Proving that there is a reason for the existence of the cliché "tall, dark, and handsome," Dylan McDermott has won many a heart, as well as many a critical nod, for his role on the Emmy-winning television series The Practice. The actor struggled for years before landing his part as a lawyer on the show in 1997. Since then, the critical appreciation he has garnered has been complemented by his regular appearances in the style sections of a number of magazines, making him one of the most visible actors in Hollywood.
Born October 26, 1962, in Waterbury, CT, McDermott had a tumultuous childhood. After his parents' divorce, his mother died when the actor was very young. Following her death, McDermott was raised by his father in New York's Greenwich Village. McDermott was, by his own account, something of a delinquent, but his life began to turn around when he discovered acting as a teenager. His interest in the theater was given an additional boost by his stepmother, the playwright Eve Ensler. Ensler encouraged the actor, whom she formally adopted when he was 19, and he began training for his career at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse.
After acting in stage productions such as Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues, McDermott made his film debut as platoon leader Sgt. Franz in 1987's Hamburger Hill. His next notable role was as Julia Roberts' husband in Steel Magnolias. Despite being part of one of the biggest hits of 1989, real fame eluded McDermott, who secured limited recognition for his reported real-life role as Roberts' boyfriend rather than for his acting in the film.
After appearing in leading man roles in a string of disappointing films, including Jersey Girl with Jami Gertz, McDermott's luck began to change, with a part in Clint Eastwood's 1993 smash In the Line of Fire. The following year, he got a lead role as Elizabeth Perkins' lawyer love interest in Miracle on 34th Street. The relative success of that film was inversely proportional to McDermott's next, the ill-received Woody Harrelson vehicle The Cowboy Way (1994). McDermott rebounded somewhat with his leading role as Holly Hunter's love interest in the following year's Home for the Holidays, but it wasn't until two years later, when he appeared in a few episodes of Ally McBeal and landed his role on The Practice, that McDermott began to find true success. Winning a 1999 Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe award for his work on the show, the actor (who by this point was also the subject of numerous articles and Best Dressed photos with his wife, stage actress Shiva Ashfar) found previously closed doors being opened, most notably in the form of a big-screen starring role in the 1999 romantic comedy Three to Tango, co-starring Matthew Perry and Neve Campbell.
Increasingly in demand as a television actor in the following years, McDermott turned up in the boardroom jungle series Big Shots and the short-lived police drama Dark Blue before shattering small screen taboos as a cheating husband who unwittingly moves his family into a haunted house in the twisted FX Network series American Horror Story. In 2012, as if to balance the morbidity of his latest television endeavor, the handsome and versatile actor flexed his comic chops opposite Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in the election year political comedy The Campaign. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi