Imposing, intense and eccentric, this burly, stage-trained chameleon made an auspicious feature debut as an unstable marine recruit in 1987's Vietnam War epic Full Metal Jacket, a role for which he transformed himself by shaving his head and gaining 70 pounds. Later that year, he was unrecognizable as a buff, blond garage owner in Adventures in Babysitting. Due to his physique, he often played villains in A-list pictures (a serial killer in The Cell, an evil alien in Men in Black), while indies (many produced by the actor himself) allowed him to show off his range. He was brilliant as the sexually obsessed creator of Conan in The Whole Wide World and charismatic as yippie activist Abbie Hoffman in Steal This Movie. Although he had spent most of his career on the big screen, an Emmy-nominated guest appearance as a doomed subway rider on Homicide got him thinking about the small screen, and in 2001 he signed on for his first-ever series-regular role as a brilliant, oddball detective on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The program was a hit, but the burden of a weekly show took its toll and after being hospitalized twice for fainting, he was diagnosed with exhaustion. As a result, beginning in 2005, his character Det. Goren and his partner Det. Alexandra Eames (played by Kathryn Erbe) began alternating episodes with another team, this one headed by Law & Order veteran Chris Noth.
- During the 1980s, worked as a bouncer in New York dance clubs and as a bodyguard for celebrities, including Robert Plant and Yul Brynner.
- Shaved his head and gained nearly 70 pounds for his breakthrough movie role as an unstable marine recruit in Full Metal Jacket.
- Director Tim Burton disliked his vocal impression of Orson Welles in Ed Wood (1994), so he dubbed over D'Onofrio with the voice of Maurice LaMarche (best known for playing Brain from Pinky and the Brain).
- Was diagnosed with exhaustion after being hospitalized twice for fainting on the set of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. As a result, beginning in 2005, his character of Det. Robert Goren and partner Det. Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) began alternating episodes with a detective team portrayed by Chris Noth and Annabella Sciorra.
- Twice played real-life John F. Kennedy assassination eyewitness Bill Newman, in Oliver Stone's JFK (1991) and Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992).
- 1998, Emmy — Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Nominee
- 1994, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Male Lead: Nominee
- Elias D'Onofrio — Son
- Carin Van Der Donk — Wife
- Greta Scacchi — Ex-significant Other
- Gene D'Onofrio — Father
- Luca D'Onofrio — Son
- Leila George Emilia Scacchi D'Onofrio — Daughter
- Elizabeth D'Onofrio — Sister