A hulking character actor who brings new meaning to the concept of versatility, Oliver Platt has appeared in a dizzying array of films that make him instantly recognizable but not instantly placeable to the average filmgoer. Since making his screen debut as an oily Wall Street drone in Mike Nichols' Working Girl (1988), Platt has lent his talents to almost every conceivable genre, including period dramas, political comedies, children's films, and campy horror movies.
The son of a U.S. Ambassador, Platt was born in Windsor on January 12, 1960, Platt and his family soon moved to Washington, D.C. Thanks to his father's job, he had an exceptionally itinerant childhood. By the time he was 18, he had attended 12 different schools in places as diverse as Tokyo, the Middle East, and Colorado. Long interested in acting, Platt received a BA in drama from Boston's Tufts University; following graduation, he remained in Boston for three years to pursue his stage career. In 1986 he moved to New York, where he performed in a number of off-Broadway productions and had the lead in the 1989 Lincoln Center production of Ubu.
Following his screen debut in Working Girl, Platt began finding steady work in such films as Married to the Mob (1988), Postcards from the Edge (1990), Beethoven (1992) -- which featured him and future collaborator Stanley Tucci as puppy thieves -- and Benny and Joon (1993). He also proved himself adept at cheesy period drama in The Three Musketeers (1993), which cast him as Porthos, and at all-out comedy, as demonstrated by his turn as a struggling comic in Funny Bones (1995). Rarely cast as a leading man, Platt has always been visible in substantial supporting roles, equally comfortable at portraying nice guys, bad guys, and just flat out weird guys alike. As Ashley Judd's suitor in Simon Birch (1998), he was the straight man, while in The Impostors (1998), his second collaboration with Tucci (two years earlier he served as associate producer for the latter's Big Night), he again displayed his capacity for broad physical comedy as a struggling actor who finds himself a stowaway on an ocean liner. In Dangerous Beauty (1998), Platt was able to exercise his nasty side as a bitter nobleman-turned-religious zealot in 16th-century Venice; that same year, his capacity for exasperated quirkiness was displayed in Bulworth, which cast him as Warren Beatty's put-upon, coke-snorting campaign manager.
1999 proved to be a somewhat disappointing year for Platt, as two of his films, Three to Tango (which featured him as a gay architect) and the schlock-horror Lake Placid, which cast him as an idiosyncratic mythology expert, were both critical and commercial flops. A third film that year, Bicentennial Man -- in which Platt played the scientist who turns the titular robot (Robin Williams) into a man -- fared somewhat better. The following year, Platt's comic abilities were again on display in Gun Shy, in which he hammed it up as a bottom-rung mafioso with an overblown ego.
Fortunately for the workhorse actor, the 2000s seemed to prove the boost -- and exposure -- his sagging career needed. Earning back to back Emmy nominations in 2006 and 2007 for his performance opposite former Tufts University classmate Hank Azaria in the weekly dramedy Huff, Platt was also nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild Award for his turn as New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the TV mini-series The Bronk is Burning (2007). With 2008 came yet another Ammy nomination -- this time for his guest role on the hit FX series Nip/Tuck -- and in 2009 he appeared as Nathan Detroit in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls. Other notable television appearances from this phase of Platt's career included a recurring character on the seriocomic HBO series Bored to Death and a prominent role as the husband of a suburban housewife diagnosed with cancer in the Showtime comedy drama series The Big C.