Biography: "I am the malevolent WASP," Chris described himself to one journalist. To director Paul Schrader, who was lighting him from below for one shot in 1991's The Comfort of Strangers he said, "I don't need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own". Indeed, many of Chris' most compelling screen turns have been as evil characters, or tragic victims haunted by unnameable terrors. He played one such role in The Deer Hunter (1978), which shocked audiences, won him a Supporting Actor Oscar, and made him a recognizable player. (Chris started as a chorus boy in New York, had been working in films for years, winning memorable bits in 1972's The Anderson Tapes and 1977's Annie Hall particularly effective in the latter as Diane Keaton's creepy brother.) He has appeared in a variety of films since, most effectively as quietly menacing characters, but occasionally surprising audiences as he did in Pennies From Heaven (1981), contributing a show-stopping dance routine. He was chilling as the telepathic lead in The Dead Zone (1983), and as a purely evil father initiating his son into a life of crime in the underrated At Close Range (1986). He also had a campy turn playing a James Bond villain in A View to a Kill (1985). Chris exhibited a seldom-seen comic ability as an eccentric drill sergeant in Biloxi Blues (1988), but was back in form as an icy mobster/philanthropist in the hyper-violent King of New York (1990). Younger viewers accustomed to seeing him in villainous parts may have been surprised by his warm portrayals opposite Glenn Close in the acclaimed TV dramas Sarah, Plain and Tall (1991) and its sequel, Skylark(1993). Feature-film casting directors still seem to favor malevolent roles for him, however; he was the flamboyant Max Shreck in Batman Returns (1992), a mobster who interrogates Dennis Hopper in True Romance (1993), Tia Carrere's self-centered record producer in Wayne's World 2 (also 1993), and a vampire in The Addiction (1995). Good or evil, one thing is certain, it seems that Chris was destined for show business even at the age of 10 when he appeared as an extra on Jerry Lewis's Colgate Comedy Hour.… Expand
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