Family & Companions
Utah native Matthew Davis initially gained notoriety with supporting roles as the all-American male alongside stars like Colin Farrell and Reese Witherspoon, before settling into more varied character roles in both film and on television. As so many had before him, Davis' first break came with a role in a horror film, in his case the sequel "Urban Legends: Final Cut" (2000), although his performance opposite Farrell in the Vietnam-era drama "Tigerland" (2000) provided a better demonstration of his talent. He was perfectly cast as the rich, shallow boyfriend of Witherspoon in the comedy "Legally Blonde" (2001) then performed well as a stalwart naval officer in the WWII thriller "Below" (2002). Following a period of credits in smaller film projects and an unsuccessful television series, Davis found a home on the small screen when he was cast as the teacher-slash-vampire hunter, Alaric Saltzman on the supernatural teen drama series "The Vampire Diaries" (The CW, 2009-17). Having proven himself capable of tackling leading man roles, or contributing as a quirky supporting player, Davis ensured himself a lengthy career as one of young Hollywood's more dependable actors.
Born Matthew W. Davis on May 8, 1978 in Salt Lake City, UT, he grew up in the nearby town of Woods Cross. Upon graduating from Woods Cross High School, Davis attended college at the University of Utah where he first discovered his love of acting after enrolling on a whim in a number of theater course. Deciding to follow his newfound calling, Davis left the university after a year and moved to New York City to further his studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where he appeared in several theatrical productions. His big break came with the horror sequel "Urban Legends: Final Cut" (2000), in which he played the dual roles of Travis and Trevor Stark, twins embroiled in murderous mayhem at a prestigious film academy. While the film proved to be a middling success, another project released that same year would do more to improve his cinematic pedigree.
Cast as Private Jim Paxton opposite the then-unknown Colin Farrell in Joel Schumacher's Vietnam-era drama "Tigerland" (2000), Davis turned in a solid, measured performance as a soldier with literary aspirations that garnered critical attention - no small feat, in light of the fact that he was competing for screen time with the intense Farrell. Davis was soon back in a military setting in a role tailored specifically for him in Michael Bay's gargantuan WWII epic, "Pearl Harbor" (2001). The over-the-top drama, starring Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, was universally panned by critics, but won awards for its extravagant special effects and earned the studio hundreds of millions of dollars. Its effect on Davis' nascent film career, however, was debatable.
Looking to showcase his comedic abilities, Davis seemed right at home in his role as moneyed Harvard law student Warner Huntington III, the preppy boyfriend of Reese Witherspoon, in the fish-out-of-water comedy "Legally Blonde" (2001). With the film a smash hit upon release, the actor sought to extend his range further when took on a role as a gay mechanic in the low-budget crime-comedy "Lone Star State of Mind" (2002), alongside Joshua Jackson and Jamie King. Clearly a strong candidate to play the leading man, Davis was next given a prominent role in the surfing film "Blue Crush" (2002). Portraying Kate Bosworth's beau, NFL quarterback Matt Tollman, Davis showed his commitment by learning to surf for the role and overcoming his childhood fear of the ocean. In a return to the military milieu of the 1940s, Davis landed a starring role as an inexperienced young submarine officer trying to earn the respect of his crew while maintaining his own sanity in the atmospheric thriller "Below" (2002). Co-written by filmmaker Darren Aronofsky and directed by David Twohy, "Below" was an intelligent supernatural mystery that relied more on ratcheting up the tension than on gratuitous scares and gore.
After a number of roles in smaller films, Davis joined an ensemble cast for the New York City-based, Merchant-Ivory production "Heights" (2004), starring opposite Elizabeth Banks and Glenn Close. The following year, he threw himself into the action arena, first with a turn as Stephen Segal's FBI agent partner in the direct-to-DVD Yakuza showdown "Into the Sun" (2005), followed by a turn alongside Kristanna Loken, Michael Madsen and Michelle Rodriguez in the video-game adaptation "BloodRayne" (2005), directed by Z-movie maestro Uwe Boll. After consistently establishing himself as a key player on the big screen, Davis branched out into television work. He made his small screen debut portraying Barry Watson's best friend Adam on the short-lived comedic drama, "What About Brian" (2006-07), a show focusing on a group of thirty-something friends coping with life and love in Los Angeles.
Following a couple of years comprised of barely-seen screen efforts and the occasional TV guest spot, things began to pick up considerably for Davis in 2009. All in the same year, he appeared alongside Leelee Sobieski and Jamie Kennedy in the porn-centric romantic-comedy "Finding Bliss" (2009), played a pastor in "S. Darko" (2009), a sequel to the Jake Gyllenhaal cult favorite; and appeared as a recurring character in several episodes of the Glenn Close legal melodrama "Damages" (FX, 2006-12). The biggest impact on Davis' career that year came when he joined the cast of the supernatural soap opera "The Vampire Diaries" (The CW, 2009-17), as Alaric Saltzman, full-time high school history teacher and part-time hunter of the undead. Based on the popular novels by L. J. Smith, the fan-favorite series focused on the love triangle between a young human girl (Nina Dobrev) and the blood-sucking brothers (Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder) who love her.
By Bryce Coleman
Cast (Feature Film)
Stunts (Feature Film)
Appeared as Jim Paxton, the enlistee with literary aspirations, in the Vietnam War-era ensemble drama "Tigerland"
First feature role, played twins in "Urban Legends: Final Cut"
Cast as a preppy Harvard Law student opposite Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde"
Had featured role as a fighter pilot in "Pearl Harbor"; credited as Matt Davis
Appeared as a gay mechanic alongside Joshua Jackson in "Lone Star State of Mind"
Cast as the love interest to Kate Bosworth in the summer hit "Blue Crush"
Starred as an American submarine officer in the thriller "Below"
Appeared in the comedy "Seeing Other People"
Co-starred with Glenn Close, James Marsden and Jesse Bradford in "Heights" a drama following five New Yorkers over 24-hours
Played Adam, Brian's best friend on the ABC series "What About Brian"
Starred as Sebastian, a vampire hunter in the big-screen version of the popular video game "BloodRayne"