Possessing the sort of apple-cheeked, translucent-skinned All-American wholesomeness that has made him a natural for the pretty-boy jock roles which began his career, Chris Klein started a minor sensation after appearing in only two films. The actor was born in Hinsdale (Chicago), Illinois on March 14, 1979. After spending the first 13 years of his life there, he moved with his family to Nebraska. It was while he was in high school that Klein was discovered by director Alexander Payne, who was busy casting his upcoming film, Election (1999). Klein won the role of Paul Metzler in Payne's film, which opened to enthusiastic reviews. As Paul, Klein played the dim but sweet football player persuaded by Matthew Broderick's Jim McAllister to run against the unopposed Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) in the school's student council election. Klein played a similar character in his next film, the 1999 summer smash American Pie. As Chris "Oz" Ostreicher, Klein was again seen as a sweetly dim high-school jock, who, rather than wanting to win an election, channeled his energies toward losing his virginity. The success of the film was great enough to lead Klein to drop out of Texas Christian University (where he had been a freshman) to follow an acting career that had certainly gotten off to a serendipitous beginning. His days as a youthful and fresh-faced gentle jock numbered, 2002 found Klein substantially roughing it up with his action debut in director John McTiernan's much delayed and critically panned Rollerball. That same year he was in the indie drama The United States of Leland. He continued to work steadily in projects such as Just Friends, American Dreamz, and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. In 2011 he was cast in the American remake of the odd Australian sitcom Wilfred, and he answered the call when the Pie gang got back together for 2012's American Reunion. Klein later had guest spots on shows like Idiotsitter and The Grinder.
Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx
- Was discovered by Alexander Payne at his high school, where the director was scouting for locations to shoot dark comedy Election; the 1999 film marked Klein's feature debut.
- Made the leap to action movies in 2002, appearing in the Vietnam War drama We Were Soldiers and sci-fi remake Rollerball.
- Landed his first regular TV role in 2008, starring on CBS sitcom Welcome to the Captain.
- Went to rehab for alcohol addiction in 2010.