Family & Companions
In the 1990s, James LeGros built a career that paralleled the track of independent cinema, becoming a go-to actor for both lead and supporting parts in some of the signature indie films of the decade. LeGros stuck his foot in Hollywood's door in the mid-1980s, his blond, square-jawed countenance often netting him one-off television jobs as young toughs or other sundry low-lifes. After landing his first feature with the notorious sci-fi bomb "Solarbabies" (1987) and his first lead role in the equally maligned horror outing "Phantasm II" (1988), LeGros would find a niche in the less-monied quarters of the filmmaking world, beginning with the Gus Van Sant film "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989) and building into one of the most prolific indie careers in the business. He would largely figure into the existentialist meanderings of "Generation X" films, as seen in the likes of "Singles" (1992), "Where the Day Takes You" (1992), "Floundering" (1994) and "The Low Life" (1995), and hit his stride as an entitled superstar slumming in an indie film for the street cred in "Living in Oblivion" (1995). In 2000, he transitioned into television, joining the cast of "Ally McBeal" (Fox, 1997-2002), which would put him on a track for an intermittent TV career, highlighted by the Showtime series "Sleeper Cell" (2005), the NBC drama "Mercy" (2009-2010), lavish HBO period miniseries "Mildred Pierce" (2011) and critically-acclaimed cable series "Justified" (FX 2010-14). A longtime indie darling and slacker-stereotype specialist, LeGros' body of work bore out his capacity to play everything from hero to heel across nearly every genre of film and television.
LeGros was born April 27, 1962, in Minneapolis, MN to his real estate executive father and his teacher mother. After the family moved to Redlands, CA, the teenager increasingly gravitated to the performing arts during his high school years. He briefly attended the University of California at Irvine, but dropped out to move to Los Angeles in the hopes of kick-starting his career. He won an apprenticeship with the Professional Conservatory at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, and in 1984, landed his first movie: a bit part in a made-for-HBO black comedy "The Ratings Game." His work in ensuing years would largely consist of one-off TV episodes and B-grade films, often in stereotypical bad-boy roles on such programs as "Knight Rider" (NBC, 1982-86), "Simon & Simon" (CBS, 1981-89), "Punky Brewster" (NBC/syndicated, 1984-88) and even a "CBS Schoolbreak Special" (1980-96). All were good on-set practice for his first feature film, in which he played a member of a pack of teens roller-skating through a post-apocalyptic world in "Solarbabies" (1987). It began a string of inauspicious parts in inauspicious films, often playing smug youths or heavies. He landed his first lead in Universal's low-budget horror sequel "Phantasm II." LeGros won the part over a young Brad Pitt, a curious development as LeGros would go on to draw comparisons to Pitt's physiognomy as the latter went on to A-list stardom.
Ensuing projects would define a much different career path for LeGros, starting with a plum role as a pharmacy-raiding cohort of Matt Dillon in Gus Van Sant's indie crime drama "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989). He would net supporting parts in bigger-ticket productions such as the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze actioner "Point Break" (1991) as surfer/bank robber Roach, and the Seattle hipster comedy "Singles" (1992) alongside Dillon yet again, but LeGros would find a steadier career path in independent features. He buttressed the ensembles of the moody Christian fantasy "The Rapture" (1990), the crime comedy "Blood and Concrete" (1991), and the Angelino underbelly dramas "Leather Jackets" (1992) and "Where the Day Takes You" (1992). That same year, LeGros married actress Kristina Loggia, daughter of actor Robert Loggia. He progressively graduated to lead roles with the noir remake "Guncrazy" (1992) opposite Drew Barrymore; "My New Gun" (1992), a suburban black comedy co-starring Diane Lane; and the bleak Gen-X-centric existentialist outings "Floundering" (1994) and "The Low Life" (1995), with the latter-costarring his wife. With his growing résumé, LeGros was becoming an undeniable indie staple. His supporting work buoyed critically lauded prestige projects such as such as Miramax's "Mrs. Parker & the Vicious Circle" (1994), Todd Haynes' stark anti-consumerist opus "Safe" (1995), and the introspective family drama "The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997). He also did his share of less heralded films, such as "Don't Do It" (1994), "Destiny Turns on the Radio" (1995) and "The Destiny of Marty Fine" (1996). He turned in a signature performance in Tom DiCillo's movie-within-a-movie homage to indie filmmaking, "Living in Oblivion" (1995), with LeGros playing Chad Palomino, a spoiled-rotten A-list actor trying to beef up his thespian bona fides by doing a gritty B-grade flick. His fascinating performance earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination the next year.
LeGros' offbeat indie work continued apace in such films as "Wishful Thinking" (1999), and an innovative black-comedy retread of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" entitled "Scotland, PA," which saw him and Maura Tierney as an ambitious young couple plotting murder to take over a small-town fast-food restaurant. However, television would increasingly be padding his résumé. It began with guest-turns on "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997) and "The Outer Limits" (Showtime/Sci-Fi/syndicated, 1995-2002), a three-episode arc on the longtime NBC hit drama "ER" (1994-2009), and the Showtime TV movie "Pronto" (1997). The latter, based on an Elmore Leonard novel, saw LeGros playing U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a character later popularized by Tim Olyphant on the FX show "Justified" (2010-15). He also showed up periodically in small parts in major studio projects, such as Van Sant's unlikely remake of the Hitchcock classic, "Psycho" (1998) and Tony Scott's action-thriller "Enemy of the State" (1998). In 2000, LeGros took the plunge into series TV with Fox's popular dramedy "Ally McBeal," initially in a recurring role as a hotshot new lawyer in the title character's law firm before officially joining the cast during the show's fourth season. He did a string of TV films, most notably supporting Laura Dern in Showtime's blistering examination of the U.S. healthcare system, "Damaged Care" (2002), and though his indie work became less prolific with TV now in the mix, he kept his hand in the mix; even doing a cameo in "November" (2003), a rare indie star-vehicle for Courteney Cox.
In 2005, LeGros took the more traditional role of an FBI agent trying to track a terrorist group on Showtime's short-lived terrorism-themed drama "Sleeper Cell" (2005). It began a run of more suspenseful fare for LeGros, including the lead in the eco-conscious horror movie "The Last Winter" (2006), a supporting part in the multiple-point-of-view actioner "Vantage Point" (2008), and a turn as an unhinged TV chef out to mete revenge upon a critic in the B-horror flick "Bitter Feast" (2010). He bounced back to familiar indie territory in quirky comedies "Sherman's Way" (2008), "Visioneers" (2009) and "Welcome to Academia" (2009). Back on TV, LeGros went more buttoned-down, playing the snippy chief resident and sometime foil to a staff of nurses on the NBC medical drama "Mercy" (2009-2010), but the network cancelled it after one season. In 2011, LeGros rejoined director Todd Haynes in his ambitious remake of the noir classic "Mildred Pierce" (1945) as a five-part HBO miniseries. With Kate Winslet in the title role of James M. Cain's star-crossed entrepreneur, LeGros played Wally, a one-time dalliance of Mildred's and her earnest yet eventually contentious business partner. LeGros then began a recurring role on Kentucky-set cable drama "Justified" (FX 2010-14). While maintaining his career as a prolific guest star on television, LeGros also co-starred in films ranging from indie ecological thriller "Night Moves" (2013) and coming of age drama "A Birder's Guide to Everything" (2013) to romantic comedy "The Young Kieslowski" (2014) and action remake "Point Break" (2015). In 2016, LeGros co-starred in indie drama "Certain Women" (2016), based on the work of author Maile Meloy.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Acting debut in "The Ratings Game", directed by Danny DeVito
TV movie debut, "Kicks"
Had featured role in "Solarbabies"
First collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow in "Near Dark"
Debut as a leading man in "Phantasm II"
Had featured role in Gus Van Sant's "Drugstore Cowboy"
Reteamed with Bigelow on "Point Blank"
Initial collaboration with director Stacy Cochran, "My New Gun"
Had a tour de force as a man suffering from insomnia in contemporary L.A. in the Sundance-screened "Floundering"
Supported Julianne Moore in Todd Haynes' "Safe"
Offered an amusing turn as a Brad Pitt-like actor in Tom DiCillo's "Living in Oblivion"
Acted in Cochran's "Boys"
Co-starred with Julianne Moore in "The Myth of Fingerprints"; first onscreen teaming with Noah Wyle
Reteamed with Gus Van Sant to play the car salesman in the director's shot-by-shot remake of "Psycho"
Played Will Smith's associate in "Enemy of the State"
Played recurring role on the NBC medical drama "ER" as rival in love to Noah Wyle's Dr Carter
Cast as a gay man having doubts about marrying his lover in the Harvey Fierstein penned segment ("Andy & Amos") of "Common Ground" (Showtime)
Starred in the Sundance-screened "Drop Back Ten", playing a magazine writer investigating a celebrity; third collaboration with Stacy Cochran
Joined cast of "Ally McBeal" (Fox) playing attorney Mark Albert; left after only one season
Co-starred in "Lovely and Amazing", directed by Nicole Holofcener; also screened at Toronto; released theatrically in 2002
Made cameo appearance in "World Traveller", reteaming with director Bart Freundlich; screened at Toronto; shown at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival before its theatrical release
Portrayed the slacker owner of a fast food restaurant encouraged by his ambitious wife to kill a rival in "Scotland, PA."; screened at Sundance; released theatrically in 2002
Cast in the film "Catch that Kid"
Starred opposite Courteney Cox in the drama "November"; premiered at Sundance
Cast as Dante, a sensitive singer-songwriter in Bart Freundlich's "Trust the Man"
Appeared in David Fincher's "Zodiac"
Co-starred on the series "Mercy"
Played a recurring role on the acclaimed series "Girls"
Appeared in the drama "Certain Women"