John C. Reilly Biography

John C. Reilly photo

Born: May 24, 1965


Date of Birth: May 24, 1965

John C. Reilly is an actor whose name is barely known, yet his face is almost always recognizable. Born and raised in Chicago as the fifth of six children, Reilly was the product of a rough neighborhood on Chicago's Southwest side. Tagging along with a friend to a drama class one day, Reilly fell in love with it and began performing in local theater at the age of eight. Attending a boy's Catholic high school, Reilly would go to the girl's Catholic high school to do plays. After studying at the Goodman School of Drama, he began acting professionally at Chicago's fabled Steppenwolf Theatre.

In 1988, a videotape of Reilly's work found its way to director Brian De Palma, who was looking for actors for his Vietnam War drama, Casualties of War starring Sean Penn. After a month, Reilly got a call telling him he had to fly to Thailand. Originally cast to play a guy who gets his arm blown off in the first 10 minutes, DePalma liked Reilly's work so much in rehearsals that he re-cast him in a major supporting role. It was Reilly's film debut as well as his first plane ride and trip outside the Midwest. Not only did he go on to make his next two pictures with Penn (We're No Angels, State of Grace), but he also fell in love and later married Penn's development person, now film producer Alison Dickey, with whom he shares a son.

Reilly then went on to pad his resumé with roles in such high-profile projects as Days of Thunder, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, The River Wild, Dolores Claiborne, Georgia, The Thin Red Line, Never Been Kissed and For Love of the Game. He is also among the acting ensemble of Paul Thomas Anderson's films, having appeared in his first three features.

Reilly and Anderson first hooked up at the Sundance New Filmmakers Workshop, where upcoming filmmakers are given the chance to cast professional actors for video projects. Two years before shooting his first feature Hard Eight, Anderson attended the workshop and Reilly was his first choice from the talent pool. Anderson knew all of Reilly's work and they immediately clicked. Starring opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and Philip Baker Hall, Reilly played John, a young gambler. Working with Anderson again, he played porn star Reed Rothcild in Boogie Nights (1997) and policeman Jim Kurring in Magnolia (1999). In 2003, he received nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Oscars for his supporting role in the musical Chicago (2002).

He built on his Chicago success with roles in big Hollywood pictures such as The Hours (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), Criminal (2004), Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) and Step Brothers (2008). He also starred in Carnage (2011) and We Need to Talk about Kevin (2012).

His most recent efforts include Life After Beth (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Lobster (2016), the animated film Sing (2016) with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, and the action adventure Kong: Skull Island (2017) with Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson.

In 2004, he made a stand and demonstrated his strong principles when he quit director Lars Von Trier's Manderlay to protest the killing of a donkey for the film.

He still finds it hard to call Hollywood home. He lives in the Silver Lake district of L.A. with his wife, producer Alison Dickey, and their two children.


Holmes and Watson (2018)
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Sing (2016)
The Lobster (2015)
Tale of Tales (2015)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
When Marnie Was There (2014)
Life After Beth (2014)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)
Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
Carnage (2011)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Cedar Rapids (2011)
9 (2009)
Step Brothers (2008)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Year of the Dog (2007)
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
A Prairie Home Companion (2006)
Dark Water (2005)
Criminal (2004)
Anger Management (2003)
The Hours (2002)
Chicago (2002)
Gangs of New York (2002)
The Good Girl (2002)
The Anniversary Party (2001)
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Magnolia (1999)
For Love of the Game (1999)
Never Been Kissed (1999)
The Thin Red Line (1998)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
The River Wild (1994)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Days of Thunder (1990)
Casualties of War (1989)
Change Location