Like Henry Thomas and a few others of the same generation, Jerry O'Connell proves that second acts are far from impossible for Hollywood actors who began their careers as children. O'Connell first gained recognition among film fans as "that fat kid from Stand By Me," when he starred in the 1986 Rob Reiner film at the age of eleven - then experienced a massive physical transformation. Several years and many lost pounds later, O'Connell emerged as a tall, handsome screen lothario, a development that provoked substantial commentary from both film critics and any number of lay viewers.
Born in New York City on February 17, 1974, O'Connell enrolled in acting classes at the age of six. He obtained his first professional assignments acting in commercials when he was ten, and a year later made his film debut in the critically acclaimed Stand By Me. Though somewhat overshadowed by the presence of teen idol co-stars River Phoenix and Corey Feldman, O'Connell still managed to win a place in the coming-of-age pantheon. After Stand By Me, he appeared in the memorable syndicated television series My Secret Identity (as a high schooler with superpowers) and enrolled at Manhattan's Professional Children's School. Following his graduation, he attended New York University, where he attained a B.A. in Film and Television in 1995. While still an NYU student, O'Connell appeared in the eminently forgettable Jason Priestley vehicle Calendar Girl (1993).
After his college graduation, O'Connell began to pursue thesping full-time. He soon landed a starring role on the sci-fi series Sliders, which, despite low ratings, had a very loyal viewership. In 1996, the actor's popularity grew beyond the confines of television when he starred in both Joe's Apartment and Jerry Maguire. The latter film was a particular success, and O'Connell began to land steady film assignments once again. Next up was the slasher movie Scream 2 (1997), in which he played Neve Campbell's boyfriend. After an uncredited role in the Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle Can't Hardly Wait (1998), O'Connell returned to television to star as a young Vietnam War soldier in the miniseries The '60s in 1999. That same year, he starred as a neanderthal-like jock in Body Shots, a film about the search for love and/or a lay amongst a group of Los Angeles twentysomethings.
At this point, if O'Connell still carried a full resume, he often seemed to alternate between respectable A-list material - such as the disappointing but ambitious Brian De Palma sci-fi'er Mission to Mars (2000) and the generally pleasant family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours (2005) - and ridiculous studio dreck, such as the misogynistic sex comedy Tomcats (2001) and the awful 2002 "family" picture Kangaroo Jack (where the actor co-starred alongside a wisecracking CG-animated marsupial). In fall 2007, O'Connell trekked back to the small screen for one of the three lead roles in the sitcom Carpoolers - about a cadre of male buddies who share rides to and from work each day.
O'Connell would spend the next few years appearing in movies like Obsessed and Piranha, in addition to successful TV runs like Do Not Disturb and The Defenders.
O'Connell married supermodel and actress Rebecca Romijn in 2007. The two have two children.