Born March 11th, 1967 in Glasgow, Scotland (no, he's not to our knowledge a Violent Glaswegian). His family moved to Aurora, Illinois when he was 8, and his father was relocated there by Caterpillar. He picked up an American accent to avoid the torment other kids were leveling at him. Went to Joliet West High School as a teen where he performed in many school productions. Made his name as a Musical Theatre actor/singer (there's an official recording of him as Raoul de Chagny in The Phantom of the Opera available); in 1998 he received an Olivier Award nomination for playing Calvin Chandler in The Fix (he lost to co-star Philip Quast). He also presented UK kids' TV show Live And Kicking. He had several minor TV and film roles, including Soap Operas such as Central Park West and Titans. He also appeared in the laughably terrible movie Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, in which he uttered the infamous "line" (not safe for work!).
His biggest break was landing the role of Capt. Jack Harkness in the revival of one of his favorite childhood shows, Doctor Who. This character, an omnisexual time traveling con-man, was so popular he got his own show, Torchwood. He's also popped back to Doctor Who for the end of the third series and for the fourth series finale, as well as a cameo in David Tennant's final episode.
He was also a judge for three Talent Shows (How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I'd Do Anything) looking for new Musical Theater stars. According to Denise Van Outen, he went skinny dipping in Andrew Lloyd Webber's swimming pool.
He has a penchant for getting a certain organ out in front of his co-stars. About the only person he hasn't (successfully) done it to is Lis Sladen. He apologised to the UK for doing so during a live radio broadcast. There was a webcam, although said bit was not shown on-line.
He also took part in a talent show as a contestant - ITV's Dancing On Ice, series 1; he was voted off surprisingly early and many feel he was robbed.
In 2008, his helming of the quiz show The Kids Are All Right at around the same time he was on Doctor Who, Torchwood and I'd Do Anything, as well as his tendency to pop up in a lot of other places have led to "theories" of an army of Barrowman clones running around.
Also in 2008, he featured in Hotel Babylon, where he played a Hollywood producer.
He's released several CDs, mostly of Broadway standards. He also has two autobiographical books out: Anything Goes and I Am What I Am.
He's openly gay, though he acknowledges women can be attractive (even if he dislikes the idea of sex with them). He and his long term partner Scott Gill were joined in a civil partnership on December 27, 2006. (Incidentally, Barrowman has stated that he took one look at Scott and knew he was the one.)
His appeal has reached the level of internet memes, both as a Memetic Sex God and in original flavor. Thanks to an appearance by David Tennant on "Never Mind the Buzzcocks," it's become standard procedure for Whovians to blame any random thing that's bothering them on BARROWMAN! *shakes fist*
He used to have a dog called Tegan (after a companion of the Fifth Doctor), and he currently has a dog named Captain Jack.
Tropes he personifies:
- Camp Gay
- Estrogen Brigade Bait: The picture on this page says it all.
- Even the Guys Want Him
- Everything's Better With Sequins
- Keet: Ticks just about every box on the list.
- Ho Yay: Shares a lot of this with David Tennant (who is Happily Engaged to Peter Davison's daughter). John has gone on record saying he really enjoys working with Tennant. Here's Tennant kissing him.