Tim Blake Nelson

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Tim Blake Nelson
Tim Blake Nelson 2016.jpg
Nelson at the 2016 Fantastic Fest
Timothy Blake Nelson

(1964-05-11) May 11, 1964 (age 59)
Education Brown University (BA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Occupation(s)Actor, director, writer
Years active1989–present
Lisa Benavides
(m. 1994)

Timothy Blake Nelson (born May 11, 1964) is an American actor and playwright.


Described as a "modern character actor", [1] his roles include Delmar O'Donnell in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Gideon in Minority Report (2002), Dr. Pendanski in Holes (2003), Danny Dalton Jr. in Syriana (2005), Samuel Sterns in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Richard Schell in Lincoln (2012), the title character in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), and Henry McCarty in Old Henry (2021). He portrayed Wade Tillman / Looking Glass in the HBO limited series Watchmen (2019), for which he received a Critics' Choice Television Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2020.

Nelson's directorial credits include Eye of God (1997), which was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and an Independent Spirit Award; O (2001), a modern-day adaptation of Othello; and the Holocaust drama The Grey Zone (2001). Eye of God and The Grey Zone were both adapted from Nelson's own plays. Nelson has also co-directed music videos for billy woods and Kenny Segal including Babylon by Bus and Soft Landing. He also co-directed the music video for Armand Hammer'sTrauma Mic feat. Pink Siifu.

Nelson recently published his debut novel, City of Blows (2023), an epic group portrait of four men grappling for control of a script in a radically changing Hollywood.

Early life

Nelson was born to a Jewish family [2] [3] in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Ruth Nelson ( née Kaiser), [4] [5] a noted Tulsa social activist and philanthropist, and Don Nelson, a geologist and wildcatter. [6] [7] His maternal uncle is businessman George Kaiser. [8]

His maternal grandparents Herman Geo. Kaiser and Kate Kaiser, daughter of businessman Max Samuel, were from Germany, and escaped the Nazis shortly before World War II. They moved to Britain in 1938, where Nelson's mother was born, [9] and immigrated to the United States in 1941. [10] [11] [12] His father's family were Russian-Jewish emigrants. [13]

Nelson attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain Resort Arts and Conference Center in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. [14]

Nelson is a 1982 graduate of Holland Hall School in Tulsa, [4] and a graduate of Brown University, where he was a classics major as well as senior orator for his class of 1986. At Brown, he studied under philosopher Martha Nussbaum. [15] He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He won the Workman/Driskoll award for excellence in classical studies. [16] He graduated from Juilliard in 1990, a member of Group 19. [17]


Nelson with Ahna O'Reilly in 2012 Ahna O'Relly and Tim Blake Nelson.jpg
Nelson with Ahna O'Reilly in 2012

Nelson's debut play, Eye of God, was produced at Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1992. The Grey Zone premiered at MCC Theater in New York in 1996, where his 1998 work Anadarko was produced. He was a co-star of the sketch comedy show The Unnaturals, which ran on HA! (later CTV, and would turn into Comedy Central) between 1989 and 1991, alongside Paul Zaloom, John Mariano and Siobhan Fallon Hogan. [18]

Nelson has appeared as an actor in film, TV and theatre. He had a featured role as Delmar in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? According to directors Joel and Ethan Coen, he was the only one in the cast or crew who had read Homer's Odyssey , a story upon which the film is loosely based. [19] He sang "In the Jailhouse Now" on the film's soundtrack (which received a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2002). He has had a number of supporting performances in feature films such as Holes , Minority Report , Syriana and Lincoln . He also appeared in Marvel Comics adaptations The Incredible Hulk and Fantastic Four . He portrayed Ralph Myers in the drama/legal drama Just Mercy (2019).

Nelson narrated the 2001 audiobook At the Altar of Speed: The Fast Life and Tragic Death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. He appeared on stage extensively off-Broadway in New York at theatres including Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Class Company, Soho Repertory Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, and Central Park's Open Air Theater in the Shakespeare plays Richard III , Troilus and Cressida , and A Midsummer Night's Dream .

He has directed film versions of his plays The Grey Zone and Eye of God (for which he received an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for the Someone to Watch Award), and directed two of his original screenplays: Kansas (1998) and Leaves of Grass (2009). He directed the film O, based on Othello and set in a modern-day high school.

For Eye of God, he received the Tokyo Bronze Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival (1997) and the American Independent Award at the Seattle International Film Festival (1997); for O, the Best Director Award at the Seattle International Film Festival (2001); and for The Grey Zone, the National Board of Review's Freedom of Expression Award (2002). He is on the boards of directors of The Actors Center in New York City and the Soho Rep Theatre. [20]

Nelson guest-starred on the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 10 episode "Working Stiffs". In the episode "My Brother's Bomber" (aired September 29, 2015) of the PBS investigative series Frontline , he talked about the loss of his friend David Dornstein in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. [21]

In 2018, Nelson played the title character in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs , a western anthology film by Joel and Ethan Coen, [22] after receiving the original script 16 years prior, in 2002. The film was released on Netflix on November 16, after a limited theatrical run, [23] and received positive reviews, [24] [25] with many highlighting Nelson's performance and his overall segment. In January 2023, he joined the cast of Dune: Part Two . [26]


Nelson's play Socrates opened at The Public Theater in 2019, starring Michael Stuhlbarg. [27] It was favorably received by numerous publications, including the New York Times. [28]

Personal life

Nelson resides in New York City with his wife, Lisa Benavides, and their three sons. [4] On May 8, 2009, he was inducted as an honorary member of the University of Tulsa's Beta of Oklahoma chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa national collegiate honor society. [29]



1992 This Is My Life Dennis
1993Motel Blue 19Adult Luther (voice)Uncredited
1994 Amateur Young Detective
1995 Heavyweights Roger Johnson
1996 Joe's Apartment Cockroach (voice)
1997 Eye of God Director and writer
Donnie Brasco FBI Technician
Prix FixeBusboyShort film
1998 The Thin Red Line Pvt. Lysander Tills
KanasShort film; director and writer
2000 Hamlet Flight captain
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Delmar O'Donnell
2001 O Director
The Grey Zone Director, writer, producer and editor
2002 The Good Girl Bubba
Cherish Daly
Minority Report Gideon
2003 A Foreign Affair Jake AdamsAlso executive producer
Holes Dr. Kiowa "Mom" Pendanski
Wonderland Billy Deverell
2004 Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Dr. Jonathan Jacobo
The Last Shot Marshal Paris
Bereft Dennis
Meet the Fockers Officer Vern LeFlore
2005 The Amateurs Barney Macklehatton
My Suicidal Sweetheart Various
The Big White Gary
Syriana Danny Dalton
2006 Come Early Morning Uncle Tim
The Darwin Awards Perp
Hoot Curly
Fido Mr. Theopolis
2007 The Astronaut Farmer Kevin Munchak
2008 The Incredible Hulk Samuel Sterns
American Violet David Cohen
2009 Saint John of Las Vegas Militant Ned
Leaves of Grass BolgerAlso director, writer and producer
2011 Flypaper Peanut Butter
Yelling to the Sky Coleman
Detachment Mr. Wiatt
The Big Year Fuchs
2012 Big Miracle Pat Lafayette
Lincoln Richard Schell
2013 Blue Caprice Ray
As I Lay Dying Anse
Child of God Sheriff Fate
Snake and Mongoose Mike McAllister
2014 The Homesman Freighter
The Sound and the Fury Father
Kill the Messenger Alan Fenster
Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power [30] Admiral Hyman Rickover Documentary
2015 Anesthesia Adam ZarrowAlso director, writer and producer
Fantastic Four Dr. Harvey Allen
2016 The Confirmation Vaughn
Colossal Garth
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Wayne Pfister
2017 Deidra & Laney Rob a Train Truman
The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Johan Tidemand
The Institute Dr. Lemelle
2018 Monster Leroy Sawicki
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Buster ScruggsSegment: "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"
2019 The Report Raymond Nathan
The Hustle PortnoyUncredited
Angel Has Fallen Vice President Martin Kirby
Just Mercy Ralph Myers
Zeroville Professor Kohn
The True Don Quixote Don Quixote
The Jesus Rolls Doctor
2021 Naked Singularity Angus
Old Henry HenryAlso executive producer
Ghosts of the Ozarks Torb
National Champions Rodger Cummings
Nightmare Alley Carny Boss
2022 Pinocchio The Black Rabbits (voice)
2023 Ghosted Borislov
2024 Dune: Part Two TBAPost-production
2025 Captain America: Brave New World Samuel Sterns / LeaderPost-production
TBA The Long Home HovingtonPost-production
Greedy People TBAPost-production
The Bricklayer TBAFilming [31]


1989–1991The UnnaturalsRecurring characters
1995 House of Buggin' KidnapperEpisode: "The Paco Vasquez Story"
1996 Dead Man's Walk Johnny Carthage3 episodes
2005 Stella Mountain ManEpisode: "Camping"
Warm Springs Tom LoylessTelevision film
2006Haskett's ChancePilot; director
2009 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Paulie KrillEpisode: "Working Stiffs"
2011 CHAOS Casey Malick13 episodes
Modern Family HankEpisode: "Dude Ranch"
2012–2015 Black Dynamite Chief McGillihorn (voice)4 episodes
2014 Klondike Meeker6 episodes
2015, 2019 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Randy4 episodes
2015 Z: The Beginning of Everything Episode: "Pilot"; director
For JusticeOchs RaineyPilot
2017 Wormwood Sidney Gottlieb 4 episodes
2018 Dallas & Robo The Woodsman (voice)8 episodes
2019 Watchmen Wade Tillman / Looking Glass6 episodes
2020 Big City Greens Grampa Ernest Green (voice)Episode: "Garage Tales"
2022 Lost Ollie Zozo (voice)4 episodes
Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities Nick AppletonEpisode: "Lot 36"
George & Tammy Roy Acuff Episode: "The Race Is On"
2023 Poker Face Keith OwensEpisode: "The Future of the Sport"

Video games

2008 The Incredible Hulk Samuel Sterns (voice)

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