Paul Gross' father, Robert Gross, was an army officer. During his career, he was posted to various countries around the world. Consequently Gross, together with his mother Renie and younger brother, Tony, had a rather nomadic childhood with the family living in, amongst others, the USA, the UK and Germany.
Gross starred in his first TV commercial at the age of 14 in the US. He later returned to Canada to study Drama at the University of Alberta. His early acting career was spent mostly in theatre roles and he met his future wife, Martha Burns, in 1982 when they worked together in a production at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. They married in 1988 and now have two children, Jack and Hannah.
Gross also wrote several plays during this time, including the award-winning The Deer and the Antelope Play and The Dead of Winter. By the end of the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, he began to move into TV and film roles, including starring roles in the Canadian movies Cold Comfort, Getting Married in Buffalo Jump and Buried on Sunday and the TV mini-series Chasing Rainbows. In 1993, Paul starred in the Hollywood movie Aspen Extreme, but did not particularly enjoy the experience of working for a large studio.
In 1994, the creator of Due South, Paul Haggis, invited Gross to read for the part of Constable Benton Fraser in the Pilot episode. Initially, Gross was unsure about taking the part as he was concerned about how to play the character and also whether he wanted to commit to a TV series. Eventually he was persuaded to take the role and played Fraser in all four seasons of Due South from 1994 to 1999. Gross also wrote several episodes of the show and additionally took on the role of Executive Producer for the last two seasons. He was nominated for a total of ten Gemini Awards for both acting and writing in Due South, winning four of these.
Following the success of Due South, Gross starred in Murder Most Likely, playing another RCMP officer, but one who could not be more different to Constable Fraser. In 2002 Gross co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in the movie Men with Brooms, a romantic comedy set in the world of curling.
In 2004, Gross starred in the two-part mini-series H20: The Last Prime Minister, a political thriller which he co-wrote with his regular writing partner, John Krizanc. He reprised his role in the 2007 sequel, again co-written with Krizanc, called The Trojan Horse.
Between 2003 and 2006, Gross starred as Geoffrey Tennant in all three seasons of the highly acclaimed comedy/drama TV series Slings and Arrows which is set in the world of the fictional New Burbage Shakespeare Festival. The series also starred his real-life wife, Martha Burns, as well as a number of other acclaimed Canadian stage and screen actors.
In 2008, Gross starred in the movie Passchendaele which he also wrote, directed and produced. He had first started writing the script around twenty years earlier and it is loosely based on stories told to him by his maternal grandfather about his time serving on the front line during the First World War. The film cost a $20 million (Canadian) to make, an enormous sum for a Canadian production and Gross worked hard to raise the funds from private investors to ensure his labour of love finally saw the light of day. The movie opened the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and won the Genie award for Best Motion Picture. The movie was also shown in schools in Canada to help educate students about the role of Canadian soldiers during the war.
After Passchendaele, Gross returned to Hollywood to star in the short-lived TV series, Eastwick. He has made no secret of the fact that he found constant interference from the TV network in the creative process frustrating. The series was cancelled after just thirteen episodes, despite a massive campaign by fans of the show to save it.
Gross reprised his role as Chris Cutter from Men with Brooms in the TV series of the same name, acting as narrator in every episode of the show which only ran for one series. He also had a recurring role in the popular TV series Republic of Doyle.
In 2010, Gross was invited to visit members of the Canadian Armed Forces serving in the conflict in Afghanistan. During this visit, he began to gather stories and anecdotes from the servicemen and women which would eventually form the basis of the script for his 2015 movie, Hyena Road. He returned to Afghanistan to record real-life footage for use in the film, with the remainder of the movie shot in Jordan and at CFB Shilo in Manitoba. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and stars Rossif Sutherland along with Gross himself, Christine Horne and Allan Hawco, the co-creator and star of Republic of Doyle. Hyena Road has received huge critical acclaim and also high praise from former servicemen and women who have commented on the realism portrayed in the film. Gross has stated that his intention was always to show people what modern warfare is really like, as he feels most Canadians are not aware of the realities of the conflict in Afghanistan. He is closely linked with the charity Wounded Warriors Canada, raising money for Canadian veterans and their families.
As well as his acting, writing, producing and directing, Gross is a skilled guitar player having learnt to play classical guitar at a young age and has written and performed many of his own songs. One such song, Ride Forever, featured in the Due South episode All the Queen's Horses. He has also performed this song at various events over the years, including the 1995 Gemini Awards ceremony and the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa in 1999. He also sings another song which he co-wrote, 32 Down on the Robert McKenzie, in the two-part episode Mountie on the Bounty. Gross has released two music albums, both collaborations with David Keeley, Two Houses in 1997 and Love and Carnage in 2001.
Gross has continued to work in live theatre throughout his career whenever he can. In 2000 he spent a season at the Stratford Festival playing Hamlet. Then in 2011 he starred opposite Kim Cattrall in the successful revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. The production transferred to Broadway, but the run was unfortunately cut short due to slow ticket sales. In 2012 he starred in a new play by John Guare, Are You There, McPhee? and in 2015 he appeared opposite his wife, Martha Burns, in the Canadian premiere of Domesticated, a dark comedy by Bruce Norris.
Gross likes to travel and regularly spends time in his apartment in New York. However, he is fiercely proud of being Canadian and, despite several opportunities to make a permanent move to the USA, has always remained dedicated to making Canadian movies. Whilst remaining politically neutral, Gross also campaigns to raise awareness of causes close to his heart. In particular, Gross strongly believes in the need for greater state funding and recognition for the arts scene in Canada and he addressed the Parliament of Canada in 2008 when a proposal was put forward to change tax arrangements which would effectively cut funding for the arts. He also takes every opportunity to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by Canadian Armed Forces veterans who return from conflict zones suffering from physical and mental injuries.