Date of Birth: September 4, 1978
Born the second son of two Methodist preachers in Arkansas, Wes Bentley was encouraged by his mother
to apply to Juilliard, where he spent a year studying acting and earning his first roles in
plays. The process of learning wasn't always easy, as personal group critiques were part of the
curriculum, and Bentley didn't take it too well. He picked up the book The Tao of Pooh, and
about three-quarters the way through, reverted to Taoism.
This serenity would come in handy when Bentley began looking for his first professional part. While
waiting to audition at an open call for the Broadway musical Rent, Bentley was tapped by a
casting agent to read for a movie. He utilized his Juilliard dramatic skills at no fewer than seven
callbacks before landing the part. Unfortunately, audiences haven't seen any celluloid evidence
that the film even exists. As Bentley told Vanity Fair in 1999, "I don't know where the movie
He then appeared as an anguished guitarist in the German indie film Three Before Zero and in a
blink-and-you-missed-it part as a rapist in the Jonathan Demme/Oprah Winfrey clunker Beloved.
But it was Bentely's performance as Ricky Fitts, a teenage drug dealer/philosophical
videographer in American Beauty that caught the attention of Hollywood. The film, which won
the Golden Globe for Best Drama and starred Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening, was well-received
by critics and the public alike. He followed it up with Kingdom Come, an epic love story set
during the California Gold Rush and directed by Michael Winterbottom. Other cast members
include Milla Jovovich, Nastassja Kinski, Peter Mullan, and Sarah Polley. A subsequent
project, Soul Survivors, was a "really interesting thriller," enthused Bentley. "I play a very smart guy who's going to Harvard, but he's obsessed with this girl and gets caught up with that."
More recently, Bentley played Heath Ledger's best friend in the epic The Four Feathers (2002), a soccer player in The Game of Their Lives (2005) opposite Gerard Butler and Adleman Lusk in Jonah Hex (2010) opposite Josh Brolin. He also appears in the 2012 film The Hunger Games alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, and several other big names.
In September 2001, he married Jennifer Quanz.