Michael Rooker was born in Jasper, Alabama. At the age of 13, he went with his mother to live in Chicago. He caught the acting bug while attending college and began appearing in local stage productions.
On first breaking into film, his intensity and "don't-mess-with-me" good looks were highlighted to chilling effect as the title character in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, filmed in 1986 but, due to its controversial nature, not released until 1990.
Since that widely noticed and highly praised performance, much of his career has been spent playing brutes, villains and psychopaths. His occasional turns as a "good guy", however, are always well-acted and a welcome change for a talented actor too often typecast.