Good Night, and Good Luck
"People, through no fault of their own, get pigeonholed. You can only be what people perceive you to be and I'm sure that at this stage of the game, I'm perceived as someone who can show up and do the job as a character actor, not the leading man." David Strathairn
First noticed for playing supporting roles like baseball pitcher Eddie Cicotte in ''Eight Men Out'' (1988) and Asteroid in the ''City of Hope'' (1991), David Strathairn got his first starring role in film as the title character in the festival-screened drama ''Harrison's Flowers'' (2000) before eventually landing his biggest success in 2005 when he earned Oscar, Independent Spirit Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Actor for his portrayal of television journalist Edward R. Murrow in George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck."
The actor, who frequently collaborates with film director John Sayles, made his debut in Sayles' first film, ''The Return of the Secaucus 7'' (1980), and has since appeared in many films with Sayles, including ''The Brother From Another Planet'' (1984), ''Eight Men Out'' (1988) and ''Passion Fish'' (1992). His other projects include ''A League of Their Own'' (1992), ''Sneakers'' (1992), "The Firm" (1993), ''The River Wild'' (1994), "Losing Isaiah" (1995), ''L.A. Confidential'' (1997), ''The Notorious Bettie Page'' (2005; starring Gretchen Mol), ''We Are Marshall'' (2006; starring Matthew McConaughy), ''Fracture'' (2007), and "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007). He will soon star in the upcoming films "The Spiderwick Chronicles," "A Tale of Two Sisters," and "Hereafter."
Strathairn also appeared on Broadway in the revival of Anton Chekhov's play "Three Sisters" (1997; with Calista Flockhart, Lili Taylor and Eric Stoltz), "The Dance of Death" (with Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren), and recently played John the Baptist in a staged reading of Oscar Wilde's ''Salome'' (with Al Pacino, Marisa Tomei, and Dainne Wiest).
On a more personal note, the actor currently lives in upstate New York with his wife Logan and their two children.
Childhood and Family:
Born in San Francisco, California, on January 26, 1949, David Russell Strathairn was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. His father was a physician and he has one sibling, a brother named Tom who is a teacher. He is of Scottish ancestry through his paternal grandfather, Thomas Scott Strathairn (a native of Crieff, Perthshire) and Native Hawaiian ancestry through his paternal grandmother, Lei.
Young Strathairn attended Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, and graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1970. While attending Williams College, he met fellow student and future director John Sayles, who would regularly cast Straithairn in his films. He studied at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in Venice, Florida, and worked as a clown in a traveling circus before becoming an actor.
Strathairn now lives in upstate New York with his wife Logan, a nurse. They have two children, one of whom is musician and actor Tay Strathairn (born on October 31, 1980), who appeared in John Sayles' "Eight Men Out" (1988) and "Lone Star" (1996). Strathairn also helped to start a children's theater in Glen Falls, New York.
City of Hope
After graduating from Williams College, David Strathairn became a replacement clown for six months with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Afterward, he sharpened his acting skills while working in a summer theater company in New Hampshire where he befriended film director John Sayles. Sayles later cast Strathairn in his first feature, ''Return of the Secaucus Seven'' (1980), a home movie of 1980 America about a group of friends who are reunited at a summer house in New Hampshire to reminisce about the good old days. The film received general positive reviews and won Best Screenplay at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and Best Independent Film at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards.
The following year, Strathairn made his stage debut in "Einstein and the Polar Bear" at Connecticut's Hartford Stage and made his Off-Broadway debut in 1983 in the play "Blue Plate Special." He then returned to the big screen as Wesley in Mike Nichols' Oscar-nominated biopic "Silkwood" (1983; starring Meryl Streep), and teamed up again with John Sayles in Sayles' thought-provoking cult classic, "The Brother From Another Planet" (1984).
After making his TV debut with a guest appearance in a 1985 episode of NBC's popular and innovative detective series "Miami Vice," Strathairn was cast as the morally upright Police Chief Sid Hatfield in Sayles' Oscar-nominated historical drama about the coal miners' strike in Matewan, West Virginia, in the 1920s, "Matewan" (1987; with Chris Cooper and James Earl Jones). He then offered a compelling interpretation of the morally flawed baseball pitcher Eddie Cicotte in Sayles' dramatization "Eight Men Out" (1988), based on the 1963 book by Eliot Asinof, and portrayed the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer in CBS's Emmy-winning made-for-TV drama "Day One" (1989; with Brian Dennehy, Hal Holbrook and Hume Cronyn). Meanwhile, he played the regular role of eccentric bookstore owner Moss Goodman (1988-1990) and the romantic interest for Blair Brown's title role in the NBC/Lifetime comedy-drama "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd."
Strathairn next portrayed Asteroid in Sayles' award-winning urban drama "City of Hope" and played the brain surgeon in HBO's Golden Globe-winning biographical drama "Without Warning: The James Brady Story," starring Beau Bridges. He appeared as a blind, brilliant computer hacker in Phil Alden Robinson's caper film "Sneakers" (1992) with Robert Redford and played a dynamic adman in Penny Marshall's fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) "A League of Their Own" (1992, starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna) before delivering a rare romantic lead, opposite Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodard, in Sayles' Oscar-nominated "Passion Fish" (1992). Afterward, he portrayed Carl Linstrum, opposite Jessica Lange's Alexandra, in the "Hallmark Hall of Fame" acclaimed production of the 1913 novel by Willa Cather, "O Pioneers" (CBS; 1992) and appeared as the young Arthur Huntington (Darren McGavin portrayed the older version) in the TNT adaptation of Arthur Miller's stage play about 1930s America during The Great Depression, "The American Clock" (1993).
Strathairn continued to add to his resume as Tom Cruise's jailbird brother in Sydney Pollack's Oscar-nominated film adaptation of John Grisham's legal thriller "The Firm" (1993), Meryl Streep's husband in Curtis Hanson's thriller film "The River Wild" (1994), and Jessica Lange's husband in Stephen Gyllenhaal's drama film based on the novel by Seth Margolis, "Losing Isaiah" (1995). Meanwhile, he returned to stage to star alongside Stockard Channing in the Lincoln Center production of Tom Stoppard's espionage play, "Hapgood."
In 1996, Strathairn co-starred with Nick Nolte in Keith Gordon's film version of Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 book, "Mother Night," and appeared as the wealthy Pierce Patchett in Curtis Hanson's Oscar-winning "L.A. Confidential.” His performance in the latter film earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. That same year, he also received a CableACE nomination for Guest Actor in a Dramatic Special or Series for his role in the HBO movie directed by Christopher Reeve, "In the Gloaming" (1997).
Returning to stage, Strathairn joined the all-star cast of the Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's play, "Three Sisters" (1997) and spent the rest of the 1990s acting in front of the camera as the Reverend Russell in "Simon Birch" (1998) and Sigourney Weaver's husband in the film version of Jane Hamilton's 1994 novel, "A Map of the World" (1999). He also portrayed the role of Theseus in Michael Hoffman's take of William Shakespeare's romantic comedy, ''A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999), and teamed up again with Sayles to play a fisherman who romances Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in "Limbo"
Entering the new millennium, Strathairn portrayed Helen Keller's father in the ABC TV remake of William Gibson's classic play "The Miracle Worker" and was featured as the title role of a Pulitzer Prize-winning Newsweek photojournalist in the festival-screened drama "Harrison's Flowers" (released theatrically in 2002). He then went back to stage in Craig Lucas' play "Stranger" and returned to Broadway in support of Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren in "The Dance of Death." Additionally, he played Ivanov in "Every Good Boy Deserves Favor" and played Leontes in "The Winter's Tale.” He also appeared on Broadway as Jokhannan (John the Baptist) in a staged reading of Oscar Wilde's ''Salome'' (with Al Pacino, Marisa Tomei and Dainne Wiest), which was directed by Estelle Parsons, and appeared in the play "Hannah & Martin.”
Strathairn also had a regular role on the short-lived CBS cop drama "Big Apple" and played the lead role of an English teacher in the Sundance-screened "Blue Car" (2002). He then narrated the Philadelphia Orchestra's rendition of Beethoven's incidental music to Goethe's "Egmont" in January 2004.
In 2005, Strathairn earned Oscar, Independent Spirit Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Actor for his portrayal of television journalist Edward R. Murrow in George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" and portrayed Estes Kefauver in the HBO original film "The Notorious Bettie Page" (2006). He then co-starred as the district attorney, opposite Anthony Hopkins, in Gregory Hoblit's suspense film "Fracture" (2007). Recently, he co-starred with Norah Jones, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman in Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai's first film in English, "My Blueberry Nights" (2007) and played CIA Deputy Director Noah Vosen in "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007).
Strathairn has wrapped up an upcoming movie titled "The Spiderwick Chronicles," in which he will portray Arthur Spiderwick. He is currently filming "A Tale of Two Sisters," the Guard brothers' horror/thriller based on a classic Korean folk tale, and "Hereafter," a drama by writer/director Michael Patwin in which Strathairn will star as an American businessman who walks barefoot for 70 miles to find his wife and children in the wake of a catastrophic tsunami in Asia.
Venice Film Festival: Best Actor, "Good Night, and Good Luck," 2005
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival: Maverick Tribute Award, 2002
Western Heritage: Television Feature Film, "O Pioneers," 1993
Independent Spirit: Best Supporting Male, "City of Hope," 1992