Date of Birth: December 9, 1953
While John Malkovich has earned a reputation as one of the most innovative screen stars of his generation, he doesn't take compliments well. When asked about his critical accolades following the release of Of Mice and Men, his response was, "I don't think talent is anything to be flattered about. I have a facility for what I do, but so what? It's only because I don't have to make a living in car repairs that I seem like a cool guy. If I had to make a living doing car repairs, I wouldn't seem like a cool guy at all. I'd seem like a jerk."
At the age of seven, the Illinois-born actor attended a production of Our Town, and was profoundly affected. But it wasn't until he hung around the drama department with his girlfriend at Eastern Illinois University, that he decided upon theater. He then transferred to Illinois State in search of a more sound drama program.
There, Malkovich landed the lead in a student production of The Lover. When he eventually left Illinois State without a degree in 1976, he ran into old pal Gary Sinise, who had founded a local theater in the basement of a church building. It eventually became the Steppenwolf Theater Company. Malkovich appeared in over 50 Steppenwolf productions staged within a span of six years.
In 1982, he scored his first New York-theater triumph alongside Sinise in an off-Broadway revival of True West. By 1984, Malkovich had made his big-screen debut in The Killing Fields and Places in the Heart, released later that same year. His portrayal in the latter earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
Though he remained heavily involved in theater, both with Steppenwolf and in other venues, Malkovich's movie career burgeoned steadily with seven roles over the next four years. In 1988's Dangerous Liaisons, opposite Glenn Close, Malkovich proved himself a thoroughly competent leading man.
However, his career faltered slightly afterwards, losing steam through a string of little-seen character roles. A year later, Malkovich was back with a vengeance in In the Line of Fire's for which he garnered a second Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
With four movies in 1996 and with a lead role in Con Air following in 1997, Malkovich restored his cinematic profile to its pre-Liaisons glory. He resurfaced again in 1998's The Man in the Iron Mask, followed by the classic historic flick The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1998), and Being John Malkovich (1999), which fits into a category all its own.
More recent projects include Jonah Hex alongside Josh Brolin and Megan Fox, and Secretariat opposite Diane Lane (both 2010).
Malkovich lives with his second wife, Nicoletta Peyran, and their two children, in France.