After an eye-catching performance in the teen coming-of-age epic The Outsiders (1983), ex-child rodeo star C. Thomas Howell was one of the most promising young actors in the mid 1980s.
Christopher Thomas Howell was born in Los Angeles, California, to Candice (Webb) and Chris Howell, a professional bull rider turned stuntman. He started working in the film industry at the age of seven. In 1981, he was cast as Tyler in Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Shortly thereafter, he nabbed the lead in Francis Ford Coppola's classic The Outsiders, starring opposite the likes of Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise. It was Howell's gripping performance as the tough, yet vulnerable Ponyboy Curtis that made him a household name virtually overnight. Earmarked as an up-and-coming actor, Howell's career soon skyrocketed with roles in films including the comedy Grandview, U.S.A. (1984), alongside Jamie Lee Curtis, and the violent Cold War invasion drama Red Dawn (1984). His career was not helped by the controversial racial comedy Soul Man (1986), which was not well-received. However, he did meet and fall in love with his co-star from that movie, Rae Dawn Chong, whom he later married.
Whilst superstardom has eluded him, there's no doubting that Howell has been in consistent demand with film producers. He has notched up in excess of 90 feature film appearances. including starring roles in Side Out (1990), Gettysburg (1993), Baby Face Nelson (1996), Fatal Affair (1998), Asylum Days (2001) and Hoboken Hollow (2006).
He played unpredictable Officer Bill "Dewey" Dudek in the TNT smash drama Series Southland and as the serial killer "The Reaper" on CBS' Criminal Minds. His recent television appearances include The Glades on A&E as well as Torchwood on the Starz Channel. He also appeared in Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). A budding film director, he has directed a number of films, including The Big Fall, Pure Danger and Edgar Rice Burroughs The Land That Time Forgot.
Outside of his acting career, Howell is an accomplished team roper. Known as a friendly and likable person to fans, he lives with his wife Sylvie, and their three children Isabelle, Dashiell and Liam.