As we all continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible, fun distractions are a welcoming aspect of our lives. Sometimes the smallest diversion can take out minds off the COVID-19 pandemic and put our moods in a much better place. Recently, we have looked at the best films, writers, and comedians who have come out of Chicago to entertain millions. Today we will look at the actors who have called the Windy City home before going on to act in many of our favorite movies and television shows, which are all available via streaming services.
Harrison Ford: Born at Swedish Covenant Hospital on the city’s North Side, Ford grew up in Park Ridge. While a college student at Ripon College in Wisconsin, Ford caught the acting bug late after taking a drama class during his senior year. Thankfully he enjoyed the course so much, which helped him get over his shyness, that he moved to Los Angeles in 1964 to pursue an acting career. Bit parts in television roles like The Virginian and Gunsmoke didn’t set the world on fire, so Ford became a carpenter to support his family. However, he was cast in George Lucas’s 1973 film American Graffiti, which reopened the doors to his acting career. Small roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Apocalypse Now led to one of Ford’s most iconic roles as Han Solo in 1977’s Star Wars. In 1981 Ford’s leading man status was cemented as he starred as archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones in Lucas’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. The rest is Hollywood history, as we all know of his hugely popular work in the Star Wars and Indian Jones sequels as well as other hits, including Blade Runner, Witness, and The Fugitive.
Robin William: The legendary funnyman and actor was born in Chicago at St. Luke’s Hospital in 1951 and spent some of his childhood living in Lake Forest and attending Deer Path Junior High School before moving with his family to Michigan in 1963. Williams rose to the heights of hilarity thanks to his quirky and energetic stand up routine that he solidified as a comic in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the 1970s. In 1979 he won the Grammy for Best Comedy Album for Reality…What a Concept. Around the same time, Williams was cast as Mork in the hit sitcom Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. With his newfound popularity, Williams starred in several films during the 1980s, including Popeye, The World According to Garp, and Good Morning, Vietnam. The comedian was able to portray his dramatic skills in such beloved films as Dead Poets Society, Awakenings and Good Will Hunting, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1997. Williams sadly ended his life in 2014 but has left behind a treasure trove of incredible performances that span drama, comedy, theater, and animation that millions continue to come back to for his unique approach to performing.
John Malkovich: Born in Christopher, Illinois, in 1953, Malkovich grew up in Benton in southern Illinois. The thespian majored in theater at Illinois State University, and although he didn’t’ graduate, Malkovich was awarded a degree in 2005. Upon leaving ISU in 1976, Malkovich joined the Steppenwolf Theater Company, winning an Obie Award for his performance in 1983’s True West. The following year the actor worked alongside Dustin Hoffman on Broadway’s Death of a Salesman, winning an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor when the stage play was made into television miniseries. The native of Illinois continued to thrill audiences with his commanding performances in such films as Place in the Heart, Dangerous Liaisons, and Of Mice and Men alongside fellow Chicago area actor Gary Sinise. Malkovich’s acting resume continued to pile up award nominations and acclaim for his work in the hit 1993 Clint Eastwood flick In the Line of Fire, the Red franchise, and, of course, the 1999 cult-favorite Being John Malkovich. Between the actor’s stage work, movie roles, and directing of numerous plays, Malkovich has become an actor’s actor bringing a natural and often haunting presence to whatever role he plays.
Tune in next week as we go deeper into great actors who have called the Chicago area home. In the meantime, stay safe and check out the amazing movies these performers have been in while staying indoors.
ERIC KAPLAN AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO