Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
December 17, 1974
1985 - Present
Currently Known For:
Ted, Avatar, My Name Is Real
There are a lot of character actors that have had to wait for many years before taking on a lead role, even after receiving a lot of praise for their earlier work. One the actors that you can put on the list is Giovanni Ribisi, a veteran actor who’s been working regularly since his teenage years. Over the past few years, Ribisi has become a star of his own after many years of work, and his career on television spans more than 30 years at this point.
Ribisi was born on December 17, 1974 in Los Angeles to a family that had been involved in the entertainment business. His mother has been working as a manager for actors for many years, while his father was in a one-hit wonder band known as People! with their song “I Love You” that was released in 1968. LIke his parents, Ribisi would get involved in entertainment, as well, but was more interested in the acting side of show business. Ribisi had urged his mother to let him audition, saying “She finally acquiesced and we went looking for an agent…Back then, there really weren’t as many child actors, so it was kind of in demand.”
Ribisi didn’t have to wait long to start landing roles in Hollywood, making his debut on the series “Highway to Heaven” in which he appeared in two episodes. Next was a guest appearance on the shows “Simon & Simon” and “The Twilight Zone” before he landed his first regular role. That would come in the form of “The New Leave It to Beaver” when he played Duffy. He then followed that up with recurring roles on the shows “Sidekicks”, “Married…With Children” and “My Two Dads”. Ribisi continued his hot streak in his late teenage years with “Davis Rules”.
By the time the 1990s had rolled around, Ribisi had already been on television several times, with some of his more notable roles extending for multiple years. Then, in 1992, Ribisi would be cast as Jeff Billings on “The Wonder Years”. The role was as one of the friends of the main character, Kevin Arnold, who was played by Fred Savage. Ribisi’s performance would end up getting him nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series. Ribisi was a late addition to the series, and was there for the show’s conclusion in May of 1993.
After his time on “The Wonder Years” had come to an end, Ribisi remained busy on television, continuing to take recurring supporting roles on shows that included “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “NYPD Blue”. In 1995, Ribisi made his film debut in “Mind Ripper”, though it was released straight to video. The next year, he made his debut on the big screen in “The Grave”. That same year, he made his debut as Frank on the hit sitcom “Friends”, appearing in a total of 10 episodes during the show’s run.
As the 1990s came to a close, Ribisi was on the big screen more frequently with appearance in “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Mod Squad”. He’d then really add to his resume when the new millennium started, having more than a dozen roles during the first decade, including “Lost in Translation” and “Gone in 60 Seconds”. He wouldn’t return to television much in the 2000s, but did have a recurring role as Ralph on “My Name Is Earl”.
Ribisi has seen himself become more of a star in recent years, which could certainly be attributed to his performances, while also being in some notable films. Following the likes of “Avatar” and “Ted”, Ribisi has been in several films over the past few years that include a sequel to “Ted”, as well as “The Bad Batch” and “Meadowland”. Coming up over the next couple of years, Ribisi will be starring in the film adaptation of the popular book “A Million Little Pieces”, and returns to the “Avatar” universe as Parker Selfridge in two sequels that release in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
On top of that, Ribisi has been busy on television as he had a starring role in the sitcom “Dads” that began in 2013. Though the series would last for just one season, Ribisi didn’t have to wait long to land another starring role. Since 2015, Ribisi has starred as the main character in the Amazon crime drama series “Sneaky Pete”, which has been a hit for the online company and critically acclaimed.
Throughout it all, Ribisi has had a very clear vision of what he wants from his characters. “I’m definitely one of those people that what comes into my head falls out of my mouth,” he said. “And I warn people about that before I work with them, and I say ‘Look, I don’t have an ego, but you know your vision is important and I want to support that, and sometimes I talk and say things…And so yes, I want to contribute and sometimes that’s a way for me to be even more creative, to sort of get the ball rolling and start parlaying off of somebody and interacting.”