John Gavin Malkovich was born in Christopher, Illinois, to Joe Anne (Choisser), who owned a local newspaper, and Daniel Leon Malkovich, a state conservation director. His paternal grandparents were Croatian. In 1976, Malkovich joined Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, newly founded by his friend Gary Sinise. After that, it would take seven years before Malkovich would show up in New York and win an Obie in Sam Shepard's play "True West". In 1984, Malkovich would appear with Dustin Hoffman in the Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman", which would earn him an Emmy when it was made into a made-for-TV movie the next year. His big-screen debut would be as the blind lodger in Places in the Heart (1984), which earned him an Academy Award Nomination for best supporting actor. Other films would follow, including The Killing Fields (1984) and The Glass Menagerie (1987), but he would be well remembered as Vicomte de Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons (1988). Playing against Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close in a costume picture helped raise his standing in the industry. He would be cast as the psychotic political assassin in Clint Eastwood's In the Line of Fire (1993), for which he would be nominated for both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe. In 1994, Malkovich would portray the sinister Kurtz in the made-for-TV movie Heart of Darkness (1993), taking the story to Africa as it was originally written. Malkovich has periodically returned to Chicago to both act and direct.