Wes Bentley was a relative newcomer to film when he starred in Sam Mendes' American Beauty (1999), but his haunting portrayal of the battered, enigmatic Ricky Fitts made him one of the most talked about young actors of the year. Dark, lanky, and possessing a pair of blue eyes of diamond-cutting intensity, Bentley beat out 20 young Hollywood actors for the role (according to Mendes), and his breakthrough performance was soon generating Oscar buzz. The actor originally hailed from Jonesboro, AR, where he was tormented by school bullies for being a "pretty boy," and he came to film via New York's Juilliard School, where he acted in a number of productions. While in New York, Bentley also sought other work, and an open casting call for Rent led to a casting director's request for him to do some reading for a small film. Prior to American Beauty, Bentley's film experience had been limited to roles in independent films such as Three Below Zero and Halfway to Pleasantville, and a small part in Jonathan Demme's Beloved. Following his acclaimed role in American Beauty, Bentley appeared in The White River Kid, in which he played the film's titular murderer.
In the wake of American Beauty, Bentley starred in Michael Winterbottom's The Claim, as well as yet another version of the classic adventure tale The Four Feathers. He was away from screens for three years at that point, but returned in 2005's The Game of Their Lives and continued to work steadily in a variety of projects including Ghost Rider and Jonah Hex. He scored his most high-profile role since American Beauty in 2012 when he played the part of Seneca Crane, the elaborately bearded game-master in The Hunger Games. He played a supporting role in Christopher Nolan's outerspace epic Interstellar in 2014.