds her in yet another social satire, "American Dreamz." Directed by Paul Weitz, best known at the time for directing gross-out teen comedy benchmark "American Pie," this film is a mish-mash of what was troubling the American psyche in 2006, including the competency of our federal government (specifically the executive branch) and the cultural dominance of reality competition singing series. "American Dreamz" was released in 2006, with "American Idol" at the height of its popularity, the show's rating peaking during that year's Season 5 (via The Wrap). For some, the latest updates on the Global War on Terror and knowing who "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell would ridicule next held equal cultural weight.

In "American Dreamz," President Joseph Staton (Dennis Quaid) gets cast as a guest judge on a popular singing competition series called, yes, "American Dreamz." Moore plays Sally Kendoo, a contestant who wants nothing more than to be a part of the celebrity machine, no matter what. As with previous roles, Moore charms by portraying Sally as superficially sweet but calculating underneath. She knows how to play the fame game and makes cunning decisions to win. And after a series of unfortunate events, Sally attains the fame she's been chasing and becomes the new host of "American Dreamz."

Anna Foster in Chasing Liberty

In "Chasing Liberty," Mandy Moore's character, Anna Foster, is just an average 18-year-old who happens to be in a not-so-average family — her dad is the president of the United States. 

All Anna wants to do is go on a date without a Secret Service detail and hit the town wearing her best bootcut designer denim and going-out top. Striking a deal with the president, aka her dad (Mark Harmon), Anna gets to explore Prague with limited security, but unbeknownst to her, the hot guy who gives her a ride on his motorbike is actually another Secret Service agent. Anna thinks she's finally free with hot motorbike guy, Ben (Matthew Goode), and they adventure around Europe. Naturally, while they traipse around the continent, they develop feelings for each other, but when Ben's cover is blown, Anna is furious. However, like the end of any good romantic comedy, Anna and Ben ultimately move beyond their misunderstandings and ride his bike into the future.

"Chasing Liberty" is not groundbreaking cinema (it's heavily inspired by the 1950s classic film "Roman Holiday"), but Moore brings ample charm and sparkle to Anna, proving she's a fantastic rom-com leading lady.

Mary Portman in Grey's Anatomy

One of Moore's television guest appearances during her relationship with Ryan Adams was on the popular drama "Grey's Anatomy." The long-running ABC series has had many patients come through the doors of Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and Moore's character, Mary Portman, appears in four episodes during Seasons 6 and 7. 

Mary's first story arc in Season 6 finds her at Grey Sloan for a colostomy bag reversal surgery to be performed by Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), only for the procedure to be interrupted by an active shooter. Surviving the shooter incident, Mary returns to the hospital in Season 7 to complete her operation. The surgery is a success, but Mary experiences a rare complication and never comes out from anesthesia, eventually dying. While her death is never explored in-depth (much to the frustration of "Grey's" fans), Mary remains a beloved character in the "Grey's Anatomy" guest-role universe and served as a perfect vehicle for Moore to maintain broad exposure during a challenging period in her career.

Sadie Jones in License to Wed

In 2007, Hollywood believed in Mandy Moore as a romantic comedy leading lady, someone whose sheer evanescence could hold a film together. For example, in "License to Wed," Moore plays Sadie Jones, a newly engaged woman looking to have a traditional marriage with her fiance, Ben Murphy (John Krasinski). Unfortunately for the couple, the only available time slot to get married in Sadie's family church is three weeks from their engagement, and the church's reverend, Frank (Robin Williams), won't marry them until they complete his prenuptial course. 

Reverend Frank's unorthodox course — which includes care for body horror-filled robotic babies — is meant to fortify the couple's relationship. But Ben questions Reverend Frank's intrusive methods, and both he and Sadie stress about truly committing to each other. Eventually, with the help of Reverend Frank, Ben and Sadie work out their differences and get married. While "License to Wed" centers around Robin Williams's frenetic comedic style, Moore serves as a well-intentioned straight woman foil. She's game for the film's over-the-top physical comedy moments, and she also anchors the film emotionally.

Mandy Moore in Entourage

Tabloid celebrity culture of the mid-2000s got the television treatment with the bros of HBO's "Entourage." Inspired by the real life of actor/burger empresario/car dealership owner Mark Wahlberg, the show follows actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his crew, made up of family and close friends from back in the day. "Entourage" was noted for its inside-baseball Hollywood storylines and numerous celebrity cameos. Often, these celebrities played heightened versions of themselves, like James Cameron playing "James Cameron," the director of an "Aquaman" movie. Mandy Moore did the same thing, playing a fictionalized version of herself for a five-episode story arc in the show's second season. 

In the "Entourage" universe, Moore and Chase are ex-lovers and ex-co-stars, with the pair acting together in Moore's real-life movie "A Walk to Remember." Moore happens to be cast opposite Chase in "Aquaman," where their past feelings for each other complicate the present, possibly jeopardizing Chase's career. Moore had dated "That '70s Show" star Wilmer Valderrama, pro tennis player Andy Roddick, and actor Zach Braff in the early '00s, and surely her experience of romance in the spotlight informed her performance.

Lisa in 47 Meters Down

Venturing into the deep waters of terror, Mandy Moore finds herself trapped in a shark diving cage in the claustrophobic thriller "47 Meters Down." While on a Mexican vacation, Moore's character, Lisa, attempts to prove that she's not as boring as her ex-boyfriend claims she is by booking a spontaneous shark cage diving trip. With her little sister, Kate (Claire Holt), along for the adventure, the sisters' wondrous underwater trip soon turns into a catastrophe, with the cage cable snapping, sinking the sisters 47 meters below the surface. With limited oxygen, spotty communication, and, uh, being surrounded by hungry sharks, Lisa and Kate must persevere through their dire aquatic circumstances.

Moore told GQ that making the movie was "really challenging" and that 95% of the film takes place underwater. Filming was an immense physical burden, shooting the ocean scenes in an underwater tank in London for hours upon hours. Starring in an action thriller was a departure for Moore, and the role provided plenty of opportunities for screams. "47 Meters Down" scared up success at the box office, making over $60 million at the box office globally (via Box Office Mojo). Its popularity spawned a sequel, "47 Meters Down: Uncaged," although Moore didn't reprise her role. Apparently, one dive into shark-infested waters was enough for Lisa.

Amy in How I Met Your Mother

The central mystery of the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" is the identity of the woman Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) eventually meets to become the titular "mother." Older Ted, voiced by Bob Saget, recounts his younger years to his children, including all the potential dates and relationships that ended up not being their mom. With 208 episodes over nine seasons, there were plenty of women who had the potential to be Ted's wife but didn't end up being "The One."

Mandy Moore's appearance as one of these women during Season 3 had her playing against type as Amy, a tattooed barfly who looks like she just got off from her shift as Hot Topic manager. Amy steals booze from the bar and breaks into her former employer's backyard for a secret hot tub soak. Amy then takes a drunk Ted to get the ultimate symbol of mid-'00s trashy wildness — a lower-back butterfly tattoo. Shocking no one, Amy does not turn out to be "mother," but her brief stint on the show gave Moore a rare chance to play a rebellious character.

Mom in I'm Not Here

While not known as an indie film darling, Mandy Moore occasionally takes roles in small, independent features. For example, 2019's "I'm Not Here" is a passion project of Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons and his wife, Michelle Schumacher. Similar to "This Is Us," "I'm Not Here" looks at a person's life through different moments in time. Simmons plays Old Steve, a broken man who struggles to live with past intergenerational traumas. Moore plays Steve's mother in flashback sequences featuring Iain Armitage as the younger Stevie. Mom does her best to deal with her husband's alcoholism, but ultimately, she can't keep the family together and divorces Dad (Max Greenfield).

Moore's role in "I'm Not Here" is minor, but it serves as an emotional anchor for Stevie as he navigates a relationship with his father amidst his parents' bitter divorce. While the film received mixed reviews, with The New York Times calling it "gimmicky and amateurish," it provides Moore a showcase for her ever-growing dramatic acting chops.

Milly Wilder in Because I Said So

Mandy Moore's performance as Milly Wilder in "Because I Said So" makes the list of her best roles because she manages to deliver a delightful turn in an otherwise terrible movie. Moore co-stars in the film with Diane Keaton, one of the original romantic comedy queens. Unfortunately, this film was critically panned upon its 2007 release, with The Washington Post rating it "PU, Unfit for Any Audience." Panned for its antiquated take on love, its lack of humor, and bizarre obsession with underwear, "Because I Said So" is redeemed only by it serving as a star vehicle for Moore.

Milly's (Moore) lack of success in finding a relationship is of utmost concern to her mother, Daphne (Diane Keaton). While her two older sisters (Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo) are happily married, Milly is not, much to the dismay of Daphne. So what is a mother who's dreading turning 60 going to do instead of facing her own life? Project her anxieties onto her daughter! Daphne secretly orchestrates a meet-cute between Milly and Jason (Tom Everett Scott), but Milly finds her own date, Johnny (Gabriel Macht). Milly, who eventually finds out about her mother's meddling with Jason, trusts in herself and her life choices and winds up with Johnny. Meanwhile, Daphne finds her own man after many years alone, and it's only then that she questions her previous pushiness.