Thanks in large part to the independent film movement of the late '80s, the boyishly handsome James LeGros went from being an underrated bit player in Hollywood schlock to a well-respected character actor. A Minnesota native, LeGros found steady work when he migrated to Los Angeles after college in the early '80s, popping up as a guest star in such TV series as Knight Rider, and in Danny DeVito's directorial debut, the made-for-cable satire The Ratings Game (a.k.a. The Mogul). Sci-fi made up the bulk of LeGros' early feature-film roles, including the dreadful post-apocalyptic teen flop Solarbabies (1986) and the thriller sequel Phantasm II (1988).
It was director Gus Van Sant who afforded LeGros the opportunity to show his skills with a meaty supporting role in 1989's much-acclaimed Drugstore Cowboy. As part of a quartet of drifters stealing their way across the Pacific Northwest, the actor held his own against the iconic Matt Dillon as well as newcomer Heather Graham. More challenging parts followed in the early '90s, including the psychological drama The Rapture (1991), Cameron Crowe's ensemble romantic comedy Singles (1992), and a pair of firearm-obsessed indies, Guncrazy and My New Gun (also 1992). Pairing with director Todd Haynes for his 1995 sophomore feature Safe, LeGros garnered more acclaim as a confidante/romantic interest for the mysteriously ailing character played by Julianne Moore. That same year, he hilariously sent up a narcissistic Hollywood actor -- not-so-secretly based on Brad Pitt -- in director Tom DiCillo's satire on the perils of indie filmmaking, Living in Oblivion.