Julie Bowen graduated from Brown University, majoring in Italian Renaissance studies. As a student, she appeared in a handful of stage productions, as well as the independent film Five Spot Jewel. After graduating, she had a role in the daytime soap Loving.
After a recurring role in the television series Extreme, Bowen appeared as the love interest to Adam Sandler in the comedy film Happy Gilmore. This led to roles in other films such as Multiplicity and An American Werewolf in Paris, as well as a recurring role in the NBC series ER. In 2000, she joined the cast of the television series Ed, playing high school teacher Carol Vessey. She held the role until the series wrapped up in 2004.
In 2005, Bowen joined the cast of Boston Legal, playing troubled attorney Denise Bauer. That same year, she took a recurring role on Lost, appearing as Jack Shepherd's (Matthew Fox) estranged wife Sarah. She joined the cast of the ABC comedy Modern Family in 2009, playing flustered housewife Claire Dunphy; it earned her an Emmy nomination in 2010, and an Emmy win the following year.
Bowen married software engineer Scott Phillips, with whom she has three children, in 2004.
- Five Spot Jewel (1992)
- Confessions of A Sleep Addict (1996)
- Happy Gilmore (1996)
- Multiplicity (1996)
- An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)
- You're Killing Me... (2001)
- Amy's Orgasm (2001)
- Venus and Mars (2001)
- Joe Somebody (2001)
- Kids in America (2005)
- Partner(s) (2005)
- Sex and Death 101 (2007)
- Crazy on the Outside (2010)
- Loving (regular, 1992)
- Extreme (recurring, 1995)
- Three (recurring, 1998)
- ER (recurring, 1998-1999)
- Ed (regular, 2000-2004)
- Jake in Progress (recurring, 2005)
- Boston Legal (regular, 2005-2008)
- Lost (recurring, 2005-2007)
- Weeds (recurring, 2008)
- Modern Family (regular, 2009-present)