One of Hollywood's shoe-ins for deft portrayals of creepy, underhanded, Machiavellian types with an anarchic bite, Doug Hutchison distinguished himself with two career-defining portrayals in the late '80s: he played Obie, a member of a sinister student league at an all-boys' Catholic school, in director Keith Gordon's The Chocolate War (1988), and Sproles, an undercover cop's younger brother who causes problems for an economically divided couple (Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald) in David Anspaugh's romantic drama Fresh Horses (1988). Hutchison frequently rose above the inherent weaknesses of the material he was handed, as in the two said films; one critic observed that Sproles "hoist[ed] [Horses] onto his shoulders for the duration of his scenes."
That ability didn't emerge serendipitously; a classically trained performer who received his formal education at Juilliard, Hutchison later studied drama one-on-one under the tutelage of legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner. Unfortunately, within a few years of his astonishing onscreen debuts in 1988, Hutchison's screen activity somewhat declined, and when he did crop up, the projects were unworthy of him (such as 1992's The Lawnmower Man and 1996's Love Always). By the late '90s, however, Hutchison rebounded, with additional roles in A-listers including The Green Mile (1999), I Am Sam (2002), and The Salton Sea (2002). By the tail end of that decade, Hutchison moved into more sensationalistic material, signing for turns in J.T. Petty's horror western The Burrowers (2008) and Lexi Alexander's comic-book superhero film Punisher: War Zone (2008).