Maverick Spirit Award: Christopher Meloni

Maverick Spirit Award: Christopher Meloni

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With his piercing blue eyes, sexy "tough guy" appeal and endless charisma, Christopher Meloni may be best recognized for his portrayal as the idealistic, straight-laced Detective Elliot Stabler on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (a role for which he's been dubbed "TV's Foxiest Detective" on more than one occasion). But, his portfolio reveals one of the most diverse repertoires in his field, and Meloni demonstrates time and again his ability to hold our attention captive, while infusing any character he portrays with an ineffable brilliance. He does it all...and he does it all in amazing ways.

The Washington, D.C. native studied acting at the University of Colorado - Boulder before graduating with a degree in History. He worked in construction and as a bouncer before breaking into acting, studying his craft in New York with legendary teacher Sanford Meisner.

Meloni wowed audiences with his early comedic portrayals as Vito Del Greco in HBO's very first sitcom 1st & Ten: The Championship and as Franki Fanelli in The Fanelli Boys. His breakout role was on NYPD Blue, opposite Kim Delaney, which led to being cast on HBO's gritty landmark series Oz, playing the psychotic, bisexual serial killer, Chris Keller.

In 1999, he landed his starring role on the popular and long-running NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, with Meloni working in both series simultaneously until Oz ended its six-year run. He continued on Law & Order: SVU for twelve seasons, earning an Emmy nomination for his performance. Meloni then returned to HBO in a pivotal arc as the head of the Vampire Authority in Alan Ball's wildly popular drama, True Blood.

On the big screen, Meloni was recently seen as Colonel Nathan Hardy in the summer blockbuster Man of Steel, and co-starred in 42 with Harrison Ford. His other big screen credits include the Terry Gilliam films Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Twelve Monkeys; the Wachowskis' first film Bound; the romantic comedy blockbuster Runaway Bride, with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts; Nights in Rodanthe, with Gere and Diane Lane; and such cult favorites as Wet Hot American Summer, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and its first sequel, Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

Adding to his already spectacular resume, 2014 is a busy year for Meloni. In August, he co-stars with Josh Brolin, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eva Green, and Mickey Rourke in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, the sequel to 2005's screen adaptation of Frank Miller's highly regarded graphic novel. He also just recently completed They Came Together, directed by David Wain and also starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and Ed Helms; as well as White Bird in a Blizzard, based on the book of the same name by Laura Kasischke, with Shailene Woodley and Eva Green.

And, if that leaves you feeling out of breath, Meloni returns to network television in March starring in the comedy Surviving Jack on Fox.

Cinequest's Closing Night will be a spectacular event, with the World Premiere of Meloni's most recently completed Small Time--the the directorial debut of Joel Surnow (head writer of Miami Vice, co-creator and executive producer of 24, writer and producer of The Kennedys), and co-starring Dean Norris, Devon Bostick, Bridget Moynahan, Kevin Nealon, Garcelle Beauvais, Xander Berkeley, and Amaury Nolasco.

Both Christopher Meloni and Joel Surnow will join audiences for the screening of Small Time and will entertain with a dynamic conversation after the film, followed by a high-energy party.