Childhood & Early Life
Born Michael Kevin Paré, on October 9, 1958, in Brooklyn, New York, he was the eighth of the 10 children of a French–Canadian father and an Irish mother. He has three brothers and six sisters.
His father, Francis, who owned and ran a number of print shops in the city, passed away due to leukemia when young Paré was just over 5 years old, leaving his mother, Joan, a housewife, to single-handedly raise a large family. The family had to leave Brooklyn and move to Westchester, New York, as a result.
While in junior high, Paré’s mother moved him and his two younger sisters to Fenton, Michigan, to live with an uncle, an ex-‘US Marine,’ and their 12 cousins.
Paré showed a lot of interest in physical activities in high school and was part of the wrestling team. He also took up part-time work at fast-food joints and then worked in regular restaurants.
Paré had once rued how growing up in the 1960s had left him with no real role-models, which made him secretly turn to leading men on the silver screen for inspiration. He considers James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Paul Newman, and Marlon Brando his early inspirational forces.
By the time he finished school, he was already planning a career as a chef and a restaurateur. Taking the advice of a chef he was working with at the time, Paré enrolled himself into a one-year course at ‘The Culinary Institute of America’ in Poughkeepsie, New York.
While living and working as a sous chef at a chic French restaurant in Columbus Avenue, he was spotted by talent agent Yvette Bikoff at a bar where his then-girlfriend used to work.
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After being spotted, Paré took acting classes and did print modeling during the day and worked in restaurants at night. He studied under Uta Hagen and Marvin Nelson and met many famous and interesting people during this time, including actor and director Rachel Ward.
During his internship at a famous Central Park restaurant in New York, he responded to a talent development program for ‘ABC’ that was being run by George Selznick. This was the turning point in his acting career. Selznick later became his unofficial agent.
Paré got his first break as ‘Tony Villicana’ in Stephen J. Cannell’s TV series ‘The Greatest American Hero’ (1981). This led to him being cast in a lead role in ‘ABC’s TV film ‘Crazy Times’ (1981), alongside Ray Liotta.
His early work caught the eye of the casting director of ‘Eddie and the Cruisers,’ who thought Paré would be perfect for the role of ‘Eddie.’ This was the film that made Paré an overnight movie star in 1983.
After the success of ‘Eddie and the Cruisers,’ he appeared in several big-banner films, such as ‘The Philadelphia Experiment’ (1984), ‘Streets of Fire’ (1984), ‘Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!’ (1989), and ‘Into the Sun’ (1992).
He made a name for himself in Japan by appearing in many Japanese commercials and print advertisements.
The failure of films such as ‘Streets of Fire’ at the box office led to him star in many low- and medium-budget projects and a few cable-TV films. He also starred in the TV series ‘Houston Knights’ in 1987, but the show was canceled after 31 episodes.
Paré got another break in the big league when director John Carpenter approached him for a role in the Christopher Reeve-starrer ‘Village of the Damned’ in 1995. Unfortunately, the film was unsuccessful at the box office. Thus, he had to return to acting in B-movies such as ‘Raging Angels’ (1995) and ‘Bad Moon’ (1996).
Despite his mixed career, several of his films, such as ‘Sunset Heat’, ‘Falling Fire’, ‘Warriors,’ and ‘First Light’ (also known as ‘Blink of an Eye’), were released in theaters overseas before the American audience could watch them on cable or video.
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In 2012, he received the ‘Best Actor’ award at the ‘PollyGrind Film Festival’ for his reprisal of the role of ‘Tom Cody’ in the 2008 film ‘Road to Hell,’ which was inspired by his 1984 film ‘Streets of Fire’.
The last decade has seen a revival in Paré’s career in big-budget movies, with appearances in a number of Brad Furman titles and with him sharing screen space with stars such as Matthew McConaughey and Johnny Depp in films such as ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ and ‘City of Lies,’ respectively.
Paré has also done some theater. In 1988, he appeared in a play in Los Angeles about Ernest Hemingway's early years. He also appeared in a Toronto play in 1991 and an ‘off-Broadway’ play called ‘The Black Marble Shoe Shine Stand’ by Louis LaRusso II in 1998.
He produced the TV movie ‘Komodo vs. Cobra’ and the short ‘Life Goes On.’
He contributed to the soundtrack of ‘Raging Angels.’
Family & Personal Life
Paré has married thrice. He was married to film producer Lisa Katselas from 1980 to 1984.
He dated Nancy Allen for a year before his second marriage, to Marisa Roebuck, which lasted only 2 years (1986–1988).
He married former fashion model Marjolein Booy in 1992. He has a child with her.
Paré’s first job was at the famous ‘Tavern on the Green’ in Central Park, owned at the time by Warner LeRoy from the Warner family of Hollywood’s ‘Warner Bros.’ fame.
Michael and his brother, Terrence, inherited $300 each from their paternal grandfather when they were living and studying together in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
His first salary as a screen actor (for his supporting role in the ‘ABC’ series ‘The Greatest American Hero’) was $8000, along with a first-class round-trip ticket to Los Angeles.
Paré had the opportunity to appear for a screen test for Franco Zeffirelli's ‘Endless Love,’ starring Brooke Shields, but he let it go to catch a flight to Los Angeles to act in ‘The Greatest American Hero.’
Despite the rumors, he was not the first choice for the role of the ‘Punisher’ aka ‘Frank Castle’ in the 1989 film ‘The Punisher.’