Since his 1995 debut as Heather Matarazzo's would-be rapist in Welcome to the Dollhouse, Brendan Sexton III has become a fixture on the independent film circuit. Often playing troubled and/or alienated young men, he has steadily established himself as one of the more compelling, hard-edged actors of his generation.
Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance for his work in Dollhouse (the award ultimately went to his co-star, Matarazzo), the Staten Island native immediately began to attract notice in the indie film arena. Following a small role as another troubled boy in that same year's Empire Records, he went on to appear in a number of independent features, including 1997's Arresting Gena and A, B, C . . . Manhattan. In 1998, John Waters cast him as the shoplifting friend of Pecker's titular hero; that same year, Sexton led a cast of up-and-comers (including Christina Ricci, Kate Hudson and Casey Affleck) in Morgan J. Freeman's Desert Blue, playing one of the denizens of a small desert town. He collaborated with director Freeman again that year in Hurricane Streets, starring as the film's delinquent streetwise protagonist who tries to mend his ways. In 1999, Sexton had a major role in Boys Don't Cry, the story of Brandon Teena, a woman whose decision to lead her life as a man met with brutal consequences.
Over the coming years, Sexton would continue to remain a success on screen, appearing in films like Black Hawk Down and Everybody's Fine, as well as on the TV series The Killing.