Aaron Edward Eckhart is an American film actor. Born in Cupertino, California on March 12, 1968, he moved to England at 13 when his father relocated the family. Several years later, he began his acting career performing in school plays, before moving to Sydney, Australia for his high school senior year. In 1988, Eckhart returned to the United States and enrolled as a film major at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, but later transferred to Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah where he graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in film.
Post-graduation, Eckhart lived in New York City, landing commercial spots, and then opted to move back to California to forge a career in Los Angeles. He landed several TV roles before he made his film debut In The Company of Men for which he was awarded a Satellite Award by the International Press Academy and the Film Independent’s Independent Spirit Award. He was a revelation as a magnetic and malicious businessman in the pitch-black indie, written and directed by his college buddy, Neil LaBute. (The two went on to have a fruitful collaboration, with LaBute helping to showcase Eckhart’s versatility by casting him in strikingly varied roles.)
Eckhart kept busy with projects like 1998’s Thursday with Thomas Jane, Your Friends & Neighbors for which he gained over 30 lbs and 1999’s Molly with Elisabeth Shue. 1999 also saw him appear in Oliver Stone’s football flick Any Given Sunday, which teamed him with Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, and Dennis Quaid.
It was for his part in Steven Soderbergh’s critically acclaimed film Erin Brockovich (2000) though that earned him wide recognition.
The next year, Sean Penn cast Eckhart as a young detective partnered opposite a hardened veteran detective played by Jack Nicholson in The Pledge. He then starred in LaBute’s Possession opposite Gwyneth Paltrow.
In 2003, Eckhart worked with Hilary Swank in The Core, Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett in The Missing, and with Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman and Paul Giamatti in John Woo’s Paycheck. He showed off his comedic talents playing Laura Linney’s boyfriend in the last episodes of Fraiser in 2004 and that same year played an FBI agent on the hunt for a serial killer in Suspect Zero with Ben Kingsley and Carrie-Anne Moss.
In 2005, Eckhart put on two hats for the film Neverwas, which he co-produced and starred in opposite Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange, Ian McKellen and William Hurt.
2006 he found a high-profile project that knew exactly how to capitalize on his talent for playing immoral characters with a winning smile, the satire Thank You for Smoking. Eckhart won over the critics with his dazzling turn as a charismatic lobbyist for the tobacco industry and earned his first Golden Globe nomination.
In 2006, he teamed up with LaBute again for The Wicker Man with Nicolas Cage, appeared in The Black Dahlia with Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank and worked opposite Helena Bonham Carter in Conversations with Other Women.
A busy 2007 saw Aaron romance Catherine Zeta-Jones in No Reservations and work with Elizabeth Banks and Jessica Alba in Bill.
His breakout role however, was as Harvey Dent in the blockbuster Batman film, The Dark Knight (2008) as District Attorney Harvey Dent / Two-Face.
Following the success of The Dark Knight, Eckhart next appeared in Alan Ball’s Towelhead (2008), which also featured Toni Collette. The film was screened under the name Nothing is Private at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.
In 2010 he starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, a feature that premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
In 2011 he appeared alongside Johnny Depp in Hunter S. Thompson’s novel adaptation The Rum Diary and in Battle Los Angeles with Michael Peña.
Since then, Aaron Eckhart has been in movies like Erased (2012) by German director Philipp Stölzl, Olympus Has Fallen (2013) alongside Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett. I, Frankenstein (2014), My All American (2015) in which he plays legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal, London Has Fallen (2016), the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, and Incarnate (2016) in which he plays a wheelchair bound scientist.
His latest movies are Sully (2016) and Bleed For This (2016). In both movies he portrays real-life living people. In Sully he plays co-pilot Jeff Skiles who helped Sully Sullenberger steer to a safe landing on the Hudson River in the celebrated story of the hero pilot played by Tom Hanks. The movie is directed by Clint Eastwood.
Bleed For This (2016) is directed by Ben Younger and Eckhart plays Kevin Rooney, the boxing trainer and man behind the incredible, against-all-odds boxing comeback of Vinnie Pazienza. This role called for him to gain 40 pounds and shave his head. He stars alongside Miles Teller and Katey Sagal.
Eckhart is the youngest of three sons. His father is a computer executive, his mother is a children’s book author. Aaron is of German descent on his father’s side, and has English, Scottish, German, and Northern Irish (Scots-Irish) ancestry on his mother’s side.