Born: February 17, 1974
Birthplace: New York City, NY
Height: 6 foot 3 inches
Father: Michael O’Connell, Art Director
Mother: Linda O’Connell, Teacher
Brother: Charles O’Connell, Actor-model, drama graduate from NYU; New York State junior fencing champion.
Raised: Greenwich Village, NY. and Toronto, Ont.
Education: Attended Professional Children's School in New York, NY (1987). Attended HB Studio in New York, NY. Studied with Herbert Berghof. Studied acting with Maria Greco. Attended New York University in New York, NY. Majored in film and television (BFA 1995).
Interests: Surfing, sailing, windsurfing, fencing, baseball, basketball, football, running, writing.
Discerring Marks: a scar over the left side of his lip, he was bitten by
a dog at age 11. The injury required 72 stitches to close.
Dislikes: math, science
1980: Began taking acting and dance classes at age six (date
1982: Appeared in first TV commercial at age eight
Stage debut in the off-Broadway production, "Water Music"
1986: Made feature film debut playing Vern in "Stand By Me"
1987: First TV-movie, "The Room Upstairs"
1988: Had first TV episodic guest shot on "The Equalizer"
1988-1991: Made TV series debut, starred in the syndicated fantasy "My
1993: Returned to features (in older roles) with "Calendar Girl"
1995: Won praise for playing a character who ages nearly twenty years
in "Blue River", a Fox TV-movie
1995-: Starred in the sci-fi series "Sliders" (Fox, 1995-97; Sci-Fi
Channel 1998- )
1995: First starring feature role, "Joe's Apartment"
A veteran of over ten years of professional experience in New York
theater and commercials, O'Connell made an auspicious feature film
debut at age 11 playing the chubby, winsome Vern Tessio of Rob
Reiner's "Stand By Me" (1986). While he held his own against such
future feature heavyweights as River Phoenix and Kiefer Sutherland,
O'Connell found much of his subsequent employment in TV.
After several TV-movies, including a lively adaptation of humorist
Jean Shepherd's twisted nostalgic story "Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of
Bliss" (Disney Channel/PBS, 1988), O'Connell landed the lead in the
fantasy series, "My Secret Identity" (syndicated, 1988-91). His Andrew
Clements was an ordinary teen bestowed with super powers, including
the ability to fly, after a run-in with a photon beam. This marked the
beginning of O'Connell's regular employment as a TV juvenile lead.
After starring in the short-lived "Camp Wilder" (ABC, 1992), O'Connell
co-starred with Jason Priestly in the feature "Calendar Girl" (1993),
as Scott 'The Dood' Foreman, an eighteen-year-old with a wooden leg.
He delivered a solid comic performance in this coming-of-age tale
about three boys' search for their idol, Marilyn Monroe.
O'Connell's returned to TV in "Blue River" (Fox, 1995), based on
the novel by Ethan Canin. Showcasing his pumped-up physique, the actor
believably played both the youthful and middle-aged versions of an
unstable man coping with a dysfunctional family. O'Connell also headed
the cast of the sci-fi adventure series, "Sliders" (Fox, 1995-97;
Sci-Fi Channel 1998- ), as a physics grad student who unknowingly
creates a doorway to parallel universes. His sculpted body was even
more evident when he donned "Rambo" gear to battle some pesky roaches
in "Joe's Apartment" (1996). Based on the popular MTV short of the
same name, the film featured a lovelorn protagonist whose life is
ruined by his "friendly" insect roommates. He also won the coveted
role of a football player handled by sports agent Tom Cruise in "Jerry
Maguire" (1996). Next he'll appear alongside his young contemporaries in Wes Craven's "Scream 2."
Notes & Quotes:
While filming "Joe's Apartment" O'Connell had a scene in which
cockroaches romp inside his mouth. Rather than use the rubber fakes,
he elected to use live ones, and told Entertainment Weekly (June
30-July 7, 1995): "I suggested we use live ones. Otherwise it would've
looked fake. I could feel their feelers against the roof of my mouth."
Writer-director John Payson added, "He did two takes."
"I look at all my friends that I graduated college with and they're
still living at home and they can't get a job at McDonald's. So I'm
pretty lucky right now." -- O'Connell quoted in Time Out New York, July
"Get a date with Sarah Michelle Gellar." -- on what he would do if if he was the most powerful person in Hollywood. (Entertainment Weekly 11/7/97)
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