Denis Leary

Active - 1968 - 2016  |   Born - Aug 18, 1957 in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Crime, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Boston-born Denis Leary is the sneering, tousle-haired comedian who popularized the cautionary phrase "two words." (His routine went something like this: "Regarding Bill Clinton's foreign policy, two words: Jimmy...Carter.") Best known for his many MTV appearances, Leary excels in playing characters who wavered between quiet sarcasm and howling insanity. His one-man show No Cure for Cancer premiered in New York in 1991, scoring a hit with its "intellectual guerilla" comedy. Among Leary's numerous films were National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon (1993), Judgment Night (1993), and Operation Dumbo Drop (1995). His best screen showing was as the beleaguered burglar and reluctant kidnapper in The Ref (1994). He later starred in Wag the Dog (1997), Jesus' Son (1999), and Joe Mantegna's directorial debut, Lakeboat (2000). Leary also served as a producer of the 2001 film Blow. In 2001, he starred as a New York detective in a night time drama called The Job. The series was cancelled before the end of the second season, but Leary was soon back in the movies, lending his voice to the character of Diego in the animated feature Ice Age. Then in 2004, Leary took on the character that would come to define the second leg of his career, accepting the lead role of firefighter Tommy Gavin on the FX series Rescue Me. Critically acclaimed and renowned for pushing the borders of cable television, the show proved to be a huge hit, and Leary won an Emmy for his performance. After the show wrapped in 2011, Leary would spend the followng years appearing in projects like The Amazing Spider Man.

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  • Classmates at Emerson College included Mario Cantone, Eddie Brill and Steven Wright.
  • Founded the Emerson Comedy Workshop and briefly taught at the college after graduating.
  • Formed his own production company called Apostle.
  • Won a CableACE Award for Best Director of a comedy for Showtime's National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins.
  • Founded the Leary Firefighters Foundation in response to a warehouse fire in downtown Worcester that killed six firefighters, including his first cousin.
  • Third cousin of Conan O'Brien (through marriage).