Date of Birth: July 9th 1951
Having spent much of his youth on his father's Missouri cattle ranch, it is not surprising that supporting and leading actor of stage, screen, and television Chris Cooper has specialized in playing cowboys, ranchers, and other hardworking men. His rugged Everyman demeanor has best been put to use by filmmaker John Sayles, who cast him in a number of his films, beginning with 1987's Matewan.
Cooper's interest in the theater began in his late teens, when he designed and constructed sets for a community group. Following high school, he studied agriculture and acting at the University of Missouri before moving to New York City in hopes of making it on the stage. It took awhile, but by 1980 he was starring in productions like Of the Fields Lately, The Ballad of Soapy Smith, and Cobb, in which he played the title role.
His film debut came in 1980, in Nicholas Roeg's Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession. He didn't get his big break until seven years later, when Sayles cast him as Joe Kenehan, a member of the coalminer's union who is sent to a tiny mountain town to organize the workers in Matewan (1987). He again worked with Sayles in City of Hope (1991) and then in Lone Star (1996), for which he won great acclaim playing the enigmatic Sam Deeds, the prodigal son of a tiny Texas town's sheriff who solves a mystery and comes to grips with his relationship with his late father.