Tucker was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents Maggie Moss, a public relations and marketing analyst and executive, and Paul Hayes Tucker, a a professor of art at the University of Massachusetts and a leading expert on Claude Monet. His paternal great-grandfather was historian and ambassador Carlton J. H. Hayes.
Tucker was raised in Charlestown, Massachusetts but attended The Park School in Brookline, Massachusetts. He attended the Boston Ballet and played Fritz in their production of The Nutcracker for 5 years starting when he was in the third grade. He was featured in a Boston Ballet calendar and attended The Thacher School in Ojai, California. Tucker said of his ballet experience, "Ballet is one of the more difficult rigors that I've ever done. The Ballet instructors are some of the most intimidating people I've met."
Jonathan Tucker is married to Tara Tucker, daughter of author Liaquat Ahamed. They were married on June 16, 2012.
Tucker is the founder of the "Pegasus Fund". It is a nonprofit organization that provides free summer-camp trips for disadvantaged students in Los Angeles.
Tucker first started off in film by appearing in the early 90s films Botte di Natale (1994), Two If by Sea (1996) and Sleepers (1996) before being cast in the 1999 film The Virgin Suicides as Tim Weiner.
He starred as Matthew in the 2000 comedy film 100 Girls. A year later, he co-starred in The Deep End with Tilda Swinton and Josh Lucas. In 2003, Tucker was cast in the horror film, and remake of the 1974 horror film of the same name, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre where he played Morgan. In 2004, he appeared in the films Stateside and Criminal.
His better known roles are as Dennis Cooper in the 2005 film Hostage. Tucker plays one of the brothers that, along with their mysterious accomplice Mars, holds a family hostage. He starred with Tommy Lee Jones in the 2007 film In the Valley of Elah as a soldier who is found dismembered and burned after he recently returned from Iraq. During that time, he also played Tommy Donnelly in the TV series The Black Donnellys.
In 2008, he was cast in The Ruins, a horror film about human eating plants. Tucker said he practiced Transcendental Meditation to offset the loneliness while filming the movie in Australia.
He portrayed emerging artist Patrick Angus in the 2009 film An Englishman in New York, opposite John Hurt as Quentin Crisp. The biographical drama chronicles Crisp's later years spent in New York City. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Tucker was cast in the 2010 thriller film The Next Three Days with Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.
It was announced in November 2011, that Tucker signed on to the TV series Parenthood. He played the role of Bob Little from 2011 to 2014.
Since the series premiered on the Audience Network in October 2014, Tucker co-stars on the DirecTV drama series Kingdom. He plays Jay, a mixed martial artist and son of trainer, Alvey Kulina (played by Frank Grillo).