Family & Companions
This prolific stage-trained character player has been a familiar face since the early 1980s. With his bald head, deep-set eyes, and richly expressive features, Picardo has portrayed a wide range of characters on TV: most notably, a cold-hearted junior high school gym coach--the dreaded Coach Cutlip in a recurring role on "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1988-91), a dedicated and sympathetic military surgeon (and the beloved of nurse Dana Delany) in wartime Vietnam on "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-91), and a somewhat testy but supremely competent holographic ship's doctor on the spin-off "Star Trek: Voyager" (UPN, 1995-2001). The latter gig would appear to be the actor's best shot at pop culture immortality. Picardo's prior roster of guest shots and short runs included "Benson," "Dinosaurs," "21 Jump Street" and "L.A. Law."
Picardo has shifted easily between comedy and drama since his days on the New York and California stage. As a pre-med at Yale College, he developed an interest in acting in his sophomore year. After landing a role in a campus production of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass," Picardo played a lead in the European production and caught the maestro's eye. When Bernstein urged him to study acting in NYC, the budding performer asked the great man to break the news to his mother. He did and Picardo changed majors from biology to drama in his junior year. He moved to New York after graduation and soon found roles on and off-Broadway in the likes of "Gemini" (with Danny Aiello) and "Tribute" (opposite Jack Lemmon). Picardo reprised the latter role in the 1979 Los Angeles production where he was seen by the young filmmaker Joe Dante. He also appeared in productions of "Geniuses" and "Beyond Therapy" and won a Drama-Logue Award for his performance in "The Normal Heart" at the Berkeley Repertory Theater.
Picardo entered films and TV in 1980, debuting in the former medium with Dante's breakthrough horror-comedy "The Howling." He went on to become part of the director's informal stock company, appearing in most of Dante's subsequent features and several of his TV projects. The collaboration includes playing two outrageously silly-looking aliens in "Explorers" (1985), a mean corporate ax in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990) and a put-upon theater manager in "Matinee" (1993). Picardo's other feature credits include Bob Fosse's "Star 80" (1983), as an interviewer, "Total Recall" (1990), as the disconcertingly accommodating voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger's murderous cab, and John Candy's swan song "Wagon's East!" (1994).
Cast (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
While a pre-med student at Yale College, played a lead in the European production of Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" at age 19
Moved to NYC at age 20; enrolled at the Circle in the Square Professional Theater Workshop
Acted on stage with Diane Keaton in "The Primary English Class"
Professional acting debut, off-Broadway production of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago"
Broadway debut, a lead in "Gemini" with Danny Aiello
Played opposite Jack Lemmon in the Broadway production of "Tribute"
Reprised his role in the L.A. production of "Tribute" caught the attention of director Joe Dante
TV miniseries debut, "The Dream Merchants" (syndicated)
Feature acting debut, "The Howling"; first of numerous collaborations with director Joe Dante
Debut as a TV series regular, "Steambath", a Showtime fantasy based on the off-Broadway play set in a steambath in the hereafter
First appearance in a TV special "Michael Nesmith in Television Parts"
First TV collaboration with Dante, "Boo", an episode of the Steven Spielberg-produced fantasy anthology series "Amazing Stories"
Played Dr. Dick Richard, a regular character on the war drama series "China Beach"
Provided the voice for the Johnnycab that takes Arnold Schwarzenegger for a ride in "Total Recall"
Played a recurring role on the hit sitcom "Home Improvement" (ABC)
First TV-movie collaboration with Dante, "Runaway Daughters", an installment of Showtime's "Rebel Highway" series
Hosted the syndicated TV special "Inside the New Adventure--Star Trek: Voyager"