Camilla Belle was on the cusp of Hollywood stardom until a big action-adventure flop derailed her acting career. Belle had success early as a child actress. She made her big-screen debut in Alfonso Cuarón’s 1995 adaptation of the 1939 classic Shirley Temple film “A Little Princess.” Belle also appeared in “Lost World: Jurassic Park” as Cathy Bowman, a young girl attacked on the beach by dinosaurs, and she played a young Sally (Sandra Bullock’s character) in “Practical Magic.” She earned favorable reviews (and a Gotham Independent Film nomination) playing Rose Slavin in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose ” opposite three-time Oscar winner Daniel-Day Lewis and indie film darling Catherine Keener. David Ansen of Newsweek said of Belle’s performance, “Belle uses her blank, doll-like beauty to unnerving effect: she has the vulnerability — and the amorality — of an unbroken colt.”
In 2006, Camilla Belle, like many up-and-coming actresses, starred in a horror film, the 2006 remake of 1979’s “When a Stranger Calls.” Belle played Jill Johnson, a teenage babysitter terrorized by a deranged killer. The film received negative reviews across the board, but the movie recouped its $15 million budget and then some, earning $67 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). Her next project was her highest-profile movie to date, but instead of making her an in-demand actress, it led her down a path of near obscurity.
“10,000 BC” is an action blockbuster that saw director Roland Emmerich adapting his high-octane style (he’s responsible for movies like “Independence Day” and “2012”) for a period piece set in the stone age. The film is about a community of hunter-gatherers who must confront an advanced civilization that begins to encroach on their territory. Steven Strait stars as D’Leh, one of the community’s best mammoth hunters, and Camilla Belle plays Evolet, a young woman from a nearby tribe who becomes D’Leh’s love interest.
That might sound like an amazing idea on paper but according to both audiences and critics, the movie ended up being a total dud. “10,000 BC” was a box office success, raking in over $269 million worldwide when it premiered in 2008 (via Box Office Mojo), but moviegoers clearly didn’t like what they saw, as evidenced by the paltry 37% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. “10,000 BC” fared even worse with critics and sits at 9% on the Tomatometer.
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly spoke for many when she wrote, “Neither grand enough to be impressive nor antic enough to be charming, the movie settles for bland and frantic …” In his review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott deemed the cast’s performances “wooden,” while Peter Travers from Rolling Stone described Belle’s Evolet as “made up and muscle-toned like the attraction on America’s Next Top Lifeless Mannequin.” Ouch.
Following “10,000 BC,” Camilla Belle continued to work in front of the camera and co-starred in over a dozen films. However, not many of them will ring any recognition bells for your average movie fan.
Do you recall “Push,” a 2009 superhero action flick that starred a pre-MCU Chris Evans? What about “Father of Invention,” a 2010 comedy about a disgraced infomercial entrepreneur that has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes? Or “Cavemen,” a 2013 indie about four men who live in a loft together in Los Angeles that opened in a total of 12 theaters according to Box Office Mojo?
We’re going to go out on a limb and say the answer to those questions is a resounding “No” and that should give you an idea of the state of Belle’s film career post-“10,000 BC.” She did take on a few interesting projects during that period, such as the Brazilian drama “Adrift” and the 2012 thriller “Open Road,” but for the most part, it has mostly been downhill since her portrayal of Evolet. Belle has, however, made some significant career moves behind the scenes since then.
Of late, Camilla Belle has been focusing on philanthropy and working behind the camera. In 2016, she directed the documentary “Looking at the Stars” about a ballet school for the blind in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2017, Belle appeared in “The Mad Whale, which co-starred James Franco, who also served as a producer. All proceeds from the movie went to the nonprofit group, The Art of Elysium, co-founded by the actress (via Hamptons Magazine).
Another cause close to Belle’s heart is the One Love Foundation. Following the death of UVA student Yeardley Love who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend, Love’s mother Sharon and sister Lexie founded the organization to teach young people the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to identify and avoid abuse. In 2019, Belle directed a video short for the foundation’s second annual #LoveBetter campaign.
Camilla Belle continues to direct. She was one of five filmmakers to contribute to the horror anthology film “Phobias” (2021), about test subjects at a government-run facility who suffer from extreme phobias (via Variety).