John Carroll Lynch has one of those recognizable faces you've seen in countless movies and TV shows, but whose name you can never quite remember. After landing a small role in 1993's over-the-hill comedy "Grumpy Old Men," Lynch appeared in over 80 movies and TV shows. He also worked with some of the most revered directors of his generation, including Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Joel and Ethan Coen, and David Fincher. A character actor known for playing everything from convicts on the run ("Carnivale" HBO 2003-05), to loveable cross-dressers, as he did for several seasons on "The Drew Carey Show" (ABC 1995-2004), Lynch's most famous role came in 1996 when he starred as the timid, unassertive husband of Frances McDormand's character in the Coen Brothers' Academy Award-winning crime drama "Fargo." His memorable appearances in such acclaimed films as "Zodiac" (2007), "Shutter Island" (2010) and "Crazy, Stupid, Love." (2011) ensured that his work will be watched for decades to come, even if audiences have a difficult time remembering his name.
Born in Boulder, Colorado and raised in Denver, Lynch initially became drawn to acting while in high school. He began appearing in school plays, and eventually went on to study theatre at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. After earning his B.F.A. from the University in 1986, Lynch turned all of his focus to the stage. He joined the Guthrie Theater Acting Company in Minnesota and started appearing in local productions of Shakespeare and Chekov's timeless works. By the late '80s, Lynch was touring the country as a stage actor. Eventually, however, Lynch yearned for something more, and started auditioning for film and TV roles. His first on-screen performance came in 1993, when he landed a small part as a burly moving man in the old-timer comedy "Grumpy Old Men." More roles followed, including a small part as military officer in the 1995 made-for-TV-movie, "In the Line of Duty: Hunt for Justice," before his breakout performance in 1996's "Fargo." Lynch drew unanimous acclaim for his role as a sensitive husband with an artistic side in the Coen Brothers' modern take on the crime thriller. That same year, Lynch appeared in two additional Minnesota-set films - "Beautiful Girls" and "Feeling Minnesota" - in addition to making guest appearances on "Frasier" (NBC 1993-2004) and "Murder One" (ABC 1995-97).
Lynch's career continued to rise throughout the remainder of the '90s, most notably after he started appearing as Drew Carey's husky, cross-dressing brother Steve on "The Drew Carey Show." A role as a police sheriff in the 2003 horror film "Gothika," caught the eye of director David Fincher, who proceeded to cast Lynch in his 2007 crime-biopic "Zodiac." Working with some of the film community's most celebrated directors proved to be a pattern for Lynch, and over the next few years he appeared in films made by Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino," 2008) and Martin Scorsese ("Shutter Island," 2010), as well in Mark Ruffalo's 2010 directorial debut, "Sympathy for Delicious." In 2011 Lynch landed a recurring role on the medical drama "Body of Proof" (ABC 2011-2013), playing a detective. However, the network cancelled the show in May 2013 due to low ratings. Undeterred, Lynch landed a recurring part on another medical drama, NBC's "Do No Harm" (2013), that same year. However, that show was also cancelled because of low viewership. Following a story arc on 1980s-set espionage drama "The Americans" (FX 2013- ), Lynch scored a memorable role as the horrifying Twisty the Clown on the fourth season of the anthology series "American Horror Story" (FX 2011- ).
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Had first screen-acting role, as a moving man, in "Grumpy Old Men"
Gave a breakout performance as Norm Gunderson in the Coen brothers' "Fargo"
Had a recurring role as Drew's cross-dressing brother on "The Drew Carey Show"
Featured in space-race miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon"
Appeared alongside Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman in romantic comedy "Anywhere But Here"
Played Mayor Garrett Shaw on short-lived series "The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire"
Played Steve Sharpe on drama series "Close to Home"
Played Captain James Embry on short-lived crime drama "K-Ville"
Essayed a chilling interpretation of Zodiac Killer suspect Arthur Leigh Allen in David Fincher's true crime drama "Zodiac"
Cast in "Things We Lost in the Fire"
Cast in Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino"
Played Deputy Warden McPherson in Martin Scorsese's horror film "Shutter Island"
Had a recurring role on "Body of Proof"
Joined the cast of "Do No Harm"
Landed a recurring role on "The Americans"
Played serial killer John Wayne Gacy in "American Horror Story"
Nabbed a supporting part in the raunchy comedy "Ted 2"
Played a pastor in faith-based drama "Miracles from Heaven"
Co-starred as Lyndon B. Johnson in Kennedy biopic "Jackie"
Played the easily manipulated Mac McDonald in Mcdonald's origin story "The Founder"
Made his directorial debut with the Harry Dean Stanton-starring "Lucky"