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A talented actor with exotic good looks, Adrian Pasdar bucked convention with his maverick approach to career-building. Debuting as a handsome fighter pilot in "Top Gun" (1986), Pasdar earned his stripes as a 1980s cult heartthrob with roles in the teen sci-fi adventure "Solarbabies" (1986) and Kathryn Bigelow's classic vampire Western "Near Dark" (1987). Unlike many of his more ambitious contemporaries, Pasdar proved willing to tackle unusual roles - such as a transvestite banker in the British indie comedy "Just Like a Woman" (1992) - and to take breaks from Hollywood, including a recuperative stint as a waiter/cashier at a New York diner. A small but juicy part in "Carlito's Way" (1993) served as a reminder of Pasdar's potential, and he wowed critics as the titular, amoral businessman on the groundbreaking dark dramedy "Profit" (Fox, 1995-96). Pasdar's star hummed along quietly as he married alpha Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, starred on the cult fave "Mysterious Ways" (NBC, 2000: PAX-TV, 2000-02) and filmed guest spots on "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005) and "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). His profile soared, however, with a leading role on the megahit "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-2010) where he...
A talented actor with exotic good looks, Adrian Pasdar bucked convention with his maverick approach to career-building. Debuting as a handsome fighter pilot in "Top Gun" (1986), Pasdar earned his stripes as a 1980s cult heartthrob with roles in the teen sci-fi adventure "Solarbabies" (1986) and Kathryn Bigelow's classic vampire Western "Near Dark" (1987). Unlike many of his more ambitious contemporaries, Pasdar proved willing to tackle unusual roles - such as a transvestite banker in the British indie comedy "Just Like a Woman" (1992) - and to take breaks from Hollywood, including a recuperative stint as a waiter/cashier at a New York diner. A small but juicy part in "Carlito's Way" (1993) served as a reminder of Pasdar's potential, and he wowed critics as the titular, amoral businessman on the groundbreaking dark dramedy "Profit" (Fox, 1995-96). Pasdar's star hummed along quietly as he married alpha Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, starred on the cult fave "Mysterious Ways" (NBC, 2000: PAX-TV, 2000-02) and filmed guest spots on "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005) and "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012). His profile soared, however, with a leading role on the megahit "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-2010) where he played Nathan Petrelli, a politician with the secret ability to fly. While Pasdar never fully reached the professional pinnacle his initial success seemed to promise, his surprising, quirky career choices hinted at the intelligent, offbeat persona behind the publicity - one that many fans continued to look forward to seeing in the most unexpected of places.
Born April 30, 1965 in Pittsfield, MA, Adrian Kayvan Pasdar was blessed with exotic good looks from a German-born mother and Iranian-born father. Pasdar grew up in Pennsylvania and after his parents' divorce when he was eight, the youth divided his time between America with his cardiac surgeon father and France with his travel agent mother. Excelling at high school athletics, he won a football scholarship to the University of Central Florida, where he majored in English. A serious jeep accident near the end of his freshman year left Pasdar in a wheelchair, face scarred and legs injured, effectively ending his sports and academic careers. Only after intensive physical therapy was Pasdar able to walk again, and he decided on a new life path: acting. During a theater internship in Pennsylvania, Pasdar was helping to construct a set when he cut off part of his thumb. This additional piece of bad luck proved fortuitous, however, when the ensuing disability payments allowed Pasdar to move to New York City to attend the Lee Strasberg Institute and begin auditioning for film roles. The 19-year-old's audition for "Top Gun" (1986) impressed director Tony Scott so much that he wrote the small part of "Chipper" especially for Pasdar. The worldwide blockbuster's success opened many doors for the handsome young actor, who quickly filmed memorable turns as an amateur boxer in "Streets of Gold" (1986) and as a desert-dwelling, mysterious youth in the post-apocalyptic teen adventure "Solarbabies" (1986).
Director Kathryn Bigelow handpicked Pasdar to star in her stylish horror Western "Near Dark" (1987) as Caleb Colton, a naïve cowboy drawn to a beautiful vampire and her murderous, makeshift family (including a young Bill Paxton). Despite an anemic box office performance, critics loved it and the film was eventually minted as an iconoclastic cult masterpiece. Although he seemed on-track to reach full-fledged movie stardom, Pasdar opted to quit performing for a year and moved to Europe. Upon his return to acting, Pasdar's talent and creativity remained intact, but his upward professional momentum was lost in a string of lackluster projects, including the TV adaptation of Keith Reddin's play "Big Time" (PBS, 1989), Susan Seidelman's mob comedy "Cookie" (1989), the med student drama "Vital Signs" (1990), and the title role in a fictionalized account of the life of the younger brother of gangster Al Capone in "The Lost Capone" (TNT, 1990). Arguably the lone bright spot during this period was the quirky British indie "Just Like a Woman" (1992) in which Pasdar played Gerald, a square-jawed banker who also enjoys wearing women's clothing. When his secret is revealed, he strikes up a romance with his supportive landlady (Julie Walters) and the twosome - plus Pasdar's female alter ego, Geraldine - whip up a brilliant plan to set all things right. Pasdar earned strong notices for his turn as Gerald/Geraldine, partly because he wore his heels with verve, and partly because he sensitively handled the character's predilection without condescension. Still, the lack of roles and the perception that his career was stalled caused the actor to take another sabbatical.
Again demonstrating an independence of mind and determination to seek out his own path, Pasdar left Hollywood and returned to New York, taking a job as waiter-cashier at the Vandam Diner in Manhattan as well as the occasional small character role. Reevaluating his career in this way helped recharge his professional batteries, and Pasdar opened a new chapter in his career by notching a minor but memorable role in Brian De Palma's "Carlito's Way" (1993) as a Mafioso murdered by Sean Penn's slimy lawyer character in an intense scene. He offered strong support to Anne Bancroft in the PBS remake of "Paddy Chayefsky's The Mother" (1994) and excelled as a playboy businessman discovering the true meaning of romance in the genial romantic comedy "The Pompatus of Love" (1995).
Pasdar made his directing debut with the well-received short "Beyond Belief" (1995), but on the acting front, he landed perhaps the best role of his career as Jim Profit, a mysterious and amoral businessman on the edgier-than-edgy corporate drama "Profit" (Fox, 1995-96). Raised in a cardboard shipping box and forced to watch TV nonstop by his abusive father, Profit grew up obsessed with infiltrating the company whose logo was stamped on his box, and would stop at nothing to rise to the corporation's peak. The show's dark tone terrified many viewers - many of whom started a call-in campaign to cancel the show, referring to Pasdar's character as "Satan in a Suit" - and consistently lost its "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99) lead-in audience, which infuriated producer Aaron Spelling. (Spelling already had an axe to grind with Pasdar, since the young actor had refused to meet with the powerhouse producer in 1992 for the role of Jake on "Melrose.") While only six episodes of the show ever aired, critics universally showered Pasdar and "Profit" with adulation, and its reputation continued to grow long after its demise. Pinpointed as an excellent show ahead of its time, "Profit" was recognized as a precursor of an entire genre of television featuring ambiguous morality and ruthless protagonists, including "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007), "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 2008-2013) and "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006- ).
Unfortunately, playing an upright attorney on his next series, the short-lived Dick Wolf CBS drama "Feds" (1996-97) did nothing to maintain Pasdar's resurgence, nor did a flurry of forgettable TV projects. He co-produced and directed his debut feature "Cement" (2001), a crime drama which retold Shakespeare's Othello against a gangland backdrop. Although the film received a few minor awards, it left little impression on the general public. Better news came for Pasdar in 2000 when he wed outspoken Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines in Las Vegas, NV, and appeared in her band's award-winning video for their hit "Goodbye Earl." The pair would eventually have two children, and Pasdar stood by his wife after comments she made about then-president George W. Bush at a concert ignited a massive national controversy which resulted in death threats against the band and completely altered the course of its career.
As the millennium came to a close, Pasdar began to focus exclusively on the small screen, playing a graphic novelist in an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (UPN, 2002-03) who wills his dream lover (Shannon Elizabeth) to life or so he thinks. The eerie and the ethereal served Pasdar well, and he found another regular series role as an archeology professor who investigates paranormal phenomena on the short-lived supernatural drama "Mysterious Ways" (NBC, 2000: PAX-TV, 2000-02). Apart from a rare film role in the Haley Joel Osment coming-of-age vehicle "Secondhand Lions" (2003), Pasdar settled into the lower-key television track, recurring on "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005), as a widowed assistant district attorney who enjoys a heated romance with the titular jurist (Amy Brenneman). He notched another impressive credit with a three-episode arc on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012) as a sleazy attorney who is hired by Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) after a prison riot erupts during a visit with Carlos (Ricardo Chavira).
Pasdar took another shot at stardom with his next series, "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-2010), an action/adventure serial that thrillingly fused a comic book ethos with human drama. The show was an instant hit and cultural touchstone, dazzling audiences with its premise of seemingly ordinary people from around the world discovering they have supernatural powers. Even among a talented ensemble cast, Pasdar stood out, playing Nathan Petrelli, a budding politician who lives in denial over his ability to fly despite the incessant encouragement of his brother (Milo Ventimiglia) to use his powers. The buzzworthy "Heroes" burned bright and fast in the cultural and critical consciousness, falling apart quickly due to the pressure of satisfying a global audience as well as the challenge of balancing multiple storylines, characters and plots twists. Again demonstrating his strong will, Pasdar chose to leave the show in 2009 with his character's (second and final) death, nabbing a Best Supporting Actor Saturn Award on his way out the door. Sticking with his sci-fi and comic book-loving audiences, Pasdar next voiced the superheroes Hawkeye and Captain America respectively on the animated "The Super Hero Squad" (Cartoon Network, 2009-2011; Disney XD, 2011- ) and "Black Panther: Who is the Black Panther?" (2010). The actor garnered the wrong kind of publicity when, on Jan. 27, 2010, he was arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles. He later pled no contest and was sentenced to 36 months probation, an alcohol education program, 10 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and almost $400 in fines.
By Jonathan Riggs
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CAST: (feature film)
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On his breakthrough film, 1987's "Near Dark". Adrian Pasdar told Empire (June 1997): "I absolutely loved that film. It disregarded all the usual vampire cliches and [Kathryn] Bigelow directed it from the heart. It was mostly filmed at night and, after a while, the whole crew started leading this strange, nocturnal existence."
On his TV character Jim Profit, he told People (May 6, 1996): "I don't think of Profit is devoid of morality. He's just on a different plane than the rest of us."
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