Although some find John C. Reilly attractive – and his screen persona is often appealing – he has what you might call a distinctive look. So, when his son Leo went viral on the internet, people were curious to see what he looks like. But they may have been surprised by what they saw.
Born in 1998, Reilly’s son with movie producer Alison Dickey made the internet go wild in 2020. But as we’ll see, Leo is no stranger to the web. And while he doesn’t quite have the fame that his Oscar-nominated dad has, we might well see more of him down the line.
After all, both Leo’s parents are fixtures in the world of film. They even worked together on the movie The Sisters Brothers, although that was a rare occurrence. Dickey told website IndieWire, “We both have our own careers, and that’s the lovely thing about our partnership.” But she did add that being able to talk about their work to each other meant that, “I feel like we’re always working together.”
Reilly has had a varied career since he first appeared in a film called Casualties of War. Not only is he an accomplished actor, but he’s also a singer with his own band John Reilly and Friends. And he’s also a renowned theater performer, having been nominated for a Tony for True West.
A native of Chicago, Reilly is a member of a big family, having five siblings. He was apparently a bit of a scamp as a kid, at one point lifting hundreds of boxes of cereal off of a train. But he eventually knuckled down to his studies, graduating from DePaul University’s Theatre School.
Reilly uses his middle initial, and that’s because the actors’ union insisted on it to distinguish him from an actor of the same name. Reilly told the New York Post in 2011, “I’ve met the other John Reilly. He’s an older man who was on soap operas.” Indeed, Reilly’s dad is also a John, and the middle name of Christopher was an alternative for the son becoming John Reilly Jr.
Reilly has become renowned for his flexibility, as he discussed with the New York Post. He said, “If you feel like you start to get pigeonholed, you have to say no and wait it out. Hopefully it won’t be too long until something else comes along. For me, I’ve never played a certain kind of character over and over. When people start to know me for one thing, I start to look for something [else].”
As we’ve already mentioned, Reilly got his start with a minor appearance in 1989’s Sean Penn-starring Casualties of War. A string of character parts followed, including a couple of roles where he appeared alongside Penn again. You may also have seen him in the Tom Cruise vehicle Days of Thunder.
More parts followed, and Reilly’s reputation began to burgeon as he showed versatility across a range of roles. A trio of collaborations with director Paul Thomas Anderson saw him play kindly doofuses, giving Reilly the opportunity to deploy his talent for improv. By 1999’s Magnolia, he was getting much more time on camera.
Also in 1999 came a star turn in The Settlement. Reilly himself gained praise, although the movie didn’t. As the decade turned, he showed up in a couple of romcoms, where he displayed his comic chops. Not that he’d lost his ability to play it straight, as he demonstrated in 2000 disaster movie The Perfect Storm.
Reilly’s stock received a huge boost in 2002 when he turned up in three Best Picture nominees at the Academy Awards. His role in Chicago brought him personal acclaim, too, with a nomination for the best supporting actor. Co-star Renée Zellweger had high praise for him, saying, “John is so often the best thing about the movies he’s in.”
Now a hot property, Reilly could pick some good roles. Indeed, he scored one in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a biopic of Howard Hughes. He followed it up with films such as Criminal and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. The latter saw him paired with Will Ferrell, sparking a successful partnership.
That working relationship was revived for Step Brothers in 2007. Reilly’s comic talent was fully unleashed in the gross-out hit. More comedies cropped up around the same period, with regular appearances on Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. And there was also the Johnny Cash parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Although Reilly did another comic turn in Cedar Rapids to huge acclaim, he also appeared in darker movies through the 2010s. He had leading parts in dramedies such as Terri and Carnage. And he also had a co-starring role in drama We Need To Talk About Kevin, in which he played Kevin’s dad.
In Reilly’s next big role he was heard but not seen. That is, he voiced the title character in 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, which he also helped to write. The film was a smash hit, sparking a 2018 sequel. Other smaller roles filled out his decade, completing an impressive resumé that few actors can match.
But even with all that variety, there’s still one role that Reilly wishes he could play, as he told website Zimbio. He said, “I did a lot of musicals as a kid, and Guys and Dolls was one that got away, and I think it’s one of the greatest musicals ever written. I would love to play Nathan Detroit.”
Reilly’s wife Alison Dickey’s face is seen less often. She works as a producer, rather than as an actor. She was prompted to take up producing whilst working on Casualties of War. She told IndieWire, “I was watching Art Vinson produce that movie… I realized I wanted to switch to physical production. I changed gears and worked my way up, learning the ropes.”
While working as Sean Penn’s assistant on the 1989 war film, Dickey met Reilly, who had a part in the movie. The pair got together, and as Dickey told Indiewire, “We’ve been together a long time.” Indeed, the couple are still – to all appearances, at least – going strong three decades later.
In 1992 the couple made their relationship formal by tying the knot. And nearly a decade after they first met, two became three when son Leo joined the family in 1998. Second son Arlo completed the Reilly clan, although not much is known about him since he keeps a lower profile than his older brother.
When Indiewire asked Dickey what she felt about Reilly’s range of skills, she had an interesting reply. She said, “I’ve seen the whole trajectory of his career. I’m so well aware of what he’s capable of doing. I always feel somewhat satisfied and somewhat unsatisfied after I watch a film of his, just in terms of wanting to get the whole palette.”
When the couple worked in tandem on The Sisters Brothers, Dickey got to see that range in full. She told IndieWire, “One of the beautiful things about his performance in the film is that it really showcases his range both as a dramatic actor, but also being able to find comedy in a situation… That’s what John’s interested in. Comedy just comes out of reality.”
The 2018 film proved a tough job for Reilly, as he told entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter. He said, “It’s the most difficult movie I’ve ever produced. That said, it’s the only movie I’ve ever produced. Everyone who got involved with this movie, by the end of the process, I felt like we each were putting our own personal mark on it, our own personal emotional backstory from our own lives into the material.”
But Reilly knew where to place the credit. He continued, “And honestly, to be taking any of the credit for the larger picture of producing the movie is a little unseemly for me. I definitely did my share of producing work, but my wife was the person behind the scenes connecting the French with the Americans and the Spanish, and she was in there making it happen.”
As well as a happy husband, Reilly is a devoted father. Back in 2008 he told Parade magazine that he didn’t mind being at home with the boys. He said he “[dreaded] the day when they leave the house.” He absolutely adored the lads. He said, “Maybe there will come a time when I’ll get tired of them, but I really depend on my kids for company.”
Now eldest son Leo has left home and is out and about in the world. And it has to be said that he’s causing a stir. In early 2020 HuffPost journalist Zeba Blay posted two pictures. One was of Leo, the other was of his dad John. And people noticed straight away that they looked pretty different. In fact, it could be said that Leo looks like the late Queen singer Freddy Mercury.
People flocked to like Blay’s tweet, and they flooded it with responses. One person tweeted, “I want to date John C. Reilly’s son.” Elsewhere, another suggested, “If you look like this [John C, Reilly’s son] DM me.” Some found the family relationship sufficiently difficult to comprehend that they suggested that mom’s genes had won out.
Indeed, they may have done, since Leo has Dickey’s darker skin and black hair. But his eyes are all his own, although they do have the shape of his mom’s. But they are, in fact, each a different color. Far from trying to hide this anomaly, though, Leo often deploys adornments or makeup to highlight them.
Some internet users might well have been familiar with Leo before Zeba Blay’s post was circulated. He had a decent following on Instagram, with his 400-plus uploads attracting thousands of followers. Leo mostly focused on the positive, with pictures that showcased his talents in fashion and his creativity. Dad John’s seemingly a fan, even appearing in his short clips on the platform.
Leo can also be found on short video platform TikTok, where again his hallmark is fashion and art. There, more than 700,000 people follow him and enjoy his work. Mainly, he entertains his audience with his kendama skills, but you can also catch him pretending to rap or joking about Vanessa from Bee Movie.
The young influencer also displays his creativity in a thriving jewelry business. He creates artistic earrings, some of which demonstrate a degree of novelty. He then sells them off alongside some vintage clothing. Among the earrings is a pair based on a bottle of Volvic branded water, demonstrating humor alongside artistry.
The man himself shows off a real sense of style. Leo mixes a unique blend of streetwear, his own jewelry and sweaters that look like they may have once costumed his dad in a film. On his Instagram, he showcases manicures, more earrings and necklaces made from pearls. And to top all that, his hairstyle is e-boy perfection.
Leo developed his fashion skills at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. It was a pretty handy place to study, since he lives in L.A. He has a longstanding love of design, having spent years making clothes. Indeed, in an interview in 2019, he shared that he had a small collection nearly ready to show.
But making fashionable clothing wasn’t all that Leo was engaged in. He also modeled it, and he’d had a fair amount of success in that line of work. Although he’s not quite the standard six feet, two inches – he’s three inches short, in fact – he still found jobs in the editorial or commercial areas.
On top of fashion, Leo is engaged in music. He has a deal with an L.A. label, recording under the name of LoveLeo. The culmination of several years of music production was a single and music video in the fall of 2019. And of course, that video would be showing on TikTok, where a voracious audience was ready to eat it up.
The song was called “Boyfren,” which website The Cut likened to Ariana Grande’s “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.” And as it happened, Leo’s song was indeed eaten up. A weird clip accompanying the tune showed Leo taking the form of an egg yolk at one point. The video got over five million views online.
Although Leo’s not following in his dad’s footsteps, he has actually been seen in a film. This was called The Everything, a piece that showcased clothes brand KENZO’s 2018 collection. Ultimately, it helped catapult Leo into the world of fashion. It also featured superstar Milla Jovovich and Girls Trip actress Regina Hall in a tale of family dynamics.
So, Leo keeps himself pretty busy. But his focus seems to be strongly on fashion and music. As he told FIDM’s student magazine in 2019, “I want to have my music career and fashion career go hand in hand.” Nevertheless, his ambitions are not limited to making a star out of himself.
Indeed, Leo shared much broader plans to give others opportunities. He said, “I also want to have a space where people can do concerts, runway shows, pop-up shops, really whatever they want. I just want to be able to facilitate a space for people to showcase what they are passionate about.”
When Leo sings about leaving your boyfriend, you could be forgiven for hearing that as an advertisement for a girlfriend. But you’d be wrong because he already has one – model Julia Marie. And not only does she occasionally crop up in his Instagram feed, but the couple have been photographed together out and about.
Having set the internet ablaze, journalist Zeba Blay did have one thing that she wished to clarify. She wasn’t saying that John C. Reilly isn’t himself a handsome man. She tweeted, “I just want to clarify that I wasn’t trying to imply that John C. Reilly is ugly, just that biology is wild.” And she added, “I’ve always had a lil crush on John tbh.”