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James Howard Woods (born April 18, 1947) is an American actor and producer. He is known primarily for playing villainous roles in film.

James Woods
James Woods 2015.jpg
Woods in Beverly Hills, California on December 24, 2015
James Howard Woods

(1947-04-18) April 18, 1947 (age 71)
EducationPilgrim High School
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationActor, producer
Years active1970–present
Political party
  • Kathryn Morrison
    (m. 1980; div. 1983)
  • Sarah Owen
    (m. 1989; div. 1990)

His most well known roles are in Videodrome, Once Upon a Time in America, Casino, and Contact. Additionally, Woods has also been nominated for two Academy Awards, one in the Best Actor category for Salvador and the other in the Best Supporting Actor category for Ghosts of Mississippi. He is the recipient of three Emmy Awards for the television movies Promise and My Name Is Bill W. and the animated series Hercules. Promise additionally brought him a Golden Globe Award.

On television, he is known for portraying the lead character in Shark (2006–08) and for voice-acting as himself on eight episodes of Family Guy, as well as on one episode of The Simpsons. He has also voice acted as Mike Toreno in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Hades in the Hercules film and TV series, and the Kingdom Hearts series.


Early lifeEdit

Woods was born in Vernal, Utah, on April 18, 1947[1] and had a brother ten years younger.[2] His father, Gail Peyton Woods, was an army intelligence officer who died in 1960[3] after routine surgery. His mother, Martha A. (née Smith), operated a pre-school after her husband's death[4] and later married Thomas E. Dixon.[5] Woods grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, where he attended Pilgrim High School, from which he graduated in 1965. He is of part Irish descent and was raised Catholic, briefly serving as an altar boy.[6][7]

He ultimately chose to pursue his undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he majored in political science.[8] (Woods stated on Inside the Actors Studio that he'd originally planned a career as an eye surgeon.) While at MIT, Woods pledged to the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. He was also an active member of the student theatre group "Dramashop", where he both acted in and directed a number of plays. He dropped out of MIT in 1969, to pursue a career in acting.[9]

Woods has said that he owes his acting career to Tim Affleck (father of actors Ben and Casey Affleck), who was a stage manager at the Theatre Company of Boston while Woods was a student there.[10]



Woods appeared in thirty-six plays before making his Broadway debut in 1970 at the Lyceum Theatre, in the first American production of Frank McMahon's Borstal Boy. He got the part by pretending he was British. He returned to Broadway the following year to portray David Darst in Daniel Berrigan's The Trial of the Catonsville Nine. In 1971, he played Bob Rettie in the American premiere of Michael Weller's Moonchildren at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The production moved to Broadway the following year and Woods won a Theatre World Award for his performance. He returned to Broadway in 1973 to portray Steven Cooper in the original production of Jean Kerr's Finishing Touches.[11]

Film and televisionEdit

Woods at an AIDS Project Los Angeles benefit in September 1990

A prominent Hollywood character actor, Woods has appeared in over 130 films and television series as of 2013, beginning with his first television appearance All the Way Home in 1971 and his film debut The Visitors in 1972. He is known for his dark, intense characters and villains. Early examples include his portrayals of a sadistic murderer in 1979's The Onion Field,[8] and of serial killer Carl Panzram in 1994's Killer: A Journal of Murder. Woods appeared in an episode of The Rockford Files, playing a son whose parents were murdered. In 1984, he played Max, a domineering gangster, in Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in America, which Woods has regarded as one of his favorite roles.[12] He was first recognized by the Oscars when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the Oliver Stone drama Salvador (1986), portraying real-life journalist Rick Boyle as he chronicles events in El Salvador. Woods earned another Oscar nomination, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role of the infamous white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi (1996).[8] In 1995, he took the role of Lester Diamond in Martin Scorsese's Casino. That same year, he portrayed H. R. Haldeman in Nixon, the biopic of Richard M. Nixon, directed by Oliver Stone. In 1999, he appeared in The General's Daughter. In one of his most prominent television roles, Woods starred in the CBS legal drama series Shark, which ran for two seasons between 2006 and 2008. He played an infamous defense lawyer who, after growing disillusioned when his client commits a murder, becomes a successful prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

Woods at the Emmy Awards 1993

Woods was offered a leading role in the low-budget film Reservoir Dogs, but his agent rejected the script without showing it to the actor. When Woods learned of this some time later, he fired his agents (CAA), replacing them with ICM.[13][14] In 2006, Woods starred in End Game. He makes a cameo appearance as himself in the first episode of the third season of Entourage. In 2011, Woods appeared as Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, in HBO's Too Big to Fail, for which he gained an Emmy Award[15] nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-series or Movie.[16]

Voice workEdit

Woods has lent his voice talents to many animated television shows and feature films. He garnered critical praise for his voice work as Hades in the 1997 Disney film Hercules[17] and he won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2000 for the role in the follow-up television series (for the 1999 season). He also voiced Phillium Benedict, the twisted former headmaster who attempts to abolish summer vacation in the 2001 film, Recess: School's Out. He also appeared as a fictional version of himself in the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer and Apu" and in eight episodes of Family Guy, which is set in Woods' home state of Rhode Island. Other references in Family Guy include the local high school, James Woods Regional High School, and a forest named James Woods mentioned in the episode "The Fat Guy Strangler". In 2004, Woods voiced Mike Toreno in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, followed by Jallak in the 2005 animated film Ark.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1980, Woods married costume designer Kathryn Morrison-Pahoa. The couple divorced in 1983.[18] In 1989 Woods married 26-year-old equestrian and boutique owner Sarah Owens, but they divorced four months later.[19] He has not since remarried nor does he have children.

During a press interview for Kingdom Hearts II, Woods noted that he is an avid video game player.[20] He is a dealer of antiques in Rhode Island.[21] On December 14, 2015, while Woods was driving alone westbound through an ice storm on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, a driver who was speeding lost control and crashed into five other cars. Woods swerved his Jeep Grand Cherokee to avoid the accident and collided with a retaining wall, but slid backwards into a guard rail 100 feet (30 m) above the Colorado River. Woods suffered a minor concussion from the accident.[22][23]


Woods playing poker at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in California in 2005

Woods is an avid poker player, playing in cash games and many tournaments. He played in the WPT's Hollywood Home Game series in 2004 for the American Stroke Association charity. As of 2018, he has over 80 tournament cashes to his credit,[24] including a seventh place at the 2015 World Series of Poker in the $3000 No Limit Shootout event and a fifth place in the $1,500 Dealers Choice event at the 2018 WSOP.[24]


In 1988, Woods sued Sean Young for $2 million, accusing her of stalking him after they appeared together in the film The Boost.[25] Young later countered that Woods had overreacted after she had spurned his advances on set.[26] The suit was settled out of court in August 1989[27][28] including a payment of $227,000 to Young to cover her legal costs.[29]

On July 26, 2006, his younger brother Michael Jeffrey Woods died from cardiac arrest at the age of 49. Woods sued Kent Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island, alleging negligence. The suit was settled in 2009.[30][31]

On July 30, 2015, he sued a Twitter user for $10 million over an allegedly libelous tweet.[32] In October 2015, Woods lost his legal bid to learn who was behind the Twitter account who accused him of being a "Cocaine Addict".[33] However, on February 2, 2016, Judge Mel Recana gave the go ahead to pursue the case further. It was believed that this would force Twitter to reveal the identity of the anonymous user.[34] On October 21, 2016, attorney Lisa Bloom revealed that the anonymous user had died, to which Woods said he hoped the person had "died in agony".[35][36]


Woods has stated that he was a member of the Democratic Party up until the impeachment of Bill Clinton, commenting that "every single Democrat without exception stood behind a convicted perjurer. That was the end."[37]

Woods's name was in an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times (August 17, 2006) that condemned Hamas and Hezbollah and supported Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War.[38]

Early in the 2016 presidential race, Woods endorsed Carly Fiorina for the Republican nomination.[39] In November 2015, he shifted his endorsement to Senator Ted Cruz.[40]

On July 4, 2018, The Gersh Agency, Woods' long–time talent agency, notified him by email that they would no longer represent him. Woods stated that the agency dropped him due to his outspoken conservative views.[41][42][43]

In recent years, Woods has become known for frequently espousing his conservative political views on his Twitter page, which reached one million followers in November 2017. In September 2018, the Associated Press reported that Twitter blocked his account over a hoax tweet purporting to be from the Democratic party telling men not to vote.[44][45]

In August 2017, Woods expressed his disgust over what he said was the "pathological" hatred which Donald Trump was being subjected to, which was retweeted by Trump.[46] Woods has promoted conspiracy theories on Twitter; in 2017, he used the platform to echo claims that George Soros was behind a violent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia,[47] and in 2018 he suggested that a series of mail bombs sent to Trump critics was a staged "political stunt," although he later deleted that tweet.[48]


Woods was raised Roman Catholic and stated on September 23, 2015, that he is involved in his faith.[49] He has criticized Pope Francis for tolerating what he called "pro-abortion hospitality".[50]

Sexual misconduct allegationsEdit

In September 2017, Amber Tamblyn wrote an open letter to Woods accusing him of predatory behavior towards her when she was 16. Woods denied the story.[51][52] The same month, actress Katie Aselton said that she also had "a James Woods story" from when she was 19 years old, asking "how many of us are there?"[53] In November 2017, actress Elizabeth Perkins, at a #MeToo rally, accused Woods of sexual misconduct.[54]


Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ "Utah Local News - Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive - The Salt Lake Tribune". Archived from the original on October 25, 2014. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  2. ^ Fernandez, Maria Elena (October 4, 2006). "Very James Woods". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  3. ^ "Warwick Online: Michael Woods remembered for a smile, and a laugh". Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  4. ^ "James Woods Biography (1947-)". Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Martha A. Woods Dixon - Warwick Beacon". Warwick Beacon. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  6. ^ "James Woods on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  7. ^ McCardle, Kevin (September 17, 1999). "Face of the Day". The Herald.
  8. ^ a b c Zad, Martie (30 April 2000). "James Woods Fled MIT for Acting". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  9. ^ New York Times Service, published by New York Times and Arno press, 1989, page 788
  10. ^ Lidz, Franz (10 September 2000), "FILM; Ben Affleck Shocker: I Bargained With Devil for Fame", New York Times, retrieved 4 March 2012
  11. ^ "James Woods" on the Internet Broadway Database
  12. ^ Turner Classic Movies biography, James Woods, accessed January 2, 2011
  13. ^ Hollywood's new radicalism: war, globalisation and the movies from Reagan to George W. Bush, by Ben Dickenson, 2006, page 157
  14. ^ Film voices: Interviews From Post Script, by Gerald Duchovnay, 2004, pages 244–245
  15. ^ "James Woods". Television Academy. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  16. ^ 2011 Emmy Nominations List: 63rd Primetime Emmy Nominations Announced, Huffington Post, July 14, 2011. Accessed July 15, 2011
  17. ^ New York Magazine, July 7, 1997, page 54
  18. ^ "Romance on a Razor's Edge – Vol. 36 No. 22". 1991-12-09. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  19. ^ "Brooding Actor James Woods's Immediate Family Breaks Up After Four Months of Marriage – Vol. 32 No. 25". 1989-12-18. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  20. ^ Video on YouTube
  21. ^ PAWT RI ANTIQUES WOODS Archived September 11, 2012, at The Times
  22. ^ Hensley, Nicole (December 15, 2015). "James Woods walks away from Colorado wreck with 'little concussion,' says 'old tank' Jeep saved his life". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  23. ^ Hickey, Chuck (December 16, 2015). "Actor James Woods survives multivehicle wreck in Glenwood Canyon". FOX 31 Denver. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  24. ^ a b Hend on Mob tournament results
  25. ^ Woods Suit May be Settled, by Anne Trebbe, USA Today, August 23, 1989
  26. ^ "Young Revisits 20-Year-Old James Woods Harassment Controversy,", 17 September 2007
  27. ^ "Time Out". Orlando Sentinel. August 25, 1989. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  28. ^ Puig, Claudia; Cerone, Daniel (August 24, 1989). "Legal File". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  29. ^ Danny Leigh. "Blade Runner's Sean Young: 'If I were a man I'd have been treated better' | Film". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-06.
  30. ^ James Woods – Shark Halted After Woods' Brother Dies,, July 28, 2006
  31. ^ James Woods settles suit over brother's death, by Associated Press, published by, December 1, 2009
  32. ^ James Woods Sues Twitter User,, July 30, 2015
  33. ^ Kenneally, Tim (October 30, 2015). "James Woods Loses Legal Bid to Learn Twitter Foe's Name in 'Cocaine Addict' Lawsuit". Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  34. ^ "James Woods gets permission to sue his Twitter abuser". Engadget.
  35. ^ Strachan, Maxwell (October 21, 2016). "James Woods Hopes Anonymous Twitter User He Hated Died 'In Agony'". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  36. ^ "Actor James Woods Gloats Over Death Of Random Twitter Troll He Sued To Unmask [Updated]". Techdirt. October 21, 2016.
  37. ^ James Woods [@RealJamesWoods] (23 September 2015). "I was for years, until #Clinton was impeached. Every single #Democrat without exception stood behind a convicted perjurer. That was the end" (Tweet). Retrieved 21 August 2017 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ "Nicole Kidman and 84 Others Stand United Against Terrorism" Hollywood Grind. 18 August 2006.
  39. ^ Hod, Itay (September 17, 2015). "Carly Fiorina Scores James Woods Endorsement". The Wrap. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  40. ^ Giaritelli, Anna (23 November 2015). "Fiorina loses Hollywood endorsement to Cruz". The Washington Examiner. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  41. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (5 July 2018). "James Woods Says He Was Dropped By 'Liberal' Talent Agent". Variety. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  42. ^ Gaynor, Gerren Keith (5 July 2018). "James Woods is dropped by 'liberal' talent agent: 'It's the 4th of July and I'm feeling patriotic'". Fox News. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  43. ^ Lynch, John. "Conservative actor James Woods says he was dumped by his agent because of his political views". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  44. ^ "Conservative actor James Woods tweeted a hoax meme in July. Twitter just locked him out of his account". The Mercury News. 2018-09-24. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
  45. ^ [1]
  46. ^ Hoffmann, Bill (August 21, 2017). "James Woods Slams 'Pathological' Hatred of Trump". NewsMax. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  47. ^ Aaron Sankin, Charlottesville conspiracy theories spread, echoing 'false flag' claims, Center for Investigative Reporting (August 13, 2017).
  48. ^ Martha Ross, Ivanka Trump, James Woods and varied pro-Trump reactions to Obama, Clinton bomb threats, Bay Area News Group (October 24, 2018).
  49. ^ James Woods [@RealJamesWoods] (23 September 2015). "For the record I am a practicing Roman Catholic. I share that to clarify my personal interest in my previous tweet" (Tweet). Retrieved 4 February 2017 – via Twitter.
  50. ^ Judge, Mark (25 September 2015). "Actor James Woods: 'His Holiness is Accepting Pro-Abortion Hospitality'". Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  51. ^ "Amber Tamblyn Pens Open Letter to James Woods: 'I See Your Gaslight'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  52. ^ Staff, Teen Vogue. "Amber Tamblyn Asks James Woods if He's "Part of the Problem" in an Open Letter". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  53. ^ Kimball, Whitney (September 17, 2017). "Amber Tamblyn's James Woods Feud Inspires New York Times Op-Ed, But Woods Hates the Times, So There". Jezebel. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  54. ^ Rubin, Rebecca. "Elizabeth Perkins Calls Out James Woods at #MeToo March". Archived from the original on December 25, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.

External linksEdit