In: Glendale, CA
A longtime character actor with the unique ability to alternate between meek and menacing at the drop of a hat, Jon Gries can play a computer wiz (Real Genius, The Pretender) or a South American mercenary (The Rundown) with equal zeal and conviction. A native of Glendale, CA, and the son of Emmy-winning writer/producer/director Tom Gries, Jon launched his acting career with a small role in his father's made-for-television feature Helter Skelter (1976). His father unfortunately died shortly thereafter due to a heart attack, but the the groundwork for Gries' career had been laid. After moving to New York, the young actor studied under the capable tutelage of Stella Adler. Supporting roles in More American Graffiti, Joysticks, and High School USA segued Gries' career into the 1980s, with his role as the reclusive genius Lazlo in the brainy college comedy Real Genius enduring him to a nation of moviegoers. If the remainder of the decade didn't offer Gries the sort of roles that would take him to leading-man status, they would at least find him cast in such high-profile releases as Running Scared, The Monster Squad, and Fright Night Part 2.
After once again appearing opposite Real Genius co-star Val Kilmer in the 1989 noir thriller Kill Me Again, Gries found a niche in television with roles in such series as Martin and The Pretender in the 1990s. Of course, Gries also continued to remain active on the big screen throughout the 1990s, and after a bit role in the popular sci-fi comedy Men in Black, he would establish a fruitful working relationship with Mark and Michael Polish -- the filmmaking duo behind the quirky sleeper Twin Falls Idaho. After turning in a memorable performance as a lawyer in that film, Gries became something of a stock player for the Polish brothers with appearances in both Jackpot and Northfork. Even outside of his work with the Polish brothers, Gries continued to gain indie credibility thanks to parts in such features as The Big Empty and Napoleon Dynamite. Gries' performance as a literally whip-smart heavy in the 2003 action comedy The Rundown found him essaying a rare villainous role, but doing so with such malevolent gusto that even audiences with vivid memories of the brainy Lazlo may not have realized whom they were watching give The Rock such a sound thrashing. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi