While significant mainstream recognition has eluded Robert Patrick, with two notable exceptions -- he all but replaced David Duchovny in the waning days of The X-Files and admirably portrayed "the liquid metal cop guy" in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) -- he has nonetheless built an impressive resumé with over 60 television and film appearances since the mid-'80s. The eldest of five children, Patrick didn't choose to pursue a career in acting until his mid-twenties, despite having a bona fide diva moment during a third-grade production of Peter Pan, for which he refused to wear the required green tights. Rather, after a successful stint as a linebacker for Bowling Green University, Patrick became a house painter and may have continued as such were it not for a serious accident in the waters of Lake Erie, where he nearly drowned. The accident served as a revelation of sorts for Patrick, who promptly quit his day job and moved from Ohio to Los Angeles. It took more than a few sacrifices -- a then 26-year-old Patrick lived in his car and tended bar for his major source of income -- but the young actor found himself playing small roles in various low-budget films, which he credited to his tough-looking exterior and motorcycle-riding abilities.
Though Patrick spent most of the late '80s paying his dues, his breakout performance landed him opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in director James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Patrick readied himself for the role of the T-1000 android in a rather unique fashion; in addition to martial arts, endurance, and strength training, he observed the movements of cats, eagles, and praying mantises. Odd as that may have sounded at the time, it certainly enhanced one of the most memorable roles in one of the most memorable films of the decade. After T2, Patrick was able to leave the world of B-movies and hold his own alongside some of the most established actors in Hollywood, including a second performance with Schwarzenegger in Last Action Hero (1993) and a more prominent role opposite Demi Moore in Striptease (1996). Patrick also expressed a fondness for martial arts films, and starred in both Double Dragon and Hong Kong 97 in 1994. However, it was his 1993 performance as a stoic regular-guy-turned-UFO-believer in Fire in the Sky that caught the attention of X-Files director Chris Carter. Carter immediately thought of Patrick when David Duchovny distanced himself from The X-Files, and, after auditioning 70-odd actors for the role of John Doggett, became determined to initiate Patrick into his long-running world of conspiracy theories and paranormal phenomena. To the surprise of fans and critics alike, Patrick was received quite well on The X-Files, and quickly found himself gracing the covers of many a genre magazine -- he was even anointed one of the Ten Sexiest Men of Sci-Fi by TV Guide.
By the time The X-Files aired its last show, Patrick had developed a solid reputation within the industry; critics, fans, and co-stars alike praised him for his work ethic, personality, and consistent performances. Rather than fading into the scenery, Patrick starred as the mysterious Mr. Lisp in Spy Kids (2001), and later starred as a reclusive wilderness tracker in Pavement (2002). After making appearances in Richard Shepard's Mexico City (2002), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), and the sci-fi spin-off series Stargate: Atlantis, Patrick filmed director Jay W. Russell's Ladder 49 (2004). A memorable performance as Johnny Cash's distant father Ray in Walk the Line followed in 2005, with a subsequent role as a security expert in the Harrison Ford thriller Firewall preceeding a return to weekly television in the David Mamet-created series The Unit in 2006. Later in 2006, Patrick would incur the wrath of WWE superstar John Cena with his role as a ruthless kidnapper in the explosive action thriller The Marine.