American actor Craig Bierko was born on August 18, 1964 in Rye Brook, New York. His parents ran a local community theater, but he wouldn’t initially pursue an acting career; he took up journalism at Boston University and later studied at the Northwestern University’s School of Speech. He graduated in 1986.
He began acting a year after graduation, making his debut in the direct-to-video film Love Note. Most of his early acting stints were on television, with guest roles in shows such as Our House, Newhart, Paradise and Eisenhower & Lutz, and eventually a short role in the daytime soap The Young and the Restless. His first regular role came in 1990, when he took a supporting role in the short-lived comedy Sydney. Two years later, he joined the cast of the pilot for Red Dwarf, the American version of the British science fiction series; however, it wasn’t picked up by networks.
After a recurring role in the sitcom The Powers That Be in 1992, the show’s creators, David Crane and Martha Kauffman, invited him to join the cast of their then-new project, Friends. He was the original choice to play statistical analyst Chandler Bing, although he turned down the offer; the role eventually went to Matthew Perry. He appeared on several short-lived television series—Madman of the People and Pride & Joy—and starred in several films. He gained recognition in 1996, when he played psychotic specialist Timothy in the action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Bierko then devoted his career to films, appearing in features such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Thirteenth Floor, I’m with Lucy, Cinderella Man and Scary Movie 4. He nevertheless still appeared as a guest on television, making appearances in Sex and the City, Ally McBeal and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2006, he joined the cast of the award-winning drama Boston Legal, where he played fast-talking lawyer Jeffrey Coho; he left the show at the end of the third season. This was followed by a regular role in the comedy series Unhitched; his role as surprised single Jack Gately was short-lived, as the show was cancelled after its six-episode run.
Bierko also had a notably career on stage. He was nominated for a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award, both for his role in the musical The Music Man in 2000.