Family & Companions
Good-looking, dark-haired Oklahoma native Ryan Merriman began modeling at age six and landed his first broadcast acting role just a few years after, cast as a regular on the NBC sitcom "The Mommies" (1993-1995, renamed "Mommies" in its final year). Segueing from this sitcom role to a recurring turn as the young version of genius Jarod Russell on the gripping NBC series "The Pretender" (1997-2000) showed the actor's versatility. He was featured in the somewhat sentimental TV dramas "Everything That Rises" (TNT, 1998) and "Night Ride Home" (CBS, 1999) before portraying young Meyer Lansky in 1999's "Lansky," an HBO biopic of the famed gangster. That year saw Merriman take on his first feature acting role, playing a young boy who surprises parents Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams nine years after he was kidnapped in the affecting drama, "The Deep End of the Ocean."
Though Merriman had proven himself a more than capable performer with an impressive big screen debut, television was where he racked up his earliest credits. The Disney Channel hosted some of his more unlikely characters, including a computer whiz kid who designs a home that will keep his widowed father from dating ("Smart House," 1999) and a teen who finds out he is part leprechaun ("Luck of the Irish," 2001). More impressive small screen work included his turn as a teen unable to control his own violent urges in Lifetime's "Dangerous Child" (2001).
Starring in Jason Alexander's 1950s coming of age comedy, "Just Looking" (1999), Merriman seemed ready to carry a film. He not only made the somewhat questionable character charming, but aced the outerborough Brooklyn accent that actors with far more experience have fumbled with. A featured role in the 2001 horror sequel "Halloween: Homecoming" would place the actor alongside some teen peers and undoubtedly reach a much wider audience than he had been exposed to before, while a co-starring role in the Disney Channel movie "A Ring of Endless Light" (aired in the 2001-02 season) would ensure that the wholesome performer didn't stray too far from the family programming that won over his initial fans.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Starred on the NBC sitcom "The Mommies" (later retitled "Mommies")
Guest starred on an episode of "John Grisham's The Client" (CBS)
Cast in a recurring role on the NBC drama "The Pretender," playing the younger version of super-genius Jarod Russell (Michael T. Weiss)
Had a supporting role in the TNT original drama "Everything That Rises"
Featured as the preteen incarnation of a boy kidnapped nine years earlier in the drama "The Deep End of the Ocean"
Played young Meyer Lansky in the HBO biopic "Lansky"
Played a New Yorker coming of age in the 1950s in Jason Alexander's "Just Looking"
Starred as a computer whiz kid who designs a "Smart House" in the 1999 Disney Channel TV-movie
Featured in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production "Night Ride Home" (CBS)
Starred in the Fox Family Channel TV-movie "Rockets Red Glare"
Made guest appearance on an episode of "Touched By an Angel" (CBS)
Featured in the horror sequel "Halloween: Homecoming"
Played the titular violent teen in the Lifetime original movie "Dangerous Child"
Starred as a boy descended from leprechauns in the Disney Channel TV-movie "Luck of the Irish"
Cast in the SciFi miniseries "Taken," produced by Steven Spielberg
Co-starred in "A Ring of Endless Light," a family drama that aired on the Disney Channel
Starred opposite Naomi Watts in the thriller "The Ring Two"
Starred in the thriller "Final Destination 3," helmed by James Wong
Acted in the Western miniseries "Comanche Moon" (CBS)
Co-starred with Andie MacDowell and Aidan Quinn in the biopic "The 5th Quarter"
Guest starred on the ABC Family mystery drama series "Pretty Little Liars"