The son of an industrial consultant and a pop-up book artist, Emile Hirsch grew up in Topanga Canyon, California. He made his television debut in 1996 at 11 in the Fox network series Kindred: The Embraced. Guest appearances on Third Rock from the Sun, Early Edition and Two of a Kind followed, before Hirsch made his TV movie debut with leads in Gargantua and Houdini (both 1998). For the next three years, he landed more guest roles on series such as Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Promised Land, Profiler, The Pretender, NYPD Blue and ER before making his feature film debut starring in the award-winning The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002), alongside Kieran Culkin and Jodie Foster.
Emile was nominated for a Young Artist Award for his starring role in The Emperor's Club (2002), playing a rebellious prep school student who shakes his teacher's (played by Kevin Kline) world. Next, he took on the lead in The Mudge Boy, a small budget film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Emile played Duncan Mudge, a farm boy devastated by his mother's death.
Hirsch returned to big budget fare with The Girl Next Door (2004), a comedy about a teen who discovers that his 19-year-old next door neighbor is a former porn star. He also played opposite Sigourney Weaver in Imaginary Heroes (2005), about a family who has to come to terms with the suicide of a loved one.
In 2008, Emile was named Male Star of Tomorrow at the ShoWest convention. For his work in Into the Wild, he won a Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival as well as Best Male Breakthrough Performance from the National Board of Review. He shared a Best Acting Ensemble award in 2009 with the cast of Milk from the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards. Some of his projects include the film Killer Joe (2012) about a boy who puts a hit out on his mother, and Oliver Stone's 2012 thriller Savages alongside John Travolta, Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Salma Hayek and Blake Lively and Prince Avalanche (2013) alongside Paul Rudd. He then starred in Lone Survivor (2014) with Mark Wahlberg.
He starred in several thrillers: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017), Freaks (2019) and Never Grow Old (2019). He then starred in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) and can be seen in the 2020 film Force of Nature opposite Mel Gibson and and Kate Bosworth.
In his spare time, Emile enjoys writing screenplays, comedy sketches and poetry, as well as singing karaoke. In January 2010, he joined several other celebrities to hike Mount Kilimanjaro to bring awareness and raise funds to help the world's clean water crisis.