One of the leading actors of his generation and an important figure in world cinema, John Malkovich made the term "icy calm" his trademark. After winning acclaim for his characterization of the scheming Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, he became associated with a series of roles that, to put it plainly, essentially required him to be an evil bastard.
The product of a large, highly intellectual family, Malkovich was born December 9, 1953, in Christopher, IL. Initially a portly youth, he underwent a self-imposed physical transformation, emerging as a star high school athlete. He went on to attend Eastern Illinois University, where he originally aspired to be a professional environmentalist. With his friend Gary Sinise, Malkovich helped co-found Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in 1976. Seven years later, he won an Obie award when the Steppenwolf production of Sam Shepard's True West was brought to New York. He next appeared on Broadway with Dustin Hoffman in the 1984 revival of Death of a Salesman; when it was transformed into a television movie a year later, Malkovich won an Emmy for his efforts. While he was working on Broadway, he made his film debut, playing a blind transient in Places in the Heart (1984), which earned him an Oscar nomination. He also had a starring role in The Killing Fields the same year.