Beghe starred in the 1988 George A. Romero film Monkey Shines: An Experiment In Fear, playing a quadriplegic in a performance that was positively received. He appeared as a police officer in the film Thelma & Louise, and played Demi Moore's love interest in G.I. Jane. Beghe starred opposite Moira Kelly in the television series To Have & to Hold, and has had recurring roles on Picket Fences, Melrose Place, Chicago Hope, American Dreams and Cane, as well as parts on numerous other television programs. He currently stars in the TV series Chicago P.D..
Beghe is a former Scientologist. He began taking Scientology courses in 1994 and later appeared in a Church of Scientology advertising campaign and in promotional videos. According to Beghe, Church of Scientology head David Miscavige once referred to him as "the poster boy for Scientology." Beghe left Scientology in 2007 and began to speak publicly about his experiences within the church in April 2008. An interview with Beghe about his experiences in Scientology conducted by Xenu TV founder and journalist Mark Bunker was published to the video site YouTube and later Vimeo. Marina Hyde of The Guardian newspaper called Beghe a Scientology celebrity whistleblower for his actions.
Beghe was born March 12, 1960, in New York City, and has three siblings. He attended the Collegiate School, a private preparatory school for boys located in New York City. While there, he became best friends with John F. Kennedy, Jr. and actor David Duchovny. Kennedy and Beghe often hung out together outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in Central Park, and were monitored by Kennedy's Secret Service detail. As a teenager, Beghe attended summer camp with Erik Rush, now a conservative columnist and author.
Influenced by Beghe, Kennedy became involved in the theater program at Collegiate. Beghe later also persuaded Duchovny to pursue work in acting. Duchovny had planned to write and become a professor, but halfway through work on his Ph.D. dissertation, Beghe convinced him to audition for television commercials.
Prior to his acting career, Beghe worked as a model in Europe. He had his feature film debut in the 1985 film Compromising Positions, starring Susan Sarandon, and in 1986 had his first recurring role on television on the HBO situation comedy series 1st & Ten. He starred alongside O. J. Simpson and Sam J. Jones in HBO's sequel to 1st & Ten titled Training Camp: The Bulls Are Back, and John Voorhees of The Seattle Times wrote: "The cast, which includes O.J. Simpson, Sam Jones and newcomer Jason Beghe, is first-rate."
In 1988, he starred in the film Monkey Shines: An Experiment In Fear, directed by George A. Romero. He portrayed Allan Mann, a law student made quadriplegic when hit by a truck in the opening credits of the film. The Philadelphia Inquirer gave a positive review of Beghe's performance in Monkey Shines: "Acting only with his face and voice, Jason Beghe is terrific at conveying the mounting anger and rage of an active man made passive". David Foil of The Advocate described Beghe's performance as "remarkable simply for meeting the demands of the character".
Beghe played an ice hockey star in the Perry Mason TV film The Case of the All-Star Assassin, an NBC-TV telefeature broadcast November 19, 1989. In 1991 he played a State Trooper in the film Thelma & Louise (reuniting him with Sarandon, with whom he'd appeared in Compromising Positions), and was Demi Moore's love interest in the 1997 film G.I. Jane. He had recurring roles on Picket Fences and Melrose Place, and became a cast member of Chicago Hope in 1997, portraying electrician Danny Blaines opposite romantic interest Dr. Austin played by Christine Lahti. In a 1997 interview in The Boston Herald, Beghe spoke about his respect for his fellow cast members in Chicago Hope: "I think it's the best cast assembled that I've ever seen. One for one, they're incredible. And to work with Christine Lahti? I'd drop a lot of things for that. She's so good and smart and dedicated. I've become a better actor just for working with her." He commented on his character on Melrose Place, a closeted military officer who had feelings for Matt, played by Doug Savant: "I thought we should kiss, but it was too much. TV is a very specific medium, and you're naive if you think that everything is just based on artistic decisions. If it prevents them from selling some products, that's a major consideration. But I'm an actor. I'll do whatever it takes."
Beghe co-starred with Moira Kelly in the 1998 CBS television drama series To Have & to Hold, where he played police officer Sean McGrail. Mike Duffy of The Detroit Free Press wrote: "There is an affectionate romantic sizzle between the ruggedly handsome Beghe ("G.I. Jane") and the dark-haired, unconventionally attractive Kelly ("Little Odessa")." Kinney Littlefield of The Orange County Register said that "Beghe and Kelly have charm."
Beghe appeared in acting roles on Numb3rs, CSI: NY, Everwood, Criminal Minds, Veronica Mars, "Jag" and Cane. Beghe portrayed exorcist Ray Purvis in the 2008 horror film One Missed Call. In 2009, Beghe had a guest-starring role on the television show Californication. He played the character novelist Richard Bates, a friend of character Hank Moody (played by David Duchovny). "Bates, played by Jason Beghe, made for an interesting character and the fact that he didn't get as much screen time as some of the other characters is a shame," wrote Danny Gallagher of TV Squad. In October 2009, Beghe was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the filming of the movie The Next Three Days, directed by Paul Haggis. The film was released in 2010 and starred Elizabeth Banks, Russell Crowe, Brian Dennehy, and Olivia Wilde.
On December 10, 2013, it was announced on the official Facebook page for the upcoming traditionally animated feature film Dawgtown, that Beghe is signed to voice Mauler in the film.
Since 2014, Beghe has starred in Chicago P.D., a spin-off of Chicago Fire, where Beghe had a recurring role.
In 1994, Beghe was in an acting class taught by Scientologist Milton Katselas, and decided to take some Scientology courses. Fellow acting student Bodhi Elfman gave him a book about Scientology from which Beghe was introduced to the idea that "technology" developed by L. Ron Hubbard could yield superhuman abilities. Beghe helped promote a "What is Scientology?" exhibition which was part of a Church of Scientology national television advertising campaign in Britain in 1999. He appeared in Scientology promotional videos in 2005. In an interview with Fox News, Beghe told Roger Friedman that the head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, referred to him as "the poster boy for Scientology". He reached the level of OT V within Scientology, and trained as a so-called "Auditor". His wife also took Scientology courses and rose to the level of OT V. He estimated he gave the Church of Scientology US$1 million over a 12-year period.
In 2007, Beghe made the decision to leave Scientology, and began to publicly criticize the Church of Scientology in April 2008. One of the first people he went to see after leaving Scientology was his friend David Duchovny. Beghe discussed the Xenu space opera with Duchovny, and both found the story to be funny. While active in Scientology, Beghe's relationship with Duchovny suffered, and Duchovny was referred to as a "Suppressive Person", someone believed to be working against the Church of Scientology and not to be associated with.
After leaving Scientology, Beghe contacted Andreas Heldal-Lund, founder of Operation Clambake, who convinced him to meet with journalist and Scientology critic Mark Bunker. Heldal-Lund and Bunker went to Beghe's house, where Beghe participated in an interview about his experiences as a Scientologist. Bunker published a three-minute portion of the three-hour interview to YouTube in mid-April 2008, and in the video Beghe calls Scientology "very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution." The interview closes with Beghe stating, "I don't have an agenda. I'm just trying to help. [...] I have the luxury of having gotten into Scientology and after having been in it, been out. And that's a perspective that people who are still in and not out do not have."
When asked in an interview in The Village Voice if he thought his public criticism of Scientology would hurt his acting career, Beghe joked, "I’m probably not going to be doing any movies for United Artists any time soon." (United Artists was revamped as a joint venture with Scientologist Tom Cruise, his business associate Paula Wagner, who is chief executive of the company, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.) Marina Hyde of The Guardian called Beghe a Scientology celebrity whistleblower.
The video was taken down from YouTube on April 17, 2008 but was reposted by multiple other YouTube users shortly thereafter. By April 18, 2008, at least 45 users had reposted the video interview using their own YouTube accounts. Bunker's account was also canceled on April 17, and he believed this was due to copyright issues stemming from clips of The Colbert Report that he had uploaded to YouTube. Although the issues have since been resolved, Bunker initially thought that his account had been banned and the video made inaccessible due to pressure on YouTube staff from the Church of Scientology; claims which were not confirmed or denied by YouTube representative Ricardo Reyes, who referred to YouTube's policy of not commenting on individual videos. On April 21, 2008, Mark Bunker posted the video footage of the entire interview with Jason Beghe; as Bunker's YouTube account was suspended, the full interview footage was instead hosted on Vimeo and Blip.tv.
On April 28, 2008, Beghe posted online a letter to Church leader David Miscavige, requesting the confidential confessional files that Scientology compiles during Auditing sessions. In a message posted to the Operation Clambake website, Beghe wrote: "As the Church of Scientology carefully monitors all anti-scientology websites, I am posting the letter here, on xenu.net, to assure that it be received by the C of S." He had previously contacted the President's Office at The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International who "refused to directly respond" to his request, and a letter to David Miscavige sent through the Church communication system was also refused. Beghe told The Village Voice that these confidential files are also kept on actor Tom Cruise as well as other celebrity Scientologists. "More people have left Scientology than are currently in it. And yet they maintain these files about what people have said to them in private sessions. Why would you want these people to hold onto this stuff?" said Beghe to The Village Voice. Beghe believes that Scientology's practice of disconnection is still in place, and in an interview with Tony Ortega of The Village Voice cited his four-year-old son being kicked out of a Scientology school as an example of disconnection.
A portion of Beghe's criticism of Scientology originally uploaded to YouTube by Mark Bunker was shown on Nightline in a piece about David Miscavige's niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, and her criticism of Scientology. Beghe has turned down television appearances to speak about his experiences, stating: "I just wanted to make sure that the story isn’t about me. It’s not about me. It’s about helping others who are still lost in the cult, or toying with the idea of getting involved."
On May 29, 2008, Beghe attended a protest against the Church of Scientology held outside the Scientology building on East 46th Street in New York City. He addressed the 50 protesters gathered across the street from the Scientology building, and told them: "What you guys are doing means so much to me, and so much to these people ... It just kills me. It makes me want to cry. You don’t know what kind of good you’re doing." He then walked across the street in an attempt to enter the Scientology building, but was prevented from entering by three hired private security guards. He returned to the group of protesters and tried to phone the president of the Church of Scientology of New York, John Carmichael: "I called and asked for John Carmichael and said I was Jason Beghe. Then they hung up."
In September 2008, Beghe traveled to Europe where he spoke with government officials in Hamburg, Germany, about his experiences as a Scientologist. He had been invited by Germany’s Department of Interior Affairs to speak at a panel organized by Ursula Caberta on Scientology titled: "That is Scientology! Reports from the USA". Beghe suggested that governments put up a warning sign, similar to warnings placed on packs of cigarettes, and the next day a member of Germany's Interior Department told him such a sign was placed outside a Church of Scientology building in Berlin. Beghe said that Scientology hired private investigators to follow him to Europe.
Beghe was a guest in May 2009 on the BBC World Service radio program World: Have Your Say, where he discussed his views on what he thought of Scientology when he first joined: "I thought that it was something that was going to deliver miracles, and that it was the most selfless group of people that were totally dedicated to helping mankind, and I wanted to be part of it." He was also critical of the Scientology organization leadership, including its head David Miscavige: "I think that there are probably things of Scientology that are valuable and that can help people - my main issue is not with Scientology per se, it is with Scientology the organization - it is a corrupt I believe and probably a criminal endeavor, and that has to do with people who are in charge of Scientology mainly David Miscavige..."
In September 2010, Beghe took part in a BBC News Panorama documentary, The Secrets of Scientology, in which he spoke about his decision to leave the organization. He said his time with the organization had cost him "a million dollars" and hinted that the religion was a racket. Beghe also appeared in the 2015 HBO documentary Going Clear, based upon the book of the same name by Lawrence Wright.
Beghe's sister, Francesca Beghe, is a singer/songwriter who released a self-titled album in 1991 with SBK Records. His great-grandfather was Charles S. Deneen, a two-term governor of Illinois and one-term U.S. Senator in the early 1900s.
He and David Duchovny remain close friends, and he was best man at Duchovny's wedding to actress Téa Leoni. He lives with his family in Nichols Canyon, Los Angeles, California.
Beghe was in an automobile accident in 1999. He said, "I was intubated, and I kept pulling this tube out of my throat." This has left him with a voice described as "gravelly".
Beghe married Angie Janu in 2000.