Kevin Gage was born Kevin Gaede in northern Wisconsin, on May 26, 1959. As a youth, he worked on his grandparents’ dairy farm before and after school and throughout the summer. He was active in sports, making the team in basketball, baseball, football, hockey, and track and field. He thrived on the work and the rural lifestyle. Some of his favorite memories are of fishing northern Wisconsin rivers with his grandfather.
Kevin graduated high school on his 18th birthday. Fulfilling a life-long dream of seeing the ocean, he hitchhiked to Florida and stayed there a few months, working odd jobs. When Florida didn’t meet his expectations, he headed west to California. His plan was to go for the Bay Area and get work in construction, but fate stopped him in Hollywood.
Acting Class and First Roles
At the age of 21, a theatrical agent came up to him as he was tending bar in a steakhouse, and asked if he had ever thought of becoming an actor. When he showed up in her office, she had him read for a part, said he had talent, and recommended an acting class. He loved acting, and within a few years he was doing small jobs in low-budget films and television shows, including Highway to Heaven, L.A. Law, and Divorce Court. In 1989 he appeared opposite Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern and Brother Theodore in The ‘Burbs. He was also a regular in local plays on the weekends.
Breakthrough with Heat
Shortly after turning 32, an accident in his Jeep left Kevin in traction for three months and in a wheelchair and on crutches for another year. When he finally recovered, he got his first big break. His agent sent him the script for Heat. Competition for the role of “Waingro” was fierce, but after three months and eleven readings with the director, Kevin got the job.
As Kevin relates it, “The day before principal photography (filming) began, the director called me to his office, sat back in his chair, smiled and said, ‘You got heart, kid, you got the job. Can you be at work tomorrow morning?’ It was one of the most euphoric moments of my life. Against all odds, I had persisted in the business for 13 years, dreaming of the day I might work with Robert DeNiro.”
After the success of Heat, Kevin was flooded with offers, and continued to work opposite leading actors in more A-list films, including Demi Moore and Viggo Mortensen in G.I. Jane, Nicholas Cage in Con Air and Johnny Depp in Blow. He also appeared in TV shows (Firefly and Smallville) and lower budget films. For the first time, he was able to support himself with his acting.
Caught between Federal and State Laws
During a trip home to Wisconsin for Christmas, 2001, Kevin talked with his brother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and his sister, who had been fighting cancer for several years. They had both found marijuana could alleviate their symptoms.
Kevin got a California state license and set up to grow marijuana for medical prescription use, under California state law. In August, 2002, the federal government stepped in and arrested him and his partners. After serving two years of of a 41-month sentence, he was released on September 21, 2005.
Kevin is now living in southern California and once again working as an actor. His recent work includes La Linea (The Line), the television show Banshee, the video game Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the soon-to-be-released 7 Minutes. See his complete Filmography.
Kevin met actress Kelly Preston in his early acting classes. After a couple of years of dating, they were married in Hawaii in 1985. Two years later, the marriage fell apart, and they went their separate ways.
On March, 26, 2006, Kevin married his long-time sweetheart, Shannon “Perris” Knight. Their son Ryder Jay Gage, the greatest joy in Kevin’s life, was born in January of 2007. Sadly, Perris passed away in July, 2014, after a long struggle with cancer.