Originally from Texas, Busey began his career in 1968 and his popularity sky-rocketed with The Buddy Holly Story. From there, Busey had acclaimed and memorable roles such as Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and Lethal Weapon. He is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood with over 150 movie roles under his belt, which doesn't even include his television and a handful of video game roles.
A motorcycle enthusiast, Busey was famous for not wearing a helmet. That would all change on December 4, 1988, when he got into a motorcycle accident and seriously damaged his skull in the process. Busey spent several months in physical therapy regaining control of his entire body, and he suffered brain damage that "weakened his mental filters." The extent of the damage wasn't fully realized until two decades later, and the general view of him now is that he's absolutely crazy. It's a fair assessment; interviews with him and anecdotes from people who have met him paint the picture of an erratic and, at times, unsettling personality. Thankfully, he's taken this in stride and even embraced the image somewhat.
Busey has something of a cult following due to his hammy performances. He also battled with drug abuse and in 1995, he had a cocaine overdose and never did drugs again. He's also the father of Jake Busey.
- 1973: Lolly-Madonna XXX as Zeb
- 1974: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot as Curly
- 1976: The Gumball Rally as Gibson
- 1976: A Star Is Born as Bobbie Ritchie
- 1978: The Buddy Holly Story as Buddy Holly
- 1978: Big Wednesday as Leroy "The Masochist" Smith
- 1978: Straight Time as Willy Ruskin
- 1980: Carny as Frankie
- 1983: D.C. Cab as Dell
- 1985: Silver Bullet as Uncle Red
- 1986: Let's Get Harry as Jack
- 1987: Lethal Weapon as Mr. Joshua
- 1988: A Dangerous Life as Tony O'Neil
- 1990: Predator 2 as Peter Keyes
- 1991: Point Break as Pappas
- 1992: Under Siege as Commander Krill
- 1993: The Firm as Eddie Lomax
- 1993: Rookie of the Year as Chet Steadman
- 1994: Surviving the Game as Doc Hawkins
- 1994: Drop Zone as Ty Moncrief
- 1996: Black Sheep as Drake Sabitch
- 1997: Lost Highway as Bill Dayton
- 1998: Soldier as Church
- 1998: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as the Highway Patrolman
- 2000: Tribulation as Tom Canboro
- 2002: Hooded Angels as the Sheriff
- 2003: Ghost Rock as Jack Pickett
Tropes relating to the actor:
- Adam Westing: So much so that this trope could even be renamed after Gary instead. He seems to have no issue whatsoever lustily embracing his eccentric image and mining it for humor.
- As Himself:
- Chronically Killed Actor: Busey has died in quite a few films, mostly stemming from villain roles, including Lethal Weapon, Predator 2, Point Break (1991), and Under Siege. And reportedly was the last actor to get killed on Gunsmoke.
- Ax-Crazy: Plays a LOT of roles like this and is very good at it.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: His public image is most definitely this.
- Guttural Growler: His voice is very deep and gravelly.
- Large Ham: Absolutely. It just isn't a Gary Busey performance if there aren't teethmarks left in the scenery afterwards. Especially when he plays bad guys.
- Made of Iron: By all rights Gary Busey should be dead. That's not a knock at him, but his life is full of events that should have killed him. Even before the motorcycle crash he was heavily addicted to alcohol and cocaine. The accident left him with a hole in his head the size of a 50-cent piece. He spent two hours in surgery just to remove the blood clots that formed after his accident. The doctors told him that 50 percent of all patients with injuries like his die in the hospital. When he first regained consciousness he wasn't even able to swallow due to how much fine motor control he had lost. He managed to regain most if not all of his own fine motor control. Then he gave up alcohol and cocaine, survived a relapse in 1995 that nearly killed him, and has managed to stay sober since. And to top things off in 1997 he had a tumor removed from his sinuses that was giving him frequent nose bleeds.
- Messy Hair: His hair is always unkempt.
- Older Than They Look: In his late seventies but hasn't aged very much since the late 80's/early 90's. All the more impressive given all he's been through as listed above.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Gary certainly thinks so. He says his faith was strengthened by everything he lived through, but his overdose in 1995 was what really made him believe.
- Southern-Fried Genius: Busey hails from Goose Creek, Texas.
- The Teetotaler: He hasn't touched a drop of booze in years.
- Tempting Fate: Busey was famous for riding a motorcycle without a helmet, which led to his 1988 motorcycle accident.