Austin Nichols

Austin Nichols (born April 24, 1980) is an American actor and director, known for his role as Julian Baker in The CW drama series One Tree Hill. He is also known for his roles in the films The Day After Tomorrow and Wimbledon. He starred as John Monad in the HBO drama series John from Cincinnati, and portrayed Spencer Monroe in the AMC horror drama series The Walking Dead.

Austin Nichols
Austin Nichols at the 2012 Comic-Con.jpg
Nichols at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2012
Born (1980-04-24) April 24, 1980 (age 41)
  • Actor
  • director
Years active1999–present

Early lifeEdit

Nichols was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moved to Austin, Texas before his first birthday.[1] He was named after the Austin Nichols distilling company, producers of Wild Turkey bourbon.[2] His father, David Nichols, is a radiologist, and his mother, Kay (née Vermeulen), was a professional trick water skier.[3] Kay was a national champion ten times and an international champion once.[when?][4] He has one older sister, Ashley.[4]

Nichols was raised near Lake Austin and attended Casis Elementary School.[1] Nichols began competitive water skiing from the age of two.[5] He represented the United States junior water ski team in the Pan-American Championships in 1997, and was also on the United States junior Olympic water skiing team.[when?][6] At age thirteen, he was ranked third in the world.[7] Nichols had intended to become a professional water skier until he injured his shoulder in Florida, and was forced to give up the sport.[2] While at McCallum High School in Austin,[1] he played basketball but was "absolutely awful".[8] Nichols' interest in acting was sparked when he was fifteen and began to take acting lessons.[9] He moved to Los Angeles after high school.[2]

Acting careerEdit


His acting career began when he gate-crashed a party at the Sundance Film Festival and was signed by a manager.[clarification needed][10] Nichols initially wished to attend the University of Texas, but moved to Los Angeles after his signing and enrolled at the University of Southern California, graduating in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.[8] Although Nichols had guest appearances in Sliders, Odd Man Out, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Family Law, Watching Ellie, and Wolf Lake before his graduation, his big break came in 2002 when he appeared as Brenda Chenowith's lover in two episodes of Six Feet Under.[10] He had previously appeared in two films, Durango Kids in 1999 and Holiday in the Sun in 2001.

In his first critically successful film role, Nichols starred as a stereotypical "frat boy" in The Utopian Society, a 2003 independent film directed by John P. Aguirre, which won several awards and some critical acclaim.[11] One critic wrote that Nichols "transforms himself from a cardboard jock and frat boy caricature to a likeable vulnerable human being with surprising sensibilities."[12] Aguirre commended Nichols as a "stellar talent" able to play his character "with total abandon to self ego."[citation needed]

Box office and critical successEdit

In 2004, Nichols was cast as J.D., an intelligent rich kid and romantic rival to Jake Gyllenhaal's main character in the environmental blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow. The film received negative reviews but was a box office success.[13][14] Also in 2004, he appeared in Wimbledon, opposite Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. The film was well received by critics, though it was only a mild success at the U.S. box office.[15][16] Nichols' acting as Jake Hammond, an arrogant tennis pro, was described as "effectively unlikeable".[17] For the role, Nichols had to learn tennis from scratch; he was trained to look professional by Pat Cash, who was taken aback by Nichols' skill. Cash observed, "It's absolutely as good as anybody's on the circuit. I swear to God. He hits it like a bullet. He's our star pupil."[18] By the end of their training, Nichols and Bettany were able to have rallies and play points, although some of their more intricate exchanges were computer generated.[19]

After this success, Nichols then had a minor role in an obscure and panned 2005 film, Thanks to Gravity.[20] Nichols followed this with short guest spots on episodes of Pasadena and Surface, before being cast in a successful 2006 film, Glory Road.[citation needed] Glory Road, directed by James Gartner and starring Josh Lucas, is a film based on the true story of the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, in which Coach Don Haskins led a team with an all-black starting lineup, a first in NCAA history. Nichols played one of the few white players on the team; he trained heavily for the role and had to master basketball as it was played in the 1960s, saying "I'd never been so sore in my life."[6] The film made $42.9 million at the box office and received mixed reviews.[21]

The House of Usher and beyondEdit

Nichols' next film was the 2006 thriller The House of Usher, directed by Hayley Cloake, and based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe. He played the disturbed Roderick Usher, who was described by Nichols as a "twisted, terminally ill, fucked-up guy".[2] The House of Usher was released in September 2007. Nichols also portrayed Neal Cassady, with Will Estes as Jack Kerouac, in the short film Luz del mundo.[citation needed]

In April 2006, Nichols guest starred in Deadwood, an HBO Western series. Shortly afterward, Nichols signed a holding deal with HBO.[22] In August of that year, Nichols was cast as the lead in a new series, John From Cincinnati, a surfing drama created by David Milch, who also produced Deadwood. The series began airing in June 2007, but was cancelled after one season due to poor ratings and mixed critical reviews. Nichols played John Monad, a stranger who suddenly appears in a quiet surfing town. Nichols took up surfing and practiced every day for three months for this role.[23]

In 2007, Nichols appeared in a few episodes of the NBC drama series Friday Night Lights, before being cast as Julian Baker in The CW's teen drama One Tree Hill. He was upgraded to series regular for the seventh season.[24] He directed two episodes of the series including the seventh episode of the ninth and last season.[25] In 2013, Austin landed the role of Tommy Wheeler in the Showtime series Ray Donovan. Nichols then had a recurring role as Spencer Monroe in AMC's horror series The Walking Dead, before being promoted to a series regular.[26] He will recur as Sam Loomis in the fifth and final season of A&E's drama-thriller series Bates Motel.[27]

Personal lifeEdit

Alongside his acting career, Nichols maintains a strong interest in cinema. He keeps a log of every film he sees. He said "I take it to the movies and write down who does the music, edits, directs, and how long the film is."[28] Claire Oswalt, an ex-girlfriend, said in a 2003 interview that Nichols watches an average of 20 movies a week.[29] He especially admires Hal Ashby, Sam Fuller, and John Ford.[30]

He was previously in an on and off relationship with One Tree Hill co-star Sophia Bush from 2006 to 2012 and took the role of Julian Baker in the series to be closer to her.[31] He also dated the actress Chloe Bennet from 2014 to 2017 after meeting on the set of Marvel's Agents of Shield where he played her ex-boyfriend, Miles.

Nichols has been friends with actor Jake Gyllenhaal since the two met on the set of The Day After Tomorrow in 2004. Nichols said in one interview, "I've learned a ton from Jake. He's a really sharp guy. He told me everything about acting, the business, girls, life."[2]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Durango Kids Sammy
2001 Holiday in the Sun Griffen Grayson
2003 The Utopian Society Justin Mathers
2004 The Day After Tomorrow J.D.
Wimbledon Jake Hammond
2005 Thanks to Gravity Alex Ford
2006 Glory Road Jerry Armstrong
Lenexa, 1 Mile Shane Bolin
The House of Usher Roderick Usher
Love & Debate Alex
2007 Luz del mundo Neal Cassady Short film
2008 The Informers Martin
2010 Beautiful Boy Cooper Stearns
Unthinkable Bomb Disposal Expert
2012 LOL Mr. Ross
2013 Parkland Emory Roberts
2015 Nostradamus Harry Fisher Short film
2016 Lawless Range Tommy Donnelly
2018 The Iron Orchard Dent Paxton
2021 Masquerade Daniel post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Sliders Seth Episode: "The Great Work"
Odd Man Out Lyle Episode: "Punch Line"
2001 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Adam Walkey Episode: "Sounds of Silence"
Family Law James Perliss Episode: "Sacrifices"
Watching Ellie Joe Episode: "Junk"
2002 Wolf Lake Scott Nichols Episode: "If These Wolves Could Talk"
Six Feet Under Kyle / Tall Stoner 2 episodes
2003 She Spies Fake College Guy Episode: "Learning to Fly"
2005 Quarterlife Charlie Television film
Pasadena Charlie Darwell 4 episodes
Surface Jackson Holden 4 episodes
2006 CSI: Miami Patrick Wilder Episode: "Fade Out"
Deadwood Morgan Earp 2 episodes
2007 John from Cincinnati John Monad 10 episodes
Friday Night Lights Noah Barnett 2 episodes
2008–2012 One Tree Hill Julian Baker 71 episodes
2009 Prayers for Bobby Ed Griffith Television film
2011 Five Edward Television film
2013 The Mob Doctor Luke Harris 3 episodes
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Miles Lydon Episode: "Girl in the Flower Dress"
2013–2016 Ray Donovan Tommy Wheeler 8 episodes
2015–2016 The Walking Dead Spencer Monroe 15 episodes
2017 Bates Motel Sam Loomis 6 episodes
2019 The Village Ethan 2 episodes
2019 This Close Shep 3 episodes
2020 Walker Clint


  1. ^ a b c Holloway, Diane (June 16, 2007) 'John from Cincinnati' role shows off skiing champ's acting prowess[permanent dead link], The Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved June 22, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e Davis, Peter, (April 4, 2006) "Beautiful People 2006: Austin Nichols" Archived April 29, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Papermag. Retrieved on April 7, 2006.
  3. ^ "Kay Vermeulen Nichols 1951-2015". Archived from the original on 2016-05-18. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  4. ^ a b Leblanc, Pam, (August 14, 2006) No one-trick skier Archived August 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved October 16, 2006.
  5. ^ Ingrassia, Lisa (June 11, 2007), Q&A:Austin Nichols, People Magazine p.30
  6. ^ a b Johnson, Noah, (February 2006), Austin's power, Men's Fitness. Retrieved October 16, 2006.
  7. ^ Rainey, Candice (October 4, 2003) "Man of the Moment - Austin Nichols, Actor", GQ. Retrieved October 30, 2006. Archived December 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Berkshire, Geoff, "Bound for Glory" Hollywood Life, Jan./Feb. 2006, pg. 24
  9. ^ (July 1, 2007), Exclusive Interview: Austin Nichols, of 'John from Cincinnati' Archived December 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Haight, Sarah (September 2004). "Up Next: Grand Slam". Vogue. Vol. 194 no. 9. p. 600.
  11. ^ Recent press. Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine The Utopian Society. Retrieved August 3, 2007. Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Nesbit, John, (July 9, 2003) Utopian Society, The Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved October 30, 2006.
  13. ^ Swietek, Frank. Archived December 29, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Day After Tomorrow, The. Archived October 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  14. ^ "The Day After Tomorrow". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
  15. ^ 61% rating at Rotten Tomatoes Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 30, 2006
  16. ^ "Wimbledon". Box Office Mojo, LLC. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  17. ^ Anderson, Matt, Review of Wimbledon, Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  18. ^ Osborn, Richard (October 2004). "Centre Court Becomes Centre Stage". Inside Tennis. Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  19. ^ "Q&A: Pat Cash". BBC. October 11, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-10.
  20. ^ Miller, Scott (June 13, 1006). Thanks to Gravity. Archived October 17, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  21. ^ Rotten Tomatoes data Archived February 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine gives critics and positive rating of 58%. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  22. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 20, 2006). "Actor Nichols Nabs Rare Holding Deal with HBO". Backstage. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  23. ^ Knutzen, Eirek (August 17, 2007). "TV Close-Up: Austin Nichols". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  24. ^ Dos Santos, Kristin (June 29, 2009). "Spoiler Chat: Will Brooke and Julian Make It on One Tree Hill?". E! Online. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
  25. ^ MacKenzie, Carina Adly (February 22, 2012). "'One Tree Hill': Austin Nichols takes to the director's chair, reflects on final week of filming". Zap2it. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  26. ^ "The Walking Dead: Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, and Austin Nichols Q&A". October 1, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  27. ^ Petski, Denise (January 9, 2017). "'Bates Motel': 'The Walking Dead's Austin Nichols To Recur on Season 5". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  28. ^ Adams, Patty (2004),On the Set Archived September 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  29. ^ Diagrammatics. The Morning News (December 8, 2003). Retrieved October 30, 2006.
  30. ^ "The characters". Wimbledon: The Movie. Universal Studios. 2004. Archived from the original (Flash) on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
  31. ^ "Sophia Bush Splits With One Tree Hill Costar Austin Nichols". Us Weekly. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2021-02-10.

External linksEdit