We owe James Cameron for bringing us Jessica Alba. The writer-director chose her from more than a thousand candidates for the starring role in Dark Angel, his sci-fi series about a genetically-engineered super-soldier. Though it ran only two seasons, the show raised Alba’s profile, mainly by showcasing her beating on bad guys in tight-fitting assassin gear. Her exotic looks (she's Mestizo Mexican, French, and Danish) surely didn't hurt, either, and the action prepared her for films like Fantastic Four, Sin City, and Machete. But she also has a knack for physical comedy, taking a surprising number of pratfalls alongside Mike Meyers and Dane Cook. Some beautiful women try hard to be unapproachable; Alba takes the opposite tack. Her wide brown eyes always carry a trace of vulnerability, and in comedies she's the goofy-sexy girl you wish lived next door.