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Enrico Colantoni Biography

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Birth Name: Enrico Colantoni
Born: 02/14/1963
Birth Place: Toronto, Ontario, CA

Born Feb. 14, 1963 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Enrico Colantoni was raised in a blue-collar family headed by Italian immigrants and grew up in a similarly ethic neighborhood, where, as a child, he began creating and starring in plays featuring all of his friends. Although his parents hoped he would become a priest, Colantoni enrolled at the University of Toronto to study law, but quickly found himself gravitating towards drama. Inspired by his professors to pursue the stage, Colantoni moved to New York City to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Working various menial jobs, Colantoni decided to stick out the difficult life of an aspiring actor even after his family proved less than supportive of his career choice and his parents moved back to Italy. He made his screen acting debut in 1987 with a pair of guest spots on "Night Heat" (CTV, 1985-89) and "Friday the 13th: The Series" (syndicated, 1987-1990) in which he was billed as "Rico Colantoni." Despite his professional success, the actor still felt unsure of his craft and abilities, so opted for additional training at the prestigious Yale School of Drama, which proved the turning point in his career. Not only did he win awards and star in the School's 1992 production of "Hamlet," Colantoni went on to study at Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

His confidence in his craft bolstered, the actor returned to New York City where he immersed himself in theater, treading the boards in everything from "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "Macbeth" and "Arabian Nights." He also began notching TV credits again, guesting in episodes of "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-98) and, most notably, "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005), where he made waves with a powerful recurring role as the schizophrenic, dangerous son of Dan Breen (Peter Boyle). Colantoni's success led him to relocate to Los Angeles, where he landed a series regular role as Jessica Lundy's lovable ex-husband Louis on the sitcom "Hope & Gloria" (NBC, 1995-96). As his professional momentum increased, Colantoni landed small roles in the Wesley Snipes/Woody Harrelson action thriller "Money Train" (1995), Kevin Spacey's "Albino Alligator" (1996), and the Dave Foley oddity "The Wrong Guy" (1997). He fared better with a well-honed character role in the TV adaptation of Carson McCullers's beloved "The Member of the Wedding" (USA Network, 1997), playing the father of the restless young Frankie (Anna Paquin).

After hovering on the cusp of stardom, he finally broke through with what was arguably his most famous role, the suave but secretly vulnerable ladies' man/photographer Elliot DiMauro on "Just Shoot Me!" (NBC, 1997-2003). Although the series was never a ratings or cultural powerhouse, "Just Shoot Me!" was a well-crafted workplace comedy that featured an extremely talented cast that included Laura San Giacomo, Wendie Malick, David Spade and George Segal, and became an enduring, low-key hit. Although he may have seemed like an unconventional romantic lead with his balding appearance, Colantoni proved attractive to female viewers on the series, and saw his professional profile boosted accordingly. He played a corrupt priest in the Patricia Arquette supernatural thriller "Stigmata" (1999), a goofy alien leader in the Tim Allen/Sigourney Weaver sci-fi comedy "Galaxy Quest" (1999), a murderer in the Steven Spielberg/Stanley Kubrick collaboration "A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001), and controversial director Elia Kazan opposite James Franco's "James Dean" (TNT, 2001).

After "Just Shoot Me!" had run its course, Colantoni booked a string of guest spots and animated voice roles before landing his second most famous role - that of the beleaguered but admirable private investigator Keith Mars, father of Kristen Bell's titular teen sleuth "Veronica Mars" (UPN, 2004-06; The CW, 2006-07). Although the hyper intelligent series immediately became a critical darling and cult favorite, it struggled in the ratings throughout its run, but Colantoni's turn as Bell's flawed, funny and ferociously loyal father resonated with viewers and critics alike. In the actor's hands, what could have been a minor role instead became one of the pillars of the series, and one of the show's many strengths, earning him a Teen Choice Award nomination. After his stellar work on "Veronica Mars," Colantoni again notched a slew of film and TV roles, including playing René Angélil, the husband-manager of superstar Céline Dion in "Céline" (CTV, 2008) and another long-running TV gig as Sgt. Gregory Parker, leader of the Strategic Response Unit on the Canadian law enforcement drama "Flashpoint" (CTV, 2008- ), for which he earned a Best Actor Gemini nomination.

While his "Flashpoint" work was typically first-rate, Colantoni was seen by more American audiences for his work on "Person of Interest" (CBS, 2011- ). A fascinating and mysterious crime drama that revolved around the unlikely team of a CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) and a billionaire (Michael Emerson) whose software can pinpoint potential murderers, the show gave Colantoni a juicy recurring role as Carl Elias, an up-and-coming Mafioso with plans to seize control of the city's crime families. Again, the actor managed to portray a multifaceted character whose strength, darkness and complexity were fascinatingly flecked with an inescapable charm, leading many viewers and critics to single out his award-worthy contributions to the series. On the feature side, he had a small role as a Homeland Security official in Steven Soderbergh's thriller "Contagion" (2011), while on the small screen he portrayed J. Edgar Hoover in the controversial miniseries "The Kennedys" (ReelzChannel, 2011), starring Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy and Barry Pepper as brother Robert. In March 2013, news spread that "Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell had raised over $2 million in less than 24 hours through in order to raise financing for a long-rumored feature version of the show. The Kickstarter campaign came about when Thomas was unable to secure funding through traditional means, leading to this rather unorthodox, but highly successful approach. Though not confirmed, Colantoni was thought to be in the mix to reprise Veronica's father.

By Jonathan Riggs