Jonathan Niven Cryer (born April 16, 1965) is an American actor, comedian and television director. Born into a show business family, Cryer made his motion picture debut as a teenaged photographer in the 1984 romantic comedy No Small Affair; his breakout role came in 1986, playing "Duckie" in the John Hughes-written film Pretty in Pink. In 1998, he wrote and produced the independent film Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five.
Cryer at his Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony on September 19, 2011
Jonathan Niven Cryer
April 16, 1965
Although Cryer gained fame with his early film roles, it took several years to find success on television; none of his star vehicles, including The Famous Teddy Z, Partners, and The Trouble with Normal, lasted more than 22 episodes. In 2003, Cryer was cast as Alan Harper on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, for which he won two Primetime Emmy Awards in 2009 and 2012. Cryer received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television in 2011.
Cryer's other film appearances include Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Hiding Out (1987), Hot Shots (1991), Holy Man (1998), Tortured (2008), Shorts (2009), and Hit by Lightning (2014). He also has a recurring role in the CBS drama series NCIS, playing Dr. Cyril Taft.
After appearing on the podcast Crime Writers On... it was announced Cryer is joining the team at the Undisclosed podcast for their second season.
Cryer was born in New York City, New York. His mother, Gretchen Cryer (née Kiger; * 1935), is a playwright, songwriter, actress and singer. His father, Donald David Cryer (born 1936), is an actor and singer who originally studied to be a minister. Cryer's paternal grandfather, the Rev. Donald W. Cryer (1909–1988), was a well-known Methodist minister. He has two sisters, Robin and Shelly.
When Cryer was twelve years old, he decided that he wanted to become an actor. When his mother heard this, she thought he should have a backup plan, and joked: "Plumbing is a pretty good career." Cryer attended Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center for several summers as a teenager, and is a 1983 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. He was classmates with screenwriter and film director Boaz Yakin. To his mother's "great disappointment", Cryer skipped college and went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, United Kingdom for a summer short course in Shakespeare.
Cryer's first professional acting effort was as David in the Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy, replacing Matthew Broderick, whom he "closely resembled". Cryer was later an understudy and replacement for Broderick in Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1989.
At age 19, Cryer appeared in the 1984 romantic comedy film No Small Affair, in the lead role as Charles Cummings, after the original production with Matthew Broderick was shut down due to a heart attack by director Martin Ritt. He went on to have small roles in films and television movies, and he made his breakthrough as Phil "Duckie" Dem(p)ster in the John Hughes-scripted film Pretty in Pink. In an interview with the Daily News, Cryer's mother said that after Pretty in Pink, she started getting calls from teenage girls from all over the world, who would leave hysterical, giggling messages on her answering machine. In 1989, he got the lead role in the TV comedy series The Famous Teddy Z. His performance gained poor reviews and the show was canceled after the first season.
A year later, he starred with Charlie Sheen in the Jim Abrahams comedy Hot Shots!, which was received very positively. Cryer is frequently linked to the Brat Pack. In a March 2009 interview on Anytime with Bob Kushell, Cryer stated that he had auditioned for St. Elmo's Fire but was not cast in a role. In 1993, he was asked to audition for the role of Chandler Bing on Friends, while doing a play in London. His reading was videotaped by a British casting agent but the tape failed to arrive in the U.S. before the network had made its final decision.
In 1995, he was cast as Bob in the sitcom Partners, which, like his prior show The Famous Teddy Z, was canceled after its first season. In an interview with Time Out New York he stated, "Hey, every show I'm in goes down. Think about this: George Clooney was in 28 pilots, or something. It means nothing". After guest starring on shows such as Dharma & Greg and The Outer Limits, he successfully wrote and produced the film, Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five. It debuted in 1998 at the Los Angeles Film Festival and gained positive reviews from critics. Leonard Maltin from Playboy Magazine called it "a breath of fresh air". That same year, Cryer landed in another TV series, the Fox sitcom Getting Personal, alongside Vivica A. Fox and Duane Martin. Although the show was picked up for a second season after its abbreviated spring run, it was canceled that fall, after airing 17 episodes in total. In 2000, he was cast as the lead in a comedy series called The Trouble With Normal. For the third time, Cryer starred in a show which was canceled after its first season.
Cryer's long run of unsuccessful TV projects finally ended three years later. Against the wishes of CBS executives (who were aware of his past failures) and due to a friendship with Charlie Sheen, he was cast in 2003 to portray Alan Harper on the hit comedy series Two and a Half Men. He has earned seven Primetime Emmy Award nominations and two wins for his acting work on the show. In a comment on the show's high ratings, he said: "When you’re on a show that's fighting for survival every week, you stop trusting your instincts, because you think, ‘My instincts haven't worked so far.’ But when people clearly like the show and are watching it in great numbers, it takes a huge amount of pressure off you. It allows you to trust your instincts and go with what has worked for you before." After former co-star Charlie Sheen's departure from the series, Cryer's character became the show's main protagonist (with Ashton Kutcher being cast as the co-lead) throughout the final four seasons, mainly due to the show's retooled plot. At the end of the series of Two and a Half Men, Cryer is the only actor to have appeared in every episode of the series; Sheen was fired in March 2011 and Cryer's on-screen son Angus T. Jones left the series at the end of season 10, after describing the show as "filth" and calling himself a "paid hypocrite". All appeared to be forgiven later, as Jones, unlike Charlie Sheen, appeared to great applause in the finale. Before being cast for Two and a Half Men, Cryer auditioned for the role of Gaius Baltar on the Sci-Fi Channel's reimagined Battlestar Galactica, but the role went to James Callis. In 2008, Cryer appeared with Laurence Fishburne and James Cromwell in the film Tortured, and in 2009 co-starred with James Spader in the film Shorts.
Cryer made a guest appearance on the sitcom series Husbands in its second season. He was initially cast to voice the lead character in DisneyToon Studios' animated film Planes, a spin-off of Pixar's Cars franchise, but later dropped out and was replaced by Dane Cook. Cryer did however receive a credit on the film for "additional story material."
In 2015, Cryer released a book titled So That Happened, a breezy, often comic tale chronicling Cryer's 30-year career on stage, film and television.
Cryer currently appears in the highly popular CBS drama series NCIS, where he currently plays Navy Dr. Cyril Taft who treats NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon). Cryer had expressed a desire to appear in NCIS since it premiered on September 23, 2003.
Pursuing a passion for criminal justice, Cryer joined the team of the popular podcast Undisclosed where he will be voicing the weekly addendum episode for the second season.
On May 21, 2018, Cryer was featured in the premier of Episode 1, Season 9 of genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? Cryer's journey took him from America to Scotland as he uncovered the dramatic tale of his ancestor James Adams, a Scottish Covenanter soldier who was captured during the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, and endured horrific conditions as a prisoner. He was then transported to America an indentured servant to work at the Saugus Iron Works at Lynn, Massachusetts. As part of his research for the episode, Cryer visited the site of the Battle of Dunbar, Durham Cathedral in Durham, North East England - where surviving Scottish prisoners were held until they were indentured - and the Saugus Iron Works national historic site. Cryer said: "Seeing the resilience of my family over centuries, you can see the legacy he left. I can't help but feel lucky...clearly, the resilience of my family, that spine of steel, was not something that came from nowhere. Moving forward, I'm going to take James Adams' strength as my inspiration and know that when you go through very, very difficult times, if you can turn around and help the people around you who had it even worse, that's real strength. And I aspire to be one of those people."
Cryer married British actress Sarah Trigger in 1999, with whom he has a son, Charlie Austin. The pair divorced in 2004. In February 2007, on an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he announced that he would marry entertainment reporter Lisa Joyner; the couple married in Mexico in June 2007. On September 29, 2009, Cryer and Joyner announced that they adopted a baby girl.
When Pretty in Pink co-star Molly Ringwald told Out magazine in 2012 that she believed Cryer's character was gay, Cryer defended Duckie and other "slightly effeminate dorks," and said he has had to live with others' "faulty" gaydar. Also in 2012, Joyner told Jeff Probst that when she and Cryer started dating, she wondered if he might be gay because "he never kissed me." Cryer was asked in 2014 if he was "mistaken for gay"; he again called himself "an effeminate heterosexual dork" and cracked a joke about never being propositioned: "Fellas, you're dropping the ball."
Prior to the 2008 presidential election, Cryer attended a fundraiser hosted by the McCain campaign and, according to news reports, endorsed Senator John McCain. When Cryer did not make a public endorsement for the 2012 race, his spokeswoman said that the 2008 report aligning him with the Republican Party was a "mistake" and that Cryer is "not really political." He had attended events for both Republicans and Democrats "because he wanted to hear what both sides had to say."
With regards to presumptive 2016 GOP nominee Donald Trump, Cryer shared his feelings on the May 5, 2016, episode of the podcast Never Not Funny. Cryer stated, "I have been pointing out, and I have been screaming to the rooftops, that Donald Trump is the Charlie Sheen of politics. [...] I have to tell you, I love Charlie Sheen, I loved working with him when he was sober, but he was, he's full of shit. He has been full of shit, you know, he has serious addiction. You know, his addiction is obviously serious, drugs, and, but, Trump is just addicted to feeling important. You know, and I think if anybody is under the delusion that he cares about, uh, uh, anybody in America besides himself, they are, they are stoned and need to rethink their priorities, 'cause he's, you know, 'cause it's just ridiculous that's he's gotten as far as he has."
|1984||No Small Affair||Charles Cummings|
|1985||Noon Wine||Teenage Herbert|
|1985||O.C. and Stiggs||Randall Schwab Jr.|
|1986||Pretty in Pink||Phil "Duckie" Dale|
|1987||Morgan Stewart's Coming Home||Morgan Stewart|
|1987||Superman IV: The Quest for Peace||Lenny Luthor|
|1987||Hiding Out||Andrew Morenski
|1988||Rap Master Ronnie: A Report Card|
|1989||Penn & Teller Get Killed||Frat boy|
|1991||Hot Shots!||Jim "Wash Out" Pfaffenbach|
|1993||The Waiter||Tommy Kazdan|
|1996||The Pompatus of Love||Mark||Writer|
|1997||Plan B||Stuart Winer|
|1998||Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five||Daniel||Writer and producer|
|2003||The Metro Chase||Mr. Stamm|
|2008||Unstable Fables: 3 Pigs and a Baby||Richard Pig||Voice|
|2009||Shorts: The Adventures of the Wishing Rock||Bill Thompson|
|2010||Due Date||Alan Harper||Cameo|
|2013||Ass Backwards||Dean Morris|
|2014||Hit by Lightning||Ricky Miller|
|2019||Big Time Adolescence||Reuben|
|1986||Amazing Stories||Phil||Episode: "Miscalculation"|
|1988||Cinemax Comedy Experiment||Himself||Episode: "Rap Master Ronnie: A Report Card"|
|1989–1990||The Famous Teddy Z||Teddy Zakalokis||20 episodes|
|1996||The Outer Limits||Trevor McPhee||Episode: "Vanishing Act"|
|1997||It's Good to Be King||Mort|
|1997||Dharma & Greg||Brian||Episode: "Shower the People You Love with Love"|
|1998||Getting Personal||Sam Wagner||Episode: "Sam I Am" (also producer)|
|1998||Hercules: The Animated Series||The Winged Wolves (voice)||Episode: "Hercules and the Underworld Takeover"|
|1998||Mr. Show with Bob and David||Duckie||Episode: "It's Perfectly Understandishable"|
|1998||Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place||Justin||Episode: "Two Guys, a Girl and a Thanksgiving"|
|2000–2001||The Trouble with Normal||Zack Mango||13 episodes|
|2001||Family Guy||(voice)||Episode: "There's Something About Paulie"|
|2002||Andy Richter Controls the Universe||Lemuel Praeger||Episode: "Gimme a C"|
|2002||The Practice||Terry Pender||Episode: "Of Thee I Sing"|
|2003||Becker||Roger||Episode: "Chris' Ex"|
|2003||Hey Joel||Joel Stein (voice)||Episodes: "Dark Week", "Judgment Day", "Tattoos and Taboos" & "Dream"|
|2003||Stripperella||Dave / Clifton / Clifford (voice)||Episodes: " The Bridesmaid", "Beauty and the Obese: Part 1" & "Beauty and the Obese: Part 2"|
|2003–2015||Two and a Half Men||Alan Harper||262 episodes;|
Lead role; Directed three episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2009)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2012)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (2011)
|2005–2006||Danny Phantom||Freakshow (voice)||Episodes: "Control Freaks" & "Reality Trip"|
|2006||American Dad!||Quacky (voice)||Episode: "It's Good to Be The Queen"|
|2008||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Himself||Uncredited Cameo|
|2010–2011||Hannah Montana||Kenneth Truscott||Episodes: "The Wheel Near My Bed (Keeps on Turnin')" & "I Am Mamaw, Hear Me Roar!"|
|2012||Husbands||Vic Del Rey||Episodes: "The Straightening" & "A Better Movie of What We’re Like"|
|2013||The Cleveland Show||(voice)||Episode: Fist and the Furious|
|2013–2016||Mom||Customer||Episode: "Pilot"; also director of 2 episodes: "Corned Beef and Handcuffs" & "Xanax and a Baby Duck"|
|2015–2016||NCIS||Dr. Cyril Taft (Navy Surgeon)||3 episodes|
|2016–2017||The Ranch||Bill Jensen||2 Episodes|
|2016||Lady Dynamite||Himself||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2017-19||Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television||Jon Cryer||Recurring (7 episodes)|
|2017||Justice League Action||Felix Faust (voice)||Episode: "Hat Trick"|
|2018||Robot Chicken||Brainy Smurf / Ziggy (voice)||Episode: "Your Mouth Is Hanging off Your Face"|
|2018||Will & Grace||Himself||Episode: "Kid 'N Play"|
|2018||Drop the Mic||Episode: "Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Shawn Mendes / Molly Ringwald vs. Jon Cryer"|
|2018||Who Do You Think You Are?||Season 9, Episode 1|
Pending - Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television (2019)
Pending - Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Villain (2019)
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To mark a new special-edition DVD of "Pretty in Pink", Emmy nominee Jon Cryer chats with Mandi Bierly about the movie's original ending, 'Try a Little Tenderness', and more
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