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Joy played Madonna's punk musician boyfriend Jim in 1985's Desperately Seeking Susan, and the Dutch-Israeli Hans in the 1986 Alliance/CTV production Sword of Gideon, an adaptation of George Jonas's book Vengeance.
In 1998, he appeared in Gregory Hoblit's thriller Fallen, where he fit into the all-star cast that included Denzel Washington, Donald Sutherland, James Gandolfini, and John Goodman. In 2005, he had a lead role as the simple-minded sharpshooter Charlie Houx in George A. Romero's zombie movie Land of the Dead.
In the fall of 2005, Joy joined the CBS television show, CSI: NY, during its second season as a recurring character, Dr. Sid Hammerback, the Chief Medical Examiner, and became a main cast member in season five. Joy stated, "I basically read the script and then look up everything on Wikipedia that I don't know, and try to find out how to pronounce all the long words and get my head around actually what it is that I'm conveying, because often my character has a lot of explaining to do."
In 2006 Joy appeared onscreen in Alexandre Aja's remake of The Hills Have Eyes where he portrays a mutant named Lizard. He also starred as Ted Bedworth, father of Samaire Armstrong's character Nell Bedworth, in the 2006 romantic comedy It's a Boy Girl Thing. In 2007 Joy played the character of Colonel Stevens in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. He appeared as Dr. Stephen Hawking in the comedy, Superhero Movie in 2008.
In addition to his acting, Joy was frequently associated with the Newfoundland-based CODCO, working with the comedy troupe on many of their pre-television stage shows and appearing as a guest performer in the series. He also co-starred in the 1986 Andy Jones film, The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood, the only film that features the entire cast of CODCO.
He appeared as himself in the 2012 documentary film That Guy... Who Was in That Thing.
Joy has had on-going stage engagements on Broadway and throughout US, most recently appearing as Charles in King Charles III at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC (Feb 7 - Mar 18, 2017).
He has only one daughter name Ruby Joy (a stage actress), from his previous marriage to an actress Mary Joy. He is openly gay with his partner Broadway composer Henry Krieger since 1995.