John Henry Diehl (born May 1, 1950) is an American character actor. Noted for his work in avant-garde theater, Diehl has performed in more than 140 films and television shows, including Land of Plenty, Stripes, Nixon, Jurassic Park III and the TV series Miami Vice and The Shield.
John Henry Diehl
May 1, 1950
|Children||Magnus Jackson Diehl|
Diehl was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1950. His father, John A. Diehl, was a civil engineer, and his mother, Mary, was a social worker. Raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic family, he was educated at parochial schools, and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1968.
In 1970, Diehl moved to New York, encouraged by his sister, who had just graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He spent 1971 squatting in Amsterdam and returned to New York in 1972. In 1976, he moved to Los Angeles. He had always been interested in drawing and making things, and intended to pursue a career in the visual arts there. Initially he supported himself in LA by moving furniture and objet d'art.
Although he had no previous experience as an actor, Diehl's interest turned to acting after he arrived in Los Angeles. He took a three-hour scene studies class in Hollywood twice a week, and in 1979 he was cast in Action, a one act play written by Sam Shepard. In 1980, he became an acting member of Murray Mednick's Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, an annual event which brought young playwrights from throughout the United States together to live and work with such playwrights as Mednick, Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, John O’Keefe, John Steppling, and Robert Glaudini. Diehl worked with all of the playwrights in residence over the course of his several years as an acting member of the festival.
Diehl's first significant film role was in the 1981 movie Stripes. In the 25th Anniversary DVD release of Stripes, Laroquette compared the improvisation of Candy and Diehl to the improvisation of Laurel and Hardy. In 1983, Diehl appeared in National Lampoon's Vacation, which Ramis directed.
In 1984, Diehl was cast as Detective Larry Zito in Miami Vice. Diehl found the role unfulfilling, and decided to leave. On January 9, 1987 — the 57th episode of Miami Vice — Zito's last appearance a two part episode , "Down for the Count", was aired and the character killed off.
Diehl moved into a basement apartment in Greenwich Village in New York, and despite a drastic reduction in his income, he declined television roles, and chose instead to continue working in film while pursuing a serious stage career. He subsequently appeared in The Hanoi Hilton (1987), a film about the experiences of American prisoners of war in Hanoi in the 1960s/70s, and Alex Cox's Walker (1987), which was shot in Nicaragua during the Contra War. In late 1988, Diehl relocated to Los Angeles after he was cast in Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind at the Mark Taper Forum.
He continued to work in theater in New York, however, and frequently returned to the stage there, most notably for a Shepherd play at the Public Theater with Shepard in residence at the Signature, and Mednick’s Joe And Betty, which was produced twice on Theater Row in New York.
In 1997, Diehl reprised his role in Action at the Public Theater, and in 2005 he worked once again with Padua Playwrights, appearing in two plays in Mednick's Gary Trilogy. Among others, his theater credits include Life of Mine, (with Holly Hunter) at the Mark Taper Forum, Samuel Beckett's Endgame and Happy Days, one of three plays which Diehl directed.
He has appeared in more than 140 films, including Joysticks (1983), Angel (1984), City Limits (1984), Madhouse (1990), The Dark Side of the Moon (1990), Kickboxer 2 (1991), Mikey (1992), Mo' Money (1992), Gettsyburg (1993), The Client (1994), Stargate (1994), The New Age (1994), Mind Ripper (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Road to Nowhere (2010).
He played G. Gordon Liddy in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), the mercenary Cooper in Jurassic Park III (2001), and in recurring roles on The Shield, Friday Night Lights, The West Wing and The John Larroquette Show. In 2000, he appeared in Failsafe, which aired live on television. Between 2002-04, he portrayed General Motors' Harley Earl in a series of 11 television commercials for Buick. The commercials were directed by Tony Scott, who had previously directed films including Top Gun and Crimson Tide.
In 2004, Wim Wenders cast Diehl as the male lead in Land of Plenty, a film about post 9/11 American life. Shot on digital video in 16 days, the film centered on Diehl's character, Paul, a troubled Vietnam veteran, and his niece, played by Michelle Williams. In a The New York Times review of the film, A.O. Scott wrote "Mr. Diehl gives a wry, cunning performance, allowing glimmers of Paul's intelligence and decency to shine through even in his moments of high self-delusion."
A member of the Actors Studio since 2004, Diehl won the Los Angeles Times Warren Award in 2012, and in 2014 won the Southampton Film Festival's Lead Actor Award for his role in the short film Kahea.
He boxed as a middleweight in two professional matches (one win and one loss), and participated in several exhibition shows for charity.
|1980||Falling in Love Again||Beaver (1940s)|
|1981||Escape from New York||Punk|
|1983||National Lampoon's Vacation||Asst Mechanic|
|1983||D.C. Cab||Head kidnapper|
|1987||The Hanoi Hilton||Murphy|
|1990||The Dark Side of the Moon||Philip Jennings|
|1991||Kickboxer 2: The Road Back||Jack|
|1991||A Climate for Killing||Wayne Paris|
|1992||The Paint Job||Father|
|1992||Mo' Money||Keith Heading|
|1993||Falling Down||Dad (Back Yard Party)|
|1994||Almost Dead||Eddie Herbek|
|1994||The Client||Jack Nance|
|1994||The New Age||Lyle|
|1995||Three Wishes||Leland's father|
|1996||Female Perversions||Jake Rock|
|1996||The Grave||J.C. Cole|
|1996||The Destiny of Marty Fine||Deke|
|1996||Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day||Pinchot|
|1996||A Time to Kill||Tim Nunley|
|1997||The End of Violence||Lowell Lewis|
|1997||Con Air||Public Defender||Uncredited|
|1997||Fire Down Below||Frank Elkins|
|1997||Most Wanted||Police Captain|
|1998||The Hi-Lo Country||Les Birk|
|1998||Davis Is Dead||The Killer|
|1999||Anywhere But Here||Jimmy|
|2000||Tully||Mal "Mac" MacAvoy|
|2000||Lost Souls||Henry Birdson|
|2001||Pearl Harbor||Senior Doctor|
|2001||Jurassic Park III||Cooper|
|2001||Falling Like This||Eddie Gallagher||Also co-producer|
|2003||Out of Our Hands||Vic||Short film|
|2003||Just Another Story||Al|
|2004||Pass for Human||Ex-husband|
|2004||Land of Plenty||Paul|
|2005||Down in the Valley||Steve|
|2006||The House Is Burning||Mr. Garson|
|2006||The Far Side of Jericho||Cash Thornton|
|2006||Running Out of Time in Hollywood|
|2008||The Lucky Ones||Tom Klinger|
|2009||Follow the Prophet||Ted|
|2009||Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas||Sheriff Larabie|
|2009||My Happy Faces||Dr. M.||Short film|
|2010||Road to Nowhere||Bobby Billings|
|2012||The Obama Effect||Steve Warren|
|2012||Gabe the Cupid Dog||Roger|
|2012||Apartment 1303 3D||Detective|
|2013||Singularity Principle||Jack Brenner|
|2014||A Long Way Off||Mr. Abraham|
|2014||Kahea||Jake Baldwin||Short film|
|2014||Sal and the Goon||William Truth||Short film|
|2014||Strong Collected Spirit||Marty Stock|
|2016||The North Star||Master Anderson|
|2019||Out of the Wild||Henry McBride|
|1980||A Rumor of War||D.T.||Television miniseries|
|1980||A Cry for Love||Television film|
|1981||Hill Street Blues||Tom||Episode: "Chipped Beef"|
|1982||The Ambush Murders||Ferguson||Television film|
|1983||Cagney & Lacey||Episode: "The Grandest Jewel Thief of Them All"|
|1983||The Family Tree||The intruder||Episode: "The Burglary"|
|1984||Hunter||Bank robber||Episode: "Hunter"|
|1984–1987||Miami Vice||Det. Larry Zito||56 episodes|
|1988||Glitz||Teddy Magyk||Television film|
|1988||Monsters||Miles Magnus||Episode: "Pillow Talk"|
|1989||Beauty and the Beast||Vernon Toulane||Episode: "The Hollow Men"|
|1989||Falcon Crest||Gus Wallach||Episode: "The Price of Freedom"|
|1990||In the Heat of the Night||John Sevrance||Episode: "Triangle"|
|1992||Mann & Machine||Concierge||Episode: "Prototype"|
|1993||South of Sunset||Merlin||2 episodes|
|1994||L.A. Law||Tim / Kevin Delahanty||2 episodes|
|1994–1996||The John Larroquette Show||Chris||5 episodes|
|1995||The Marshall||Earl "The Beast" Lipscomb||Episode: "The Bounty Hunter"|
|1995||Buffalo Girls||General Custer||Television miniseries|
|1995||Amanda & the Alien||Colonel Rosencrans||Television film|
|1996||The Lazarus Man||Nat Pratchett||2 episodes|
|1996||Ruby Jean and Joe||Harris Johnson||Television film|
|1996||Profiler||Toby "The Wick" Wood||Episode: "Ring of Fire"|
|1996||ER||Johnson's son||Episode: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"|
|1997||Nash Bridges||Albert Foss||Episode: "The Counterfeiters"|
|1997||The Outer Limits||Joe||Episode: "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson"|
|1998||The Pretender||Sheriff Delmont||Episode: "Red Rock Jarod"|
|1998||The Rat Pack||Joe DiMaggio||Television film|
|1999||The X-Files||Wilson Pinker Rawls||Episode: "Trevor"|
|1999||JAG||Jack Raglan||Television film|
|2000||18 Wheels of Justice||Matt Curran||Episode: "Mr. Invisible"|
|2000||Get Real||Harris Forman||Episode: "Tough Love"|
|2000||Fail Safe||Col. Cascio||Television film|
|2000–2002||The West Wing||Claypool||2 episodes|
|2001||Dead Last||Richard Stengler||Episode: "To Serve, with Love"|
|2002||NYPD Blue||Joe Brady||Episode: "Gypsy Woe's Me"|
|2002||The Guardian||Fortunato||Episode: "Sacrifice"|
|2003||The Shield||Ben Gilroy||8 episodes|
|2003||Dragnet||Dr. Rupert Miles||Episode: "Sticks and Stones"|
|2003||Without a Trace||Doyle||Episode: "Revelations"|
|2003||Karen Sisco||Junior McLeod||Episode: "Nostalgia"|
|2005||Strong Medicine||Mr. Lawson||Episode: "Gunshot Wedding"|
|2005–2006||Point Pleasant||David Burke||7 episodes|
|2006||Hidden Places||Frank Wyatt||Television film|
|2006||Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise||Jerry Snyder||Television film|
|2007||Jericho||Governor Trader||Episode: "Black Jack"|
|2007||Cold Case||Isaac Keller||2 episodes|
|2007||Women's Murder Club||Paul Galvan||Episode: "The Past Comes Back to Haunt You"|
|2009||Mental||Hank Crowley||Episode: "Rainy Days"|
|2009||Friday Night Lights||Richard Sherman||2 episodes|
|2010||Lie to Me||Charlie Everett||Episode: "Veronica"|
|2011||Trichotomy||The Muse||Video short|
|2011||Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe||Adm. James G. Lawrence||Television film|
|2011||Rizzoli & Isles||Arthur Dunbar||Episode: "My Own Worst Enemy"|
|2012||Scandal||Ray Dwyer||Episode: "The Other Woman"|
|2014||Almost Human||Edward Kennex||Episode: "Straw Man"|
|2019||Snowfall||Colonel McDonald||Episode: "Protect and Swerve"|
|2019||Castle Rock||John||Episode: "The Word"|
- Gaita, Paul. "The Warren Awards: John Diehl". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
- Johnson, Reed (August 12, 2001). "Getting Ahead...On The L.A. Stage?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
- Nimershiem, Jack (February 1, 1986). "The Miami Vice Connection". Cincinnati Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
- "John A. Diehl, Obituary". Hodapp Funeral Home. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Friedman, E. Lund (May 12, 2003). "MARKETING: Harley Earl TV ad brings fame to veteran actor". Automotive News. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- Rabin, Nathan (June 5, 2009). "John Larroquette". AV Club. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
- Bennets, Leslie (January 9, 1987). "'MIAMI VICE' FREES ACTOR BY KILLING LIEUTENANT ZITO". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- Hurlburt, Roger (May 19, 1987). "SURVIVAL, CAMARADERIE ARE THEMES OF 'HILTON'". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- Sullivan, Dan (January 22, 1988). "STAGE REVIEW : A Tale of Two Families in 'A Lie of the Mind'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- Lawton, Adam (June 2, 2011). "Interview with John Diehl". Media Mikes. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
- Sullivan, Dan (January 22, 1988). "Stage Review: A Tale of Two Families in 'A Lie of the Mind'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- Martinez, Julio (April 10, 2005). "Review: "The Gary Plays: Tirade for Three & Gary's Walk"". Variety. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- "Monte Hellman's "Road to Nowhere" on its Way to a U.S. Release via monterey media". IndieWire. January 13, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- Hakim, Danny (October 10, 2002). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING; Buick uses a mid-20th-century designer to lure younger buyers, but also brings out the skeptics". The New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
- Scott, AO (October 12, 2005). "A Desire to Heal the Rifts in a Troubled Landscape". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- "Award Winners 2014". Southampton Film Festival. Southampton Film Festival. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
- Anderson, Skip (February 15, 2016). "Featured artist: Julie Christensen". The East Nashvillian. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "John Diehl". Boxing Record. Retrieved April 8, 2016.