Thomas Haden Church grew up outside of Dallas, Texas. He worked at various jobs, including for the Texas Highway Department, as a radio deejay and as a hired hand on a cattle ranch. While a student at North Texas State University, he began doing commercial voiceovers and after graduation, won a small part in an indie movie.
Based on that success, he moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to see if he could make acting his career. He immediately landed guest appearances on shows such as 21 Jump Street, Cheers, China Beach and Booker. The following year he became a series regular on a new sitcom, Wings. Church stayed with the hit show for the length of his five year contract. Though it ran for two more years, he wanted to try something different. During a hiatus from the show, he’d gotten a taste of big-budget movie making with Tombstone (1993), starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. Following a role in the horror flick Demon Knight (1995), starring Billy Zane and Jada Pinkett Smith, Church returned to series television work as a regular in the sitcom Ned And Stacey, which lasted two years before being cancelled.
He wasn’t out of work long. Church played villain Lyle Van de Groot in George of the Jungle (1997) opposite Brendan Fraser, and Don in One Night Stand (1997) with Wesley Snipes. Although he’s had several offers to return to network TV, Church has opted to stick to film. He made his directorial debut with Rolling Kansas (2003), also co-writing the screenplay and taking on a role. Made on a small budget, it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival but has not been released to commercial theaters.
Church then went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for his lead role in the critically-acclaimed Sideways (2004), co-starring Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen.
In his spare time, Church, who grew up surfing on the Texas coast, enjoys hitting the beach near his home in Southern California.