Benjamin Bratt was already an experienced film and TV actor by the time his four-year stint as Det. Reynaldo "Rey" Curtis on NBC's long-running hit Law and Order made him famous. Born and raised in San Francisco, Bratt studied acting at UC-Santa Barbara and in his hometown. After roles in two short-lived 1980s TV series, Bratt made his film debut as John Travolta's foe in the shelved, then straight-to-cable Chains of Gold (1991). Concentrating on building a movie career, Bratt played supporting roles in the action films Demolition Man (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), and The River Wild (1994), as well as one of the lead roles in Bound by Honor (1993), about Chicano gang life. After joining Law and Order in 1995 as the coolly-passionate Curtis, the half-Peruvian Indian, half-Caucasian Bratt's chiseled looks received positive notices along with his acting, but rather than rest on his laurels, Bratt used his hiatus time to produce (with his director brother Peter Bratt) and star in the indie film Follow Me Home (1997). After leaving the show in 1999 (girlfriend Julia Roberts guest-starred in one of Bratt's last episodes), Bratt moved back to San Francisco to be closer to his family and focus on making movies. He costarred as Madonna's paramour in The Next Best Thing (2000).
Untouched by The Next Best Thing's failure, Bratt joined the prestigious ensemble cast of Steven Soderbergh's acclaimed, Oscar-winning narcotics drama Traffic (2000), becoming nearly unrecognizable in a brief appearance as a sleazy drug dealer. Scoring his second Christmas 2000 hit, Bratt played off his smooth, sexy law enforcement officer image as Sandra Bullock's FBI ally-turned-love interest in the comedy Miss Congeniality (2000).