An actor whose solid everyman quality has endeared him to audiences and critics alike, Jon Favreau first made his name with 1996's Swingers. The story of a group of rat pack-obsessed, out-of-work actors slumming amiably through life in L.A., the indie-comedy was one of the year's biggest sleeper hits and made a star out of Favreau, who also wrote the script.
A native of Queens, NY, where he was born on October 19, 1966, Favreau was raised as the only child of two educators. After attending the Bronx High School of Science, he did an abbreviated stint at Queens College before heading to Chicago to pursue a comedy career. In Chicago, he studied improvisational comedy with Del Close and was a member of the ImrovOlympic troupe. Favreau's time in Chicago ended when he decided to head to L.A. to try and break into film; his experiences as a lovelorn, out-of-work actor would later provide the inspiration for Swingers.
After years of false hopes and false starts that took the form of supporting roles in such disappointing films as Rudy and P.C.U., Favreau began channeling his experiences and those of his friends (who included fellow Swingers star Vince Vaughn) into a rudimentary script for Swingers. Encouraged to make his script into a film, the actor despaired of securing enough funding for the project until he met fledgling director Doug Liman, who convinced him that the film could be made for 250,000 dollars. Costs were cut by filming largely without permits and making use of inexpensive shooting locations such as Favreau's own apartment. The film's low-budget charm was sufficient enough to sway the powers-that-be at Miramax who picked it up for distribution. When Swingers was eventually released in 1996, it was hailed by critics as a funny and painfully accurate account of the L.A. scene and its various faux-hipster denizens, as well as the dynamics at work amongst a group of guys (Favreau, Vaughn, and company) and the women they try so desperately to impress. In the wake of the film's success, Favreau, who was being hailed as the latest in the long line of Hollywood "Next Big Things," chose to star in Very Bad Things (1998), a black comedy directed by actor-turned-director Peter Berg. The film, in which Favreau played a soon-to-be married man whose Las Vegas bachelor party goes disastrously wrong, received very mixed reviews, although most critics praised the actor's performance as a "suburban Joe" caught up in circumstances that rapidly spiral beyond his control. After playing the eponymous boxing legend in the made-for-TV Rocky Marciano in 1999, Favreau returned to the screen in 2000 to star as a football player in The Replacements, a sports comedy directed by Howard Deutch. That same year, he returned to the indie scene with Love & Sex, a take on urban romance.
In 2001, Favreau re-teamed with Vaughn for Made, a crime comedy that cast the two actors as aspiring mobsters and marked Favreau's feature directorial debut. Also in 2001, Favreau made the jump to the small screen, producing and hosting IFC's Dinner for Five, a candid roundtable program featuring fellow actors and filmmakers. In 2003, not only did Favreau show up in supporting roles in the hits Daredevil and Something's Gotta Give, his sophomore directorial effort, the Will Ferrell holiday comedy Elf proved to be one of the season's biggest crowd-pleasers, grossing over 100 million dollars at the box office. He followed up that success by bringing Chris Van Allsburg's Zathura to the big screen, although it did not match Elf's box office success.
After making a few cameos on TV shows like My Name Is Earl and Monk, Favreau re-teamed with Vince Vaughn once again for a supporting role in the 2006 comedy The Break-Up. He also lent his vocal talents to the animated film Open Season. That same year he announced he would be taking on directorial duties for the big screen adaptation of the comic book Iron Man. Though it wouldn't be released until 2008, Iron Man was a huge success, and helped further Favreau's already solid reputation as a director. Favreau went on to direct Iron Man 2 (2010), which enjoyed similar success.
Favreau returned to the screen to play a role in the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat (which he also wrote), which follows a group of married adults who realize their inclusion in a tropical vacation depends on taking part in intense, mandatory therapy sessions. The same year, Favreau appeared in the buddy comedy I Love You, Man, and lent his voice to the cast of the animated children's adventure G-Force. In 2011, Favreau directed and produced the popular sci-fi Western Cowboys & Aliens, and worked as an Executive Producer for 2012's blockbuster hit Marvel's The Avengers.
~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi