son of actor Gary Busey, whom he physically favors, Jake Busey grew up in Malibu with actors and musicians all around, but did not take acting seriously as a profession until his late teens. His father's well-publicized bouts with substance abuse as well as just being the son of a famous actor made the going tough at first--the younger Busey auditioned for more than two years without winning a role, as casting directors begged off. Finally, some small roles in TV, and the part of Stephen Dorff's gangling, wannabe murderer sidekick in the flop "S.F.W." (1994) demonstrated to Hollywood that Busey could act.
Tall and blonde, Busey actually made his film debut as a lad in 1978, playing his father as a boy in "Straight Time." His next paying job was also connected with his father, providing Gary's voice as a teen-ager in the thriller "Hider in the House" (1989). Busey began actually working in films in 1994, with the small role of a fired driver in "I'll Do Anything" followed by the role of Mersh, a deadhead, in "PCU" (also 1994). In 1996, he could be seen as the mobile lab technician on the ill-fated rival research crew run by Cary Elwes in "Twister" and had a co-starring role in "The Frighteners." In 1997, Busey's stock in Hollywood rose as he was cast in four features: "Quiet Days in Hollywood," as a character in search of a life in L.A.; Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers," as an intergalactic fighter; Robert Zemeckis' "Contact," opposite Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey and "Home Fries," as one of two brothers obsesses with a woman (Drew Barrymore).
TV roles began in 1992 with a small part in the NBC miniseries "Cruel Doubt." Busey played a revving gang member in "Motorcycle Gang" (Showtime, 1994), and was a high school football player in "Word Runner" (The Disney Channel, 1994). He had a more substantial role, Halverson, the feared bully of the juvenile home, in "Shimmer" for PBS' "American Playhouse" in 1995.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made film debut playing his father as a boy in "Straight Time"
Did teenage voice of Gary Busey in "Hider in the House"
Had small role in NBC miniseries "Cruel Doubt"
Won first real notice as an actor in "S.F.W."
Won praise for TV role in "Motorcycle Gang" (Showtime)
Had first substantial feature film role, "PCU"
Played juvenile hall bully in "Shimmer" for American Playhouse
Fought intergalactic insects in "Starship Troopers"
Played a religious zealot/terrorist in Carl Sagan adaptation "Contact"
Debut as TV series regular on the UPN comedy "Shasta" (aka "Shasta McNasty")
Cast in the comedy feature "Tom Cats"
Co-starred in the thriller feature "Identity"
Cast opposite Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis in the holiday comedy "Christmas with the Kranks," directed by Joe Roth
Cast in the indie film, "Broken" with Heather Graham and Jeremy Sisto
Appeared on mini-series "Comanche Moon"
Voiced Turk on animated comedy series "Good Vibes"
Appeared alongside C. Thomas Howell in the drama "Don't Pass Me By"
Starred as professor Aiden Tanner on "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series"
Had a guest spot on FX's modern-day western "Justified"
Lent his voice to the video-game expansion "XCOM 2: War of the Chosen"
Cast as Earl on "Freakish"
Made recurring appearances on "Ray Donovan"
Had a recurring guest role on Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Co-starred with J.K. Simmons in family dramedy "A Boy Called Sailboat"
Appeared in franchise reboot "The Predator"
Cast on the third season of "Stranger Things"