Stormare was born in Kumla, Sweden and grew up in Arbrå. He changed his surname when he discovered that he shared it with a senior student at an acting academy. Like "storm" (a word which has the same meaning in Swedish and English), "stormare" is a Swedish word, meaning "stormer". Before settling on "Stormare", he briefly contemplated changing his name to "Mrots Retep", which is simply "Peter Storm" backwards.
Stormare began his career with the Royal Dramatic Theatre, to which he belonged for 11 years. In 1990, he took a leading position as Associate Artistic Director at the Tokyo Globe Theatre and made a name for himself through various Shakespeare performances, including Hamlet. Three years later, he moved to New York City and mainly took part in English language productions there. He played Carl Hamilton, a fictional Swedish secret agent. He was discovered by international audiences for his critically acclaimed role as one of the kidnappers in Fargo (1996). He portrayed Dieter Stark in the 1997 film The Lost World: Jurassic Park and later played sleazy, unlicensed "eye-doctor" Solomon Eddie in Minority Report.
In 1998, he appeared in "The Frogger", a Seinfeld episode where he played a rogue electrician known as Slippery Pete. He portrayed Uli Kunkel in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, as well as playing Lev Andropov, a Russian cosmonaut in the 1998 film Armageddon. In 1999, he appeared as a villainous producer and director of hardcore porn in the film 8mm. He also portrayed Gunny in the 2002 film Windtalkers and Alexei in the 2003 film Bad Boys II. In 2003, he played Ernst Röhm in Hitler: The Rise of Evil. In the 2005 film Constantine, he played Lucifer. He played the torturer Cavaldi in the 2005 film The Brothers Grimm. His first major character in television was on the Fox series Prison Break in 2005 for the first two seasons, where he played the inmate mob boss John Abruzzi. He was originally cast in Fido, but opted out of the film upon being cast in Prison Break.
Stormare voiced Mattias Nilsson in the video games Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, Isair in the computer game Icewind Dale 2, and Johann Strauss in Quake 4. In February 2006, he starred as Wolfgang in Volkswagen's VDub series of television commercials. He played the main character in the film Svartvattnet, which was filmed in Sweden and Norway in 2007. He was offered a role in the ABC television series Lost for a period of one year, which he declined. In the 2007 film Premonition, he played Dr. Roth. In April 2007, he appeared in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode "Ending Happy".
In December 2007, Stormare participated in the Swedish reality show Stjärnorna på slottet. He appears in the video game Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 as Dr. Zelinsky, a Russian scientist who builds a time machine. He starred as Walter in the Canadian independent crime thriller Small Town Murder Songs (2010). He appeared in the music video of the song "Uprising" by the Swedish power metal band Sabaton. He plays himself in the 2011 Norwegian comedy Hjelp, vi er i filmbransjen and appeared as a psychiatrist in the Swedish horror film Marianne (2011). He appeared in a trailer for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II, made for the "Revolution" DLC pack. He has since reappeared in most trailers for the game.
In 2014 Stormare appeared in episodes of Longmire, Arrow and The Blacklist. In the same year he also starred in the Eli Roth produced film Clown, in which he portrayed Karlsson. He played mob boss Frank O'Connell, in Rage directed by Paco Cabezas.
In 2015 Stormare voiced and motion captured the character Dr. Alan Hill, in the video game Until Dawn.
In 2016, he played Rutger Burlin in the Swedish television series Midnattssol.
In 2016, he co-created, and starred as Ingmar in, the web television series Swedish Dicks which was renewed for a second season in October 2016.
In 2017 he played a minor role in John Wick: Chapter 2 and the part of Czernobog on the Starz series American Gods.
After Bono of U2 heard some of Stormare's music, he encouraged Stormare to make an album. In 2002, Stormare released his first album, Dallerpölsa och småfåglar. He plays in a band called Blonde from Fargo and runs a record label called StormVox.
Stormare divides his time between the United States and Sweden. He married actress Karen Sillas in 1989; they divorced in 2006. He married Toshimi, a native of Japan, in 2008. Their daughter Kaiya Bella Luna Stormare was born on May 9, 2009.
Stormare is the godfather of Gustaf Skarsgård, the son of Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård. While working on a Disney film in Prague, he was introduced to Bob Dylan after Dylan's concert by bassist Tony Garnier. His nephew is The Sound of Arrows singer-songwriter Stefan Storm.
Stormare is a Christian and has said that he has had contact with God. When he was young, he participated in Baptist meetings in Arbrå. He has a strong spiritual side, inherited from his mother, whom he has said was a medium, and who inherited that ability from her own father.Dallerpölsa och småfåglar (2002)
Swänska hwisor vol 1 (2004)
Lebowski-Fest 2005 (2005)