William Pullman (born December 17, 1953) is an American actor. After graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater, he was an adjunct professor at Montana State University before deciding to pursue acting.

Bill Pullman
Pullman in 2014
William Pullman

(1953-12-17) December 17, 1953 (age 70)
Alma materSUNY Delhi (attended)
SUNY Oneonta (BA, 1975)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA, 1980)
Years active1986–present
Children3; including Lewis

Pullman made his film debut in Ruthless People (1986), and starred in Spaceballs (1987), The Accidental Tourist (1988), Sibling Rivalry (1990), Newsies and A League of Their Own (both in 1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), While You Were Sleeping and Casper (both in 1995), Independence Day (1996), Lost Highway and The End of Violence (both in 1997), Zero Effect (1998), Lake Placid and Spy Games (both in 1999), Lucky Numbers (2000), and as well as voiced as Captain Joseph Korso in Titan A.E. (2000). He has also appeared frequently on television, usually in TV films. Since the 21st century began in 2001, Pullman also acted in miniseries and regular series, such as Torchwood (2011), starring roles in 1600 Penn (2012–13) and The Sinner (2017–2021). In 2021, he had a recurring role in the miniseries Halston.

Pullman has also a long stage acting career. He has appeared on Broadway several times, including in Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002).

Early life and education


Pullman was born December 17, 1953, in Hornell, New York, the son of Dr. James Pullman Jr. (1914–1992), a physician, and Johanna Wilamina Pullman (née Blaas; 1911–1993), a nurse.[1]

After graduating from Hornell High School in 1971, he attended the State University of New York at Delhi (SUNY Delhi)[2] and the State University of New York at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta) in the 1970s, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Studies from the latter in 1975. He eventually received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1980. He taught theater at SUNY Delhi[2] and was an adjunct professor at Montana State University's School of Film and Photography in Bozeman, Montana, where his students persuaded him to pursue film roles.[3]



During the 1980s, Pullman worked primarily with theater companies around New York and Los Angeles. His first prominent film role was in Ruthless People, starring Danny DeVito and Bette Midler. Other notable films included the lead in Spaceballs (1987), The Serpent and the Rainbow (with Zakes Mokae), Casper and While You Were Sleeping (both 1995). In 1996, he played the President of the United States in the sci-fi film Independence Day. A year later he had a major role in Lost Highway (1997) and voiced Korso in the animated post-apocalyptic film Titan A.E.

From February 2002 until September 2002, Pullman starred with Mercedes Ruehl in Edward Albee's play The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? on Broadway. It won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Play, the 2002 Drama Desk Award Outstanding New Play, and the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Pullman was nominated for the 2002 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Play.

He starred as Dr. Richard Massey in the miniseries Revelations and in Albee's play Peter and Jerry at off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre in New York for which he received a second Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Play in 2008.

Pullman is also a creative writer. His first play, Expedition 6, is about the International Space Station mission Expedition 6, in orbit at the time the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed on reentry, grounding the U.S. Space Shuttle program and requiring the ISS crew to remain in orbit an additional two months. The play opened at San Francisco's Magic Theater in September 2007.[4]

He also appeared in the Broadway production of David Mamet's Oleanna, co-starring Julia Stiles.[5] It opened at the John Golden Theatre October 11, 2009, and closed on December 6, 2009, after 65 performances.[6]

He is a jury member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.[7]

Pullman played Oswald Danes, a pedophile and child killer, in Torchwood: Miracle Day, the fourth series of the BBC/Starz Entertainment television show Torchwood (a spinoff to the BBC series Doctor Who),[8] the former of which began airing in July 2011. For his performance as Danes, he received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor on Television.[9]

From 2012 to 2013, Pullman portrayed the president of the United States in the television comedy series 1600 Penn. He played detective Harry Ambrose in the USA Network mystery series The Sinner, which premiered in 2017 and has aired for four seasons.

In 2023 Pullman portrayed Alex Murdaugh, a South Carolina attorney convicted of murdering his wife and son. The two-part Lifetime series Murdaugh Murders: The Movie premiered on 14 October.[10][11]

Personal life


Pullman is married to Tamara Hurwitz, a modern dancer.[12][13][14] Their three children are actor Lewis Pullman,[15] singer-songwriter Maesa Pullman,[16] and Jack Pullman.[17][18]

At the age of 21, Pullman suffered a head injury when he fell while rehearsing a play, and lost his sense of smell and the feeling in his left elbow.[19] He is an avid Buffalo Bills fan. He co-owns a cattle ranch with his brother in Montana, near the town of Whitehall, where he lives part-time.[20] He also serves on the board of trustees at Alfred University[21] and was awarded an honorary doctorate there on May 14, 2011.[12] In 2018, he received an honorary doctorate from Montana State University, where he was formerly employed.[3]




Year Film Role Notes
1986 Ruthless People Earl Mott
1987 Spaceballs Lone Starr
1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow Dr. Dennis Alan
Rocket Gibraltar Crow Black
The Accidental Tourist Julian Edge
1989 Cold Feet Buck Latham
1990 Brain Dead Dr. Rex Martin
Sibling Rivalry Nicholas Meany
Bright Angel Bob
1991 Liebestraum Paul Kessler
Going Under Biff Banner
1992 Nervous Ticks York Daley
Newsies Bryan Denton
A League of Their Own Bob Hinson
Singles Dr. Jamison
1993 Sommersby Orin Meecham
Sleepless in Seattle Walter Jackson
Malice Andy Safian
Mr. Jones Construction Site Foreman Uncredited
1994 The Favor Peter Whiting
Wyatt Earp Ed Masterson
The Last Seduction Clay Gregory
1995 While You Were Sleeping Jack Callaghan
Casper Dr. James Harvey
1996 Mr. Wrong Whitman Crawford
Independence Day President Thomas J. Whitmore
1997 Lost Highway Fred Madison
The End of Violence Mike Max
1998 Zero Effect Daryl Zero
1999 Lake Placid Jack Wells
Brokedown Palace Hank "Yankee Hank" Green
Spy Games Harry Howe / Ernie Halliday
2000 The Guilty Callum Crane
Titan A.E. Captain Joseph Korso Voice
Lucky Numbers Detective Pat Lakewood
A Man Is Mostly Water Parking Fascist
2001 Ignition Conor Gallagher
2002 29 Palms The Ticket Clerk
Igby Goes Down Jason Slocumb
2003 Rick Rick O'Lette
2004 The Grudge Peter Kirk
2005 Dear Wendy Officer Krugsby
2006 Scary Movie 4 Henry Hale
Alien Autopsy Morgan Banner
2007 Nobel Son Max Mariner
You Kill Me Dave
2008 Surveillance Sam Hallaway
Bottle Shock Jim Barrett
Phoebe in Wonderland Peter Lichten
Your Name Here William J. Frick
2010 Peacock Edmund French
The Killer Inside Me Billy Bob Walker
Rio Sex Comedy William
2011 Bringing Up Bobby Kent
2012 Lola Versus Lenny
2013 The Unbelievers Himself
2014 Red Sky Captain John Webster
Cymbeline Sicilius Leonatus
The Equalizer Brian Plummer
2015 American Ultra Raymond Krueger
2016 Independence Day: Resurgence Former President Thomas J. Whitmore
LBJ Senator Ralph Yarborough
Brother Nature Jerry Turley
2017 Walking Out Clyde
The Ballad of Lefty Brown "Lefty" Brown
Trouble Ben
Battle of the Sexes Jack Kramer
2018 The Equalizer 2 Brian Plummer
2019 The Coldest Game Joshua Mansky
Dark Waters Harry Dietzler
2020 The High Note Max


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Cagney & Lacey Dr. Giordano Episode: "A Safe Place"
1989 Home Fires Burning Henry Tibbets Movie
1990 The Tracey Ullman Show Sheldon Moss Episode: "The Word"
1992 Crazy in Love Nick Symonds Movie
1995 Fallen Angels Rich Thurber Episode: "Tomorrow I Die"
1996 Mistrial Steve Donohue Movie
1997 Merry Christmas, George Bailey George Bailey Movie
2000 The Virginian The Virginian Movie
Also Producer/Director
2001 Night Visions Major Ben Darnell Episode: "A View Through the Window"
2004 Tiger Cruise Commander Gary Dolan Movie
2005 Revelations Richard Massey 6 episodes
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Kurt Moss Episode: "Closet"
2010 Nathan vs. Nature Arthur Movie
2011 Too Big to Fail Jamie Dimon Movie
2011 Innocent Rusty Sabich Movie
2011 Torchwood: Miracle Day Oswald Danes 8 episodes
2012–2013 1600 Penn President Dale Gilchrist 13 episodes
2017–2021 The Sinner Detective Harry Ambrose Main cast; 32 episodes
2021 Halston David J. Mahoney 3 episodes
2023 This Fool Curtis Episode: "The Bigger Man"[22]
2023 Murdaugh Murders: The Movie Alex Murdaugh 2 episodes


Year Title Role Theatre
2002 The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Martin John Golden Theatre
2009 Oleanna John John Golden Theatre
2012 The Other Place Ian Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
2015 The Jacksonian Fred Weber Theatre Three at Theatre Row
2019 All My Sons Joe Keller Old Vic Theatre[23]
2022 Mad House Daniel Ambassadors Theatre

Awards and nominations

Year Award Nominated work Category Result
1997 Online Film & Television Association Independence Day Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Actor Nominated
2001 Western Heritage Awards The Virginian Television Feature Film Won
2008 CineVegas International Film Festival Your Name Here Special Jury Prize Won
Denver International Film Festival Himself John Cassavetes Award Won
RiverRun International Film Festival Himself Master of Cinema Won
2012 Saturn Awards Torchwood: Miracle Day Best Supporting Actor on Television Nominated
2016 CinemaCon Award Independence Day: Resurgence Ensemble of the Universe Won
Locarno International Film Festival Himself Excellence Award Won
2017 Woodstock Film Festival Himself Excellence in Acting Award Won
2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards The Sinner Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries Nominated
2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Actor on Television Nominated


  1. ^ WTF with Marc Maron episode 1283
  2. ^ a b "SUNY Delhi History: 1977 Bill Pullman Makes Directorial Debut". State University of New York, Delhi. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Cantrell, Anne (May 1, 2018). "Actor Bill Pullman to receive MSU honorary doctorate". Montana State University. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  4. ^ Bill Pullman's theatrical space odyssey, www.collectspace.com, September 20, 2007
  5. ^ Pullman and Stiles Will Star in Mamet's Oleanna on Broadway, Opening Oct. 11 Archived July 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Playbill.com, June 30, 2009
  6. ^ "Oleanna | Playbill Vault" Archived 2012-03-18 at the Wayback Machine, PlaybillVault.com
  7. ^ "Profile Jury". Filmaka. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-08.
  8. ^ Ausiello, Michael (December 15, 2010). "Bill Pullman Joins 'Torchwood' as Regular". Deadline. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  9. ^ Goldberg, Matt (29 February 2012). "Saturn Award Nominations Announced; HUGO and HARRY POTTER Lead with 10 Nominations Each". Collider. Archived from the original on 15 November 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  10. ^ Eley, Amy (September 6, 2023). "See Bill Pullman's transformation into Alex Murdaugh for new Lifetime movie". The Today Show. Retrieved September 6, 2023.
  11. ^ "Bill Pullman to Play Alex Murdaugh in Lifetime's 500th Original Movie". Variety. 6 September 2023.
  12. ^ a b "Bill Pullman to address Alfred University graduates" (press release). Alfred University. April 28, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  13. ^ Biography Archived 2020-03-21 at the Wayback Machine. BillPullman.org.
  14. ^ "Bill Pullman Talks His Actor Son". Archived from the original on 2018-03-13. Retrieved 2018-07-23.
  15. ^ "Lewis Pullman". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  16. ^ "Maesa Pullman". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
  17. ^ "Fikk utsatt "Independence Day 2" for å spille Othello i Bergen". 25 August 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  18. ^ Nå har jeg ryddet plass til Bergen Archived 2014-12-25 at the Wayback Machine. November 18, 2014.
  19. ^ "A Minute With: Bill Pullman about 'Torchwood'". Reuters. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  20. ^ Associated Press (October 20, 2002). Entertainment: "Yeltsin visits Armenian brandy distillery". Via Amarillo Globe-News.
  21. ^ "Board Members". Alfred University. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  22. ^ "Bill Pullman.org". www.billpullman.org. Retrieved 2023-08-25.
  23. ^ Mitchell, Robert (August 17, 2018). "Sally Field, Bill Pullman Set London Stage Debuts in 'All My Sons'".