Bruce Dern

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Bruce Dern
Bruce Dern by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Dern in 2015
Bruce MacLeish Dern

Education New Trier High School [1]
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
The Actors Studio
Years active1960–present
Marie Dawn Pierce
(m. 1957;div. 1959)
(m. 1960;div. 1969)
Andrea Beckett
(m. 1969)
Children2, including Laura Dern
Relatives George Dern (grandfather)
Andrew MacLeish (great-grandfather)
Archibald MacLeish (granduncle)

Bruce MacLeish Dern is an American actor. He has received several accolades, including the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor [2] and the Silver Bear for Best Actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home (1978) and the Academy Award for Best Actor for Nebraska (2013). [3] He is also a BAFTA Award, two-time Genie Award, and three-time Golden Globe Award nominee.


A member of The Actors Studio, he rose to prominence during the New Hollywood era, through roles in films such as They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971), The Cowboys , Silent Running , and The King of Marvin Gardens (all 1972). Other notable films include The Great Gatsby (1974), Posse (1975), Family Plot (1976), Black Sunday (1977), The Driver (1978), Tattoo (1981), That Championship Season (1982), Monster (2003), The Hateful Eight (2015), The Artist's Wife (2019), and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). He played Frank Harlow in the HBO series Big Love (2006–2011).

Dern is the father of actress Laura Dern, with his ex-wife, actress Diane Ladd.

Early life

Dern was born in Chicago, the son of Jean (née MacLeish; 1908–1972) and John Dern (1903–1958), a utility chief and attorney. [4] [5] He grew up in Kenilworth, Illinois. [6] His paternal grandfather, George Dern, was a Utah governor and Secretary of War (he was serving in the latter position during the time of Bruce's birth). Dern's maternal grandfather was a Vice President of the Carson, Pirie and Scott stores, [7] [1] which were established by his own father, Scottish-born businessman Andrew MacLeish. Dern's maternal granduncle was poet Archibald MacLeish. His godfather was governor and two-time presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson II. [8] Dern attended New Trier High School and the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong avid runner, he was a track star in high school and sought to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 1956. [1]


Dern at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Bruce Dern Cannes 2013.jpg
Dern at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

Dern studied at The Actors Studio, alongside Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. He starred with Lyle Kessler in the Philadelphia premiere of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot . Dern starred with Paul Newman and Geraldine Page in the original Broadway run of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth .

Dern began working on films and television series in the 1960s. After his film debut Wild River , he played the sailor in a few flashbacks in Marnie and a murdered lover in Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte . He played a murderous rustler in Hang 'Em High , a gunfighter in Support Your Local Sheriff! , and an impoverished farmer in the film adaptation of Horace McCoy's novel They Shoot Horses, Don't They? .

In Mark Rydell's western film The Cowboys , he played a cattle thief who kills a rancher (John Wayne). Dern had a leading role in the ecological science-fiction film Silent Running and co-starred with Jack Nicholson in The King of Marvin Gardens . Dern played Tom Buchanan in the film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby (1974). In Kirk Douglas' Revisionist Western film Posse , Dern played a train-robber who uses his wiles to turn the tables on his captor, an ambitious, politically minded marshal. Dern starred in the beauty pageant satire film Smile , and in Alfred Hitchcock's final film Family Plot . Dern played a detective on the trail of a getaway driver (Ryan O'Neal) in the neo-noir film The Driver . In John Frankenheimer's thriller film Black Sunday , Dern played a vengeful Vietnam War veteran and Goodyear Blimp pilot who launches a massive terrorist attack at the Super Bowl.

Dern played another Vietnam veteran and the disturbed husband of a perplexed woman (Jane Fonda) in Hal Ashby's war film Coming Home , and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

In Bob Brooks's erotic thriller film Tattoo , Dern played an increasingly-deranged tattoo artist who imprisons a fashion model (Maud Adams). The film was dogged by controversy throughout its post-production and pre-release phase - the film's release was delayed by nearly a year - and for his lead performance, Dern earned a Worst Actor Razzie nomination. However, he bounced back by winning the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival for his performance in Jason Miller's That Championship Season (1982). [9]

Over the next few decades, Dern played a Vietnam veteran and neighborhood survivalist in Joe Dante's suburban satire The 'Burbs , a local crime boss in Michael Ritchie's Diggstown , a rival of Wild Bill Hickok in Walter Hill's Wild Bill , and George Spahn in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood . Dern's autobiography, Things I've Said, But Probably Shouldn't Have: An Unrepentant Memoir, was published in 2007.

In Alexander Payne's film Nebraska , Dern played a resident believing he has won a million dollars, and undertakes a road trip from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim the prize. He won the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. [10] [11]

Directors and craft

In the course of his long and prolific career, Dern collaborated with film directors including Walter Hill ( The Driver , Wild Bill and Last Man Standing ), Joe Dante (The 'Burbs, Small Soldiers and The Hole ), and Quentin Tarantino ( Django Unchained , The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). In an interview for The A.V. Club, Dern said, "I always say that I feel like I've worked for six geniuses in my career... And the six directors, not in any order, would be Mr. Kazan, Mr. Hitchcock, Douglas Trumbull, Alexander Payne, Quentin Tarantino, and Francis Coppola." [12] In an interview with Josh Olson and Joe Dante for the podcast series The Movies That Made Me, and while discussing his career, Dern cited the films of David Lean (specifically, Lawrence of Arabia , Great Expectations and The Bridge on the River Kwai ), as among the films that inspired him. [13] When asked if he has ever contemplated retirement, Dern has stated, "If you think I'm gonna retire so Jimmy fucking Caan can get another part from me, you're dead wrong. Because I'm gonna go till I'm 100. My goal is to do stuff with older characters that people never got the chance to do, because they never lived long enough... And because I don't have anything else I can do." [14]

Personal life

Dern was married to Marie Dawn Pierce from 1957 to 1959. [15] He married Diane Ladd in 1960. [16] Their first daughter, Diane Elizabeth Dern (born November 29, 1960), died at eighteen months from head injuries after falling into a swimming pool on May 18, 1962. [16] The couple's second daughter, Laura, is also an actress. [16] After his divorce from Ladd in 1969, Dern married Andrea Beckett. Dern, Ladd and Laura received adjoining stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 1, 2010.


Denotes works that have not yet been released


1960 Wild River Jack RoperUncredited
1962 The Crimebusters Joe Krajac
1964 Marnie Sailor
Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte John Mayhew
1966 The Wild Angels Joe "Loser" Kearns
1967 The War Wagon Hammond
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre John May
The Trip John
Waterhole No. 3 Deputy Sam Tippen
Will Penny Rafe Quint
1968 Psych-Out Steve Davis
Hang 'Em High Miller
1969 Support Your Local Sheriff! Joe Danby
Castle Keep Lt. Billy Byron Bix
Number One Richie Fowler
The Cycle Savages Keeg
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? James Bates
1970 Bloody Mama Kevin Dirkman
The Rebel Rousers J.J. Weston
1971 The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant Dr. Roger Girard
Drive, He Said Coach Bullion
1972 The Cowboys Asa Watts (Long Hair)
Silent Running Freeman Lowell
Thumb Tripping Smitty
The King of Marvin Gardens Jason Staebler
1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid DeputyUncredited
The Laughing Policeman Leo Larsen
1974 The Great Gatsby Tom Buchanan
1975 Posse Jack Strawhorn
Smile Big Bob Freelander
1976 Family Plot George Lumley
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Grayson Potchuck
The Twist William Brandels
1977 Black Sunday Michael Lander
1978 Coming Home Captain Bob Hyde
The Driver The Detective
1980 Middle Age Crazy Bobby Lee Burnett
1981 Tattoo Karl Kinsky
1982 That Championship Season George Sitkowski
Harry Tracy, Desperado Harry Tracy
1986 On the Edge Wes Holman
1987 The Big Town Mr. Edwards
World Gone Wild Ethan
1988 1969 Cliff Denny
1989 The 'Burbs Mark Rumsfield
1990 After Dark, My Sweet Garrett "Uncle Bud" Stoker
1992 Diggstown John Gillon
1995 Wild Bill Will Plummer
1996 Down Periscope Admiral Yancy Graham
Mulholland Falls The ChiefUncredited
Last Man Standing Sheriff Ed Galt
1998 Small Soldiers Link Static (Voice)
1999 The Haunting Mr. Dudley
If... Dog... Rabbit... McGurdy
2000 All the Pretty Horses The Judge
2001 The Glass House Alvin Begleiter
2003 Masked and Anonymous Editor
Milwaukee, Minnesota Sean McNally
Monster Thomas
2005 Madison Harry Volpi
Down in the Valley Charlie
2006 Believe in Me Ellis Brawley
Walker Payne Chester
The Astronaut Farmer Hal
The Hard Easy Gene
2007 The Cake Eaters Easy Kimbrough
2007 The Death and Life of Bobby Z Hippy NarratorUncredited
2008 Swamp Devil Howard Blame
The Golden Boys Captain Perez Ryder
2009 American Cowslip Cliff
The Hole 3D Creepy Carl
The Lightkeepers Bennie
2010TrimDale Banks
2011 Choose Dr. Ronald Pendleton
Inside Out Vic Small
Twixt Bobby LaGrange
2012 From Up on Poppy Hill Yoshio Onodera (voice)English dub
Hitting the CycleJames
Django Unchained Curtis Carrucan
2013 Coffin Baby Vance Henrickson
Northern Borders Austin Kittredge Sr.
Nebraska Woody Grant
Fighting for Freedom Christian Dobbe
2014 Cut Bank Georgie Wits
2015 The Hateful Eight General Sanford Smithers
2017 American Violence Richard Morton
Class Rank Oswald Flannigan
The Lears Davenport Lear
Hickok Doc Rivers O'Roark
Our Souls at Night Dorlan Becker
Chappaquiddick Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.
2018 Nostalgia Ronnie Ashemore
White Boy Rick Ray Wershe
Freaks Alan/Mr. Snowcone
Warning Shot Calvin
American Dresser King
Lez Bomb Grandpa
2019 The Mustang Myles
The Peanut Butter Falcon Carl
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood George Spahn
Remember Me Claude
Swing Low Mallinckroft
Inherit the Viper Clay Carter
QT8: The First Eight HimselfDocumentary [17]
The Artist's Wife [18] Richard Smythson
Badland [19] Reginald Cooke
2020 Emperor Levi Coffin
Death in Texas Reynolds
2021 Last Call Coach Finnegan
Buck Alamo Death
Overrun Arkadi Dubkova
The Gateway Marcus
Hands that BindHank
Christmas vs. the Walters Cliff Walters
Last Shoot Out Blair Callahan
2022 The Hater Frank
Hellblazers Bill Unger
Mid-Century Emil Larson
The Most Dangerous Game Whitney Tyler
2023 The Weapon Doris
Butch Cassidy and the Wild BunchMike Cassidy
Chocolate Lizards Scheermeyer
Butch vs. SundanceMike Cassidy
Hunting GamesHenry
TBD Reminisce Papa JoePost-production
The Devil's TrapTBAPost-production
Bloodline Killer TBAFilming [20]


1960 Route 66 AlbertEpisode: "The Man on the Monkey Board"
1961 Naked City Hollis / NickyUncredited
2 episodes
1961 Sea Hunt FBI Agent John FurilloEpisode: "Crime at Sea"
1961 Surfside 6 Johnny PageEpisode: "Daphne, Girl Detective"
1961 Thriller Johnny NortonEpisode: "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk"
1961 Ben Casey Billy HarrisEpisode: "A Dark Night for Billy Harris"
1961 The Detectives Jud TreadwellEpisode: "Act of God"
1961–1962 Cain's Hundred Eddie Light / Joe Krajac2 episodes
1962–1963 Stoney Burke E.J. Stocker17 episodes
1962–1963 The Dick Powell Show Deering2 episodes
1963 Kraft Suspense Theatre MaynardEpisode: "The Hunt"
1963 The Outer Limits Ben GarthEpisode: "The Zanti Misfits"
1963–1965 Wagon Train Wilkins / Jud Fisher / Seth Bancroft3 episodes
1963–1966 The Fugitive Deputy Martin / Charley / Hutch / Hank / Cody5 episodes
1964–1965 The Virginian Bert Kramer / Lee Darrow / Pell3 episodes
1964 77 Sunset Strip Ralph WheelerEpisode: "Lovers' Lane"
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth VernonEpisode: "The Last of the Strongmen"
1964 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Jesse / Roy Bullock2 episodes
1964–1965 Twelve O'Clock High TSgt. Frank Jones / Lieutenant Michaels / Lieutenant Danton4 episodes
1965 Rawhide Ed RankinEpisode: "Walk into Terror"
1965 Laredo Joe DurkeeEpisode: "Rendezvous at Arillo"
1965 A Man Called Shenandoah Bobby BallantineEpisode: "The Verdict"
1965, 1968 The F.B.I. Virgil Roy Phipps / PFC Byron Landy2 episodes
Gunsmoke Guerin / Lou Stone / Judd Print / Doyle Phleger4 episodes
1966 Branded LesEpisode: "The Wolfers"
1966 The Loner MerrickEpisode: "To Hang a Dead Man"
1966 Disneyland TurkEpisode: "Gallegher Goes West: Crusading Reporter"
1966–1967 Run for Your Life Alex Ryder3 episodes
1966–1968 The Big Valley Jack Follet / Harry Dixon / Clovis / Gabe Skeels / John Weaver5 episodes
1968–1969 Lancer Tom Nevill / Lucas Thatcher2 episodes
1968, 1970 Bonanza Bayliss / Cully Maco2 episodes
1969 Then Came Bronson Bucky O'NeillEpisode: "Amid Splinters of the Thunderbolt"
1970 Land of the Giants ThorgEpisode: "Wild Journey"
1970 The High Chaparral WadeEpisode: "Only the Bad Come to Sonora"
1970 The Immortal Luther SeacombeEpisode: "To the Gods Alone"
1985 Space Stanley Mott5 episodes
1985 Toughlove Rob ChartersTelevision film
1987 Roses Are for the Rich Douglas OsborneTelevision film
1987 Uncle Tom's Cabin Augustine St. ClaireTelevision film
1989 Trenchcoat in Paradise John HollanderTelevision film
1990 The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson Scout Ed HigginsTelevision film
1991 Into the Badlands T.L. BarstonTelevision film
1991Carolina SkeletonsJunior StokerTelevision film
1993It's Nothing PersonalBilly ArcherTelevision film
1994Dead Man's RevengePayton McCayTelevision film
1994 Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight George PutnamTelevision film
1995 A Mother's Prayer John WalkerTelevision film
1995 Mrs. Munck Patrick LearyTelevision film
1999Hard Time: The PremonitionWinstonTelevision film
2003 King of the Hill Randy Strickland (voice)Episode: "Boxing Luanne"
2003 Hard Ground Nate HutchinsonTelevision film
2006–2011 Big Love Frank Harlow29 episodes
2007 CSI: NY VetEpisode: "Boo"
2013Pete's ChristmasGrandpaTelevision film
2016The CowboyHimselfTelevision series documentary, 2 episodes
2019 Black Monday Rod "The Jammer" Jaminski2 episodes
2019 Mr. Mercedes John Rothstein8 episodes
2021 Goliath Frank Zax8 episodes

Video games

2020 Shadow Stalkers The Director [21]
2020MegaRace: DeathMatchRabies [22]

Awards and nominations

1972Drive, He Said National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
1973The Cowboys Bronze Wrangler for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
1975The Great GatsbyNominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1979Coming HomeNominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1983That Championship Season Silver Bear for Best Actor
2009Swamp Devil Philadelphia Film Festival Jury Prize
2014Nebraska AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award
Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – American Comedy Award for Comedy Actor – Film
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Gold Derby Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Guardian Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated – London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Nominated – San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
2019FreaksBest Actor at Horrorant International Film Festival [23]

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