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Blog/Jake Busey: Stranger Things Star’s Hollywood Career Highlights
Jake Busey: Stranger Things Star’s Hollywood Career Highlights
5 min read

Jake Busey: Stranger Things Star’s Hollywood Career Highlights

5 min read
jake-busey-stranger-things
Kyle McManusDec 12, 2021

Looking Back at the Biggest Screen Successes of the Man Behind the Mask in Stranger Things and The Predator

Jake Busey is an actor from Los Angeles, California. His career has spanned more than 40 years and encompassed a diverse body of work, with roles in everything from blockbuster sci-fi movies to some of the biggest TV series of recent years (including Stranger Things season three). 

In this post, we’ll explore Busey’s biggest roles and successes, from his first projects to his current work. 

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What was Jake Busey’s First Role?

Jake Busey is the son of beloved Hollywood star Gary Busey, who appeared in Point Break, Lethal Weapon, Predator 2, Under Siege, The Firm, and many other movies. As he spent a lot of time on film sets as a child, Jake Busey realised that he wanted to perform at a young age. His first role was in 1978’s Straight Time, a crime film starring his father and Dustin Hoffman. 

One of Jake Busey's first roles was on The Predator 2. Image credit: Getty Images.
One of Jake Busey's first roles was on The Predator 2. Image credit: Getty Images.

Jake Busey later appeared in several other movies throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, including Barbarosa, Black Cat Run, Quiet Days in Hollywood, and I’ll Do Anything. 

Jake Busey Biggest Films of the 1990s: Starship Troopers, The Frighteners, and Beyond

Busey starred in multiple popular movies during the late 1990s. Starship Troopers, released in 1997, was a spectacular sci-fi action movie with a strong satirical streak. Jake Busey was one of the main cast members, joining Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, and Casper Van Dien. His character, the brilliantly named Ace Levy, fought alongside his fellow troopers in their war against the alien Arachnids (referred to as “Bugs” in the movie) in one bloody battle after another. 

Busey's notable role was on Starship Troopers. Image credit: Touchstone Pictures.
Busey's notable role was on Starship Troopers. Image credit: Touchstone Pictures.

The Frighteners was one of several movies director Peter Jackson made before The Lord of the Rings trilogy brought him major mainstream success. This supernatural comedy was released in 1996, and starred Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister, a man able to see and interact with ghosts. Jake Busey played the serial killer Johnny Bartlett, who spends much of the film hidden beneath a hooded robe as he continues his murderous work from beyond the grave. 

Jake starred in The Frighteners alongside Michael J. Fox and Trini Alvarado. Image credit: WingNut Films.
Jake starred in The Frighteners alongside Michael J. Fox and Trini Alvarado. Image credit: WingNut Films.

In 2018, Busey told Bloody Disgusting that the original cut of The Frighteners lasted for around five hours, and encouraged them to ask Jackson for a “five-hour director’s cut.” However, he also said that most of his work as Johnny Bartlett ended up in the final film. 

He also appeared in Twister, 1996’s second-highest-grossing film, and the Jodie Foster sci-fi movie Contact. Busey later played NSA Agent Krug, one of the multiple characters pursuing Will Smith’s character in Tony Scott’s action movie Enemy of the State

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Jake Busey’s Memorable Stranger Things Season Three Role 

Jake Busey appeared in Stranger Things season three, playing Bruce, a journalist for the small-town newspaper, The Hawkins Post. Since the Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things debuted in 2016, it has become a huge hit for Netflix and a pop-culture phenomenon in its own right. Several stars, including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, and Natalia Dyer, have gone on to appear in other series and movies. 

Busey plays Bruce with an arrogant, sexist attitude, particularly towards the young Nancy Wheeler. Netflix’s promotional materials for Stranger Things season three described the character Bruce as “a journalist for The Hawkins Post, with questionable morals and a sick sense of humor.”

Busey landed a part on the Netflix hit series Stranger Things. Image credit: Netflix/Getty Images.
Busey landed a part on the Netflix hit series Stranger Things. Image credit: Netflix/Getty Images.

Those questionable morals were seen in full effect later in Stranger Things season three, when he turned into one of the Flayed under the control of the Mind Flayer. This, and other key plot details, were kept carefully under wraps until the series hit Netflix. 

Busey was the only choice to play Bruce, as the Duffer Brothers created the part of Bruce in the third season exclusively for him. The actor told Blood Disgusting that the Stranger Things creators “kind of wrote the role for me based on being fans of The Frighteners,” and that he “[owes] Peter Jackson a thank you because The Frighteners has been a life identifying film for me.” 

Busey also praised the authenticity of Stranger Things’ 1980s setting: “It looked just like the world looked when I was 12 [...] the same video games, the same games, the same bicycle”. 

What Other Movies Has the Stranger Things Actor Appeared In?

Jake Busey featured in numerous films throughout the 2000s and 2010s, including Identity, The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting, Christmas with the Kranks, Road House 2, The Killing Jar, and Reaper. 

Jake Busey playing Officer Treen in Christmas With the Kranks. Image credit: Columbia Pictures.
Jake Busey playing Officer Treen in Christmas With the Kranks. Image credit: Columbia Pictures.

Busey also appeared in the 2018 sci-movie, The Predator, as Sean Keyes — the son of Pete Keyes, played by Gary Busey in Predator 2. Jake Busey’s presence in The Predator helped create further continuity between this and the initial movies in the franchise. 

Jake Busey’s Other TV Work 

As well as appearing as the character Bruce in Stranger Things season three, Busey has featured in other popular TV series broadcast around the world. 

In 2015, he played Samuel Wallace in Texas Rising, a mini-series on the History Channel. Busey joined other cast members like the late Bill Paxton, The Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Ray Liotta.

The cast of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Image credit: Miramax.
The cast of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Image credit: Miramax.

He also played Professor Aiden Tanner, better known as Sex Machine, in From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. Sex Machine was one of the most memorable characters in the original movie From Dusk till Dawn: The Series and was later given a bigger part in the show. 

Busey also featured in three episodes of the hit TV series Ray Donovan, two episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and multiple episodes of Freakish. He followed these with parts in Mr. Robot and Swamp Thing, based on the cult DC Comics character.

Video Game Roles 

Busey has voiced characters in three video games. In 2012, he featured in Spec Ops: The Line as Robert “Radioman” Darden, then followed this up as the DJ of Resistance Radio in XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. 

In 2020, Busey reprised his Sean Keyes character from The Predator in Predator: Hunting Grounds

Like father, like son: Jake starred in the Predator sequel following Gary. Image credit: Coming Soon.
Like father, like son: Jake starred in the Predator sequel following Gary. Image credit: Coming Soon.

Jake Busey Behind the Scenes

Jake Busey and his partner, April Hutchinson, have a daughter named Autumn. She was born in 2012 and the Busey family live in Los Angeles.

According to Busey, the couple “spent [their] 20’s together” but separated for more than a decade. However, they rekindled their romance, got engaged once more, and brought daughter Autumn into the world. At the time of Autumn’s birth, the Stranger Things actor said that he and his partner were “happily looking forward to this wonderful new life!”

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Kyle McManus
Kyle McManusCopywriter
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