David Russell Strathairn
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About David Strathairn
David Russell Strathairn (born January 26, 1949) is an American actor. He was nominated for an Academy Award for portraying journalist Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck. He has appeared in many of writer/director John Sayles's movies. He is also recognized for his role as CIA Deputy Director Noah Vosen in the 2007 film The Bourne Ultimatum, a role he reprised in 2012's The Bourne Legacy. He portrays William Seward, US Secretary of State, in the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, "Lincoln."
Strathairn was born in San Francisco, California, the second of three children of Mary Frances (née Frazier), a nurse, and Thomas Scott Strathairn, Jr., a physician. He is of Scottish descent through his paternal grandfather, Thomas Scott Strathairn, a native of Crieff, and of Native Hawaiian ancestry through his paternal grandmother, Josephine Lei Victoria Alana. Strathairn attended Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, and graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1970.
He studied clowning at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in Venice, Florida, and briefly worked as a clown in a travelling circus.
Strathairn was nominated for an Academy Award for his starring portrayal of CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow in the 2005 biopic Good Night, and Good Luck. The movie explored Murrow's clash with Senator Joseph McCarthy over McCarthy's Communist "witch-hunt" in the 1950s. Strathairn also received Best Actor Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations for his performance.
Other notable film roles include his portrayals of the title character in Harrison's Flowers (2000); the wisecracking blind techie in Sneakers (1992); Joe St. George in Dolores Claiborne (1995); Pierce Patchett in L.A. Confidential (1997); Theseus, Duke of Athens, in the 1999 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream; and corrupt baseball player Eddie Cicotte in Eight Men Out (1988).
Strathairn is often regarded as a character actor, appearing in supporting roles in many independent and Hollywood films. In this capacity, he has co-starred in Twisted as Ashley Judd's psychiatrist; in The River Wild as Meryl Streep's husband; as Tom Cruise's jailbird brother in The Firm; and as Kim Basinger's pimp in L.A. Confidential.
He has worked frequently with his Williams College classmate and director John Sayles. He made his film debut in Return of the Secaucus 7, and worked in the films Passion Fish, Matewan, Limbo, and City of Hope, for which he won the Independent Spirit Award. Alongside Sayles, he played one of the Men in Black in the 1983 film The Brother from Another Planet. Several years later, Strathairn created the role of Edwin Booth with Maryann Plunkett in a workshop production of Booth! A House Divided, by W. Stuart McDowell, at The Players in New York City.
His television work includes a wide range of roles: "Moss", the bookselling nebbish on the critically acclaimed The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd; Captain Keller, the father of Helen Keller in the 2000 remake of The Miracle Worker; and a far-out (both figuratively and literally) televangelist in Paradise, the pilot episode for a TV series on Showtime that was not successful. Strathairn also had a recurring role on the hit television drama The Sopranos. Strathairn starred in the second season episode, "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", in Miami Vice.
Among Strathairn's recent films are: We Are...Marshall, a 2006 film about the rebirth of Marshall University's football program after the 1970 plane crash that killed most of the team's members; and Cold Souls, starring Paul Giamatti as a fictionalised version of himself, who enlists a company's services to deep freeze his soul, directed by Sophie Barthes. In 2006 he did a campaign ad for then congressional candidate (now, Senator) Kirsten Gillibrand. He reprised his role as Edward R. Murrow in a speech similar to the one from Good Night, and Good Luck, but was altered to reference Gillibrand's opponent John Sweeney.
Strathairn plays the lead role opposite Andrew Walker in the 2007 independent film, Steel Toes, a film by David Gow (writer/co-director/producer)and Mark Adam (co-director/DOP/editor). The film is based on Gow's stage play Cherry Docs, in which Strathairn starred for its American premiere at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia.
He played a lead role opposite Matt Damon in the summer 2007 film The Bourne Ultimatum and appeared in Paramount Pictures' children's film The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) as Arthur Spiderwick. Strathairn appeared in the American Experience PBS anthology series documentary, The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a biography of the physicist. He also plays William Flynn, an FBI agent dealing with anarchism in 1920s New York City, in No God, No Master.
In 2009, Strathairn performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans. It was adapted from the historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
He stars as Dr. Lee Rosen on Syfy's series Alphas.
Strathairn is an accomplished stage actor and has performed over 30 theatrical roles. He performed several roles in stage plays by 2005 Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter. He played Stanley in two consecutive New York Classic Stage Company (CSC) productions of Pinter's 1957 play The Birthday Party, directed by Carey Perloff (since 1992 artistic director of the American Conservatory Theatre), in 1988 and 1989; the dual roles of prison Officer and Prisoner in Pinter's 1989 play Mountain Language (in a double bill with the second CSC Rep production of The Birthday Party); Edwin Booth in a workshop production also featuring Angela Goethals of Booth: A House Divided by W. Stuart McDowell at The Players in 1989; Kerner, in Tom Stoppard's Hapgood (1994); and Devlin, opposite Lindsay Duncan's Rebecca, in Pinter's 1996 two-hander Ashes to Ashes in the 1999 New York premiere by the Roundabout Theatre Company.
Strathairn narrated a biographical video that was aired to introduce Barack Obama before his acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
He married Logan Goodman, a nurse. They have two sons and live in the mid-Hudson Valley area near Poughkeepsie, New York. Their son, Tay, is an actor and musician who plays jazz piano. He has been a part of such bands as Dawes and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as a keyboardist. Tay appeared in John Sayles' films Eight Men Out (as Bucky) and Lone Star (as Young Sam). Their son Ebberly is an architecture graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was an ardent lacrosse player. He has worked for MASS Design Group. He has a brother, Tom, who for a time was a teacher at San Marcos Jr High, now San Marcos Middle School, in San Diego county.