In her first lead role, Romijn-Stamos is cast in Rollerball, a 2002 remake of the 1970s futuristic thriller with Chris Klein. While the film bombs ($18.9 million at the box office), Rollerball director John McTiernan recommends her to Brian De Palma who casts her in his erotic thriller Femme Fatale (left). "I tend to get a lot of scripts for the 'dirty, sexy, nasty, dangerous girl,'" Romijn-Stamos tells Marie Claire. "People think I'm some oversexed wild woman. And I'm not."
Her marriage to Stamos (right), which had been rocky the year before, now appears beyond repair. In April 2004, the couple calls it quits. "To have to keep re-establishing that 'couple' rhythm if you've been gone for months on end is really, really hard," Romijn tells Newsweek in 2006. "It was so complicated, and people wanted an explanation and there isn't one. It's deep and it's complicated and it's nobody's business but ours." She drops the hyphen in 2005 when the divorce is finalized.
While working on her documentary Wet Dreams about the fountains at Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Romijn meets actor Jerry O'Connell (left) in Las Vegas. "We met Jerry at a party," Romijn tells PEOPLE. "We told him what we were doing and he was like, 'You're making a documentary out of this? I want to be the boom operator!' He was totally game." The two stars eventually begin dating and get engaged the following year.
Romijn makes her series lead debut as a klutzy reporter in the WB's Pepper Dennis (right). "She's on the cusp of impressing people in an entirely new way," director Shawn Levy tells In Style. "Rebecca's willingness to make fun of herself and play with her image is courageous. It's an endearing trait, and it's rare." But the show is unsuccessful and wraps after only one season.
Romijn returns to modeling when she graces the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2006 Swimsuit Issue as an All-Star SI Cover Model. Given a chance to reflect on her most memorable swimsuit shoots, Romijn tells SI.com the Kalahari Desert was "spectacular," but adds: "I would never have gone on my own in a million years. It looks like you're on a different planet." The following year, she becomes the face of fashion brand Bebe.
Romijn joins America Ferrera (right) and Vanessa Williams on ABC's new hit series Ugly Betty as Alex "Alexis" Meade, a post-op male-to-female transsexual editor, aiming to take over her father's publishing empire. "I've had a lot of people ask, 'How does it feel to be a man?'" she tells Marie Claire. "My response is, I'm not playing a man. I'm playing a woman, and Alexis loves being a woman. And so do I! And she's very girly. And so am I! But she's also really lonely. That's where we're different."
Romijn wears a Ralph Lauren gown and Neil Lane jewelry as she and O'Connell (left) exchange vows in the backyard of their Calabasas, Calif. home. The guest list includes 100 family and friends – and Taco and Better, the couple's two dogs, sporting black bow ties for the occasion. After the ceremony, guests dine at picnic tables, dance under the moonlight and trade strappy sandals for flip flops. "Jerry and I couldn't be happier," Romijn tells PEOPLE.
Appearing on the August cover of Self, Romijn expresses her desire to have a baby. "Hopefully, I'll have children, if I'm lucky enough," the 34-year-old Ugly Betty star says. Romijn is apparently extra lucky: she and O'Connell welcome twins girls, Dolly and Charlie, on December 28.
Romijn has her hands full with twins Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip. But "she's the most relaxed mom I've ever seen," actress Lindsay Price, who costarred with Romijn in the short-lived ABC series Eastwick, tells PEOPLE. "With twins and the demanding schedule of one-hour television, she keeps her cool. She never drops a line. She's completely present. I don't know how she does it."
Following in their model mom's footsteps, Romijn's twin girls make their debut in the June issue of InStyle. "Being a mom makes me feel whole and like I understand the meaning of life," the actress gushes. The new mom also enjoys sharing her style sense with her daughters, saying, "I know they're going to have a lot to say by the time they turn 2, so until then I get to dress them however I want."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Everett Collection; Tony Barson/WireImage; Chris Weeks/WireImage; The WB; David Buchan/ Pacific Coast News; Joe Buissink; INF