Tracy Letts

Last updated
Tracy Letts
Letts in 2022
Born (1965-07-04) July 4, 1965 (age 58)
  • Playwright
  • screenwriter
  • actor
Years active1988–present
(m. 2013)
Parent(s) Billie Letts
Dennis Letts
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Tony Award for Best Play
Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play

Tracy S. Letts (born July 4, 1965) is an American actor, playwright, and screenwriter. He started his career at the Steppenwolf Theatre before making his Broadway debut as a playwright for August: Osage County (2007), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. As an actor, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for the Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2013). [1]


As a playwright, Letts is known for having written for the Steppenwolf Theatre, Off-Broadway and Broadway theatre. His works include: Killer Joe , Bug , Man from Nebraska , August: Osage County , Superior Donuts , Linda Vista, and The Minutes . Letts adapted three of his plays into films, Bug and Killer Joe , both directed by William Friedkin, and August: Osage County , directed by John Wells. His 2009 play Superior Donuts was adapted into a television series of the same name. As a stage actor, Letts has performed in various classic plays with the Steppenwolf Theatre since 1988. He made his acting Broadway debut as George in the revival of Edward Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , which earned him a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He continued acting on the Broadway stage in The Realistic Joneses , All My Sons , and The Minutes.

In film and television, he is known for his portrayal of Andrew Lockhart in seasons 3 and 4 of Showtime's Homeland , and pyramid-scheme con-artist Nick on the HBO comedy Divorce . In 2017, Letts starred in three critically acclaimed films: Azazel Jacobs' The Lovers , Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird , and Steven Spielberg's The Post . The latter two films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Lady Bird earned Letts a nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. In 2019, he portrayed Henry Ford II in James Mangold's Ford v Ferrari and Mr. Dashwood in Gerwig's Little Women , the two also receiving Best Picture nominations.

Early life

Letts was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to author Billie Letts ( née  Gipson) and college professor and actor Dennis Letts. [2] [3] He has two brothers, Shawn, a musician, and Dana. Letts was raised in Durant, Oklahoma and graduated from Durant High School in the early 1980s. He moved to Dallas, where he waited tables and worked in telemarketing while beginning his acting career. He appeared in Jerry Flemmons' O Dammit!, which was part of a new playwrights' series sponsored by Southern Methodist University.

Letts moved to Chicago at the age of 20, working for the next 11 years at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Famous Door. He is still an active member of Steppenwolf. He was a founding member of Bang Bang Spontaneous Theatre, whose members included Greg Kotis, Michael Shannon, Paul Dillon, and Amy Pietz. [4] In 1991, Letts wrote the play Killer Joe . Two years later, the play premiered at the Next Lab Theater in Evanston, Illinois, followed by the 29th Street Rep in New York City. Since then, Killer Joe has been performed in a number of countries in 12 languages. [5]

His mother, Billie Letts, has said of his work, "I try to be upbeat and funny. Everybody in Tracy's stories gets naked or dead." [5] Letts's plays have depicted people struggling with moral and spiritual questions. He says he was inspired by the plays of Tennessee Williams and the novels of William Faulkner and Jim Thompson. Letts states that he considers sounds to be effective "storytelling tools" for theater. [6]



During the late 1980s through the late 2000s, Letts acted in many of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company's productions, starring in Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile (1994).

In 2012, Letts gained attention for his Broadway debut performance in the revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Booth Theatre. [7] He received positive reviews and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. [8]

In 2019, Letts appeared in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons with Annette Bening at Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre. The show officially opened on April 22, 2019 and closed on June 23, 2019. [9]

Letts has written over ten plays.[ citation needed ] His most famous, August: Osage County , premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago on June 28, 2007. It had its Broadway debut at the Imperial Theatre on December 4, 2007; the production transferred to Broadway's Music Box Theatre on April 29, 2008. The Broadway show closed on June 28, 2009, after 648 performances and 18 previews. The show went on to receive seven Tony Award nominations, winning six, including Best Play. [10] The play won Letts the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008. Letts has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer drama prize for his plays Man from Nebraska and The Minutes ; the Pulitzer committee described The Minutes as a "shocking drama set in a seemingly mundane city council meeting that acidly articulates a uniquely American toxicity that feels both historic and contemporary." [11] [12]


Early in his acting career, in the 1990s through the mid 2000s, Letts acted in TV shows including Prison Break , The District , Strong Medicine , Profiler , Judging Amy , The Drew Carey Show , Seinfeld , Early Edition , and Home Improvement .

In 2013–14, Letts joined the cast of Showtime's Homeland as US Senator Andrew Lockhart. He was nominated with the rest of the cast for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble.

In 2016, Letts joined HBO's marital comedy-drama Divorce . [13]

In 2018, Letts was cast in the second season of USA Network's anthology crime drama series The Sinner , opposite Bill Pullman and Carrie Coon. [14] He played Jack McKinney in HBO's 2022 series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty .


Letts has starred in Adam McKay's 2015 ensemble piece, The Big Short (film) , [15] 2016's Wiener-Dog , Christine , and Elvis & Nixon ; and James Schamus's film adaptation of the Philip Roth novel, Indignation , [16] [17] as well as the true-story crime thriller adaptation Imperium . [18]

Letts then appeared in the 2017 films The Lovers , The Post , [19] and Lady Bird . [20] [21]

In 2019, Letts portrayed Henry Ford II in James Mangold's sports drama film Ford v Ferrari , and played Mr. Dashwood in Little Women , a film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel of the same name. [22]

Letts has written screenplays for three feature films based on his plays: Bug (directed by William Friedkin), Killer Joe (also directed by Friedkin); and August: Osage County (directed by John Wells). He also wrote the screenplay for the 2021 Netflix feature film The Woman in the Window , starring Amy Adams, based on the eponymous psychological thriller by A.J. Finn.

Personal life

Letts and Carrie Coon at the premiere of August: Osage County, Toronto Film Festival 2013 Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon at the premiere of August- Osage County, Toronto Film Festival 2013 -a.jpg
Letts and Carrie Coon at the premiere of August: Osage County, Toronto Film Festival 2013

Letts was an alcoholic and drug addict in his 20s, until shortly after he wrote his first play. He married actress Carrie Coon in September 2013. [23] They have two children, born in 2018 [24] [25] and 2021. [26] [27] He has been sober since 1993. [28]

Work as an author


1993 Killer Joe
1996 Bug
2003 Man from Nebraska
2007 August: Osage County
2008 Superior Donuts
2009 Three Sisters Adaptation [29]
2015The Stretch [30]
2016 Mary Page Marlowe [31]
2017Linda Vista [32]
2017 The Minutes [33]


2006 Bug Adaptation of his play
2007Cop ShowShort film
2011 Killer Joe Adaptation of his play
2013 August: Osage County Adaptation of his play
2021 The Woman in the Window

Work as an actor


1988 The Glass Menagerie Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
1991–1995Bang Bang Spontaneous TheatreVarious charactersChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
1994 Picasso At The Lapin Agile FreddyChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
1999 Three Days of Rain WalkerChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2001 Glengarry Glen Ross John WilliamsonChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2002The DazzleChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2002Miracle on 34th StreetLawyerChicago Center for Performing Arts
2003Homebody/KabulChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2004 The Dresser NormanChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2005Last of the BoysChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2005 Orson's Shadow Kenneth TynanOff-Broadway, Barrow Street Theatre
2005The Pain and the ItchCashChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2006 The Pillowman TupolskiChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2006The Well-Appointed RoomStewartChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2007 Betrayal RobertChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2009 American Buffalo Walter "Teach" ColeChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2010 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? GeorgeChicago, Steppenwolf Theatre
2012 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? GeorgeBroadway, Booth Theatre
2014 The Realistic Joneses Bob JonesBroadway, Lyceum Theatre
2019 All My Sons Joe KellerBroadway, American Airlines Theatre
2020 The Minutes Mayor SuperbaBroadway, Cort Theatre
2022 The Minutes Mayor SuperbaBroadway, Studio 54 [34]


1988ParamedicsVan Owner
1992 Straight Talk Sean
1998Chicago CabSports Fan
U.S. Marshals Sheriff Poe
1999 Guinevere Zack
2007Cop ShowMichael CookeShort film
2015 The Big Short Lawrence Fields
2016 Wiener-Dog Danny
Christine Michael Nelson
Elvis & Nixon John Finlator
Indignation Hawes D. Caudwell
Imperium Dallas Wolf
2017 The Lovers Michael
Lady Bird Larry McPherson
The Post Fritz Beebe
2019 Ford v. Ferrari Henry Ford II
Little Women Mr. Dashwood
2020 French Exit Franklin "Small Frank" Price (voice)
2021 The Woman in the Window Dr. LandyUncredited
Ghostbusters: Afterlife JackUncredited
2022 Deep Water Don Wilson
2023 Eric Larue Bill Verne


1995 Home Improvement HenryEpisode: "Jill's Surprise Party"
1996–1997 Early Edition Jonathan / Marksman2 episodes
1997 Seinfeld CounterguyEpisode: "The Strike"
1998 The Drew Carey Show LomaxEpisode: "Drew and the Conspiracy"
1999 Judging Amy Mr. KleinmanEpisode: "Pilot"
2000 Profiler Mr. AdamsEpisode: "Train Man"
2001 Strong Medicine KenEpisode: "Wednesday Night Fever"
2001 The District Brad GilroyEpisode: "Melt Down"
2006 Prison Break Peter Tucci2 episodes
2013–2014 Homeland Senator/Director Andrew Lockhart17 episodes
2016–2019 Divorce Nick17 episodes
2017 Comrade Detective Vasile (voice)Episode: "No Exit"
2018 The Sinner Jack Novack7 episodes
2022 Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Jack McKinney

Awards and nominations

Theatre awards

2004 Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize for Drama Man from NebraskaNominated [35]
2008 Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize for Drama August: Osage County Won [36]
2008 Tony Award Best Play Won [37]
2008 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Play Won [38]
2013 Tony Award Leading Actor in a Play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Won [39]
2018 Pulitzer Prize Pulitzer Prize for Drama The Minutes Nominated [40]
2022 Tony Award Best Play The Minutes Nominated

Film and television awards

YearAwardCategoryNominated WorkResult
2013 Screen Actors Guild Award Ensemble in a Drama Series Homeland Nominated
2014 Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2014 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay August: Osage County Nominated
2014 Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
2014 Chicago Film Critics Association Best Adapted ScreenplayNominated
2014Phoenix Film Critics SocietyBest Adapted ScreenplayNominated
2014Seattle Film Critics AwardBest Adapted ScreenplayNominated
2018 Screen Actors Guild Award Cast in a Motion Picture Lady Bird Nominated
2022 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Screenplay The Woman in the Window Nominated

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