Born November 28, 1950, Ed Harris's first major film role was in 1980's Borderline, opposite Charles Bronson. His breakthrough came in 1983 when he played John Glenn in The Right Stuff. Harris has starred in a range of films including The Abyss, Glengarry Glen Ross, Apollo 13 and Pollack, for which he won an Oscar nomination. He also received an Obie Award in 1983 for his stage work.
Actor Ed Harris was born on November 28, 1950, in Tenafly, New Jersey. Harris' first acting role came at the age of eight, when he appeared in The Third Miracle, a made-for-television movie. After studying acting at Oklahoma University and the California Institute of the Arts, he compiled an impressive list of stage credits, including roles in productions of The Grapes of Wrath and A Streetcar Named Desire, and also appeared in several television programs and movies.
Harris' first major film role was as a nemesis of action-star Charles Bronson in Borderline (1980). His breakthrough performance came three years later, when he was cast as astronaut John Glenn in The Right Stuff (1983). Although a box-office bust, Harris, with his clear eyes and rugged good looks, was perfectly suited to play the "moral Marine."
Winning critical success for the performance, he went on to win supporting roles in several hit movies, Places in the Heart (1984), starring Sally Field, and Swing Shift (1985), and lead roles in several poorly received films, including Code Name: Emerald and Sweet Dreams (both 1985).
In 1989, Harris received top billing in James Cameron's The Abyss, lending his distinctive humanity to the underwater sci-fi adventure. In 1992, he joined the assemble cast of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Co-starring with actors Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin and Al Pacino, Harris gave a forceful performance in the largely overlooked film.
In 1993, he appeared opposite Tom Cruise in The Firm, and in 1995, returned to the U.S. space program as head of mission control in Ron Howard's Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks. Harris was honored with Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his supporting role in Apollo 13, and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1996, Harris costarred with big-screen heavyweights Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery in the action-thriller The Rock. The following year, he teamed with Academy Award-winning actors Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman in the disappointing suspense film Absolute Power (1997).
While establishing himself in Hollywood, Harris continued his earlier work in the theater, making his New York stage debut in Sam Shepard's Fool for Love in 1983, for which he earned an Obie Award for Outstanding Actor. In the fall of 1996, he returned to the New York stage for a three-month run opposite Daniel Massey in Ronald Harwood's highly acclaimed drama Taking Sides.
Harris earned his second Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the megalomaniacal "Cristof" in Peter Weir's well received drama The Truman Show (1998), starring Jim Carrey. That same year, he costarred opposite Julia Roberts (as his fiance) and Susan Sarandon (as his ex-wife and the mother of his two children) in the emotional Stepmom.
'Pollock' and Other Projects
In 2000, Harris produced, directed and starred in Pollock, an ambitious biopic of the celebrated but tormented artist Jackson Pollock. Though the film made little noise at the box office, Harris' strong performance won critical praise and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His costar, Marcia Gay Harden, also received a nomination for her supporting role as the artist Lee Krasner, Pollock's long-suffering wife.
In the spring of 2001, Harris costarred in the World War II-era thriller Enemy at the Gates, alongside Joseph Fiennes and Jude Law. He continued to work steadily in films over the coming years, appearing in such projects as A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Hours (2003) and A History of Violence (2005). Harris even received an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in The Hours.
More recently, Harris has worked on several high-profile television projects. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of John McCain in the 2012 political miniseries Game Change. Harris also plays a villain in the upcoming HBO reboot of the classic sci-fi western Westworld and stars in the farming drama The One Percent, which is set to air on the Starz cable network.
Harris is married to Amy Madigan, an actress whom he met on the set of a Los Angeles stage production in 1981. The couple has one daughter, Lily Dolores. Madigan also appeared in Pollock, playing the art patron Peggy Guggenheim.
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