James Woods

James Woods

Oscar nominee for 'Salvador' (1986)

Background:

“Achieving success as an actor has not been easy for me. My biggest, probably
most irrational complaint has been that I've had to work harder for what I’ve
gotten. I’ve seen other people with nepotism or wealth or cheesy good looks on
their side who've had it easy, whereas I felt that I had to ‘overprove’ myself.
No one ever went out of their way and said, ‘Let’s make Jimmy Woods a star.’
With many frustrations and disappointments early in my career, I went into a
deep depression. One time, I just sat in a chair for eighteen days. I worked my
way out of that depressed state, but it took three years of therapy.” James
Woods

One of the American entertainment world’s most diverse and explosive actors, as
well as most fascinating stars, James Woods has achieved the highest respect
from people who know acting best. Since his entrance into the business in the
late 1960s, the lean, intense actor, whose mind-numbing eyes, blemished face and
curled lips added an aura of threat to many of his early characterizations, has
demonstrated his powerful and nuanced performances in over 70 foremost motion
pictures, television films and mini-series. He has been placed high on the list
of Hollywood’s award-honored performers. Initially gaining fame as a stage actor
with an Obie-winning performance in Saved (1970/71), Woods attracted widespread
attention for playing a hot-blooded cop-killer in Harold Becker’s The Onion
Field (1979), where he earned a Golden Globe nomination. His role as
manipulative journalist Richard Boyle in the Oliver Stone-helmed Salvador (1986)
garnered the character actor even more recognition and appreciation as he picked
up an Oscar nomination and won an Independent Spirit Award. Ten years after the
Academy Award-nominated performance, Woods cemented his position as a triumphant
movie star with two high-profile portrayals. He portrayed the murderer Byron de
la Beckwith in Rob Reiner’s deep drama Ghosts of Mississippi (1996, earned an
Oscar and Golden Globe nomination) and jailed killer Carl Panzram in the little
seen Killer: A Journal of Murder (1996, nabbed a Golden Satellite Award and a
Sitges International Festival of Fantasy and Horror Film Award). On television,
Woods is perhaps best known for his roles as James Garner’s schizophrenic
brother in the CBS movie Promise (1986), in which he nabbed an Emmy award, a
Golden Globe award and a Golden Apple award, and as the founder of Alcoholics
Anonymous in ABC’s My Name Is Bill W (1989), where he netted a second Emmy and
earned a Golden Globe nomination. Woods was more-recently awarded a 2001 Golden
Satellite award for his bravura starring turn as Dennis Barrie in the
made-for-TV movie Dirty Pictures (2000). Other memorable portrayals were in the
miniseries “Holocaust” (1978), In Love and War (1987, received a Golden Globe
nomination), the HBO films Citizen Cohn (1992, earned an Emmy and Golden Globe
nomination) and Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1995, again received an Emmy and
Golden Globe nomination) and The Summer of Ben Tyler (1996, earned a Golden
Globe nomination).

Recently appearing in an episode of the long-running medical drama “ER” and
costarring with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the thriller film End Game, Woods will play
the starring role of an attorney-turned- prosecutor in CBS’s drama Shark (2006).
Additionally, he is also scheduled to appear in the Ash Brannon and Chris
Buck-directed animated feature Surf's Up, which is slated for a 2007 release.


Off screen, the member of MENSA received his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on
October 15, 1998. Woods is an avid golfer and shows a great interest in
photography. He is also an excellent chef who enjoys his off-time practicing his
skills in his kitchen. As for politics, he is known as a vocal supporter of U.S.
President George W. Bush and former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani. On a more
private note, the ambidextrous actor has been married twice. He was married to
Kathryn Morrison-Pahoa from 1980-83 and later had a one-year marriage with Sarah
Owen. His romantic life has also been linked to Heather Graham (met while on the
set of the 1992 Diggstown), Sean Young (had brief romance during and after
filming the 1998 The Boost), Nicollette Sheridan (together from 1995-96), Missy
Crider (met in 1991; dated in 1996; engaged in April 1997; had an on and off
relationship; no longer together), Hilary Rowland, and Julie Tesh (ex-wife of
“Entertainment Tonight” host John Tesh).


Superior Student

Childhood and Family:

“My parents loved each other. I was raised in a house of total love and respect.
My dad worked very hard and my mother was incredibly devoted to him. I can
unequivocally, without any peradventure of doubt, tell you that I was raised
with the kind of love that we only dream of. My mother and my father loved me
and my brother like we love the air we breathe--out of necessity. It was a
necessity for them to love us in some deep inner genetic calling in their hearts
and minds and souls. I have that as a standard.” James Woods

On April 18, 1947, James Howard Woods was born in Vernal, Utah, to parents Gail
Peyton Woods (died in 1960 following routine surgery) and Martha Dixon, who ran
a preschool after the death of James’ father. As a son of a U.S. Army
intelligence officer father, young James, who was reared in his Irish American
mother’s Catholic religion, was forced to move quite often during his childhood
until his family settled down in Warwick, Rhode Island, where he attended
Pilgrim High School. An intelligent student with an I.Q. of 180, James was
allowed to attend linear algebra classes at UCLA and scored a perfect 800 on the
verbal portion of the SAT and a 779 on the math section. Upon high school
graduation in 1965, an aspirant surgeon, James enrolled as a Political major at
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but left
his studies just before his graduation in 1969 to pursue an acting career. James
has a younger brother, actor/video store owner Michael Woods, who is ten years
his junior.

James Woods has been married twice. He tied the knot with first wife Kathryn
Morrison-Pahoa, a costume designer who later made costumes for the 1986 film
Salvador, in 1980, but they divorced three years later, in 1983. James married
again on June 2, 1989, this time with horse trainer Sarah Owen (born in 1963).
They legally became estranged on November 30, 1989, and filed for divorce in
1990. A year after the separation, on the TV show “Hard Copy,” ex-wife Sarah
publicly stated she was threatened by James with a loaded shotgun put on her
head and he also beat her, but James denied the allegations.


Promise

Career:

A scholarship student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), James
Woods dropped out of his political studies just before his graduation to begin
his journey in the showbiz industry. His first attempt to break into the
business was on stage by performing in a number of plays before making his way
to New York. In 1970, a year after leaving school, Woods landed his first
Broadway role in a production of “Borstal Boy,” and his TV movie debut arrived
the next year with All the Way Home, which aired as part of the NBC Hallmark
Hall of Fame. His first taste in front of the film camera came earlier, in 1969,
with Paul Williams’ comedy/drama Out of It, where he portrayed a policeman.
However, it was Woods’ brilliant stage performance in “Saved” (1970/71) that won
the actor his first attention as well as an Obie award.

Following his initial success, Woods became a regular both on film and
television. He took on small roles in movies like Elia Kazan’s The Visitors
(1972), Hickey & Boggs (1972), director Sydney Pollack’s The Way We Were (1973,
playing Barbra Streisand’s pal), The Gambler (1974), Distance (1975), Arthur
Penn’s Night Moves (1975, opposite Gene Hackman and Melanie Griffith), Alex &
the Gypsy (1976) and the ensemble comedy-drama The Choirboys (1977). He also
appeared in TV films, including A Great American Tragedy (1972), Foster and
Laurie (1975), F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood (1976), The Disappearance of
Aimee (1976), Raid on Entebbe (1977) and The Gift of Love (1978). In 1978, Woods
earned his first TV notice with his miniseries debut in Marvin J. Chomsky’s
“Holocaust,” playing the small role of Karl Weiss, a solemn German-Jewish artist
married to Meryl Streep. The victory was followed by another one the next year
when movie director Harold Becker tapped him to costar with John Savage in the
crime drama The Onion Field. Delivering a thrilling portrayal of unapologetic
cop killer Gregory Powell, Woods was so powerful that he was nominated for a
Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama Golden Globe Award in 1980.

Woods’ ascending star was further established during the 1980s. After a series
of film projects, most notably a starring role in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome
(1983), he played the evil Jake Wise in the Taylor Hackford-helmed thriller
Against All Odds (1984, costarring with Jeff Bridges and Rachel Ward) and the
second lead in Robert De Niro’s starring vehicle Once Upon a Time in America
(1984). He also was seen in the comedy Joshua Then and Now (1985). Woods gained
widespread appreciation in 1986 with his Oscar-nominated starring turn as
conniving journalist Richard Boyle in Oliver Stone’s Salvador. For his
incredibly forceful performance, he was garnered an Independent Spirit for Best
Actor. Still in 1986, Woods received additional praise for his acting alongside
James Garner in the CBS movie Promise (1986). Starring as Garner’s younger
schizophrenic brother, Woods earned several awards, including a 1987 Emmy for
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special, a 1987 Golden Globe for Best
Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries and a 1986 Golden Apple for Best Actor.

The actor followed the victories with a Golden Globe-nominating role as James B.
‘Jim’ Stockdale in the made-for-TV In Love and War (1987). He was then seen in
Best Seller (1987), Cop (1988, also marked his first venture as a film
producer), Immediate Family (1989) and True Believer (1989), in which he
portrayed real-life attorney Eddie Dodd. Also in 1989, Woods once again drew
accolades with his Emmy-winning portrayal of Bill Wilson, the longtime alcoholic
who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, in the ABC “Hallmark Hall of Fame”
presentation My Name Is Bill W. The role also brought him a nomination at the
Golden Globes.

The intelligent performer added more than 30 projects to his acting resume
during the 1990s. He starred in Straight Talk (1992) with Dolly Parton,
Diggstown (1992) opposite Heather Graham, the wide screen version of Sam
Shepard’s play Curse of the Starving Class (1994) with Kathy Bates, and Martin
Scorsese’s Casino (1995), alongside Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone. He also
appeared in Oliver Stone’s renowned Nixon (1995, starred Anthony Hopkins). Woods
also enjoyed TV success for his portrayals of Roy Cohn in the HBO biopic Citizen
Cohn (1992, earned an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination) and Danny Davis in the
acclaimed HBO movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1995, received an Emmy and
Golden Globe nomination).

The second half of the 1990s saw Woods gain even more praise for his film work.
His first big break in the decade arrived in 1996 when directed Tim Metcalfe
cast him in the lead role of a jailed killer, Carl Panzram, in the little seen
Killer: A Journal of Murder. Costarring with Robert Sean Leonard and Ellen
Greene, Woods proved he was excellent by taking home a Golden Satellite for Best
Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama and the 1996 Best Actor
Sitges International Festival of Fantasy and Horror Film Award. The same year,
he delivered his next breakthrough with his scene-stealing role of Byron de la
Beckwith, the killer of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evans, in the deep drama
Ghosts of Mississippi. Under the direction of Rob Reiner, he gave one of his
finest performances, which led to him being nominated for Best Supporting Actor
at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. He also offered fine acting in Another
Day in Paradise (1998, rejoined Melanie Griffith), John Carpenter’s Vampires
(1998), the military thriller The General’s Daughter (1999), the football-themed
Any Given Sunday (1999, directed by Oliver Stone) and Sofia Coppola’s feature
directorial debut The Virgin Suicides (1999, also starred Kathleen Turner,
Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett).

While an active film actor, Woods proved he was still a powerful TV player when
he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a
Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV for his starring turn as Temple
Rayburn in the made-for-TV movie The Summer of Ben Tyler (1996). As for voice
work, Woods provided the voice of the Lord of the Underworld Hades in the Disney
animated Hercules (1997) and the subsequent ABC spin-off series of the same
title in 1998. His bright contribution in the latter handed Woods a 2000 Daytime
Emmy for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.

Entering the new millennium, Woods scored another success on the small screen
when he starred as Dennis Barrie, the director of the Cincinnati Contemporary
Arts Center, in the Showtime Dirty Pictures (2000), where he nabbed a 2001
Golden Satellite for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion
Picture Made for Television. A frequent voice over actor, Woods spent much of
his time in the early decade lending his voice for such projects as the series
“House of Mouse” (2001), “Clerks: The Cartoon” (ABC, 2000), and the films
Recess: School’s Out (2001), the sci-fi adventure Final Fantasy: The Spirits
Within (2001) and Stuart Little 2 (2002), as well as Legend of the Lost Tribe
(2002). He returned to film acting with roles in Scary Movie 2 (2001, replaced
the late Marlon Brando as Father McFeely), Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), Race
to Space (2001) and John Q (2002, starred Denzel Washington).

In 2003, Woods won the titular role of the Republican bulldog and ex-New York
City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, in a television feature by director Robert
Dornhelm titled Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story. For his fine acting in the film,
he earned his next Emmy nomination. Next up for Woods, he offered an impressive
portrayal as a Parkinson’s sufferer in the little-seen movie This Girl’s Life
(2003), took part in the animated movie Ark (2004), made a memorable cameo role
as Tommy Athens in the Get Shorty installment Be Cool (2005) and was perfectly
cast as an anti-Semitic ne'er-do-well in Pretty Persuasion (2005), a
Sundance-screen film.

Recently, Woods joined the long-running medical drama “ER” in the guest starring
role of a patient who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He also shared the
screen with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the thriller film End Game (2006). The actor
will soon star as an L.A. celebrity lawyer who decides to become a prosecutor in
the CBS drama Shark (2006). The television drama is directed by Spike Lee and
executive produced by Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Ian Biederman, who also
wrote the pilot. He is also set to team up with director Ash Brannon and Chris
Buck for the upcoming animated movie Surf's Up (2007).


Awards:

Cinequest San Jose Film Festival: Maverick Tribute Award, 2003
San Diego Film Festival: Achievement in Acting, 2002
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a
Motion Picture Made for Television, Dirty Pictures, 2001
Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, Hercules,
2000
Golden Satellite: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -
Drama, Killer: A Journal of Murder, 1997
Sitges International Festival of Fantasy and Horror Film: Best Actor,
Killer: A Journal of Murder, 1996
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special, My Name is Bill
W, 1989
Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special, Promise;
episode of the Hallmark Hall of Fame, 1987
Golden Globe: Best Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries, Promise, 1987
Golden Apple: Best Actor, Promise, 1986
Independent Spirit: Best Actor, Salvador, 1986
Obie: Distinguished Performance, Saved, 1970/71
We know exactly what our plant is going to cost.More James Woods quotes [05/18/2006 12:05:00]
It should have been done. It's our pure oversight. It should have been told to them as soon as we knew.More James Woods quotes [05/18/2006 12:05:00]
So you can say whatever you want and quote me however you want about politics and make the next payday, and that's fine because I'm making that deal with you, but just mention the movie along the way, OK?More James Woods quotes [05/18/2006 12:05:00]
Aficionado my ass...I just love to smoke cigarsMore James Woods quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
There was nothing about it that was as I expected, nothing was predictable, ... Every time I thought they were going one way, they went another.More James Woods quotes [05/18/2006 12:05:00]

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