Born April 16, 1976, to a painter father and singer/screenwriter mother, actor Lukas Haas was discovered at age four in his West Hollywood, CA, elementary school. Haas' kindergarten principal spotted acting potential in the young student and encouraged his parents to set their sights on a movie career for the boy. They did so and Haas got his first film role in 1983's Testament, in which he played the youngest of the doomed children of post-apocalyptic housewife Jane Alexander. In 1985, Haas got his big break in the title role of Witness (1985), playing an Amish boy who witnesses a murder and must accept the protection of cop Harrison Ford. Haas received positive reviews for his performance in the widely lauded film and went on to further raves -- and an Emmy nomination -- four years later for his TV portrayal of AIDS victim Ryan White in The Ryan White Story. In-between came roles in such high-grade, sensitive teen fare as The Lady in White and The Wizard of Loneliness (both 1988).
Haas then disappeared for awhile, making occasional appearances in films such as Rambling Rose (1991), which cast him as a sweet, sexually inquisitive adolescent. 1996 marked the beginning of a new stage in his career, when he appeared in four very different films. No longer the cute little Amish boy in Witness, the now tall, gawky actor showcased his talents in Woody Allen's musical comedy Everyone Says I Love You, Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!, the coming-of-age Boys (in which he co-starred with Winona Ryder), and Johns, in which he and David Arquette played down-and-out prostitutes in Los Angeles.
In 1998, the indignity of having his scenes deleted from Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line was partially allayed by the praise Haas received for his lead role in David and Lisa, a made-for-TV movie co-produced by Oprah Winfrey. He went on to star as Bunny Hoover in the screen adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, a role which put him in the company of such actors as Albert Finney, Bruce Willis, Nick Nolte, and Barbara Hershey.
After a smattering of minor roles -- and a stint in a band with Vincent Gallo -- Haas was very much in demand as an edgy supporting player as he approached his 30th birthday. Festival audiences got a double-dose of the actor in two high-profile 2005 indies: First as the gang kingpin known simply as Pin in the high-school noir Brick, then in a minor but memorable part as a friend to Michael Pitt's doomed rock star in Gus Van Sant's Last Days. Two higher-profile films of wildly different stripes followed: 2006's gritty crime drama Alpha Dog and the Duff sisters' bubblegum flop Material Girls. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi