Produced in Illinois on December 9, 1953, John Malkovich did Obie Award winning stage work before earning an Emmy Award because of his character in Death of a Salesman. Malkovich is now a multiple Oscar nominee for movies like Places in the Heart and Dangerous Liaisons, where he impersonated an evil aristocrat. He is in addition the subject of the phantasmagoric 1999 comedy Being John Malkovich, where he played himself.
Malkovich is one of five kids. His dad, Daniel, was the conservation manager for the state of Illinois as well as the editor of a conservation magazine, while his mom, J Anne, edited an area newspaper.
As a son, Malkovich did not consistently have it simple. Because his parents were frequently away for work, the Malkovich kids were frequently left to care for themselves. John was big-boned, something his older brother frequently teased him around.
While his parents expected their son would continue to be a park ranger in Montana, Malkovich rather registered at Illinois State University, in which a girl he had fallen for motivated him to try out performing.
To keep food on the table, Malkovich, never afraid of effort, held several different occupations.
“I worked in a office supply shop, I drove a school bus, I painted houses, I worked to get a Mexican landscape gardening business, picking out weeds,” he told The Guardian newspaper in 2001. “And usually after I had been doing something it somehow took my interest. Actually, it has to be a sort of shallowness: when I did office supplies mainly I thought about office supplies, and then once I got on the train I Had think about theater, and then I ‘d do theater. But the following morning I’d go in and, you know, reorganize the paper clips.”
On stage and with Steppenwolf, Malkovich had several memorable performances, including characters in some of Sam Shepherd plays, Curse of the Starving Class and True West. The latter helped establish Steppenwolf and earn Malkovich a enviable OBIE award when the performance moved to The Big Apple.
But it was Places in the Heart (1984), a Depression era play in which Malkovich played a blind edge, which proved to be the performer’s big breakout role.
In 1999 he teamed up with director Spike Jonze in the smartly written Being John Malkovich, where a team of office workers find a secret tunnel to the head of the performer.
In the past few years since, Malkovich has continued his remarkable run with movies like Ripley’s Game (2002), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) and Burn After Reading (2008).
John Malkovich has two kids, Amandine produced in 1990 and Lowey produced in 1992, along with his partner Nicoletta Peyran. The couple resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.