“The actors I was most impressed with and who were influencing my taste were all movie actors, so I always wanted to do movies, but I didn’t want to go to Hollywood and become a waiter in the meantime. The chances are really slim that an actor will be discovered in Hollywood. I’ve never had to compromise myself for a job, ever.” Gary Sinise
A founder of Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, actor, director and producer Gary Sinise started a striking movie career on both sides of the camera. In front of the camera, the Blue Island, Illinois, native came to public attention as the paraplegic Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the box-office smash hit Forrest Gump (1994). Due to his magnificent performance, he was handed a National Board of Review Award, and subsequently earned an Academy Award nomination, in addition to a Golden Globe and SAG nominations. A year later, he took home a Screen Actors Guild Award for his fine contribution in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995), where he was cast as stranded astronaut Ken Mattingly. In 1999, the Oscar-nominated actor stood out as Morgan in James D. Stern’s ensemble drama All the Rage, for which he nabbed a Milan International Film Festival Award.
Sinise made a mark as a feature film director with the critically acclaimed Of Mice and Men (1992), which he co-produced and co-starred in, along with John Malkovich. He also helmed the 1988 film Miles from Home, starring Richard Gere, Kevin Anderson, Helen Hunt and Malkovich. Of Mice and Men and Miles from Home were screened in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
On television, Emmy winner Sinise attracted attention after playing the title character in John Frankenheimer’s George Wallace (1997), wherein he won an Emmy Award, a Golden Satellite Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Cable ACE Award, as well as received a Golden Globe nomination. Sinise was also so stupendous as American President Harry Truman in the HBO biopic Truman (1995) that he was handed many awards, including a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Cable ACE Award, and earned an Emmy nomination.
On stage, Sinise has built a successful career both as an actor and director. Sitting in the director’s chair, Sinise turned heads for his luminous efforts in the Off-Broadway production of “True West,” in which he won a 1983 Obie Award, and in the production “Orphans,” where he netted a 1985 Joseph Jefferson Award. In 1996, he took home another Joseph Jefferson award and a Tony nomination after helming a new version of Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child.” As a talented stage actor, Sinise was memorizing in such successful plays as “Balm in Gilead” (won a 1985 Drama Desk Award), “The Grapes of Wrath” (1988, earned a Tony nomination) and a Broadway revival of ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (2000, won a New York Drama League and a Joseph Jefferson Award).
Off screen, 5’ 10 inch tall Sinise, along with his grassroots organization, encouraged ordinary citizens to send school supplies and Arabic translations of Seabiscuit to Iraqi children in 2004. With author Laura Hillenbrand, he traveled to Iraq in support of the troops and started Operation Iraqi Children.
As for his private life, the intense, wiry, dark-haired Sinise has been married to actress Moira Harris since 1981. The couple shares three children, two daughters, Sophie (born 1988) and Ella (born 1992), and a son named McCanna (born 1990).
The Bonsoir Boys
Childhood and Family:
In Chicago’s south side of Blue Island, Illinois, Gary Sinise was born on March 17, 1955. He was raised as the oldest of three siblings to parents Robert L Sinise, a professional editor who worked in both television and film, and Millie Sinise. He grew up in Blue Island until high school. His family then moved to Highland Park where he attended Highland Park High School. During his high school days, Gary had a strong interest in music and played in garage rock and roll bands. He even formed a band called The Bonsoir Boys, in which he sang and played bass. Later, after a performance in the school play “West Side Story,” Gary switched to acting. He later co-founded Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater Company.
In 1981, Gary married Moira Harris, an original member of the Steppenwolf Theatre. In 1987, his wife won a Chicago Area Emmy for Best Actress for her good acting in “Murder in Green Meadows.” A year later, in 1988, the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Sophie Sinise. Their son, McCanna, was born in 1990 and daughter Ella was born in 1992.
Gary Sinise began acting in high school when he took part in a production of “West Side Story.” At age 17, he made his professional stage debut with a production of “The Physicist.” A year later, Sinise joined Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry in forming Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre at a church in Highland Park. Serving as artistic director for seven years, Sinise perfected his craft as director and actor. In the late 1970s, he headed west to Los Angeles to find more work. However, he landed only a few roles and extra work in the ABC daytime drama ”General Hospital” and CBS’ “Knots Landing.” Unhappy with the experience, Sinise soon made his way back to Chicago and Steppenwolf.
Working with Steppenwolf, Sinise directed the 1981 play “Waiting for the Parade,” as well as costarred in Steppenwolf’s staging of ”Loose Ends” (1982). His first brush toward fame arrived when he directed the Steppenwolf production of “True West” (1982, by Sam Shepard), where he received widespread praise. The production was brought to NYC’s Off-Broadway with Sinise starring opposite John Malkovich. Due to his brilliant work, Sinise netted an Obie for Best Director in 1983. Shortly after, Sinise became a talent in demand in NYC’s theatrical community. He once again turned heads by picking up a 1985 Drama Desk in the category of Outstanding Ensemble Performance for his fine acting in “Balm in Gilead” and, as a director, he won a Best Director at the Joseph Jefferson for his outstanding work in “Orphans.”
With a newfound respect, Sinise opted to try Hollywood again. After reprising the stage role of Austin for a presentation of PBS’ American Playhouse (1984), Sinise landed roles in TV movies like Family Secrets (1984), My Name Is Bill W. (1989) and The Final Days (1989). He made his TV directorial debut with a two-part episode of “Crime Story” (1986) and, a year later, directed 3 episodes of ABC's “thirtysomething.” Still sitting in the director’s chair, Sinise had his feature directorial debut with the modest rural drama Miles from Home (1988), which featured Steppenwolf members John Malkovich and Laurie Metcalf and starred Richard Gere, Kevin Anderson and Helen Hunt. Back to the stage, he scored a big success as Tom Joad in the acclaimed adaptation of the John Steinbeck classic “The Grapes of Wrath” (1988), a role that brought Sinise a Tony nomination for Best Lead Actor.
In 1992, Sinise played the small role of sensitive, fragile soldier Vance ‘Mother’ Wilkins in Keith Gordon’s underappreciated adaptation of William Wharton’s novel, A Midnight Clear. The same year, Sinise returned to Steinbeck and combined his acting and directing talents with the critically acclaimed Of Mice and Men (1992, also served a producer). As George, the custodian to Malkovich’s slow-witted Lennie, Sinise owned the more complex role but managed to permeate the character with an easy style and distinction. Although the film received positive response from film critics, it failed to break the box office chart.
The following years saw Sinise concentrate more on acting. He played a role in Marshall Herskovitz’s Jack The Bear (1993, with Danny DeVito) and was seen in the TV miniseries “Stephen King’s The Stand” (1994, opposite Molly Ringwald), but it was the blockbuster film Forrest Gump (1994, starring Tom Hanks) that put Sinise in the spotlight. Delivering a bravura supporting turn as cynical, legless Army Lieutenant Dan Taylor, Sinise won a National Board of Review for Best Supporting Actor and earned countless nominations, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a SAG.
Sinise next played Sharon Stone’s father in Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead (1995), Milo in Kevin Spacey’s directorial debut Albino Alligator (1996) and Det. Jimmy Shaker in Howard’s Ransom (1996). He offered an impressive turn as grounded astronaut Ken Mattingly in director Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995), for which he picked up a Screen Actors Guild for Cast (Theatrical Motion Picture).
On the small screen, Sinise made a name for himself as US President Harry Truman in the HBO biopic Truman (1995). In addition to critical accolades, the actor was garnered with several awards, including a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild and a Cable ACE for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. He also earned a 1996 Emmy nomination. Sinise cemented his position as one of America’s finest actors when he won an Emmy, a Golden Satellite, a Screen Actors Guild and a Cable ACE for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, as well as a nomination at the Golden Globes for his impressive portrayal of Alabama governor George Wallace (1997).
Despite his fondness for film and television work, Sinise has never neglected his stage roots. In 1996, Sinise netted a Best Director Award at the Joseph Jefferson and received a Tony nomination for his exceptional direction of a new version of Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child.” The following year, he was seen acting in the starring role of Stanley in the 50th Anniversary production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Steppenwolf Theatre.
Back to filmmaking, Sinise teamed up with director Brian De Palma for his thriller Snake Eyes (1998), made a cameo appearance as an attorney who was hired to defend John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) in Stephen King’s The Green Mile (1999) and played Morgan in James D. Stern’s ensemble drama All the Rage (1999). The latter role garnered Sinise a 2000 Milan International Film Festival award for Best Acting. The end of decade also saw roles in the made-for-TV film That Championship Season (1999), co-starring and directed by Paul Sorvino.
The Emmy-winning actor remained busy in the new millennium with ten different movies dotting his resume in three years. He first took on the villainous role of Gabriel Mercer in John Frankenheimer’s Reindeer Games (2000), was back in outer space as an astronaut leading a Mission to Mars (2000, helmed by De Palma), portrayed Dino Battaglia in Bruno (2000) and played Foster Pearse in A Gentleman's Game (2001). He also starred in the sci-fi film Impostor (2002), and appeared in the comedy Made-Up (2002), Path to War (2002, TV), and Mission: Space (2003). After finding himself acting opposite heavyweights Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris in the film adaptation of novelist Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain (2003), Sinise starred in the made-for-TV movie Fallen Angel (2003).
Returning to his stage roots, Sinise again attracted attention when he was cast in the lead of Randle P McMurphy in the Steppenwolf revival of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (2000), where he was handed a New York Drama League and Joseph Jefferson for Best Actor in 2000. A year later, he earned a Tony nomination after recreating the role of McMurphy in a Broadway revival of ”One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
In 2004, Sinise made two wide-screen movies. He was first cast as wealthy developer Ray Ritchie, opposite Owen Wilson and Morgan Freeman, in the meandering, Elmore Leonard-derived caper The Big Bounce (2004) and played the supporting role of psychiatrist Dr. Jack Munce, opposite Julianne Moore, in the paranormal thriller The Forgotten.
In 2006, Sinise provided the voice of Shaw in the animated film Open Season, opposite Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher and Debra Missing. He currently stars as crime-scene investigator Det. Mac Taylor in the TV series “CSI: NY” (2004- ?).
- DVD Exclusive: Best Actor, A Gentlemen’s Game, 2003
- Joseph Jefferson: Best Actor, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 2000
- New York Drama League: Best Actor, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 2000
- Milan International Film Festival: Best Acting, All the Rage, 2000
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, George Wallace, 1998
- Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, George Wallace, 1998
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, George Wallace, 1998
- Governor's Award: Contributions to the arts in Illinois, 1997
- Cable ACE: Actor in a Movie or Miniseries, George Wallace, 1996
- Chicago Film Critics: Commitment to Chicago Prize, 1996
- Joseph Jefferson: Best Director, Buried Child, 1996
- Golden Globe: Best Actor (Miniseries or TV Movie), Truman, 1995
- Screen Actors Guild: Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries, Truman, 1995
- Cable ACE: Actor in a Movie or Miniseries, Truman, 1995
- Screen Actors Guild: Cast (Theatrical Motion Picture), Apollo 13; initial presentation; award shared, 1995
- National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actor, Forrest Gump award shared, 1994
- Joseph Jefferson: Best Director, Orphans, 1985
- Drama Desk: Outstanding Ensemble Performance, Balm in Gilead; award shared, 1985
- Obie: Direction, True West, 1983
- Joseph Jefferson: Best Supporting Actor, Getting Out, 1980