With a fair-skinned face that recalls Leonardo DiCaprio and blue-green eyes that seem to pierce the screen, actor Michael Pitt has come a long way from his role as a high school football star on Dawson's Creek. An adventurous actor who isn't afraid to take risks, Pitt has appeared as everything from a callous glam rocker (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) to a murderous, introspective teen (Murder by Numbers) -- all with equal conviction.
A native of West Orange, NJ, Pitt realized his future calling at the age of ten. His supportive parents soon gathered the money to send their son to drama school in New York a few short years later. At 16, Pitt crossed the Hudson River with little more than the shirt on his back, and in between the occasional independent film and television role, the aspiring actor supported himself by taking a job as a bike messenger. In 1999, Pitt made his off-Broadway debut in the Depression-era drama The Trestle of Pope Lick Creek, and it was there that a casting agent spotted him and recommended him for a role in Dawson's Creek. With the creative constraints of television failing to fulfill Pitt artistically, however, the rising star quickly gravitated to more challenging feature roles.
A supporting performance in director Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000) found Pitt's recognition factor growing, and his next role was that of glam rocker Tommy Gnosis in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001). His creativity and comfort in front of the cameras growing, Pitt took a supporting part in director Larry Clark's Bully before landing his biggest role to date as one-half of a murderous pair of teens in Barbet Schroeder's Murder by Numbers (2002). Though that may have been his highest-profile role, his most creatively challenging role was likely that of a young American living in Paris in director Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers, which premiered at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. A frank and sexually explicit film concerning the friendship of Pitt's character with a pair of movie-loving Parisian siblings, the film follows the trio as they close themselves off from the world while the 1968 Paris student riots rage outside. That same year, Pitt took the lead as a reclusive young man in the dark drama Rhinoceros Eyes, and also appeared in a supporting capacity in the John Holmes crime drama Wonderland. He had a small part in 2004's The Village, and scored an art-house success as a Kurt Cobain-like figure in Gus Van Sant's Last Days. He appeared in the American remake of Funny Games in 2007, and three years later he was cast as Jimmy Darmody, the protégé to corrupt politician Nucky Thompson in the award-winning HBO drama Boardwalk Empire.