A capable character actor who got his start in indies directed by his old college buddy John Sayles, David Strathairn has convincingly tackled a host of diverse roles, from an abusive pedophile (Dolores Claiborne
) to a soft-spoken Cajun handyman (Passion Fish
) to legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow (Good Night, and Good Luck
), an impressive performance that earned the veteran actor his first Golden Globe and Oscar nods. Strathairn made his film debut in Sayles' first film, 1980's The Return of the Secaucus Seven
. Over the next two decades, the two collaborated on multiple projects as Strathairn slowly ventured out on his own with myriad appearances on the big and small screens. In the '90s, the prolific player thrived in both A-list and indie projects while keeping a low personal profile, but his performance in Good Night, and Good Luck
turned him into a leading man.David Strathairn Fast Facts:
- Not formally trained as an actor, but attended Ringling Bros. Clown College and spent a six-month stint in the circus as one-half of a conjoined-twin costume.
- Helped form a children's theater company in Glen Falls, NY, in the early 1970s with Gordon Clapp (who would later play Medavoy on NYPD Blue).
- Made his Broadway debut in the short-lived Einstein and the Polar Bear in 1981. Went on to perform in a number of shows on the Great White Way, including a 2003 staged reading of Salome, opposite Al Pacino.
- Had first film role in John Sayles' 1980 debut Return of the Secaucus 7, the first of several collaborations for the former college classmates.
- A nonsmoker, he had to light dozens of cigarettes---hand-rolled with much gentler pipe tobacco---to portray chain-smoking Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck (2005).
- David Strathairn Relationships:
- Tay Strathairn - Son
- Logan Goodman - Wife
- David Strathairn Awards:
- 2006 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Nominee
- 2005 Oscar: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- 2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 1997 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture - Nominee
- 2011 Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television - Nominee
- 2012 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie - Nominee
- 2010 Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie - Winner
- 2005 BAFTA Film Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role - Nominee
- Williams College, Williamstown, MA (1970)