Evan Rachel Wood was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her father, Ira David Wood III, is a locally prominent actor, singer, theater director and playwright who is the Executive Director of a local regional theatre company called Theatre in the Park. Her mother, Sara Lynn Moore is an actress, director and acting coach.
Wood and her brothers were actively involved in Theatre in the Park while growing up, including an appearance by her in the 1987 production of her father's internationally renowned musical comedy adaptation of A Christmas Carol when she was just a few months old.
Subsequently, she played the Ghost of Christmas Past in several productions at the theater, and she later starred as Helen Keller alongside her mother (who played Annie Sullivan) in a production of The Miracle Worker, under her father's direction.
Wood began her "professional" acting career in the late 1990s, appearing in several television series, including American Gothic and Once and Again. That same year she also had a role in Practical Magic, a family fantasy film directed by Griffin Dunne and starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman.
Wood's first major screen role was in the low-budget 1998 film Digging to China, which also starred Kevin Bacon and Mary Stuart Masterson. The film won the Children's Jury Award at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival.
She made her debut as a leading film actress in Little Secrets in 2002. She played aspiring 14-year-old concert violinist Emily Lindstrom. She was nominated for Best Leading Young Actress at the Young Artist Awards. That same year, Wood played a supporting role in the Andrew Niccol-directed science fiction satirical drama film, S1m0ne, which starred Al Pacino.
Her performance was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Actress - Drama and for a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Best Actress.
She followed Thirteen in a supporting role opposite Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones in Ron Howard's The Missing, in which she played the kidnapped daughter, Lilly Gilkeson.
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In 2005, Wood appeared in the Mike Binder-directed The Upside of Anger, opposite Kevin Costner and Joan Allen, a well-reviewed film in which Wood played Lavender "Popeye" Wolfmeyer, one of four sisters dealing with their father's absence.
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Wood, who has described the music of The Beatles as a major part of her life, played Lucy. The film featured her singing musical numbers and she describes the role as her favorite.
In Down in the Valley, Wood's character, Tobe, falls in love with an older man, a cowboy played by Edward Norton. In 2005, Wood starred in the music videos for Bright Eyes' "At the Bottom of Everything" and Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends."
In 2008, Wood starred in The Life Before Her Eyes, based on the Laura Kasischke novel of the same name, about the friendship of two teens of opposite character who are involved in a Columbine-like shooting incident at their school.
In the same year, she also co-starred in director Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, winner of the Golden Lion Award for Best Film at the Venice Film Festival. Wood played Stephanie, Randy "Ram" Robinson's estranged daughter.
Wood also co-starred in Woody Allen's Whatever Works, which premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. She plays the young wife of Larry David's character.
In May 2009, she played Juliet in six fundraising performances of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Theater In The Park. The production was directed by her brother, who also starred.