John C. Reilly

John C. Reilly

Actor
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Life Story

Character actor, dramatic leading man, or hilarious comic foil? With an astonishing range of roles already under his belt, John C. Reilly has played an eclectic host of rich characters to great effect over the years, from seedy ne'er-do-wells, to lovable, good-natured schlepps.

The fifth of six children, John Christopher Reilly was born in Chicago, to a father of mostly Irish descent, and a Lithuanian-American mother, and was brought up on Chicago's tough Southwest territory. His father, also named John, ran an industrial linen supply company business. On the amateur stage from age eight, Reilly trained at the Goodman School of Drama and eventually became a member of Chicago's renowned Steppenwolf Theatre.

His film break came with a small role in the Vietnam War drama Casualties of War (1989), wherein Brian De Palma liked his work so much during the early stages that he recast him in a major role by the start of shooting as a soldier bent on rape. Reilly gained momentum throughout the 1990s and showed his dazzling stretch of talent in such films as Days of Thunder (1990), Shadows and Fog (1991), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and The River Wild (1994). He became a major stock player in director Paul Thomas Anderson's films, while finding some of his best roles in Hard Eight (1996) as a compulsive gambler, Boogie Nights (1997) in which he played a narcissistic porn star, and in Magnolia (1999) as a compassionate policeman. He went on to earn further critical points for his role of the soldier sent to the front lines in Terrence Malick's war epic The Thin Red Line (1998).

Family

Alison Dickey (1992 - present) ( 2 children)

Trivia

Received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from DePaul University's Goodman School of Drama (Chicago) [1987]
Originated the role of Marty in the 2002 musical "Marty" (book by Rupert Holmes, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams), based on the 1955 movie Marty (1955).
In April 2004, he left the filming of Manderlay (2005) to be replaced by Slovenian actor Zeljko Ivanek. According to a report in Entertainment Weekly, he did so to protest against the killing of a donkey during production.
Attended DePaul University in Chicago.
John is a wonderful singer who came out of a musical theater background. He did all of his own singing in Chicago (2002).
In 2003, he starred in three out of the five movies nominated for Best Picture. They are Chicago (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), and The Hours (2002). All of these films were produced by Miramax Films.
Made a home video of himself singing in a bow tie and suit for director Rob Marshall who gave him his role in Chicago (2002).
John's father's ancestry was three quarters Irish, one eighth German, one sixteenth French-Canadian, and one sixteenth Scottish. John's maternal grandparents, Clemens Petronis and Veronica Strelciunas, were Lithuanian. He is the fifth of six children.
Director Antoine Fuqua wanted to cast him in his since aborted crime epic "Tru Blu" with Denzel Washington and Benicio Del Toro.
For not only his broad, almost 6' 2" frame, curly hair, and everyman's mug, but also his straight-forward but thoughtful acting style, Reilly has frequently been dubbed "his generation's Gene Hackman".
Was nominated for Broadway's 2000 Tony Award as Best Actor (Play) for a revival of Sam Shepard's "True West."
Graduated from Brother Rice High School on the South Side of Chicago.

Personal Quotes 

(On his reputation as "character actor" rather than leading man): I think there's something about me...that people can relate to. And, you know, beauty can be its own prison.
I grew up a Catholic and went regularly to church. When I made the decision to make acting my vocation, I used to joke that the theatre is my church now. But, especially doing live theatre, where you have to do eight performances in six days, you really have to kind of live like a monk. Then you go to this big, dark place and experience emotions, and it's very spiritual.
"The C stands for Christopher. You can blame the union for that. The Screen Actors Guild make you do it if there's another member with the same name. I wasn't going to change my name, so I just included the middle one. It was a decision I had to make on Casualties of War (1989), my first film in 1989. I got a phone call and had to fly out to Thailand where Brian De Palma was shooting and it was a sudden decision, and I'm stuck with it. So I'm glad I didn't go for a stupid and exotic-sounding name just to grab attention, or you could be talking to a man named Tallulah or something".
Not because I find fame difficult, but because I fear that if you're too well known, you lose the ability to surprise your audience and that's what I like my characters to do. I can still get away with it, I think. I mean, those kids in the lobby didn't know my name and I did an interview yesterday where they looked very confused when I walked in. Turns out they were expecting Philip Seymour Hoffman, though they didn't really know his name either - they just sort of said to me: 'Have you lost weight and dyed your hair?"
I was a bit of a freak, but because I had a few older brothers I was afforded protection and people just kind of let me join their gangs. I was a kind of Zelig figure, moving between different groups. I'd hang with the jocks, the burn-outs, the academic types and I could empathise with all of them. I was curious about all of them, but I know I never felt I fitted in with them, you know? It sounds odd saying it now, but I just wasn't right there - until I started doing plays and then it was, like: "Ah, my people."
In Chicago it's really a case of the play's the thing - people are just so happy to be acting, you know? We were all actors - not like in New York or Los Angeles, where everyone says they are actors but they are actually waiting tables and hustling for spots in commercials. We might not have been paid very much, but we were doing what we wanted to do and I got a lot of experience that way, a lot of versatility, so I was ready when a big chance came along.

Filmography

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