‘Sweet Magnolias’ star Chris Klein could've been the breakout star, what got in the way of his meteoric rise?
Klein's role in 'Election' garnered him positive reviews, but his claim to fame was the role of the fresh-faced, sentimental, lacrosse player Chris 'Oz' Ostreicher in the raunchy teen comedy 'American Pie'
Chris Klein surfaced as a heartthrob, in all his pretty-boy glory and jock-like handsomeness, after appearing in his first two blockbuster films. He made his acting debut in Alexander Payne's 1999 film 'Election' but was catapulted to fame with his role as Chris "Oz" Ostreicher in the first installation of the 'American Pie' franchise. And while he established a steady acting career thereafter, it was slower than he would have liked it to be. So whatever happened to this 90s dreamboat?
Klein was born and brought up in Illinois, but his family moved to Nebraska when he was a teenager. In high school, he had a unique interest in theatre, despite being an athlete in the baseball and swimming team. He was scouted by Payne when he was still a high-schooler and went on to pursue a full-time acting career.
His role in 'Election' garnered him positive reviews, but his claim to fame was the role of the fresh-faced, sentimental, lacrosse player, Oz, in the teen comedy 'American Pie', that follows a group of teenagers that make a pact to lose their virginity before they graduate high school. Apart from 'American Wedding', which he'd opted out of, Klein starred in all other installations of the 'American Pie' franchise.
Though he seemed like an actor with potential thanks to his breakout role as Oz, his career slowed down considerably. He also appeared in a handful of not so well-known films like Mel Gibson's 'We Were Soldiers', 'Say it Ain't So', 'Just Friends' and 'American Dreamz'. He was in a relationship with 'Dawson's Creek' alum Katie Holmes between 2000 and 2005, but their engagement ended shortly after when Holmes went on to have a high-profile relationship with Tom Cruise.
Following his split from the actress, his career almost hit rock bottom when he went through a very public struggle with alcohol addiction, and even found himself in trouble with the law for two DUIs in 2005 and 2010, respectively. Fortunately, he was able to turn his life back around and checked himself into a 30-day rehab program in 2012 to work on his sobriety and get back on track with his acting career, according to Laura Schreffler of The Daily Mail.
"I realized I had to get it straight and realize what the f--k was going on because the me that I knew was slipping away," the now 41-year-old actor, told The Daily Beast in 2012. "At that point, f**k acting. Can I even get out of bed? I was a 31-year-old man with bills to pay, a dog to take care of, and my mother sick with worry. And I'm in jail again. How did I get here?"
In 2008, he auditioned for the role of Dominic Cooper in 'Mamma Mia', according to leaked tape that went viral in 2010 which featured his rather cringe-worthy, off-key rendition of 'Lay All Your Love on Me'. Alas, he never bagged the role. He has also appeared in a handful of small television roles like in 'Raising Hope' and 'Wilfred' and even in indie films such as 'Authors Anonymous' alongside Kaley Cuoco. In 2018, Klien bagged a notable role in the fifth season of the superhero television series, 'The Flash' as the villain, Cicada. In 2015, Klein married Laina Rose Thyfault, a travel agent, whom he met at a mutual friend's wedding in 2011 and the couple is now parents to two children, a son born in 2016 and a daughter born in 2018.
The actor is set to appear in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the romantic-drama 'Sweet Magnolias'. Klein will be seen playing Bill Townsend, the husband of the protagonist, Maddie, who cheats on her with his assistant that becomes pregnant with his child. This could possibly be a golden opportunity for him to reinvent himself as an actor and further his prolific career.
'Sweet Magnolias' premieres on May 19 on Netflix.