Whether following in the footsteps of the seemingly irreplaceable Robert Reed as the all-wise patriarch of the Brady clan or raising the ire of a nation of embittered office workers as the blissfully malevolent Lumbergh in Mike Judge's popular workplace comedy Office Space, longtime character actor Gary Cole can always be depended on to bring life to his varied and oddly endearing characters, despite their sometimes questionable motivations. Even in his earliest role as Snoopy in a high school production of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, the Park Ridge, IL, native knew his destiny lay on the stage; from that moment straight through Cole's higher education at Illinois State University, his dedication to the theater never wavered. So dedicated was Cole that, during his third year at I.S.U., the eager up-and-comer dropped out to help found the Remains Theater. Transferring over to Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater in 1985, Cole quickly made a name for himself in such productions as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Balm in Gilead.
Though Cole had essayed a handful of television roles in the early '80s, it wasn't until his breakthrough role as a suspected murderer in the 1984 made-for-television feature Fatal Vision that audiences truly began to take notice. Cole's role as the drug-addicted son of an alcoholic father in the 1986 made-for-TV drama Vital Signs showed that he undoubtedly had the chops to make it on the small screen. Despite an increase in television roles, the ambitious actor continued to impress on the stage as well. Cole's first taste of weekly series life came with his role as a former cop who finds redemption as a late-night radio talk show host in the 1989 series Midnight Caller. In the following decade, he would expand his career into feature film territory.