|July 10, 1976|
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Born July 10, 1976 in New Mexico, Adrian Grenier was the son of Karesse Grenier, a real estate agent, and John Dunbar. His parents met at a commune in the 1970s but never married. (As an adult, Grenier would make the acclaimed documentary "Shot in the Dark" (2002) about his search to reconnect with his father). Now studying acting and theater in both high school and college, the young Grenier would grow into his exotic good looks that set him quite apart from other up-and-coming actors. Now working professionally, Grenier cut his teeth in challenging indie fare like the street punk drama "Hurricane Streets" (1997), the dark, transgender-tinged comedy "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" (1998) and, ironically, a small part as a member of Leonardo DiCaprio's entourage in Woody Allen's "Celebrity" (1998). The striking young actor hit multiplexes as the brooding boy-next-door who falls into a romance with straight-arrow Melissa Joan Hart in the frothy teen comedy, "Drive Me Crazy" (1999). Grenier charmed in the lightweight guilty pleasure, as well as appeared in the accompanying Britney Spears music video for the movie's theme song - all of which earned him a modicum of late-1990s immortality in the eyes of a certain generation.
More offbeat than mainstream at heart, Grenier played a funhouse-mirror image of a teen idol in John Waters' twisted film industry skewering "Cecil B. Demented" (2000). He then starred in James Toback's "Harvard Man" (2001) opposite fellow teen star Sarah Michelle Gellar, playing the eponymous basketball star who falls into a life of compulsive gambling and drug abuse. The actor then took on a series of supporting roles in high-profile projects featuring A-list talent, including Steven Spielberg's strange "A.I: Artificial Intelligence" (2001), "Hart's War" (2002) with Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell, and Woody Allen's regrettable "Anything Else" (2003), while still snaring leading roles in smaller projects, such as the romantic mystery "Bringing Rain" (2003).
It would be his leading role as movie actor Vincent Chase on the HBO series "Entourage" (2004-2011), loosely based on the antics and exploits of series creator Mark Wahlberg's hangers-on, that would provide Grenier with the most visible vehicle of his career. Nominated for a handful of minor awards for his performance as a struggling but cocky young movie star, the laidback Grenier seemed to enjoy working as part of an ensemble instead of staking out a solo superstar trajectory, despite technically being the star of the show. In fact, it would be co-star Jeremy Piven in a supporting, scene-stealing role who would rake in bucket loads of Emmys and Golden Globes for his role of shark-like agent Ari Gold, and a string of high-profile guest stars who would steal the limelight and the headlines. That was fine with the low-key actor, who notched his biggest box office hit as the boyfriend edged out by Meryl Streep's professional demands on Anne Hathaway in the critical and commercial blockbuster, fashion industry comedy "The Devil Wears Prada" (2006).
Proving that he followed in his mother's artistic and bohemian footsteps, Grenier played music on the side, acted in and wrote-directed-produced short films. His affecting documentary "Shot in the Dark" (2002), which chronicled his search for his biological father John Dunbar, was eventually aired on HBO to solid reviews. Grenier lensed another documentary, "Teenage Paparazzo" (2010), about the relationship between celebrity and society, which showed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to an enthusiastic response.
By Jonathan Riggs