Part of a burgeoning "second generation" of Hollywood actors, Jake Busey, the long-limbed son of Gary Busey, established himself as a reliable character actor in the 1990s. Though he made his film debut at age five in Straight Time (1978), Busey had no plans to become an actor until he took a drama class "on a whim" while attending Santa Barbara College. Busey spent three years auditioning before he finally broke through in the early '90s. Despite the slow start, Busey worked steadily throughout the decade, alternating between small roles in high profile studio movies, including I'll Do Anything (1994) and Twister (1996), and more substantial parts in smaller films, such as S.F.W. (1994) and Tail Lights Fade (1999). Busey starred a member of the gung ho young battalion in Paul Verhoeven's ironic, effects-laden science fiction adventure Starship Troopers (1997), but he was back to supporting duties in big movies when he and the more diminutive second generationer Scott Caan were paired as government assassins in Enemy of the State (1998). Happy to do more than dodge special effects, Busey played Luke Wilson's bully older brother in the romantic comedy Home Fries (1998) and co-starred with Jamie Foxx in the crime comedy Held Up (2000). Busey's foray into series TV as the laid-back Dennis on UPN's Shasta McNasty (1999) proved short-lived. Returning to movies after his unfortunate foray into series TV, Busey appeared in the weak Jamie Foxx comedy Held Up (2000). Busey then co-starred as a resolute bachelor moved to compete with Jerry O'Connell for Shannon Elizabeth's love in the tasteless comedy Tomcats (2001). Tomcats, however, mercifully failed at the box office. Busey's next comedy, the office farce The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest (2002), suffered a similar fate. Busey finally added a success to his resume, though, with the creepy murder by numbers thriller Identity (2003). Featuring Busey as a snarling convict trapped in a motel with other Agatha Christie-esque little Indians John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Ray Liotta and Clea DuVall, Identity reveled in movie-literate scares and deftly survived the pre-summer blockbuster late spring box office lull.
Biography by Lucia Bozzola
- Made film debut with his father, Gary, in Straight Time (1978), starring Dustin Hoffman.
- Also a musician, and played drums in a band called Sons of the Lawless.
- Is a licensed pilot.
- Is a lifelong motorcycle and bike enthusiast, and owns and designs two-wheelers at Jake's Custom Motorized Bikes in Santa Monica, Cal.