Lebanese-American television, film and stage actor Tony Shalhoub is well-recognized by most television audiences as Adrian Monk in the eccentric detective comedy “Monk” (2002-?), in which he netted three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and two SAG Awards. Previously, the three-time Emmy Award-winner was known for playing Antonio Scarpacci in the series “Wings” (1991-1995).
On the silver screen, Shalhoub’s career gained real impetus in the mid-1990s with the Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott-directed Big Night (1996). His significant, scene-stealing performance of the temperamental settler chef Primo won the actor a number of critical praise, including a National Society of Film Award. Since then, Shalhoub has cemented his status as one of the most sought-after supporting players with performances in such films as Men in Black (1997) and its sequel Men in Black II (2002), Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids films (2001, 2002, 2003), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001, earned a Chicago Film Critics Association, an AFI and an Online Film Critics Society nods), Against the Ropes (2004), The Last Shot (2004) and The Great New Wonderful (2005). In 2002, Shalhoub was handed a Northampton Film Festival Award and a SXSW Film Festival Award for his directorial effort in Made Up (2002), a drama/comedy where he also costarred with his off screen wife.
Off camera, Shalhoub established The Arab-American Filmmaker Award Competition in 2005, along with the Network of Arab-American Professionals and Zoom-in-Focus productions. Arab-American filmmakers presented screenplays, with the selected winner flown to Hollywood to have their screenplay produced. Two runners-up are also invited to contribute in the production.
On a more personal note, Shalhoub married his current wife, actress Brooke Adams, in 1992. They have two daughters, Josie (Brooke’s adopted daughter) and Sophie.
The King and I
Childhood and Family:
Born Anthony Marcus Shalhoub on October 9, 1953, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Tony Shalhoub is the son of a Lebanese immigrant father and a Lebanese-American mother. His brother, Michael Shalhoub, is an actor, and Tony is the cousin of renowned Chicago/LA radio personality Jonathon Brandmeier.
Tony made an introduction to theater as a child, when at age six he was invited to perform by his elder sister on a high school production of “The King and I.” Despite wrong position during final preparation, the performance cultivated young Tony’s interest in the theater. After graduating from Green Bay East High, Tony majored in drama at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine and in 1980, earned his masters degree from Yale School of Drama.
In 1992, Tony married screen beauty Brooke Adams. At the time of their marriage, he adopted Josie Lynn (born in 1989), Brooke’s adopted daughter. A year later, they welcomed a baby daughter named Sophie. The family lives in Green Bay and Los Angeles.
Starting out in a high school production while still a little boy, Tony Shalhoub relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to perform with the American Repertory Theatre after receiving his master degree from the Yale School of Drama. There, he appeared in several productions like “The Three Sisters” and “School for Scandal” and then left for New York City four seasons later. Shalhoub broke into the small screen in 1986 with a guest role as a terrorist in an episode of the CBS series “The Equalizer,” and landed another one-episodic role, this time as Dr. Hambrecht, in “Spenser: For Hire” in 1987. He made TV movie acting debut as Nahid in CBS’s action-crime Alone in the Neon Jungle in 1988, and had a small role as Enrico Fermi in the Emmy-winning drama Day One, the following year.
By 1990, Shalhoub had made the move into the wide screen with a bit part as a doctor in a drama-romance starring Campbell Scott, Longtime Companion, and he offered a notable comic turn as a New York cab driver in actor-director Bill Murray’s Quick Change, that same year. He went on to appear in such films as Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink (1991), Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) and Addams Family Values (1993, starred Anjelica Huston). On stage, the former member of American Repertory Theatre received attention for his glowing scene-stealing performance in the Broadway production of Herb Gardner’s “Conversations with My Father” (1992).
However, Shalhoub was most known by TV audience as Antonio Scarpacci, a romantic cab driver of Italian lineage, in the NBC long-running sitcom “Wings” (1991-1997), which starred Tim Daly, Steven Weber, Crystal Bernard, Thomas Haden Church, and Rebecca Schull. Hired as a regular in 1991, the actor maintained his work on the show until 1995.
A year after leaving “Wings,” Shalhoub attracted the attention of Hollywood with his adeptly shaded, nuanced portrayal of the moody settler chef Primo in Big Night (1996), a drama which marked the directorial debut of actors Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott. Displaying a wide range of emotions, Shalhoub’s performance won him critical applauded, and he picked up a National Society of Film Critics for Best Supporting Actor. The role also brought him an Independent Spirit and Chlotrudis nominations.
Following the much-about performance, Shalhoub became an in demand actor. Subsequently, he landed supporting roles in the Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith starring vehicle Men in Black (1997), the sci-fi/ thriller Gattaca (1997) and the Danny Boyle-helmed A Life Less Ordinary (1997, opposite Ewan McGregor, Cameron Diaz and Holly Hunter). He also rejoined Stanley Tucci in his solo directing and writing debut, The Impostors (1998), having a cameo role as the first mate of a luxury liner. Other supporting roles followed, including in Primary Colors (1998), The Siege (1998), A Civil Action (1998), The Tic Code (1999), and the winning comedy Galaxy Quest (1999), where he finely portrayed an anxiety-ridden sci-fi actor named Fred.
Meanwhile, Shalhoub resurfaced on stage, starring in three one-act plays by David Mamet at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, in 1997 and appearing with John Turturro in 1998’s Off-Broadway play “Waiting for Godot.” He returned to series TV in the sitcom “Stark Raving Mad” (1999-2000), playing the barren horror author Ian Stark who plays gruesome jokes on his bothered young editor. His performance, unfortunately, was moderately responded by audiences and critics.
After TV movie The Heart Department (2001), Shalhoub returned to films with supporting roles in Robert Rodriguez’s family-adventure Spy Kids (2001, starred Antonio Banderas), the Coen brothers’ The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), where he memorably played the slick, big-city attorney Freddy Riedenschneider and received a Chicago Film Critics Association, an AFI and an Online Film Critics Society nominations for Best Supporting Actor, and the sci-fi film Impostor (2002), starring Gary Sinise. He starred as a man who takes over a haunted house in the horror/thriller 13 Ghosts (2001).
In 2002, Shalhoub made his first venture into directing film with the comedy/drama Made Up, in which he also acted with his actress-wife Brooke Adams. The film brought the director a Northampton Film Festival for Best of the Fest and a SXSW Film Festival for Narrative First Film, as well as a Taos Talking Picture Festival nomination.
The same year, Shalhoub also landed the starring role of Adrian Monk, a role that would soon to be his signature in the ABC series “Monk.” Delivering spectacular performance as an ex-San Francisco cop detective who suffers from a severe case of obsessive-compulsive chaos and various phobias after his wife’s murder but retains a luminous crime-solver, Shalhoub was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series four times consecutively from 2003-2006, and took home the trophy three times in 2003, 2005, and 2006. Additionally, he was handed a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in 2003, and two SAG for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series in 2004 and 2005.
Shalhoub also appeared in Life or Something Like It (2002), T for Terrorist (2003), Party Animals (2003) and Something More (2003). He reprised his role of Jack Jeebs for the sequel Men in Black II (2002) and returned as Alexander Minion in the installments Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). In 2004, Shaloub gave powerful supporting portrayals in Against the Ropes, with Meg Ryan, the Hollywood crime comedy The Last Shot, opposite Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin. The next year he appeared with Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Great New Wonderful.
Recently, voicing Luigi in the Pixar film Cars (2006), Shalhoub is set to play roles in the forthcoming The Adventures of Beatle Boyin (2006), Careless (2007), American East (2007) and Blind Date (2007).