American actor C. Thomas Howell (the "C" is for Christopher) began his acting career at the age of four, when he was a regular on the TV series Little People; he went on to appear on two other series: Two Marriages and Into the Homeland. This led to a big break when he was cast at the age of 16 in a secondary role in Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), one of the most successful films of all time. Following that, Francis Ford Coppola gave him the lead (in part due to Howell's "pretty-boy" good looks) in The Outsiders (1983), which has led to a consistent film career. However, most of his movies (with the exception of The Hitcher, 1986, in which he is stalked by a killer) have fared badly at the box office. Besides being an actor, Howell is also a former junior rodeo circuit champion. He is married to actress Rae Dawn Chong, with whom he co-starred in Soul Man (1986). The two divorced in 1990, but Howell remarried Sylvie Anderson in 1992.
Howell would continue to appear in several projects a year, playing such notable roles as Lt. Thomas D. Chamberlain in 1993's Gettysburg, and the title role in 1995's Baby Face Nelson. In 1995, he tried his hand at directing, helming the drama Hourglass. In 1996 he directed The Big Fall and Pure Danger, and later, Howell added writing and producing to his resume as well, earning both screenwriter and producer credits for 2004's Hope Ranch and 2005's Blind Injustice. Howell also never gave up acting, appearing in such varied films as 2004's Hidalgo and 2007's Hoboken Hallow. He continued to work steadily, directing projects like The Day the Earth Stopped, The Land That Time Forgot, and The genesis Code in addition to acting in various films. He enjoyed his highest profile success in many years when he played the father of a young boy rescued by a superhero in The Amazing Spider Man.