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An actor of laid-back charm and natural talent, handsome leading man Dermot Mulroney embodied both toughness and vulnerability in a wide array of roles. After spending the 1990s crafting intimate roles in well-regarded indie films, Mulroney first entered the mainstream spotlight as Holly Hunter's doomed police partner in the serial killer flick "Copycat" (1995) but made his biggest impact as romantic leading man to Julia Roberts in the blockbuster romantic comedy, "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997). His role in the latter film was so highly identifiable with Mulroney, that he spent the next decade diversifying his résumé with various character parts in films like "Lovely & Amazing" (2001), a hilarious turn in "About Schmidt" (2002), and even a recurring arc on "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) as Rachel Green's sketchy coworker. But he ultimately returned to the romantic comedy fold with a series of highly enjoyable portrayals in "The Wedding Date" (2005), "Must Love Dogs" (2005) and "The Family Stone" (2005). He branched out once again with supporting turns in David Fincher's serial killer thriller "Zodiac" (2007) and the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading" (2008), but was lost in the shuffle in "Abduction"...
An actor of laid-back charm and natural talent, handsome leading man Dermot Mulroney embodied both toughness and vulnerability in a wide array of roles. After spending the 1990s crafting intimate roles in well-regarded indie films, Mulroney first entered the mainstream spotlight as Holly Hunter's doomed police partner in the serial killer flick "Copycat" (1995) but made his biggest impact as romantic leading man to Julia Roberts in the blockbuster romantic comedy, "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997). His role in the latter film was so highly identifiable with Mulroney, that he spent the next decade diversifying his résumé with various character parts in films like "Lovely & Amazing" (2001), a hilarious turn in "About Schmidt" (2002), and even a recurring arc on "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) as Rachel Green's sketchy coworker. But he ultimately returned to the romantic comedy fold with a series of highly enjoyable portrayals in "The Wedding Date" (2005), "Must Love Dogs" (2005) and "The Family Stone" (2005). He branched out once again with supporting turns in David Fincher's serial killer thriller "Zodiac" (2007) and the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading" (2008), but was lost in the shuffle in "Abduction" (2011) and "J. Edgar" (2011). Despite a relatively low profile later in his career, Mulroney remained busy as a character actor in several movies a year.
Born on Oct. 31, 1963 in his parents' native Iowa and raised in the Rosemont section of Alexandria, VA, Mulroney was the middle child of five. Mulroney's mother, Ellen, was an actress-turned-homemaker while his father, Michael, was a tax lawyer who went on to teach at Villanova University. His dual creative life took shape in the summer of 1971, when at age seven, he took up the cello and acted in his first play - one of several in which he would perform locally as a child. The family was very musical, with all siblings eventually taking up a wide array of instruments, but for Mulroney, both acting and music became intertwined passions. Spending his early educational years at Maury Elementary and George Washington Junior High, Mulroney moved on to T.C. Williams High School, playing the part of both athlete and artist; simultaneously juggling his time on the school's crew team, along with performing in stage productions and in half a dozen youth concerts as its cellist. Mulroney was so multifaceted, that after attending the famous Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan during the summer of 1979, he came to realize that he preferred music as a personal interest and not a career choice; focusing instead on improving his dramatic chops.
Graduating high school in 1981, Mulroney headed to Chicago to study under the TV, Radio and Film department at Northwestern University, where he immersed himself in all elements of production. Charming his way into some acting classes with his continued love of the stage, Mulroney appeared in the school's improv shows "The Mee-Ow Show" and Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado." Just before he graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor's degree in Music and Film, a senior agent from Hollywood's elite William Morris Agency was in town to recruit local talent. Mulroney prepped a monologue from Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" and auditioned. Impressing the agent, he was signed to the agency, and that summer moved to Los Angeles. Mulroney quickly began appearing in television roles that utilized his youthful looks, nabbing the role of Bill Bixby's son who falls for his new step-sister in CBS' "Sin of Innocence" (1986). The year 1986 quickly turned into a busy one, as Mulroney found himself cast in teen-in-peril roles, such as the drug-addicted teen in the CBS Afterschool Special, "The Drug Knot" (1986). He had a national spotlight cast upon him the following year when teen pregnancy became the pressing order of ABC's "Daddy" (1987), in which Mulroney played a teen musician who unexpectedly becomes a father.
Beginning with HBO's telefilm "Long Gone" (1987), Mulroney started to break out of the troubled youth mode, with the actor playing an Alabama-born baseball player recruited to a struggling minor league team, even recruiting his own mother to portray his fictional one. Eager to prove his ability on the big screen, he had his first stint in a feature film, Blake Edwards' Beverly Hills whodunit "Sunset" (1987), but made his first real splash as the hunky but nasty gunslinger "Dirty Steve" in the hit "Brat Pack" Western, "Young Guns" (1988). On the personal side of things, he had also taken on the role of boyfriend after befriending his "Survival Quest" (1989) co-star Catherine Keener during its 1987 production. The couple lived together for close to three years, before tying the knot in 1990.
Proving adept at projects of varying sizes, Mulroney was also willing to push himself to the depths of challenging, smaller material. He had a notable role as a dying AIDS patient in the independent drama "Longtime Companion" (1990), a seminal early film dealing with the media's treatment of homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. In 1991, he appeared in the Western-flavored coming of age drama "Bright Angel," forging a strong working relationship with a personal hero, his co-star Sam Shepard, who would later handpick the actor for his own Western, "Silent Tongue" (1994). His recent projects had steered him more towards characters on the cusp of manhood, most reflected in a big screen drama about maturing runaways in L.A., "Where the Day Takes You" (1992), a who's-who of rising Hollywood talent. Off the screen, he continued his musical ventures, playing cello and mandolin on then newcomer Melissa Etheridge's Never Enough album.
Returning to the world of studio filmmaking in 1993, Mulroney was less-than-fulfilled as assassin Bridget Fonda's clueless boyfriend in the slick action vehicle "Point of No Return" (1993), but put his talents to better use co-starring in Peter Bogdanovich's country music tale "The Thing Called Love" (1993). The film re-teamed Mulroney with his "Silent Tongue" co-star and friend River Phoenix in the latter's final completed role before dying of a drug overdose later that year. The earnest film also allowed Mulroney to display his musical chops onscreen by writing and performing the song "Someone Else's Used Guitar." Mulroney quickly became one of several semi-regular actors of indie filmmaker Tom DiCillo - a group which included Keener and their friend, actor Steve Buscemi. All three appeared in the cult favorite "Living in Oblivion" (1995), expanded from DiCillo's 1994 short, "Scene Six, Take One," with Mulroney associate producing and reprising the beloved role of masculine, eye patch-sporting cinematographer Wolf.
In 1996, Mulroney's music received some public visibility with the release of his band The Low & Sweet Orchestra's Goodbye to All That, which explored a mash of rock, punk and folk styles. At the MTV Movie Awards, the actor shared a "Best Kiss" accolade with Winona Ryder for the adaptation of "How to Make an American Quilt" (1996), which all but ensured a one-way ticket to romantic lead status. Mulroney looked to shift that status into edgy territory, first doing time as a small-time lowlife in Robert Altman's ode to 1930s "Kansas City" (1996) before causing tension as the unpredictable bachelor fumbling through the blackouts of "The Trigger Effect" (1996). Heartthrob status was unavoidable, however, when Mulroney won the part of Michael, a groom-to-be with a smitten female best friend (Julia Roberts) in "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997). Filming on location in Chicago gave the actor a first taste of the press' obsession with tracking stars like Roberts, so despite huge box office returns and an expected return to hunky form for his next project, Mulroney was reluctant to become just another generic romantic foil.
Mulroney turned once more to a string of independent films, culminating with a celebrated pair of completely different parts - a comatose man in "The Safety of Objects" (2001) and a caddish TV actor in Nicole Holofcener's "Lovely & Amazing" (2001). Eschewing his usual sex appeal, he soon won raves as Jack Nicholson's dim-witted, mullet-sporting son-in-law-to-be in Alexander Payne's Oscar-nominated "About Schmidt" (2002). He still had to audition for the coveted role of Randall, but later showed his commitment to playing against his looks by donning a hairpiece and shaving off most of his real hair. After almost a decade off the small screen and as a favor to real-life friend Jennifer Aniston, Mulroney took immediately to his first ever sitcom, scoring laughs in a three-episode arc as Rachel's (Aniston) smarmy co-worker on "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004).
Perhaps finally comfortable with the attention heaped upon his handsome features, Mulroney was in a position to choose his roles and willing to balance the lighter Hollywood fare with the more intense dramas. The unassuming, Southern father in David Gordon Green's "Undertow" (2004) was a far cry from the titular swoon-inducing escort-for-hire of "The Wedding Date" (2005). What was intended as a Debra Messing comedy vehicle turned out to be a scene stealer for Mulroney. Though he and Keener split after 15 years of marriage that Christmas, Mulroney carried on, starring as the eldest sibling of a dysfunctional family in the breezy surprise hit "The Family Stone" (2005), co-starring yet another top notch comedienne, Sarah Jessica Parker.
In 2007, his career fully reflected his career balancing act. With his sobering portrait of a police captain caught up in the murder spree of the real-life serial killer of "Zodiac" (2007) fully behind him, he co-starred in Garry Marshall's family comedy "Georgia Rule" (2007), playing a small town veterinarian fending off the amorous attention of a wayward 18-year-old (Lindsay Lohan). After playing the father of a rebellious would-be soccer player (Carly Schroeder) in "Gracie" (2007), he had a small part in the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading" (2008), before starring opposite Greg Kinnear and Lauren Graham in "Flash of Genius" (2008). Meanwhile, he and estranged wife Keener finalized their divorce in 2007. Later that year, he became engaged to Tharita Catulle and married her in early 2008. He next had a small part in the action thriller "Abduction" (2011), playing Taylor Lautner's biological father, and was lost in the shuffle as Colonel Schwarzkopf in Clint Eastwood's acclaimed biopic "J. Edgar" (2011), starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover. He then portrayed one of several ill-fated survivors of a plane crash in the Alaskan wildness who are hunted down by a pack of wolves in "The Grey" (2012).
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Mulroney plays the cello, mandolin and guitar. He and his brother Kieran belong to a band called the Low and Sweet Orchestra. Once called the Sweet and Low Orchestra, the band's original name constituted copyright infringement in the private sector (a certain sugar substitute took umbrage).
With Iowa in his background, he has something in common with John Wayne: "I've seen his boyhood home [in Winterset]; they have a roadside attraction there. My father always identified with the Duke. In fact he once gave me what he considered a compliment--I'm still not sure how to take it. After he'd seen me in five or six things, he said, 'Son, your mother and I really enjoyed your recent film, and I must say that you're a lot like John Wayne.' And I said, 'How so?' And he said, 'Well, you're exactly the same in all your roles.' Now, as a modern American actor, that's not what you want to hear. But for a guy who watched John Wayne movies and grew up in Iowa, it's a sterling compliment." --Dermot Mulroney to Graham Fuller in Interview, June 1997
Recalling an afternoon making "My Best Friend's Wedding" when he and co-star Julia Roberts shot scenes on a boat traveling under Chicago's many bridges: "On practically every bridge, some pedestrian would scream, 'Julia, I love you!' But about halfway through the day, we passed under a bridge and I heard a man go, 'Hey, Dermot.' And I thought, all right. It might be 100 to 1, but I'm on the board. It turned out to be a friend of mine from college. I respect him for not screaming for Julia. At least he had the dignity to say hello to me." --Mulroney quoted in US, July 1997
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