Biography

Known to legions of fans as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, bassist Flea has also maintained a side career as a supporting player in feature films. Born Michael Balzary, Flea moved from Australia to Los Angeles as a teen; it was there that he met eventual Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis in high school. Flea acted in his first major film, Penelope Spheeris' suburban punk story The Wild Side (1983), the same year he co-founded the band. Merging both of his performing interests, he appeared with the Chili Peppers in Tough Guys (1986) and Thrashin' (1986), as himself in Bruce Weber's Chet Baker documentary Let's Get Lost (1988), and played musicians in Less Than Zero (1987), the hip nostalgic road movie Roadside Prophets (1992), and Terry Gilliam's unpopular adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Flea has also worked solely as an actor, playing small roles most notably in Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), and in Gus Van Sant's Shakespearean street hustler tale My Own Private Idaho (1991); he has also added his voice to the animated TV show The Wild Thornberries (1998). Playing off his distinctive rock star image, Flea appeared as one of the black-clad nihilists in Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's bowling comedy/western/caper The Big Lebowski (1998). Departing from his more frequent bit-player status, Flea stepped into a more substantial part in the indie crime drama Liar's Poker (1999). He lent his voice to The Wild Thornberrys Movie as well as Rugrats Go Wild, and has contributed to various documentaries including Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, Patti Smith: Dream of Life, and The Other F Word. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi