An actor who bears an uncanny resemblance to Val Kilmer, Loren Dean is as talented as he is underrated. Largely a supporting player, Dean has twice demonstrated his considerable mettle in films where he has been cast as the title protagonist -- first in the gangster drama Billy Bathgate (1991) and then in Mumford (1999), Lawrence Kasdan's tale of a small town's mysterious psychiatrist.
Born in Las Vegas on July 31, 1969, Dean was raised in L.A. by his mother after his parents divorced when he was a small child. He saw his father on the weekends when the two went to the cinema; it was through these weekly outings that Dean developed an interest in film. He also took an early interest in music, something that carried him through a tumultuous adolescence that was marked by a short stint as a runaway in San Francisco when he was 16.
Following his 1986 graduation from high school, Dean moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Living in relative poverty, he eventually found an agent through a friend of a friend, and he began appearing onstage. The actor made his film debut in 1988 as the brother of an undercover cop in Martha Coolidge's Plain Clothes, and a year later, he played Lili Taylor's notoriously bad ex-boyfriend Joe in Cameron Crowe's celebrated ...Say Anything.
Dean got what should have been a major career breakthrough in 1991, when he starred as Billy Bathgate's titular street urchin turned mob confidante. Unfortunately, the film flopped, although even its most naysaying critics usually singled Dean's performance out for praise. He subsequently appeared in a supporting capacity in films ranging from Apollo 13 (1995) to How to Make an American Quilt (1995) to Gattaca (1997), and he starred in a handful of films destined for video oblivion, such as 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and Starf*cker (1998), which cast him as a cokehead ex-sitcom star.
Dean received some of the best notices of his career when he starred as the eponymous small town shrink of Mumford (1999). He managed to stand out in a pleasant, unforced performance that was ably complemented by an ensemble cast which included Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard, Jason Lee, Mary McDonnell, and Pruitt Taylor Vince. Many observers were left to wonder where he had been hiding all this time. The following year, Dean resurfaced in Space Cowboys, an adventure drama that cast him as an astronaut sent along on a mission with a group of grizzled NASA veterans (Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, and Donald Sutherland) to repair a faulty satellite.
~ Rebecca Flint Marx, All Movie Guide