An exceptionally versatile character actor and occasional lead in features and television, Justin Theroux tackled both comedy and drama with equal deftness throughout his career, and proved himself a talented writer as well by penning the scripts for hits like "Tropic Thunder" (2008) and "Iron Man 2" (2010). A handsome actor who seemed to prefer offbeat portrayals over leading man roles, he began his onscreen career in indies like "I Shot Andy Warhol" (1996) before moving effortless into Hollywood titles like "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" (1997). He was adept at playing slick, soulless professionals, like an arrogant film director in David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." (2001) and a business friend of Christian Bale's deranged Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" (2000), but could also play thoughtful, caring men, like his cerebral suitor who charmed Rachel Griffiths on "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). Theroux's strongest suit, however, was offbeat comedy, and he mined that field on numerous occasions throughout his career in features like "Zoolander" (2001) and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (2003). He made a modest debut as a director on the indie drama "Dedication" (2007), but found greater success as a writer on the over-the-top comedy "Tropic Thunder" and the blockbuster "Iron Man 2." His dual status as favored actor and screenwriter made Theroux a genuine hyphenate. His marriage to Jennifer Aniston, whom he met on the set of the David Wain comedy "Wanderlust" (2012), threatened to overshadow his work, especially following their February 2018 separation, but his work in films ranging from "The Girl on the Train" (2016) to "The Lego Ninjago Movie" (2017) kept him onscreen as well as in the gossip columns.
Justin Paul Theroux was born in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 10, 1971. His father, Eugene, was a corporate lawyer, while mother Phyllis was a novelist, as was his uncle, Paul Theroux, author of The Mosquito Coast. However, Justin struggled to find his own way as a teenager; he was ejected from several schools for various reasons in his late adolescence and early teenage years before finding a foundation at the Buxton School, a boarding school in Williamstown, MA. Its curriculum required him to make his own meals and perform various chores in addition to maintaining his studies. Theroux also gained his first exposure to acting at Buxton, and settled on drama and visual arts as his focus. After graduating from Bennington College in Vermont, Theroux attended the British American Drama Academy, where he further honed his acting talents in a variety of Shakespearean productions. He moved to New York City, where he supported himself as a painter before becoming a member of several prestigious theater groups, including the Roundabout Theatre and Actor's Playhouse. While appearing in a production of "Three Sisters" with Jeanne Tripplehorn, he befriended her then-fiancé, Ben Stiller, who would have a major impact on his later career.
His feature film debut came with a minor role in Mary Harron's "I Shot Andy Warhol" (1996), which preceded a string of little-seen independent features, including "Fattening Frogs for Snakes" (1998) by underground director Amos Poe. Theroux's Hollywood debut came in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" (1997) as the mysterious cowboy who romanced Janeane Garofalo's surly reunion organizer. A string of high-profile television appearances soon followed, including an author who dated Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) on "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) and a recurring stint as a mobster on "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-98). In 1999, he filmed the pilot for David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" in which he played a pompous film director who discovered that unknown forces were railroading him into casting an unknown actress as the lead in his feature film. When ABC rejected the pilot, Lynch turned the project into a feature film, which became one of his most critically acclaimed efforts.
Theroux reunited with Mary Harron in 2000 for the controversial film version of Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho," in which he played a vain business associate of psychopath Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). He soon balanced supporting turns in features like Stiller's cult favorite "Zoolander" (2001), with guest stints on television shows like "The District" (CBS, 2000-04) as a wily public relations chief. Theroux's versatility as a character actor allowed him to shift effortlessly to broad comic fare like "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (2003) as a psychopathic Irish gangster inspired by Robert DeNiro's turn in "Cape Fear" (1991).
In 2003, Theroux joined the cast of "Six Feet Under" as Joe, a neighbor to Rachel Griffith's Brenda, who offered a stable, caring relationship in the wake of her tumultuous affair with Nate Fisher (Peter Krause). By this time, Theroux had earned a reputation as something of a scene-stealer, especially in eclectic comic fare like the feature version of "Strangers with Candy" (2005) and Michael Showalter's "The Baxter" (2005). He also reunited with David Lynch for the director's most unusual film to date, "Inland Empire" (2007), which was shot without a completed script.
That same year, Theroux wrote and directed "Dedication" (2006), an indie drama about a writer who teamed with a new illustrator (Mandy Moore) to produce the latest in his series of children's books. The feature screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival before receiving a miniscule theatrical release and modest theatrical praise. The following year, Theroux earned his breakout project by writing "Tropic Thunder," a broad action comedy with Ben Stiller and Robert Downey, Jr. as vain Hollywood actors whose jungle war film turns into a real fight with Asian drug runners. The picture's success came on the heels of a well-received turn in "John Adams" (HBO, 2008) as John Hancock, and led to an even bigger screenwriting assignment: "Iron Man 2" (2010), which he earned through his connection with "Tropic" star Downey, Jr. Despite a harried production schedule, Theroux turned out a script that blended high intensity action and special effects with sparkling, screwball comedy-style dialogue delivered with precision by Downey and co-star Gwyneth Paltrow. "Iron Man 2" went on to be the third highest-grossing release of 2010.
Theroux's success as a writer did not affect negatively on his burgeoning acting career; rather, he continued to log appearances on television shows and in features after 2010, including a recurring stint in the third season of "Parks and Recreation" (NBC, 2009-2015) as a self-aggrandizing litigator with whom Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope has a tentative relationship, and as an over-the-top wizard in the fantasy-comedy "Your Highness" (2010). In 2011, he was announced as one of several writers laboring on the script for the film version of the popular Broadway rock musical "Rock of Ages" (2012). That news was quickly overshadowed by a flurry of news reports that alleged he had left his girlfriend of 14 years, costume designer Heidi Bivens, to launch a relationship with actress Jennifer Aniston, with whom he starred in David Wain's indie comedy "Wanderlust" (2012). The connection to Aniston - a tabloid favorite for her supposedly unlucky-in-love life post-Brad Pitt - boosted Theroux's profile in the mass media to stratospheric regions, particularly after the couple announced their intention to marry in August 2012. (They wed on August 5, 2015.) In 2014, Theroux began his first leading role on television as the star of "The Leftovers" (HBO 2014- ), a post-apocalyptic drama created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta. The following year, it was announced that Theroux had penned the script for the long-awaited sequel "Zoolander 2" (2016). Theroux next appeared on screen in the hit thriller "The Girl on the Train" (2016), followed by a key voice role in animated children's hit "The Lego Ninjago Movie" (2017). Theroux also had a cameo appearance in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (2017) before co-starring in Duncan Jones' science fiction thriller "Mute" (2018).
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Starred in the Ensemble Studio Theater presentation of the one act play "Water and Wine"
Acted in the pilot of the Manhattan-set series "Central Park West"
Made feature debut in "I Shot Andy Warhol" playing Mark the Revolutionary
Featured in the Roundabout Theater Company's production "Three Sisters"
Co-starred in the comedy "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion"
Starred opposite Alyssa Milano in the independent thriller "Below Utopia" directed by Kurt Voss
Starred opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in the New York Theater Workshop production of the popular British play "Shopping and F*cking"
Had a recurring role on FOX's "New York Undercover"
Played a wanted man in the comedy "Frogs for Snakes"
Appeared on episodes of "Spin City" (ABC) and "Ally McBeal" (Fox)
Cast in the Showtime original movie "Sirens"
Guest starred on HBO's "Sex and the City" as Vaughn, a writer who dates Carrie
Cast in David Lynch's failed TV pilot "Mulholland Drive"; later released as a feature when Lynch shot additional footage (released theatrically in 2001)
Featured in the gay ensemble film "The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy"
Had a regular role on CBS' "The District" playing a public relations specialist working for the police department
Played Timothy Bryce, one of Patrick Bateman's cohorts in the stylized satire "American Psycho"
Cast in the Ben Stiller comedy "Zoolander"
Cast as Joe, Brenda's boyfriend in the HBO series "Six Feet Under"
Cast in Michael Mann's feature film adaptation of the 1980s TV series "Miami Vice"
Appeared in the film version of the cult TV show "Strangers With Candy"
Re-teamed with Lynch to star in "Inland Empire"
Made feature directing debut with "Dedication," a romantic comedy co-starring Mandy Moore; premiered at Sundance
Co-starred with Parker Posey in Zoe Cassavetes' directorial debut, "Broken English"
Played John Hancock in the HBO mini-series "John Adams," starring Paul Giamatti as Adams
Co-wrote (also produced) the Ben Stiller-directed "Tropic Thunder"
Appeared in four episodes of NBC's "Parks and Recreation" as Leslie Knope's boyfriend Justin Anderson
Wrote the screenplay for the summer blockbuster "Iron Man 2"; also produced
Co-starred opposite Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in "Wanderlust"
Co-wrote screenplay for feature adaptation of the stage musical "Rock of Ages," starring Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, and Alec Baldwin
Starred in Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta's post-apocalyptic HBO series "The Leftovers"
Wrote the script for Ben Stiller's "Zoolander 2"
Appeared in crime drama "The Girl on the Train"
Played the Master Codebreaker in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
Appeared as one of the villains in Duncan Jones' Blade Runner-esque "Mute"