Hunky soap star Mark Valley felt the bite of the acting bug in high school, but the young man's long-term plans didn't include the bright lights of Hollywood. After graduation, Valley attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he earned a degree in mathematics before being stationed in Germany for the better part of five years. The soldier also put his training into action as part of the ground forces in Operation Desert Storm, but it was in Berlin that a talent agent noticed his photogenic face and charismatic nature. The agent convinced Valley to explore the artistic talent he'd noticed so many years before, and he took up the acting profession when his tour of duty ended.
The agent helped Valley land small roles on German television while he studied his new craft at the Etage School of Arts. With a few credits on his resumé, Valley then headed back to the States, where he scored a role in the 1993 John Schlesinger film The Innocent, and a role on the soap opera Another World. It was a part on another soap, however, that would earn Valley a loyal fan base. In 1994, he assumed a prominent role on Days of Our Lives, playing Jack Deveraux. Even though three other actors had played the part before, Valley rose to the occasion, winning the hearts of skeptical fans. He would continue to play the role until 1997, at which point he explored his new professional freedom by taking supporting roles in a variety of movies such as The Siege, Some Girl, and The Next Best Thing. As the new millennium began, a slew of TV appearances carried Valley from project to project as he assumed a regular role as the bad-news ex-husband of Maura Tierney on ER, and a government agent on The 4400.
Then in 2003, Valley landed his first starring role in a prime-time show, Keen Eddie. He was cast as the titular New York City police detective, Eddie Arlette, who follows the trail of several criminals to London where he then works together with law enforcement during an extended stay. Co-starring with him in the series was soon-to-be up-and-coming actress Sienna Miller, playing his unexpected flatmate. Only a handful of episodes of the series aired on Fox before it was canceled, but it fared better when it was later shown on Bravo, including the episodes that had never been aired on network TV.
Wasting no time, Valley soon found another regular TV role the following year, playing attorney Brad Chase on the quirky drama Boston Legal. He was able to hold his own alongside big-name veteran actors James Spader and William Shatner, and the show proved to be a major success. In 2006, Valley signed on to appear in Nanking, Bill Guttentag's documentary about the 1937 massacre of the Chinese city.