“I don't think an actor's job is to be recognized. I think an actor's job is to facilitate the writing in a way that changes the way people think. No other business does that.” Jeffrey Donovan
American actor Jeffrey Donovan is known for starring in the USA Network series “Touching Evil” (2004, as Detective David Creegan) and “Burn Notice” (2007-present, as Michael Westen). Making his debut as a regular in the short-lived “The Beat” (2000), Donovan has also had one episodic or recurring roles in such TV series as “Another World,” “Spin City,” “The Pretender,” “Crossing Jordan,” “CSI: Miami,” “Law & Order,” “Monk” and “Threshold.” On the movie circuit, Donovan is perhaps most remembered by audiences as the star of the horror sequel “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” (2000) and for having supporting roles in such films as Barry Levinson's “Sleepers” (1996), the Will Smith vehicle “Hitch” (2005), Joey Lauren Adams' “Come Early Morning” (2006) and Clint Eastwood's “Changeling” (2008). He picked up a Method Fest for his notable scene-stealing turn in “Sam & Joe” (2003), and as a stage actor, Donovan appeared in “An Inspector Calls” (his Broadway debut), “Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight,” “A View from the Bridge” and “Hamlet.”
“It is so important to me how different I am in the plays I do. I never want people to go, 'Oh, that’s him again.' I want them to go, 'I loved the guy who played Marco in A View From the Bridge,' then come see this and go, 'I loved the guy who played Gene,' and not know it’s the same guy. That’s what I want.” Jeffrey Donovan
“What would surprise a lot of people about me, I’m a gardener! I have a green thumb. I really like to get into the shrubs, the bushes, and really cultivate.” Jeffrey Donovan
Donovan is the father of three boys. He enjoys gardening and playing golf. He cites Miles Davis, Jet, Radiohead, Beth Orton, and Incubus as his favorite musicians. Donovan is an avid supporter of green living issues. In addition to his family's home, which is going to be entirely powered by solar energy by the end of 2009, he drives a hybrid Toyota Camry.
Childhood and Family:
Jeffrey T. Donovan was born on May 11, 1968, in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Along with his two brothers, he was raised in poverty by his single mother, Nancy Matthews, who worked in a factory to feed her children. Jeffrey and his family lived on welfare and had to move several times during his childhood. As a teenager, Jeffrey quickly learned that acting could become a successful way to gain attention. While attending Amesbury High School, he amazed his classmates and his English teacher when he performed one of Shylock's (of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”) monologues, an experience that led him to further explore acting. He later won a starring role in the senior play “The Sting,” where Jeffrey played the part Paul Newman portrayed in the film. He also served as the first president of his high school's drama club. During summer break, when he was 18 years old, Jeffrey attended acting classes at Bradford College in Haverhill, MA. Apart from acting, he was also on his high school's tennis and football teams.
After high school, Jeffrey attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and got a BA in theater. He then applied and was accepted to New York University's Graduate Acting Program, becoming one of only 18 students chosen to attend among over a thousand applicants. He graduated with an MFA in acting.
Jeffrey has three sons with his girlfriend. They currently reside in Topanga, California.
“Stage is my favorite, but I can't live on wood alone.” Jeffrey Donovan
Armed with a multitude of accents, Jeffrey Donovan made his professional stage debut in the Broadway production of “An Inspector Calls” (1994), where he was cast as British. His follow up stage credits included the Tony Award winning revival of “A View from the Bridge” (starred Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janney) and off-Broadway productions like “Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight,” “Oedipus” (played the Greek friend of Billy Crudup), the Philip Seymour Hoffman directed “The Glory of Living” (opposite Anna Paquin), “Troilus and Cressida,” “Toys in the Attic,” “Skyscraper,” “On the Waterfront” and “Freedomland.” He also starred in Mike O'Malley's “Searching for Certainty” in Los Angeles, a play he also produced.
Donovan's first film role arrived in 1995 when he was cast in the starring role of Pete Gulley in the independent film “Throwing Down,” a drama directed and written by Lawrence O'Neil. The same year, he also made his television debut with a one episodic role on the NBC series “Homicide: Life on the Street.”
In 1996, Donovan reappeared on the big screen when he won the small, but memorable, role of Henry Addison, one of the four guards in the all-boys juvenile detention center who ends up murdered, in Barry Levinson's thriller “Sleepers.” The film gave him a chance to act alongside Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Ron Eldard, Minnie Driver, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Brad Renfro and (again) Billy Crudup. He next appeared with Betty Buckley, Pamela Reed and Diana Scarwid in the Showtime Original television film “Critical Choices” (1996), starred as Thomas Mason in the indie drama “Catherine's Grove” (1997), supported Tom Sizemore and Debi Mazar in the NBC movie “Witness to the Mob” (1998), and played Bobby in the HBO Original movie “When Trumpets Fade” (1998), a sequel to John Irvin's 1987 film “Hamburger Hill.”
Donovan revisited series TV in a 1997 episode of the Fox Network acclaimed series “Millennium” called “The Wild and the Innocent.” He also briefly appeared on the NBC daytime soap “Another World” (as Dwayne 'Popper' Collins), and had a recurring role on the Michael T. Weiss-led sci-fi series “The Pretender,” playing Kyle, the brother of T. Weiss. He was on the show from 1997 to 1999. He rounded out the decade playing Tom in two episodes of Michael J. Fox's “Spin City.”
In 2000, Jeffrey was cast as Brad Ulrich, opposite David Zayas, Mark Ruffalo, Poppy Montgomery and Lee Tergesen, in the UPN series “The Beat.” Unfortunately for the gifted actor, the police drama series only had a short life. Back to motion pictures after a three year hiatus, he landed a supporting role as a former con named Julio on the action comedy “Bait” (2000), which starred Jamie Foxx. Later that same year, he starred as Jeffrey Patterson in “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” (2000), an installment to the horror film “The Blair Witch Project” (1999). Although it failed to achieve the same commercial success as its predecessor, the sequel did enjoy a strong box office run by grossing over $47 million worldwide, with an original budget of $15 million.
Two years later, Donovan played John Light's ambitious partner on “Purpose” (2002), a small indie drama. The film also starred Mia Farrow, Peter Coyote, Elena Evangelo, Megan Dodds and Hal Holbrook. He next appeared with Chris Williams, Jimmi Simpson, Carl Bressler and David Spielberg in the comedy “Final Draft” (2003), which was helmed and written by Oren Goldman and Yariv Ozdoba, and with Petra Wright, Michael T. Ringer, Gina Philips and Dawn Cody in Jason Ruscio's drama, “Sam & Joe” (also 2003). For his fine performance in the latter film, Donovan was handed a Best Supporting Actor Award at the 2003 Method Fest.
In 2004, Donovan made a successful comeback to the small screen when he landed the starring role of Detective David Creegan in the television film “Touching Evil,” which was broadcasted on the USA Network on March 12. The show was a hit with critics and audiences and was developed into a television series, with Donovan reprising his role. Produced by actor Bruce Willis' production company, the “Touching Evil” series received critical acclaim, but was soon canceled after the USA Network considered it a commercial failure.
The following year, Donovan appeared as Vance Munson, a stock broker who asks the help of Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (played by Will Smith), in the hit comedy “Hitch,” which was directed by Andy Tennant and written by Kevin Bisch. He also guest starred in an episode of “CSI: Miami” called “Nothing to Lose” and earned praise for his stage performance in the title role of “Hamlet” at the Boston Common. After appearing in the pilot “Enemies,” for ABC, he worked with Ashley Judd in Joey Lauren Adams' drama “Come Early Morning” (2006), which was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic category at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, and costarred with Samantha Mathis in “Believe in Me” (2006), a drama from filmmaker Robert Collector. He also portrayed villainous Dr. Julian Sloan in two episodes of the short lived series “Threshold” (2006), starring Carla Gugino and Brian Van Holt, and appeared in episodes of “Yes, Dear,” “Monk” (both 2006) and “Law & Order” (2007).
Donovan next played the supporting role of William Ivers in five episodes of the popular NBC series “Crossing Jordan” (2007), created by Tim Kring. He then received the lead role of secret agent Michael Westen on the drama series “Burn Notice,” which debuted on June 28, 2007. Also starring Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, and Sharon Gless, the series won a 2008 ASCAP for Top TV Series and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour, also 2008). “Burn Notice” has been renewed for a third season and will return in June 2009.
2008 saw Donovan act in two movies. In “Hindsight,” a thriller directed by Paul Holahan and scripted by Brooke Purdy, he costarred with Waylon Payne and Miranda Bailey. He then appeared with Angelina Jolie, Gattlin Griffith, Michelle Gunn, Michael Kelly, John Malkovich and Devon Conti in the Clint Eastwood directed “Changeling,” which was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Actress for Jolie.
Method Fest: Best Supporting Actor, “Sam & Joe,” 2003