A character-oriented actor who specialized in playing American everymen, Chris Messina emerged in the mid-'90s, landing guest appearances on series programs such as Law & Order and mounting supporting parts in Hollywood features including You've Got Mail and Rounders (both 1998). Messina gained even more exposure when he joined the cast of the quirky HBO comedy drama Six Feet Under during that program's fifth and final season. On that series, Messina played Ted Fairwell, a Republican attorney smitten with Claire Fisher (Lauren Ambrose) who (as the program reveals) will eventually marry her. After Six Feet wrapped, Messina hearkened back to feature portrayals, this time as a lead, in director Jennifer Westfeldt's (Kissing Jessica Stein) critically praised sophomore effort Ira & Abby (2006). The actor proved he could hold his own with a multilayered turn as a neurotic therapist's son who rushes headlong into marriage only to watch his confidence fall to pieces when he learns of his new wife's two ex-husbands. In 2008, Messina took on a supporting role in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, opposite Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson. In the years to come, Messina would enjoy continued success as an established actor, appearing in films like Ruby Sparks and Argo, as well as on TV series like The Mindy Project and The Newsroom.
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Dropped out of college after one semester and planned to drive across the country, à la Jack Kerouac, but by the time he saved enough money for the trip, had decided to pursue an acting career.
- Made Broadway debut in 2003 in a revival of Oscar Wilde's Salome, starring Al Pacino, David Strathairn, Dianne Wiest and Marisa Tomei.
- Discouraged by a stalled career in 2005, he was about to return to New York from Los Angeles, but got a break with a role on the final season of Six Feet Under, as Claire's love interest.
- In 2012, appeared in such feature films as Ruby Sparks, Fairhaven, The Giant Mechanical Man and 28 Hotel Rooms, and three TV series: Damages, The Newsroom and The Mindy Project.
- Cites Judd Hirsch and Harrison Ford as inspirations for his work on The Mindy Project.