Family & Companions
A familiar face on television screens since the turn of the new millennium, actor Greg Grunberg started out his career in commercials before graduating to supporting roles in both film and television. Well-known for playing sidekicks and amiable wing men, Grunberg's career began its spike in the early part of the decade, paralleling the career trajectory of his lifelong friend, writer-director-producer, J.J. Abrams of "Alias" (ABC, 2001-06) and "Lost" (ABC, 2004-10) fame. A charter member of Abrams' informal repertory company of players, Grunberg appeared in several of the director's earliest projects, beginning in elementary school. This friendship eventually resulted in a professional association that would continue long after both men's careers had become famously established, with Grunberg's star-making turn as the telepathic Matt Parkman on the superhero hit series "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-10) during the show's four-season run. From there, he ventured outside the Abrams universe to land guest spots on popular shows while nabbing a recurring role on the Jennifer Love Hewitt series "The Client List" (Lifetime, 2012-13), which prepped Grunberg for taking the next big step in career.
Born in Los Angeles on July 11, 1966, Gregory Phillip Grunberg discovered his life's calling from early on. An active participant in student theater programs throughout elementary, middle and high schools, Grunberg found a lifelong collaborator in the form of future auteur, Jeffrey "J.J." Abrams. A fan of Abrams' creativity since the day they met in kindergarten, Grunberg originally thought he, like Abrams, would grow up to become a writer. Eventually, Grunberg discovered he gained greater satisfaction from acting. Grunberg's earliest acting gigs came courtesy of Abrams, albeit, non-paying gigs. By his early teens, Grunberg found himself cast in many of the aspiring young filmmaker's earliest enterprises, including experimental music videos, short films, and countless commercial spoofs. From then on, the two of them became partners in crime.
After college, Grunberg recruited a group of his friends - most of them, fellow unemployed actors - to launch Yogurt Runners, a frozen yogurt delivery service that catered to studios, agencies and other big-wig Hollywood clientele. It was, as Grunberg recalled, "A great experience. I could go on auditions during the day and sell frozen yogurt in the afternoon, and still make a living. It was a great way to earn my income without having to wait tables. It was a pretty successful business and I kept a lot of my actor friends employed." Nevertheless, the lure of acting still held Grunberg's foremost attention. Luckily, the early personal connections he had made in life were about to pay off handsomely in his professional life.
In the mid 1990's, as J.J. Abrams' screenwriting career was just taking flight, Grunberg was working in the industry as an assistant to movie producer, Joel Silver. Working under Silver for a year, Grunberg got a taste of how the biggest producer in Hollywood worked and the importance of staying connected. Recalled Grunberg, "If I learned anything from Joel, [it was] that if you want to do it, you can do it you just have to have the balls to do it and be ready when the door opens." Finally biting the bullet, Grunberg left his job with Silver and embarked on a professional acting career. Alas, Grunberg's bold decision did not yield immediate success. Luckily, though, after about a year-long odyssey of auditioning and rejections, Grunberg landed his first commercial: a local daytime spot for the Computer Learning Center in Southern California. Within six years, Grunberg had over 60 commercials under his belt; his best known, a national spot for the antacid Rolaids, ran for nearly two years.
From there, Grunberg segued easily into guest starring roles on television. Among the actor's earliest roles were on such fluffy syndicated fare as the Pamela Anderson vehicle, "V.I.P." (syndicated, 1998-2002) and the cable crime-drama mainstay, "Silk Stalkings" (USA Network, 1991-99). While Grunberg later admitted that the quality of these early roles left something to be desired, he was thankful at the time, just to have them. In 1998, Grunberg received a call from Abrams, asking if he would be interested in a regular role on his newly greenlit series, "Felicity" (The WB, 1998-2002). Needless to say, Grunberg accepted. For four seasons, he played the wonky Sean Blumberg, a character who Abrams had specifically written with his friend in mind, hence the similar name. At the same time, Grunberg also began doing double duty as CIA field agent Eric Weiss on Abrams' other hit show, "Alias." As the result of both shows being great successes, Grunberg received significant screen exposure. Despite only being a recurring character on both, between the two shows, he ended up appearing in nearly 140 hours of produced television within just seven years.
In 2003, Grunberg starred opposite Jason Bateman in an unaired comedy pilot called "The Jake Effect." Though the show was scheduled to premiere in 2003 as a mid-season replacement, NBC pulled the plug before the first episode even aired, despite having seven episodes already in the can. (The episodes eventually aired in 2006 on NBC's Bravo Network). Though deeply disappointed by the sitcom's failure, Grunberg soldiered on and remained busy with a full plate of guest appearances on such hits as "Stephen King's Dead Zone" (USA Network, 2002-07), "House" (Fox, 2004-2012), "What About Brian" (ABC, 2006-07) and "Monk" (USA Network, 2002-09).
In 2006, Grunberg's fortunes took a massive turn when he joined the cast of the fall season's most anticipated television show, "Heroes." Introduced in the second episode, "Don't Look Back," Grunberg played Matt Parkman, a Los Angeles police detective who gains the power of "clairaudient telepathy," or the ability to hear the thoughts of others. As the season progressed and Parkman's character became more fleshed out, audiences discovered that the character's power could not be controlled. Unable to turn off his telepathy at will, Parkman eventually began hearing voices in his mind around the clock. This inability to differentiate thoughts from actual voices not only threatened Parkman's sanity, but also caused him painful, migraine-like headaches, all of which held viewers' rapt attention, finally putting Greg Grunberg on a non-Abrams map of his own making. After the show was canceled due to rapidly declining ratings, Grunberg starred on the short-lived anthology-style drama "Love Bites" (NBC, 2011) while logging episodes of "Hawaii Five-0" (CBS, 2010- ) and "Psych" (USA Network, 2006-14), and landing supporting roles in films like "Kill Speed" (2010) and "Group Sex" (2010). Back on the small screen, he had a recurring role as Rebecca Field's husband on the Jennifer Love Hewitt drama "The Client List" (Lifetime, 2012-13).
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Had an early TV credit playing the best man in the CBS TV-movie "Stolen: One Husband"
Acted in "Frankenstein: The College Years," a Fox TV-movie comedy
Guest starred on a "Beverly Hills, 90210" crossover episode of "Melrose Place" (Fox)
Made his feature debut in the horror sequel "Witchcraft V"
Appeared in an episode of "Baywatch" (syndicated)
Acted in "The Trigger Effect"
Guest starred on the Fox sitcom "Ned and Stacey" and CBS' "Murphy Brown"
Had featured role in the comedy "The Pallbearer"
Had cameo roles in the comedy features "BASEketball" and "Senseless"
Had a recurring role on "Felicity" as Sean, Ben's (Scott Speedman) older roommate; role made regular as of 1999
Featured in the independent "The White River Kid"
Played a hotel security guard in Albert Brooks' "The Muse"
Played one of the staff of a government-sanctioned experiment to turn mammals invisible in Paul Verhoeven's "Hollow Man"
Acted in the independent comedy "Dinner & Driving", aired on HBO
Had recurring role as CIA agent Eric Weiss on the ABC series "Alias"
Cast as a TV Commercial Director in the Coen brother's film "The Ladykillers"
Played the airline pilot controlling the ill-fated plane on the pilot of the series "Lost"
Joined the NBC series "Heroes" as a beat cop who can hear people's thoughts
Voiced James T. Kirk's stepfather in J. J. Abrams' "Star Trek"
Starred on the NBC sitcom "Love Bites."
Played recurring character Dale Locklin on "The Client List"
Played recurring character Gene Moretti on "Masters of Sex"
Reprised the role of Matt Parkman for the "Heroes" spin-off "Heroes Reborn"
Had a minor role in Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Appeared in the horror anthology film "Tales of Halloween"
Played Commander Finnegan in "Star Trek: Beyond"
Had a vocal cameo in the disappointing "Cloverfield" sequel "The Cloverfield Paradox"