Prior to emerging onto the Hollywood scene as the reptilian leader of the Sleestaks in "Land of the Lost" (2009), character actor John Boylan had established himself as a well-known and respected performer in his native Canada. For over three decades, he was a near-constant presence in Canadian films and television shows, including several prominent cult classics like David Cronenberg's classic sex-horror epic "Rabid" (1977). Despite his late prominence in the United States, Boylan was a steady, but unfamiliar presence on American television, appearing in a series of small screen movies and television series throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He finally made inroads with a popular supporting role as a racist cop in the stoner comedy, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" (2004), which introduced Boylan to a wider audience. But it was his unrecognizable turn as the bug-eyed Sleestak that helped propel the talented Canadian into a bigger, brighter spotlight.
Originally from Canada, Boylan began his career appearing in campy B-movies and cult classics, including "King Solomon's Mines" (1977) and Cronenberg's "Rabid" (1977). After appearing in the Italian-made drama, "Angela" (1978), starring Sophia Loren, and the social drama, "One Man" (1979), he had small roles in "The Spirit of Adventure: Night Flight" (1979) and the French-Canadian "À nous deux" (1979). As he entered the next decade, Boylan continued to work steadily, though he had difficulty trying to land more prominent roles. He had a small part in the dogmatic religious drama, "The Prodigal" (1983), and managed to secure a higher profile as a double agent in the low-key spy thriller, "Keeping Track" (1985). Boylan joined forces with several prominent Hollywood performers, including Hal Holbrook, Trevor Howard and Ned Betty for "The Unholy" (1988), a suspense thriller about a priest assigned to a new parish where his predecessors have met with violent deaths. Following a turn as a police sergeant in the French-Canadian miniseries "Les tisserands du pouvoir" (1988), he was barely noticed as Frank, the physical education teacher in the oft-forgotten Robert De Niro drama, "Jacknife" (1989).
Throughout the 1990s, Boylan amassed an impressive body of work in both America and abroad. After a role as an attorney in the two-part murder-mystery miniseries, "Conspiracy of Silence" (1991), he joined the ubiquitous Brian Dennehy and the manic Margot Kidder for "To Catch a Killer" (CTV, 1992), a crime drama that followed real-life police detective Joe Kozenczak (Michael Riley) in his investigation of serial killer John Wayne Gacy (Dennehy). Boylan had two thankless feature roles - playing a man in an elevator in "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) and a janitor in "American Heart" (1993) - before returning to the small screen for more prominent roles in an episode of "The Great Defender" (Fox, 1995) and the crime thriller "First Degree" (HBO, 1995). Following a string of low-profile parts in "Escape Clause" (Showtime, 1996), "Buried Secrets" (NBC, 1996) and "The Long Island Incident" (NBC, 1998), Boylan co-starred opposite John Ritter in "Lethal Vows" (CBS, 1999), a suspense thriller about a seemingly upstanding father and husband accused of foul play in his second wife's suspicious illness.
Boylan often was cast in the role of authority figure, playing a judge in "One Kill" (Showtime, 2000) and a police chief in "On Hostile Ground" (TBS, 2000). Following a string of made-for-television movies, he turned in more episodes of series, including the groundbreaking Showtime drama "Queer as Folk" (2000-05), as well as the medical drama "Doc" (ION Television Network, 2001-04), the supernatural drama "Missing" (Lifetime, 2003-06) and the Canadian-made "Instant Star" (CTV, 2005-08). Perhaps his most popular appearance at this time was in the surprise stoner hit, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," in which he portrayed Officer Brooks, a racist cop who fines the titular heroes (John Cho and Kal Penn) for jaywalking. In 2008, Boylan became a regular on the CBC series "Being Erica" (2008- ), a Canadian "My Name Is Earl" that follows a thirtysomething therapy patient who travels backwards in time to correct past mistakes. Boylan appeared in 13 episodes as Gary Strange, an eccentric rabbi. "Being Erica" was picked up for a second season and became syndicated worldwide.
At the same time he was finding success on Canadian television, Boylan was discovered by the producers of "Land of the Lost" after appearing in a television commercial. As the sinister Enik, leader of the evil reptilian race the Sleestaks, Boylan was required to wear a claustrophobic suit, despite having no experience acting in prosthetics. Atop of the uncomfortable rubber suit, Boylan had to wear a 20-pound animatronic head, leading to long days in the makeup chair and on the set. Though unrecognizable under prosthetics, Boylan's natural grace and regal voice stood out in an otherwise thankless and physically demanding role. In a cast peppered with popular actors like Will Ferrell, Anna Friel and Danny McBride, Boylan may have appeared to be the newcomer in the bunch, but he was well-known to his fellow Canadians. Meanwhile, the $100 million dollar "Land of the Lost" was a critical and commercial flop, earning less than half its budget at the box office By the time it was released, Boylan was already back on the set of "Being Erica" for the show's second season, with "Land of the Lost" being nothing more than a memory.
Aside from his lengthy acting resume, Boylan also served as an instructor in many well-respected acting schools over the past 30 years, including the Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto, the Graduate Film School at New York University, Queen Margaret's College at Edinburgh and at The Yale School of Drama in New Haven, CT. He was also the founder of the Toronto-based acting school and film studio, Centre for the Arts.