The great character actor John C. Reilly was born in Chicago in 1965 to an Irish-American family. He became interested in acting at DePaul University, where he studied at the Goodman School of Drama. He made his professional debut with Chicago's Organic Theatre, where he wrote and directed a series of monologues, "Walkin' the Boogie"; he then joined the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre, appearing in "Othello" and Noah Joad, Tom's brother, in "The Grapes of Wrath".
Reilly has what one reviewer calls an "unglamorous appearance", which means he looks like a real guy, not a chisel-cheeked screen god, with a lumpy nose and a heavy brow. His looks impart to him an everyman quality that, coupled with his talent, makes him a very versatile actor who can take on a bewildering variety of roles and do them justice.
Reilly first appeared on the silver screen in 1989's "Casualties of War" and "We're No Angels" (both of which featured Sean Penn); he was originally cast in a smaller role in "Casualties", but director Brian de Palma was so impressed with Reilly's acting ability that he gave him a bigger and pivotal role. He has continued to work steadily since then, appearing in "Days of Thunder" and "State of Grace" (1990), Woody Allen's "Shadow and Fog" (1991), and "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993). He often plays cops, but can play good guys and bad equally convincing, as he proved in a juicy role as a villain in "The River Wild" (1994). The next year he appeared in "Dolores Claiborne" and "Georgia", earning him further notice with his convincing acting skills.
In 1996 Reilly began a collaboration with director Paul Thomas Anderson which has showed off his great acting talent. Anderson has cast him so far "Hard Eight" (1996) as well as the critically acclaimed "Boogie Nights" (1997) and "Magnolia" (1999). He continues to appear on the stage as well, most recently in the play "True West" with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Over the last few months I've seen Reilly in "Gangs of New York", "The Hours", and "Chicago", and though his roles in these movies are not starring ones, he stands out as a believable and interesting supporting character in each. Expect to see lots more from this talented man.
Reilly is married to producer and screenwriter Alison Dickey.