A talented character actor whose pudgy frame and adaptable face allows him to alternate between meek and imposing at the drop of a hat, Maury Chaykin endeared himself to television audiences as razor-sharp detective Nero Wolfe, though he has been appearing in film and television since the late '70s. Raised in Brooklyn, NY, Chaykin took a shine to acting while attending James Madison High School. Following his dream to the University of Buffalo, where he majored in theater, it was there that Chaykin would found The Swampfox Theater in 1968. An avant-garde troupe that became the talk of the town after crashing Toronto's Festival of Underground Theater in 1970, The Swampfox troupe would later gain accolades as the most original group at the Yale Drama Festival. Following such strong beginnings, it was clear to many that great things were in store for Chaykin. Spending a few years at North Buffalo's American Contemporary Theater following his college graduation, Chaykin would later move on to work in experimental theater in Toronto.
Alternating frequently between television and film in his early years, small early roles in such popular films as 1983's WarGames insured the burgeoning actor increased visibility, and following roles in such high-profile fare as Mrs. Soffel (1983) and Turk 182! (1984), Chaykin made a lasting impression when promoted to leading-man status in 1985's Canada's Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal C. Banks. Flawlessly essaying the role of a Canadian union-leader who presided over the country's shipping industry in the 1950s and '60s, the film found Chaykin gaining near universal critical accolades in addition to winning a Nellie Award for his spot-on performance. Despite his success in the role of Banks, Chaykin rounded out the '80s with appearances in such schlocky films as Meatballs III (1987) and Iron Eagle II (1988), with only the occasional dark drama such as Cold Comfort (1989) offering the rare opportunity for him to truly shine.
Things began to look up for Chaykin in the 1990s, and appearances in such acclaimed efforts as Dances With Wolves (1990) and My Cousin Vinny (1992) ensured that he would retain a high profile in the coming years. Though Chaykin's roles were far from top-billed, appearances in Sommersby (1993) and Devil in a Blue Dress (1995) served well to balance out forgettable turns in such efforts as Josh and S.A.M. (1993). In addition to an affecting turn as a faded rock star who attempts to create music that will allow him to communicate with nature in 1994's Whale Music, a haunting turn in the downbeat drama The Sweet Hereafter (1997) provided Chaykin with one of his most memorable roles of the decade. As the 1990s drew to a close, his turn as a biker inmate in the long-running HBO series Oz found a virtually unrecognizable Chaykin using his imposing frame to surprising effect. Rounding out the decade with roles in Entrapment and Mystery, Alaska (both 1999), it seemed that Chaykin was finally getting the recognition he deserved.
At the dawn of the new millennium, television audiences began to warm up to Chaykin when A Nero Wolfe Mystery debuted in 2001. That same year Chaykin would take a memorable turn as a bumbling bureaucrat in director Jonathan Parker's Bartleby, and a dramatic role as a husband suffering after the tragic loss of a child in the made-for-television Crossed Over (2002) proved that he could alternate between mystery, comedy, and drama with unprecedented ease. In the following years, Chaykin could be spotted in substantial roles in such films as Owning Mahowney (2003) and Being Julia (2004).