Ethan Embry Biography

Actor (1978–)
Ethan Embry is an American actor whose career gained steam as a teen actor in '90s films like 'Vegas Vacation,' 'Empire Records' and 'Can't Hardly Wait.' His recent roles in television include 'Brotherhood,' 'Grace and Frankie' and 'The Walking Dead.'

Who Is Ethan Embry?

Born in 1978, Ethan Embry is an American actor who's played many supporting roles in film and television. He began his acting career at 12 but earned more memorable roles as a teen actor in the 1990s. With his boyish looks and sunny disposition, Embry was cast in quirky supporting roles in films like Empire Records (1995), That Thing You Do! (1996), National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation (1997) and the male lead in Can't Hardly Wait (1998). Dealing with addiction issues for many years, Embry has made a professional comeback, starting in 2006 with Showtime's Brotherhood. In 2014 he also earned a recurring role in Netflix's Grace and Frankie and most recently starred in AMC's The Walking Dead.

Ethan Embry Photo

Ethan Embry arrives at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival opening night premiere of 'Grandma' at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. 

Movies and TV Shows

Barely in his teens, Embry began his Hollywood career with a bang in 1991 by starring in multiple comedic films: Defending Your Life, Dutch and All I Want For Christmas. As the decade progressed, Embry was seen in a slew of films that didn't necessarily make waves at the box office at the time of their release, but some eventually became slow burn cult favorites. 

'Empire Records,' 'That Thing You Do!'

While he found work in some dramas like A Far Off Place (1993) with Reese Witherspoon, the oceanic disaster flick White Squall (1996) with Jeff Bridges and the sci-fi horror flick Disturbing Behavior (1998), Embry is most remembered for his roles in feel-good, comedy genre films including Empire Records (1995), playing opposite Liv Tyler and Anthony LaPaglia and the Tom Hanks-led That Thing You Do! (1996). 

'Can't Hardly Wait'

In 1997 he played Rusty Griswold, the son of Chevy Chase's character in National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation and a year later, nabbed the lead male role in the teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait, co-starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

"The script that we read was a very different script than what everybody saw," Embry told VH1 in 2013, on the film's 15th anniversary. "The same thing happened with Empire Records. We had an R rated script and a lot of the characters ended up getting cut out so that we could make PG13. They did that the day before we started filming… That was before American Pie came out. So it was before it was okay for studios to make a raunchy comedy with high school characters."

But to this day, Embry admits he can't recite many lines from the film due to his drug use. 

"When we were shooting, I was the world’s biggest stoner," Embry told VH1. "I remember the director came up to me and asked if I was 'altered.' But other than that, nothing sticks out because I was so stoned the entire time."

'Sweet Home Alabama'

As the '90s came to a close, Embry's career also turned fairly quiet due to the actor's addiction to drugs and alcohol. Although he did appear in some films throughout the next decade, most notably in 2002's rom-com Sweet Home Alabama, in which he reunited with his co-star Reese Witherspoon and 2004's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Embry wasn't making real headway in his career.


It wasn't until 2006, when he nabbed a major supporting role as the morally questionable Rhode Island detective Declan Giggs in Showtime's crime drama Brotherhood that his acting work began picking up.

After the critically acclaimed show concluded in 2008, Embry began taking care of his health and was on the road to sobriety. 

“When you lose sight of how good you have it and you become greedy and want something different, you lose what's already been given to you," he told Buzzfeed News in 2015. "I think that's a common action in people that drink too much. You get really selfish. I couldn’t tell you if the timing of me making changes and working more is related, but it would be silly if I didn't think that had something to do with it.”

'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Once Upon a Time,' 'The Walking Dead'

After appearing on Grey's Anatomy as prosthetist Dr. David Moore in 2012, Embry won a recurring role on ABC's fantasy drama Once Upon a Time before playing recovering addict Coyote Bergstein in Netflix's Grace and Frankie beginning in 2015. Soon after, Embry also took on the role of Carter on AMC's The Walking Dead in 2015.

“It was the best! The best! The best!” Embry told Buzzfeed News about his Walking Dead role. “As a fan of the show, I got to do all of the things you would want to do: I tried to kill Rick and I got eaten by a zombie! I feel like I won a sweepstakes.”

That same year, Embry also worked on the critically acclaimed horror film The Devil's Candy (2015) as the main character Jesse Helman and has a recurring role as Pete Murphy on Amazon's lauded crime drama Sneaky Pete.


Embry is 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Personal Life

Embry was married to actress Amelinda Smith from 1998 to 2002. The couple has a son, Cogeian Sky, born in 1999. 

Embry then married actress Sunny Mabrey in 2005 until 2012. The couple later reconciled and remarried in 2015.

Early Life

Ethan Embry was born as Ethan Philan Randall on June 13, 1978, in Huntington Beach, California. He is the middle child of Karen, a talent manager, and Charles, a dental tech. 

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