Family & Companions
Blond and baby-faced, John Savage made a name for himself as a sensitive, vulnerable screen presence during the 1970s. The Long Island-born actor studied at NYC's American Academy of Dramatic Arts, began his stage career in the 60s and by 1971 had appeared on Broadway in the long-running "Fiddler on the Roof." He would tour the USA as the ultra-shy and stuttering Billy Bibbit in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" but not before enjoying a breakthrough of sorts as a young East Coast youth who runs off to the Wild West thus evading service in the Civil War, in Robert Benton's feature directing debut, "Bad Company" (1972). After joining the anti-establishment misfits (i.e., Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Peter Boyle) of "Steelyard Blues" (1973), he took his first crack at the small screen, acting in the TV-movie "All the Kind Strangers" (ABC, 1974), and later played "Eric" (NBC, 1975), a terminal cancer patient fighting to the very end. He also made his debut as a series regular, portraying the cub reporter lead of the short-lived "Gibbsville" (NBC, 1976).
Savage exploded into the public's consciousness with his supporting turn in Michael Cimino's Oscar-winning Best Picture, "The Deer Hunter" (1978), playing Steven, who forces the bravado of his hometown friends, and returns from Vietnam with shattered legs. Milos Forman chose him to star as Claude Hooper Bukowski, the young man who falls in with hippies on his last day before going to Vietnam, in the big screen version of "Hair," its impact severely limited as a period piece, and he also headlined the heart-wrenching "The Onion Field" (both 1979), the true story of a cop who cracks up and flees the scene after witnessing his partner's murder. Savage continued to confirm his status in Hollywood as a rising off-beat lead and young character player with "Inside Moves" (1980), starring as a suicide survivor discovering the necessary self-esteem to live his life. After two films in 1981, "Cattle Annie and Little Britches" and "The Amateur," however, he moved to South Africa and, despite acting in some international films and TV-movies (i.e., "Nairobi Affair" CBS, 1984), remained essentially "out of sight" in Hollywood.
Savage re-emerged by delivering a nifty supporting turn as an ambitious photojournalist who paid the ultimate price for a legend-making shot in Oliver Stone's quasi-docudrama "Salvador" (1986) and also made a fine beast in a Cannon Films version of "Beauty and the Beast" (1987), opposite Rebecca DeMornay. His first association with Spike Lee, "Do the Right Thing" (1989), featured him as a bike-riding Caucasian living in a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone despite the disdain of the African-American residents, and he later parlayed his African cachet to work as assistant production manager on the South African location shooting for Lee's "Malcolm X" (1992). Barely featured and barely recognizable as Andrew Hagen, the son of the Corleone consigliari, who is a priest working in the Vatican in "The Godfather, Part III" (1990), the older but still boyish Savage determined to raise his profile in Hollywood and signed with personal manager Michael Wallach. After playing in numerous modestly budgeted films such as Daniel Adams' "Primary Motive" (1992, alongside actress daughter Jennifer Youngs), he landed a part as Jeff Bridges' second-in-command in Ridley Scott's "White Squall" (1996), but the film did not connect at the box office. In 1997, he reteamed with Adams as the titular all-time loser in boxing knockouts in the small-budget, fact-based "The Mouse," which he also produced.
Accessing his rage has brought a resurgence to the Savage career. Roles as abusive, alcoholic husbands in "Little Boy Blue" and ABC's "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings" (both 1997) gave way to his ranting sergeant in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line" (1998) and the angry brother of Kevin Costner's dead wife in Luis Mandoki's "Message in a Bottle" (1999). Over-the-top as an evil-to-the-core henchman in John Badham's "The Jack Bull" (HB0, 1999), he bridged the gap that year between the fifth and sixth seasons of "Star Trek: Voyager," playing a rogue star ship captain who earns sufficient redemption to die a hero's death in the two-part "Equinox" episode. The busy year also saw him reteam with Lee as a photographer in the director's "Summer of Sam." He stayed busy acting in the TNT remake of "The Virginian" and in USA's horror thriller "They Nest" (both 2000) before returning as a series regular in Fox's "Dark Angel," a futuristic drama (executive produced by James Cameron) set in a 21st Century of economic, political and moral collapse.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Played small role as the boyfriend in feature "Love Is a Carousel"
Appeared on Broadway in "Fiddler on the Roof"
Cast by Robert Benton in Benton's feature directorial debut "Bad Company"; played one of the immature members of a post-Civil War gang led by Jeff Bridges
Toured USA in production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" playing the role of Billy Bibbit
Appeared in TV-movie "All the Kind Strangers" (ABC), directed by Burt Kennedy
Wrote and sang the songs as star of Crown International's "The Sister-in-Law"
Had title role in NBC "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation, "Eric"; also wrote the song "Loving Somebody"
Was cub reporter lead in short-lived NBC series "Gibbsville"
Appeared on Broadway as Bobby in David Mamet's "American Buffalo", co-starring future brother-in-law Robert Duvall
Had key featured role as the buddy who returns from Vietnam with shattered legs in "The Deer Hunter"
Starred as Claude Hooper Bukowski in the underrated film musical "Hair"
Portrayed policeman who survived partner Ted Danson's shooting in "The Onion Field", adapted by Joseph Wambaugh from his novel
Starred as young suicide survivor in "Inside Moves"
Seen as Amanda Plummer's love interest Bittercreek Newcomb in "Cattle Annie and Little Britches"
Co-starred with Charleton Heston (as son and father) in "Nairobi Affair", a CBS movie shot on location in Kenya
First time portraying Nastassja Kinski's war-ravaged husband in Andrei Konchalovsky's "Maria's Lovers"; also initial association with producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus
Played combat photographer who paid the ultimate price for snapping a legend-making shot in Oliver Stone's quasi-docudrama "Salvador"
Co-starred with Duvall in feature "Hotel Colonial"
Gave just the right amount of misanthropy, nobility and moody temperment to his portayal of the Beast (though his prince came across as a bit wooden) in Golan-Globus remake of "Beauty and the Beast"
Portrayed Lennie in stage production of "Of Mice and Men" at NYC's Roundabout Theatre
First film with Spike Lee, "Do the Right Thing"
Had small role in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather, Part III"; played the son of Duvall's character
Was assistant production manager for sequences of Lee's "Malcolm X" shot in South Africa
Appeared with daughter Jennifer Youngs in Daniel Adams' "Primary Motive", playing a seedy reporter digging up dirt on a political candidate
Acted in Sean Penn's "The Crossing Guard"
Produced and starred as "The Mouse", the true story of minor legend Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss, the ring's all-time greatest loser in knockouts; directed by Adams
Played vacuum cleaner salesman-serial killer in "American Strays"
Co-starred as Jeff Bridges' second-in-command in "White Squall"
Portrayed Ellen Barkin's abusive, alcoholic spouse who commits suicide in "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Before Women Had Wings" (ABC)
Delivered a menacing turn as Kinski's boozing, war-ravaged, hot-headed husband in "Little Boy Blue"
Appeared as a ranting and raging sergeant in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line"; movie reunited him with Penn
Bridged the fifth and sixth seasons of UPN's "Star Trek: Voyager," playing Captain Ransom in the two-part episode <i>Equinox</i>
Delivered an over-the-top turn as Slater, the evil-to-the-core henchman of L.Q. Jones, in John Badham's "The Jack Bull" (HBO)
Reteamed with Lee on "Summer of Sam", playing a photographer
Had regular role on the Fox fall drama series "Dark Angel", executive produced by James Cameron
Played Henry 'Hack' Scudder in the HBO series, "Carnivàle"
Cast in the Terrence Malick-scripted drama "The New World"
Co-starred in "Downtown: A Street Tale," a drama about homeless teenagers