Although he's made waves in the entertainment industry for his memorable work in "Scream" (1996) and "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06), to most casual moviegoers, W. Earl Brown is primarily known for playing Cameron Diaz's mentally handicapped brother in "There's Something About Mary" (1998). Yet despite being a nameless face to millions, Brown, who prefers to be called by his middle name Earl, remains one of Hollywood's most consistently prolific actors. Throughout his decades-long career, Brown has appeared in dozens of noteworthy films and television shows, including 2012's "The Master" and "The Sessions" - both of which were nominated for Academy Awards - while also having recently added writer and producer to his long list of acting credits.
Born and raised on a farm in Kentucky, Brown always knew he wanted to be an actor. He studied theater at Murray State University in his home state, before moving to Chicago in the mid-'80s to take part in the city's thriving theater scene. While living in Chicago, Brown attended drama school at DePaul University, where two of his classmates were Gillian Anderson and John C. Reilly. Upon graduating from DePaul in 1989, Brown made his living painting houses by day, while acting in plays throughout Chicago by night. Then in 1991 his luck changed forever when he was cast in a small role as the '20s-era Yankees pitcher Herb Pennock in the Babe Ruth biopic, "The Babe" (1992). Brown made enough money off the film, which drew tepid reviews from critics, to quit his painting job and pursue acting full time in Los Angeles.
Throughout the early to mid-'90s, Brown appeared in bit parts in numerous television shows, among them "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1990-98) and "Murder, She Wrote" (CBS, 1984-1996), before landing his first big break as a bumbling cameraman named Kenny in 1996's "Scream." The film was a massive hit at the box office, grossing over $170 million worldwide. However, despite the film's success, Brown still found himself having to hustle to find work. As luck would once again have it, a chance occurrence with fellow actor Rob Moran at a Hollywood gym would soon lead to a meeting with Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the co-directors of a new comedy called "There's Something About Mary." The Farrelly Brothers originally had Chris Farley in mind to play the part of Warren, but changed their mind after Brown's audition. Brown was ultimately cast as Warren, which would prove to be a career-defining role for the 35-year-old actor.
"There's Something About Mary" was one of the most successful films of that year, earning over $350 million at the box office, and making overnight stars of Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz. Unfortunately, for Earl Brown, people would soon refer to him as Warren from there on out. Despite the frustration of being forever known as a fictional character, thanks to the film's success Brown appeared in a multitude of critically adored films and television shows in the years that followed, among them "Being John Malkovich" (1999), "Vanilla Sky" (2001) and "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). In 2004 Brown appeared as the murderous villain, Dan Dority, in David Milch's "Deadwood." The role allowed audiences to experience Brown's versatility for the first time on screen, and soon enough the incessant "Warren" associations began to subside. Brown also served on the second season's writing staff of "Deadwood," a role he would expand upon in 2010 after writing and producing the music drama, "Bloodworth." After appearing in two of the most critically acclaimed films of 2012, "The Master" and "The Sessions," in 2013 Brown joined the cast of "Rogue" (DirecTV's Audience Network, 2013- ). "Rogue" is Brown's first series regular role since HBO cancelled "Deadwood" in 2006.
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Appeared in "Scream" as Kenny the cameraman
Portrayed Cameron Diaz's mentally-challenged brother, Warren, in "There's Something About Mary," directed by the Farrelly brothers
Portrayed singer/actor Meatloaf in "Meatloaf: To Hell and Back" (VH1)
Starred with with Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Quaid in "The Alamo"
Drew critical acclaim for his role as Dan Dority on HBO's "Deadwood"
Cast as Brady Bloodworth in the drama "Bloodworth
Guested alongside fellow "Deadwood" alum Timothy Olyphant on an episode of "Justified"
Appeared on Milch's short-lived series "Luck"
Had recurring role of Charlie on "Rogue"
Voiced Bill in Naughty Dog's PlayStation 3 masterpiece, "The Last of Us"
Had a recurring role on "Chicago Fire"
Starred as Tom Carlin on "American Crime"
Played Detective Teague Dixon on "True Detective"
Cast as Hugo Root on "Preacher"
Had recurring role of Teddy on "I'm Dying Up Here"
Reprised role of Dan Dority in HBO's long-gestating "Deadwood" film