Travelled to Australia after high school
Enrolled in film studies at University of Texas
Appeared in student films and local commercials in Texas
After meeting casting director Don Phillips in an Austin bar he was cast in "Dazed and Confused" (1993)
Feature acting debut, "My Boyfriend's Back"
First significant film role, Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused"; character initially in only three scenes but role grew to more than 300 lines
Co-starred with Renee Zellweger in "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (later edited and reissued in 1997)
Cast in "Boys on the Side" as Drew Barrymore's love interest, policeman Abe Lincoln
Portrayed Sheriff Buddy Deeds, suspected of killing his predecessor (Kris Kristofferson), in John Sayles' "Lone Star"
Breakthrough role as lawyer Jake Brigance in "A Time to Kill," based on John Grisham's novel and co-starring Sandra Bullock
Formed J.K. Livin' Productions; name taken from his "Dazed and Confused" character's motto "Just keep livin'"
Co-starred with Bullock in her short film "Making Sandwiches"; also co-produced
Played Jodie Foster's love interest in "Contact" and an attorney defending the rebellious slaves of the "Amistad"
Re-teamed with Linklater as one of "The Newton Boys"
Directed (also wrote and co-starred) the 20-minute short "The Rebel"
Portrayed the lead in Ron Howard's "EDtv"
Starred as Lt. Andrew Tyler, executive officer to Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgrin (Bill Paxton) in "U-571"
Acted opposite Jennifer Lopez in "The Wedding Planner"
Played an ambitious young lawyer in the ensemble drama "13 Conversations About One Thing"
Co-starred with Kate Hudson in the romantic comedy "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days"
Starred with Steve Zahn and Penélope Cruz in "Sahara"
Played a thirtysomething slacker who still lives with his parents in the romantic comedy "Failure to Launch"
Starred in "We Are Marshall" as head coach Jack Lengyel who helped resurrect the Marshall University football squad after a 1970 plane crash that killed most of the players and coaches
Re-teamed with Kate Hudson to star in "Fool's Gold"
Played Ben Stiller's loyal agent in "Tropic Thunder"
Co-starred with Jennifer Garner in the romantic comedy "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"
Played a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney in the thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer"
Played title role in crime thriller "Killer Joe," directed by William Friedkin
Cast as the owner of a male strip club in "Magic Mike," directed by Steven Soderbergh
Co-starred with Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy"
Starred as the title character in Jeff Nichols' "Mud"
Portrayed Ron Woodroof in the AIDS-themed drama "Dallas Buyers Club"
Featured in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street"