John Gavin Malkovich (born December 9, 1953) is an American actor, producer, and director. Over the last 25 years, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. For his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, he received Academy Award nominations. He has also appeared in critically acclaimed films such as The Killing Fields, Dangerous Liaisons, Being John Malkovich and Changeling.
Malkovich was born in Christopher, Illinois, and is of Croatian, Scottish and German ancestry. He grew up in Benton, Illinois, in a large house on South Main Street. His father, Daniel Malkovich, was a state conservation director and publisher of Outdoor Illinois, a conservation magazine. His mother, Joe Ann (née Choisser), owned the Benton Evening News (a local newspaper in Benton, Il.), as well as Outdoor Illinois. Because of his father's work, the Malkovich family is widely acknowledged as one of the founding families of the environmental movement in Illinois. Malkovich was a popular student, and was both an actor and athlete at Benton High School. He appeared in plays and the musical, Carousel. He was also a member of a folk/rock musical trio, and was an organizer and member of a local summer theater project in 1972, where he starred in Jean-Claude Van Itallie's America Hurrah. Upon graduation from high school, he entered Eastern Illinois University, and then transferred to Illinois State University, where he majored in theatre.
In 1976, Malkovich, along with Joan Allen, Gary Sinise, and Glenne Headly, became a charter member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. He moved to New York City in 1980 to appear in a Steppenwolf production of the Sam Shepard play True West, for which he won an Obie Award. Malkovich then directed a Steppenwolf co-production, the 1984 revival of Lanford Wilson's Balm in Gilead, for which he received a second Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award. His Broadway debut that year was as Biff in Death of a Salesman, alongside Dustin Hoffman as Willy. Malkovich won an Emmy Award for this role when the play was adapted for television by CBS in 1985.