Richard Jenkins



Birth Place
DeKalb, Illinois, USA
May 04, 1947


After decades of work in regional theater and made-for-television movies, American character actor Richard Jenkins began to attract the attention of critics and audiences in the late 1990s with quiet but engrossing performances in a wide variety of feature films. Equally capable at both broad comedy and drama, he frequently essayed tightly controlled men of authority, including judges, g...


After decades of work in regional theater and made-for-television movies, American character actor Richard Jenkins began to attract the attention of critics and audiences in the late 1990s with quiet but engrossing performances in a wide variety of feature films. Equally capable at both broad comedy and drama, he frequently essayed tightly controlled men of authority, including judges, government agents, detectives and medical professionals. Occasionally, his characters spun wildly out of control - a DEA agent who experiences a spectacular LSD trip in "Flirting With Disaster" (1996), or staid funeral director Richard Fisher, whose sudden death reveals a long-hidden secret life on the acclaimed series "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05) - which was often the highlight of the project. He was also a favorite performer of the Coen Brothers, appearing in "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001), "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003) and "Burn After Reading" (2008). While mainly a character actor, Jenkins finally graduated to leading man status in the independent film "The Visitor" (2008), for which he received excellent notices, while also appearing in "Eat Pray Love" (2010) and "The Rum Diary" (2011). Though not quite a household name, Jenkins remained a busy actor who landed prominent parts in some of Hollywood's biggest movies.

Born May 4, 1947 in DeKalb, IL, Jenkins earned a degree in drama from Wesleyan University before attending a graduate theater program at Indiana State College. While there, he began studying with acclaimed acting coach Harold Guskin, whose exploratory approach greatly informed Jenkins' style of performance. He later developed a long and distinguished career in regional theater, most notably with the Trinity Repertory Theater in Rhode Island - his home for over 30 years - where he also served as artistic director. Jenkins began appearing in films and television in the mid-1970s, starting with a 1974 PBS broadcast of a Trinity Repertory performance of the play "Feasting With Panthers," about the imprisonment of playwright Oscar Wilde. The following year, Jenkins briefly relocated with his wife and family to Los Angeles to try his hand at more on-camera work, but he found the experience unrewarding, returning to Providence after only 10 months.

Jenkins slowly began building more TV and feature credits in the early 1980s, including turns as Veronica Cartwright's husband in "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987) and a string of cops, agents, and other serious types in "Little Nikita" (1988), "Sea of Love" (1989), and the TV movie "Challenger" (1990), in which he played engineer Gregory Jarvis, who perished aboard the space shuttle when it exploded in 1986. After a decade of mostly dramatic roles, Jenkins earned his widest notices for David O. Russell's "Flirting With Disaster" (1996), a smart comedy of errors with an all-star cast, including Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Lily Tomlin, Alan Alda, and George Segal. Jenkins received some of the best reviews for the film as a by-the-books DEA agent who not only reveals that he is in love with his partner (Josh Brolin), but experiences a show-stopping acid freakout in the film's final third. The dichotomy between Jenkins' staid exterior and his unbridled performance yielded considerable laughs, as well as a 1997 Independent Spirit nomination. Comedic roles soon began popping up between his more straight-laced performances. He was well utilized by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, who first cast him in an uncredited turn as a psychiatrist in "There's Something About Mary" (1999) before tapping him for supporting turns in their Jim Carrey feature "Me, Myself and Irene" (2000) and as the stroke-stricken dad to Heather Graham in "Say It Isn't So" (2001).

Another set of famous filmmaker siblings, Joel and Ethan Coen, also made excellent use of Jenkins' versatile skills. The writing-directing team first became aware of him after he auditioned for William H. Macy's role in "Fargo" (1996), but did not cast him in one of their films until their neo-noir "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001), where he played the hard-drinking lawyer father to femme fatale Scarlett Johansson. Two years later, he turned up as a more sober legal figure in "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003), the Coen's lightweight tribute to screwball comedies. In 2001, Jenkins began the first of several recurring appearances on the acclaimed HBO series "Six Feet Under." His character, Nathaniel Fisher, Sr., was killed in a horrific traffic accident within the first 10 minutes of the pilot episode, but returned sporadically throughout the series' run to impart advice and warnings to his eldest son Nate (Peter Krause) from beyond the grave. His appearances underscored the series' theme of regret and loss, as the conversations (imagined or not) revealed that the elder Fisher had a rich and occasionally wild hidden life that belied the bland, emotionless exterior he showed to his family. Jenkins was nominated along with the rest of his "Six Feet Under" castmates for a 2002 Screen Actors Guild award.

The acclaim of these and other projects helped to make Jenkins one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood, and one of the most well-regarded. He received some of his best notices for "North Country" (2005) as a father who slowly rises to the defense of his daughter (Charlize Theron) when she is assaulted at her mine working job. In 2007, actor Tom McCarthy cast Jenkins in his first leading role for "The Visitor," an affecting drama about a mild-mannered professor whose empty life is suddenly enriched by the presence of three Syrian immigrants facing deportation. Jenkins suddenly found himself the subject of numerous interviews and on the receiving end of considerable praise, include the top prize from the Method Fest in 2008. He also earned nominations for both the Independent Spirit and Screen Actors Guild awards. But most importantly, he received his first ever Academy Award nomination.

True to form, Jenkins balanced this soulful performance with a comedic role as the stepfather to Will Ferrell in the Farrelly Brothers' comedy "Step Brothers" (2008). Ferrell and director Adam McKay were reportedly so taken with Jenkins' performance that they featured him in several short comic films on their web site, One such short, "Hollywood Tales with Richard Jenkins," had the actor spinning outrageous stories of missed opportunities, including a chance to "make it with Michelle Pfeiffer" in "The Witches of Eastwick." Back in features, he reunited with the Coen Brothers to play a kindhearted fitness gym manager in "Burn After Reading" (2008) and voiced the principal in the animated film "The Tale of Despereaux" (2008). After playing Channing Tatum's distant father in "Dear John" (2010), he was a man from Texas who befriends Julia Roberts at an Indian ashram in "Eat Pray Love" (2010) and the demanding editor of Hunter S. Thompson (Johnny Depp) in "The Rum Diary" (2011). He went on to co-star opposite Owen Wilson and Jenna Fischer in the Farrelly brothers comedy "Hall Pass" (2011), before landing a prominent role in the horror comedy "The Cabin in the Woods" (2012). Jenkins next had supporting roles in Andrew Dominik's crime drama "Killing Them Softly" (2012), Robert Redford's '60s-radicals drama "The Company You Keep" (2012) and the Tom Cruise action vehicle "Jack Reacher" (2012), as well as the comedy "A.C.O.D." (2013) and action hit "White House Down" (2013). He also enjoyed more prominent roles in John Slattery's drama "God's Pocket" (2014), one of the final films completed by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman; and the sports drama "Four Minute Mile" (2014). He also co-starred in the miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" (HBO 2014), for which he won an Emmy.



Director (Feature Film)

The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963)
2nd Assistant Director, 2d unit
In Search of the Castaways (1962)
Assistant Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)
The Shape of Water (2017)
The Hollars (2016)
LBJ (2016)
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Lullaby (2014)
One Square Mile (2014)
God's Pocket (2014)
Turbo (2013)
The Company You Keep (2013)
White House Down (2013)
A.C.O.D. (2013)
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Liberal Arts (2012)
Jack Reacher (2012)
Killing Them Softly (2012)
Hall Pass (2011)
Friends with Benefits (2011)
The Rum Diary (2011)
Let Me In (2010)
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Norman (2010)
HappyThankYouMorePlease (2010)
Waiting for Forever (2010)
Dear John (2010)
The Broken (2008)
The Tale of Despereaux (2008)
The Visitor (2008)
Burn After Reading (2008)
Step Brothers (2008)
The Kingdom (2007)
North Country (2005)
Rumor Has It... (2005)
Shall We Dance (2004)
Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
The Mudge Boy (2003)
Edgar Mudge
The Core (2003)
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Stealing Harvard (2002)
Changing Lanes (2002)
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
Walter Abundas
One Night At McCool's (2001)
Say It Isn't So (2001)
Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)
Random Hearts (1999)
Outside Providence (1999)
The Mod Squad (1999)
The Impostors (1998)
Absolute Power (1997)
Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (1997)
Beck Weathers
Eye of God (1997)
A Couch in New York (1996)
The Boys Next Door (1996)
Eddie (1996)
Flirting With Disaster (1996)
How To Make An American Quilt (1995)
The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)
It Could Happen to You (1994)
Getting Out (1994)
Wolf (1994)
Undercover Blues (1993)
And the Band Played On (1993)
Afterburn (1992)
The Perfect Tribute (1991)
Mr Blair
Doublecrossed (1991)
Carolina Skeletons (1991)
Luke Redy
Descending Angel (1990)
When You Remember Me (1990)
Challenger (1990)
Rising Son (1990)
How I Got Into College (1989)
Out on the Edge (1989)
Paul Evetts
Sea Of Love (1989)
Blaze (1989)
Blue Steel (1989)
Fatal Flaw (1989)
In The Line Of Duty:The F.B.I. Murders (1988)
Little Nikita (1988)
Richard Grant
Stealing Home (1988)
Hank Chandler
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Clyde Alden
Rachel River (1987)
The Little Sister (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
On Valentine's Day (1986)
Silverado (1985)
Parole (1982)
1st Cop
The Falls (1980)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Spotlight (2015)
Spotlight (2015)
Voice (Uncredited)

Cast (Special)

Story of a Marriage (1987)
Concealed Enemies (1984)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Sins Of The Father (2002)
The Confession (1999)
Jilting Joe (1997)
Queen (1993)

Life Events


Appeared in the Trinity Rep production "Brothers to Dragons"; filmed for broadcast on PBS


Acted in the award-winning PBS miniseries "Concealed Enemies"


Made feature film debut in the western "Silverado"


Co-starred as Bobby Pate in "On Valentine's Day"; adapted from a play by Horton Foote


Had supporting role in "The Witches of Eastwick"


Reprised role of Bobby Pate in "Courtship"; another film based on a Horton Foote play


Was featured in "Little Nikita"


Portrayed an attorney in "Blue Steel"


Co-starred in the CBS miniseries "Queen"


Was featured in the CBS special "The Boys Next Door"


Played the parole officer in Tim Blake Nelson's atmospheric "Eye of God"


Featured in "The Mod Squad" and "Snow Falling on Cedars"


Played Sally Field's husband in "Say It Isn't So"


Had recurring role as the family patriarch Nathaniel Fisher in the acclaimed HBO series "Six Feet Under"


Co-starred in the FX original movie "Sins of the Father"


Portrayed Freddy Bender in the Coen's brothers comedy "Intolerable Cruelty"


Appeared in the film "Cheaper by the Dozen"


Played the father of a fourteen year old boy (Emile Hirsch) trying to deal with the death of his mother in "The Mudge Boy"


Cast in David O Russell's "I Heart Huckabees" starring Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law and Naomi Watts


Cast in the update of the 1977 comedy, "Fun with Dick and Jane," where a married couple turn to robbery to pay the bills


Played Charlize Theron's father in "North Country" a fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States


Cast in the Peter Berg-directed "The Kingdom"


Joined an ensemble cast for the Coen's brothers' "Burn After Reading"


Played the lead role in the Thomas McCarthy-directed "The Visitor"


Played the distant father of Channing Tatum in the feature adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' novel, "Dear John"


Co-starred with Julia Roberts in "Eat Pray Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir


Acted opposite Johnny Depp in "The Rum Diary," the big screen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's novel


Co-starred in the horror thriller "The Cabin in the Woods"


Cast opposite writer and director Josh Radnor in romantic comedy "Liberal Arts"


Acted opposite Tom Cruise in action drama "Jack Reacher"


Co-starred with Brad Pitt in crime drama "Killing Them Softly"


Featured opposite director Robert Redford in thriller "The Company You Keep"


Co-starred opposite Adam Scott in comedy "A.C.O.D."


Had supporting role in thriller "White House Down"


Co-starred in the John Slattery-directed drama "God's Pocket"


Starred in sports drama "Four Minute Mile"


Co-starred in ensemble drama "Lullaby"


Co-starred as husband of title character in miniseries "Olive Kitteridge"