Steely-eyed and greasy-haired with an adventurous taste in fashion, Vincent Gallo has certainly achieved some level of name recognition for his arrogant eccentricity. Notorious for talking about himself at great length without ever really saying anything of consequence, he's become something of a hipster icon to legions of fans. Though claims about his home life are dubious, he was born in Buffalo, NY, as the middle child of Sicilian immigrants. Playing in garage bands at an early age, he ran away to New York City at 16 and proceeded to seek fame and fortune by hanging out with the right people. Working as a musician under various names and in numerous bands, he showed his paintings in trendy N.Y.C. galleries and made the short film If You Feel Froggy, Jump. Appropriately, his first film appearance was as himself for the New York Beat Movie (1981), starring painter Jean Michel Basquiat and other big-name art scenesters. This was followed by an appearance in the New York underground film The Way It Is (1984), starring a young Steve Buscemi and Rockets Redglare. Gallo started acting as a TV guest star to make money and also fell into modeling for the same reason, becoming a fixture in Calvin Klein advertisements for clothes and fragrances. After playing the lead in the little-seen Doc's Kingdom, he made brief appearances in the films Goodfellas, The House of the Spirits, and The Perez Family. During this time he also started working with French director Claire Denis, who cast him in the short film Keep It for Yourself, the made-for-TV U.S. Go Home, and its follow-up feature Nénette et Boni (1996).
Back in the States, he played more significant roles in Arizona Dream, with Johnny Depp, the crime comedy Palookaville, and Abel Ferrara's The Funeral. After starring in Kiefer Sutherland's directorial debut Truth or Consequences, N.M., he released his own independent debut, Buffalo '66. Made with a budget of 1.5 million dollars, Gallo wrote, directed, starred in, and composed the music for this largely autobiographic comedy drama. Certainly not ignored by critics or festivals, Buffalo '66 gained him a solid fan base as well as a boost to his music career. He then formed the short-lived band Bunny with Lukas Haas and released two solo albums on Warp records. Continuing his acting career opposite young attractive actresses, he starred in the crime drama Freeway 2: Confessions of a Trickbaby, with Natasha Lyonne; the Spanish drama Stranded: Náufragos, with Maria de Medeiros; the thriller Hide and Seek, with Jennifer Tilly; and the romantic comedy Get Well Soon, with Courteney Cox. He also reunited with director Denis for a lead role in the strange sex horror film Trouble Every Day, opposite Tricia Vessey. In 2003, he made his second effort as writer/director/star for The Brown Bunny with Chloë Sevigny, which premiered to much derision at the Cannes Film Festival.