First role was in a high-school production of Bye Bye Birdie.
Worked odd jobs, including installing draperies, to help support his family when they moved to New York City.
Has appeared in a number of director Hal Hartley's productions, including Trust (1990), Simple Men (1992), Surviving Desire (1993), Amateur (1994), Flirt (1995) and The Book of Life (1998). Donovan once interviewed Hartley for Bomb Magazine in 1991.
Has costarred with Mary-Louise Parker several times, including in The Portrait of a Lady (1996), Pipe Dream (2002), Saved! (2004) and the Showtime series Weeds.
Song "Martin Donovan," written by Jeffrey Nothing and performed by Mushroomhead, is about him; he's referenced in "Crackstatic" by Ron Hawkins and the Rusty Nails and "Martin Donovan in Trust" by Herman Dune.
2015, Independent Spirit Awards — Robert Altman Award: Winner
2006, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Nominee
Vivian Lanko — Wife
Attended Pierce College. Woodland Hills, California, United States