Taylor Kitsch

Taylor Kitsch Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: April 8, 1981

Age: 43 years old

Birth Place: Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

Taylor Kitsch became television's latest teenage bad-boy with the premiere of NBC's "Friday Night Lights" (2006-2011), playing a small-town Texas football team's brooding yet charismatic ne'er-do-well. A former minor-league athlete himself, Kitsch's circumspect route to stardom took him from the hockey rinks of British Columbia to sleeping on New York subways to the pivotal role of the swashbuckling superhero Gambit in the 2009 summer blockbuster entry "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." His "Friday Night Lights" boss, producer-writer Peter Berg, went on to proclaim Kitsch "a ridiculous, unreal mix of acting talent and outrageous good looks" - a sentiment few people could argue with as the heartthrob continued to win over fans on both the big and small screen.

Kitsch was born April 8, 1981, in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. His father worked construction jobs that largely took him out of the lives of his rather large family of three sons and two daughters as they grew up in Port Moody and Anmore, both areas adjacent Vancouver, BC. Like any good Canadian youngster, Kitsch began playing hockey as early as three or four years of age, living, he claimed in a later interview, "the Canadian stereotype: back yard on the pond skating, spending every single moment on the ice." At age 16, he began playing left-wing at the junior pro level with the Langley Hornets in the British Columbia Hockey League, and was hoping to make the sport his profession until he tore a ligament in his knee four years later, ending his career.

Kitsch joined his brother at the University of Lethbridge, AB, and studied nutrition and economics in an effort to chart another course in life. In the meantime, however, his mother was working on a second track for her comely son by sending his photos to modeling agencies. In 2002, he was hired for the Diesel apparel brand campaign. Agency IMG lured him to New York City, claiming it would house him, but when he arrived, he found the company's apartment stocked with nine other male models and few opportunities lined up post-Diesel shoot to bankroll his own place. He slept where he could find space - in friends' walk-in closets, even, he claimed, on subway trains for a couple weeks - all the while pursuing modeling gigs, working as a personal trainer, getting certified as a nutritionist and studying with acting coach Sheila Gray.

In 2004, he relocated to Los Angeles for a time, at some points living out of his car between auditions, before returning to Vancouver. Along the way he graced ads for Abercrombie & Fitch and Liz Claiborne, as well as numerous magazine covers, building a portfolio that eventually helped him land some bit roles in TV programs and in the big screen comedy, "John Tucker Must Die" (2006). The year that would change his life forever began with Kitsch appearing in the camp-horror flick "Snakes on a Plane" (2006) as a victim who dies horribly while in mid-coitus, followed by an even bigger role in the B-horror movie, "The Covenant" (2006). The stylish teen-exploitation flick featured him as a member of a nefarious clique of model-pretty teen witches - pretty to look at, but not much substance to his character. However, the role reputedly caught the attention of the producers of a new TV series being prepped for NBC's fall season, based on a best-selling nonfiction book about the primacy of high-school football in otherwise depressed Texas towns.

Kitsch auditioned for "Friday Night Lights" and won the part of Tim Riggins, a fullback who works out deep issues rooted in his broken, troubled home with a regimen of vices, as well as his one redeeming outlet, football. Playing a drunk, debauched teenager balancing near criminal behavior with redemptive charm, Kitsch immediately stood out in the ensemble cast under Producer-writer Peter Berg and his directors' verité-shot, improv-friendly style. His character's absent father, he claimed, helped him work out some of his own issues with his family situation. Both Time and Entertainment Weekly went on to rank "Friday Night Lights" in their Top 10 shows of the 2006 season, and, though the series drew poor ratings, it developed a faithful enough following to survive three seasons - the third by way of a creative co-operative funding deal with DirectTV.

Arguably the breakout star of the show, Kitsch rode his new "It" status to more prestigious work, notably with "Gospel Hill" (2008), Giancarlo Esposito's ensemble drama featuring Angela Bassett, Danny Glover, Samuel L. Jackson and Julia Stiles, which examined contemporary race relations in the South, and the hotly anticipated summer movie, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." In the latter, Kitsch snared the plum role of Gambit, the popular, swaggering Cajun character from the comic books series.

A supporting role in the war journalism drama "The Bang Bang Club" (2010) followed, but Kitsch's next two starring roles were major misfires. The science fiction adventure "John Carter" (2012), with Kitsch in the title role, opened to savage reviews and poor box office; Peter Berg's action film "Battleship" (2012), based on the popular children's game and co-starring pop singer Rihanna, did little better. Kitsch next worked with director Oliver Stone on the erotic crime thriller "Savages" (2013). His starring role in Canadian cult director Don McKellar on the indie comedy "The Grand Seduction" garnered strong reviews for his performance. Kitsch reteamed with Berg on the well-received war drama "Lone Survivor" (2013), co-starring Mark Wahlberg, followed by a supporting role in Ryan Murphy's TV adaptation of Larry Kramer's "The Normal Heart" (HBO 2014). In early 2015, Kitsch was announced as one of the stars of the second season of acclaimed police drama "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ), alongside Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams.

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