Born in Melbourne, Australia, Torv was the daughter of radio broadcaster Hans Torv and niece to media mogul Rupert Murdoch. She became estranged from her father during adolescence, and would go on to shun interview questions about their relationship in later years. After graduating from high school on Australia's Gold Coast, she attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art and graduated with a degree in Performing Arts in 2001. Her television career was launched with appearances on Australian series like the cop dramas "White Collar Blue" (Network Ten, 2002-03) and "Young Lions" (Nine Network, 2002). She also toured the country as Ophelia in a production of "Hamlet," and divided much of her early career between television and film and the stage.From 2004-05, she gained favorable notices with her turn as a young woman with an aversion to romantic commitments in the popular twenty-something series, "The Secret Life of Us" (Network Ten, 2001-05). This was followed by a turn in the unusual and award-winning thriller "The Book of Revelation" (2006), about a young man who is sexually assaulted by a trio of women. The challenging project preceded an even more rigorous turn as Chekhov's heroine Anya in "The Cherry Orchard" for the Sydney Theatre Company. Flush with a string of successes, Torv relocated to London to seek work, but found few opportunities. For a time, she supported herself through her credit cards and occasional small parts in BBC productions like "Frankenstein" (ITV, 2007). Torv also lent her voice and movement to the lead character, a female warrior named Noriko, in the Sony/Playstation 3 video game, "Heavenly Sword." The game's creators apparently appreciated Torv's performance enough to design the character to resemble her.After struggling for a year to find her way in England, she scored with a plum role as a gay bride who indulges in an affair with her wedding planner on the controversial series "Mistresses" (BBC One, 2008-2010). Her performance as the moody yet lusty Alex caught the attention of J.J. Abrams, who was casting for his new sci-fi series, "Fringe" (Fox, 2008-13). Torv beat out over 300 hopefuls to land the role of Olivia Dunham, a young and headstrong FBI agent who finds the stress of her job complicated by her new assignment: investigating a string of strange scientific and paranormal experiences which all appear to be connected. Torv earned praise from critics for her steely performance in her first leading role, and audiences responded with decent ratings for the fledgling series, though it remained in constant jeopardy of being canceled.