An independent movie icon for Generation X, actor Peter Sarsgaard was born on this day in 1971. The Illinois native pursued history in college before finally discovering his acting talent during his senior year at Washington University. Shortly thereafter Sarsgaard moved to New York City, joined the Actors’ Studio and found himself working in the 1996 production of John Cameron Mitchell’s Kingdom of Earth. Since his screen debut in 1995’s Dead Man Walking, Sarsgaard has entertained audiences with varied performances in such indie fare as Boys Don’t Cry, The Salton Sea, Garden State, Kinsey and Jarhead. His latest two films, High Falls and Year of the Dog, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

Factoid: In 2004, Peter Sarsgaard was recognized by his moviemaking peers at the Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards for his role as the deceived New Republic editor Charles Lane in Billy Ray’s Shattered Glass.

Molly Shannon and Peter Sarsgaard star in Mike White’s Year of the Dog (2007). Photo: Paramount Vantage.