With an exotically beautiful appearance attributable to her Canadian mother and Uzbekistani-Jewish father, brunette actress Liane Balaban was born in North York, Ontario, in 1980, and grew up in nearby Willowdale, where her parents worked as a medical secretary and a real estate agent. Balaban never seriously intended to become an actress, but a chance encounter with Canuck producer Julia Sereny (April One) — who reportedly lived in the same neighborhood as her aunt and uncle and became acquainted with the young woman via holiday dinners — changed all that. Sereny invited Balaban to audition for the low-budget drama The New Waterford Girl (1999), to be directed by Allan Moyle (Pump up the Volume). She not only landed the lead role of doe-eyed teenager Agnes-Marie “Moonie” Pottie in that film, but received a Special Jury Congratulation at the Toronto Film Festival and snagged a nomination at the annual Canadian Comedy Awards. Those successes set the young woman on the path to stardom, and though she spent her first several years as a thespian in mostly Canadian efforts — such as the 2001 feature After the Harvest and the 2006 miniseries Above and Beyond — she eventually began to branch out into Hollywood roles, commencing in 2008 with a turn as the bride-to-be daughter of Dustin Hoffman in the low-key romantic drama Last Chance Harvey (2008) and a small supporting turn in the Ryan Reynolds/Isla Fisher romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe (2008).