As a respected American supporting player in film, television, and theater who occasionally moonlights as a screenwriter, Patrick Breen first culled recognition in the American press in 1991. That spring, the then-30-year-old delivered a bravura performance as an emotionally damaged son in Jon Robin Baitz's disappointing play The Substance of Fire. Breen hit his zenith as a film actor during the mid-'90s, with turns in several memorable (if uneven) Hollywood movies. These included For Love or Money (1993), Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty (1995) and Men in Black (1997), and Carl Franklin's One True Thing (1998). Breen's generally nondescript, albeit pleasant, appearance enabled him to fill practically any role, from a doctor (in the Sonnenfeld picture) to Mr. Tweedy (in the Franklin film).
Breen first branched off into screenwriting just after the turn of the new millennium, with back-to-back indie features which he both acted in and scripted. The 2000 picture East of A constitutes a slice-of-life drama about a trio of New York City roommates over the course of ten years. Unfortunately, East of A received extremely limited distribution and was reviewed by very few mainstream critics. Its follow-up, the 2002 ensemble comedy Just a Kiss (directed by the character actor and comic Fisher Stevens and starring Ron Eldard, Kyra Sedgwick, and Marisa Tomei) provides a surrealistic exploration of the romantic vicissitudes among a group of swinging singles. That film fared better in terms of pedigree, but demonstrated an extremely unstable overtone, meandering between lighthearted romantic comedy and darker, more cynical black comedy; perhaps as a result, it premiered in 2002 to almost unanimously devastating reviews, opening and closing practically overnight, and effectively turning Breen away from produced screenwriting work for quite some time. In 2004, he returned to A-list acting as a character player in the holiday comedy Christmas with the Kranks, starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. He was away from movie screens for five years, returning next in 2009's Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant and had the leading role two years later in the horror film The Bleeding House.