Bruce MacLeish Dern (born June 4, 1936) is an American actor who has often played supporting villainous characters of unstable nature. He has received several accolades, including the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor 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). He is also a BAFTA Award, two-time Genie Award, and three-time Golden Globe Award nominee.
Bruce MacLeish Dern
June 4, 1936
|Education||New Trier High School|
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania|
The Actors Studio
Marie Dawn Pierce
(m. 1957; div. 1959)
(m. 1960; div. 1969)
|Children||2, including Laura Dern|
|Relatives||George Dern (grandfather)|
Andrew MacLeish (great-grandfather)
Archibald MacLeish (granduncle)
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), The Hateful Eight (2015), Monster (2003), 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 was born in Chicago, the son of Jean (née MacLeish; 1908–1972) and John Dern (1903–1958), a utility chief and attorney. He grew up in Kenilworth, Illinois. 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, 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. 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.
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 with a pregnant wife 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). While filming, Wayne warned Dern: "America will hate you for this," and Dern replied, "Yeah, but they'll love me in Berkeley." 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 for F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby (1974). In Kirk Douglas' Revisionist Western film Posse, Dern played a train-robber who uses the wiles to turn the tables on his captor, an ambitious, politically minded US marshal (Douglas). 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). 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 an elderly resident who believes 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.
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." 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.
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."
Dern was married to Marie Dawn Pierce from 1957 to 1959. He married Diane Ladd in 1960. 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. The couple's second daughter, Laura, is also an actress. 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 Roper||Uncredited|
|1962||The Crimebusters||Joe Krajac|
|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|
|Waterhole No. 3||Deputy Sam Tippen|
|Will Penny||Rafe Quint|
|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|
|The King of Marvin Gardens||Jason Staebler|
|1973||Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid||Deputy||Uncredited|
|The Laughing Policeman||Leo Larsen|
|1974||The Great Gatsby||Tom Buchanan|
|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|
|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|
|1989||The 'Burbs||Mark Rumsfield|
|1990||After Dark, My Sweet||Garrett "Uncle Bud" Stoker|
|1995||Wild Bill||Will Plummer|
|1996||Down Periscope||Admiral Yancy Graham|
|Mulholland Falls||The Chief||Uncredited|
|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|
|Down in the Valley||Charlie|
|2006||Believe in Me||Ellis Brawley|
|The Astronaut Farmer||Hal|
|The Hard Easy||Gene|
|2007||The Cake Eaters||Easy Kimbrough|
|2007||The Death and Life of Bobby Z||Hippy Narrator||Uncredited|
|2008||Swamp Devil||Howard Blame|
|The Golden Boys||Captain Perez Ryder|
|The Hole 3D||Creepy Carl|
|2011||Choose||Dr. Ronald Pendleton|
|Inside Out||Vic Small|
|2012||From Up on Poppy Hill||Yoshio Onodera (voice)||English dub|
|Hitting the Cycle||James|
|Django Unchained||Curtis Carrucan|
|2013||Coffin Baby||Vance Henrickson|
|Northern Borders||Austin Kittredge Sr.|
|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.|
|White Boy Rick||Ray Wershe|
|The Peanut Butter Falcon||Carl|
|Once Upon a Time in Hollywood||George Spahn|
|Inherit the Viper||Clay Carter|
|QT8: The First Eight||Himself||Documentary|
|The Artist's Wife||Richard Smythson|
|Death in Texas||Reynolds|
|2021||Last Call||Coach Finnegan|
|Hands that Bind||Hank|
|Christmas vs. the Walters||Cliff Walters|
|Last Shoot Out||Blair Callahan|
|The Most Dangerous Game||Whitney Tyler|
|The Devil’s Trap||TBA||Post-production|
|1960||Route 66||Albert||Episode: "The Man on the Monkey Board"|
|1961||Naked City||Hollis / Nicky||Uncredited|
|1961||Sea Hunt||FBI Agent John Furillo||Episode: "Crime at Sea"|
|1961||Surfside 6||Johnny Page||Episode: "Daphne, Girl Detective"|
|1961||Thriller||Johnny Norton||Episode: "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk"|
|1961||Ben Casey||Billy Harris||Episode: "A Dark Night for Billy Harris"|
|1961||The Detectives||Jud Treadwell||Episode: "Act of God"|
|1961–1962||Cain's Hundred||Eddie Light / Joe Krajac||2 episodes|
|1962–1963||Stoney Burke||E.J. Stocker||17 episodes|
|1962–1963||The Dick Powell Show||Deering||2 episodes|
|1963||Kraft Suspense Theatre||Maynard||Episode: "The Hunt"|
|1963||The Outer Limits||Ben Garth||Episode: "The Zanti Misfits"|
|1963–1965||Wagon Train||Wilkins / Jud Fisher / Seth Bancroft||3 episodes|
|1963–1966||The Fugitive||Deputy Martin / Charley / Hutch / Hank / Cody||5 episodes|
|1964–1965||The Virginian||Bert Kramer / Lee Darrow / Pell||3 episodes|
|1964||77 Sunset Strip||Ralph Wheeler||Episode: "Lovers' Lane"|
|1964||The Greatest Show on Earth||Vernon||Episode: "The Last of the Strongmen"|
|1964||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Jesse / Roy Bullock||2 episodes|
|1964–1965||Twelve O'Clock High||TSgt. Frank Jones / Lieutenant Michaels / Lieutenant Danton||4 episodes|
|1965||Rawhide||Ed Rankin||Episode: "Walk into Terror"|
|1965||Laredo||Joe Durkee||Episode: "Rendezvous at Arillo"|
|1965||A Man Called Shenandoah||Bobby Ballantine||Episode: "The Verdict"|
|1965, 1968||The F.B.I.||Virgil Roy Phipps / PFC Byron Landy||2 episodes|
|Gunsmoke||Guerin / Lou Stone / Judd Print / Doyle Phleger||4 episodes|
|1966||Branded||Les||Episode: "The Wolfers"|
|1966||The Loner||Merrick||Episode: "To Hang a Dead Man"|
|1966||Disneyland||Turk||Episode: "Gallegher Goes West: Crusading Reporter"|
|1966–1967||Run for Your Life||Alex Ryder||3 episodes|
|1966–1968||The Big Valley||Jack Follet / Harry Dixon / Clovis / Gabe Skeels / John Weaver||5 episodes|
|1968–1969||Lancer||Tom Nevill / Lucas Thatcher||2 episodes|
|1968, 1970||Bonanza||Bayliss / Cully Maco||2 episodes|
|1969||Then Came Bronson||Bucky O'Neill||Episode: "Amid Splinters of the Thunderbolt"|
|1970||Land of the Giants||Thorg||Episode: "Wild Journey"|
|1970||The High Chaparral||Wade||Episode: "Only the Bad Come to Sonora"|
|1970||The Immortal||Luther Seacombe||Episode: "To the Gods Alone"|
|1985||Space||Stanley Mott||5 episodes|
|1985||Toughlove||Rob Charters||Television film|
|1987||Roses Are for the Rich||Douglas Osborne||Television film|
|1987||Uncle Tom's Cabin||Augustine St. Claire||Television film|
|1989||Trenchcoat in Paradise||John Hollander||Television film|
|1990||The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson||Scout Ed Higgins||Television film|
|1991||Into the Badlands||T.L. Barston||Television film|
|1991||Carolina Skeletons||Junior Stoker||Television film|
|1993||It's Nothing Personal||Billy Archer||Television film|
|1994||Dead Man's Revenge||Payton McCay||Television film|
|1994||Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight||George Putnam||Television film|
|1995||A Mother's Prayer||John Walker||Television film|
|1995||Mrs. Munck||Patrick Leary||Television film|
|1999||Hard Time: The Premonition||Winston||Television film|
|2003||King of the Hill||Randy Strickland (voice)||Episode: "Boxing Luanne"|
|2003||Hard Ground||Nate Hutchinson||Television film|
|2006–2011||Big Love||Frank Harlow||29 episodes|
|2007||CSI: NY||Vet||Episode: "Boo"|
|2013||Pete's Christmas||Grandpa||Television film|
|2016||The Cowboy||Himself||Television series documentary, 2 episodes|
|2019||Black Monday||Rod "The Jammer" Jaminski||2 episodes|
|2019||Mr. Mercedes||John Rothstein||8 episodes|
|2021||Goliath||Frank Zax||8 episodes|
|2020||Shadow Stalkers||The Director|
Awards and nominationsEdit
- Borrelli, Christopher (November 11, 2013). "Bruce Dern's long run to 'Nebraska'". Chicago Tribune.
- "AWARDS - Best Actor Award". Festival De Cannes. Archived from the original on September 8, 2021.
- "Actor Bruce Dern | Interviews | Tavis Smiley". PBS. January 15, 2014. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "Bruce Dern Biography (1936-)". www.filmreference.com.
- "John Dern, 54, Utility Chief, Attorney, Dies".
- "Bruce Dern accepts Career Achievement Award at the Chicago Intern - Time Out Chicago". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- "New Again: Bruce Dern – Page". Interview Magazine. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
- "Bruce Dern shows a dangerous streak in 'Big Love'". Los Angeles Times. January 13, 2010.
- "Berlinale: 1983 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
- "Cannes Film Festival: Awards 2013". Cannes. May 26, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- "Cannes: Lesbian Drama 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' Wins Palme d'Or". The Wrap. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
- "Bruce Dern traces his career progression from "fifth cowboy from the right" to American icon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
- "The Movies That Made Me season 4 episode 11: Bruce Dern". Trailers from Hell. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
- "Bruce Dern on meeting 'fragile' Marilyn Monroe and why he won't retire". New York Post. Retrieved May 1, 2021.
- Gordon, Roger L. (2018). Supporting Actors in Motion Pictures. Vol. 2. Dorrance Publishing. p. 160. ISBN 978-1480958418. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
- "Diane Ladd". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
Diane died at just 18 months after she sustained a head injury from falling into a swimming pool.
- McNary, Dave (February 13, 2019). "Director Reclaims Rights to Documentary '21 Years: Quentin Tarantino' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 14, 2020.
- "The Artist's Wife - Celsius Entertainment - London - Film Sales".
- Leydon, Joe (October 31, 2019). ""Badland" review". Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- "Shadow Stalkers (Video Game 2020)". IMDb.
- "MegaRace: DeathMatch (Video Game 2020)". IMDb.
- "Horrorant 2019: Daniel Robbins' PLEDGE Takes Home Top Prize". May 18, 2019.