Liev Schreiber

Isaac Liev Schreiber[1] (/ˈlɛv/; born October 4, 1967)[1] is an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and narrator. He became known during the late 1990s and early 2000s, having appeared in several independent films, and later mainstream Hollywood films, including the Scream trilogy of horror films, Ransom (1996), Phantoms (1998), The Sum of All Fears (2002), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), The Omen (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Taking Woodstock (2009), Salt (2010), Goon (2011), Pawn Sacrifice (2014), and Spotlight (2015). He later became known to animation loving audiences for his voice work in My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), Isle of Dogs, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (both 2018).

Liev Schreiber
MJK 08465 Liev Schreiber (Berlinale 2018).jpg
Schreiber in 2018
Isaac Liev Schreiber

(1967-10-04) October 4, 1967 (age 53)
EducationHampshire College (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
OccupationActor, director, screenwriter, producer
Years active1994–present
Partner(s)Naomi Watts (2005–2016)
RelativesPablo Schreiber (half-brother)

Schreiber is also a stage actor, having performed in several Broadway productions. In 2005, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in the play Glengarry Glen Ross. That year, he made his debut as a film director and writer with Everything Is Illuminated (2005), based on the 2002 novel of the same name. Schreiber has had further success in the television world, most notably portraying the eponymous protagonist of the Showtime drama series Ray Donovan (2013–2020). The role has earned him five Golden Globe Award nominations and three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. He also narrates the HBO series Hard Knocks and 24/7, as well as various PBS programs.

Early lifeEdit

Schreiber was born in San Francisco, California,[1] the son of Heather Milgram,[2] a painter, and Tell Schreiber, an actor and carpenter.[3][4] His father is Protestant and his mother is Jewish.[5][6][7][8] His maternal grandfather, Alex Milgram, emigrated from Ukraine. Milgram, who was the most significant male in Schreiber's youth, played the cello and owned Pierre-Auguste Renoir etchings, and made his living by delivering meat to restaurants.[9][10][11][12] His mother, who is an aficionada of classical music and Russian literature, has said that she named Liev after her favorite Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, while his father has stated that Schreiber was named after the doctor who saved his mother's life. His family nickname, adopted when Schreiber was a baby, is "Huggy."[13][9]

When Schreiber was one year old, his family moved to the unincorporated rural community of Winlaw, in the southern interior of British Columbia.[14] Over the next four years, his mother was hospitalized on several occasions and underwent therapy related to a bad experience on LSD that she had near the beginning of her marriage (in San Francisco), according to Schreiber's father.[9] After he threatened to admit her to a mental institution, she left with her son. With his father in pursuit, Schreiber and his mother were trailed by private detectives in various states; when he was three, his father retrieved him from an upstate New York commune where Heather had gone to escape detection. By the time Schreiber was four, he was again with his mother, living on the fourth floor of a dilapidated walkup at First Avenue and First Street in New York City.

When Schreiber was five, his parents divorced and a fierce custody battle ensued, bankrupting his maternal grandfather. His mother won custody, and the two moved to a cold water flat on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, where they lived for some time, frequently with no electricity, hot water, or even beds. It was during this period that Schreiber began his career in theater by enrolling in Joffrey Ballet School of New York.[15][16]

After the divorce, Schreiber's father remained in British Columbia and it was there that Liev's half-brother Pablo Schreiber was born five years later. (He also has half-siblings from his mother's first marriage; they lived with their father in New York City while Liev was growing up.)

Schreiber has described his mother as a "far-out Socialist Labor Party hippie bohemian freak who hung out with William Burroughs".[9][17][18] She was "a highly cultured eccentric" who earned a living by splitting her time between driving a cab and creating papier-mâché puppets." On Schreiber's 16th birthday, his mother bought him a motorcycle to "promote fearlessness."[9] The critic John Lahr wrote in a 1999 New Yorker profile that, "To a large extent, Schreiber's professional shape-shifting and his uncanny instinct for isolating the frightened, frail, goofy parts of his characters are a result of being forced to adapt to his mother's eccentricities. It's both his grief and his gift."[9] Her bohemian proclivities led to actions such as making Schreiber take the Hindu name Shiva Das, wear yoga shirts, consume a vegetarian diet, and briefly attend Satchidananda Ashram in Pomfret, Connecticut when he was 12.[16] Schreiber's mother also forbade her son from seeing color movies. As a result, his favorite actors were Charlie Chaplin, Andrew Cartwright and Basil Rathbone. In retrospect, Schreiber said in a 2008 interview that he appreciates his mother's influences, saying: "Since I've had Sasha, I've completely identified with everything my mother went through raising me... and I think her choices were inspired."[19]

Subsequently, Schreiber attended Friends Seminary, a Quaker school.[20] In high school, Liev played the bass clarinet.[21][22]

Schreiber went on to attend Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he began his acting training at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, via the Five Colleges consortium. In March 1989, he played Antonio in The Merchant of Venice alongside Jeffrey Donovan. He later attended the Yale School of Drama, where he studied with Earle R. Gister and starred in Charles Evered's The Size of the World, directed by Walton Jones. He received a master's degree in drama from Yale in 1992.[23] He also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He originally wanted to be a screenwriter, but eventually settled on acting.[citation needed]


Early filmsEdit

Schreiber had several supporting roles in various independent films until his big break, as the accused murderer Cotton Weary in the Scream trilogy of horror films. Though the success of the Scream trilogy led Schreiber to roles in several big-budget studio pictures, Entertainment Weekly wrote in 2007 that "Schreiber is [still] best known for such indie gems as Walking and Talking, The Daytrippers, and Big Night."[24]

After Scream, Schreiber was cast as the young Orson Welles in the HBO original movie RKO 281, for which he was nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He then played supporting roles in several studio films, including Ron Howard's 1996 remake of Ransom, the 1999 film The Hurricane, A Walk on the Moon; the 2000 movie version of Hamlet, and as a spy in The Sum of All Fears.

The 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, with Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep, was another major film for Schreiber, stirring some controversy as it opened during a heated presidential election cycle. Schreiber also played Robert Thorn with Julia Stiles in the 2006 film The Omen, a remake of the 1976 horror classic. He played the time-traveling ex-boyfriend of Meg Ryan in the 2001 film Kate & Leopold, also starring Hugh Jackman.


Along with his screen work, Schreiber is a well-respected classical actor; in a 1998 review of the Shakespeare play Cymbeline, The New York Times called his performance "revelatory" and ended the article with the plea, "More Shakespeare, Mr. Schreiber."[25] A year later, Schreiber played the title role in Hamlet in a December 1999 revival at The Public Theater, to similar raves. In 2000, he went on to play Laertes in the film Hamlet, a modern adaptation of the play.[citation needed]

His performance in the title role of Henry V in a 2003 Central Park production of that play caused The New Yorker magazine critic John Lahr to expound upon his aptitude at playing Shakespeare. "He has a swiftness of mind," Lahr wrote, "which convinces the audience that language is being coined in the moment. His speech, unlike that of the merely adequate supporting cast, feels lived rather than learned."[26]

From June to July 2006, he played the title role in Macbeth opposite Jennifer Ehle at the Delacorte Theater.[citation needed]

Narration and voiceover workEdit

Schreiber has narrated a number of documentaries, many of them aired as part of PBS series such as American Experience, Nova, and Secrets of the Dead[27] from 2001 to 2011. He is the voice behind the television commercials for Infiniti.[citation needed] In 1995, he provided narration for the BBC/WGBH documentary co-production Rock & Roll.[28] In 1994, he narrated Two Billion Hearts, the official film of 1994 World Cup.[citation needed]

Schreiber is also the voice of HBO's Sports of the 20th Century documentaries.[29] Similarly, Schreiber is the narrator of HBO Boxing's Countdown and 24/7 documentary series.[30] Schreiber served as the voice of Skeletor in the 2002 incarnation of Masters of the Universe.[citation needed] He narrated Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals[31][32] and Broad Street Bullies in 2010 [33] as well as Runnin' Rebels of UNLV in 2011, on HBO,[34] and provided the narration for "Making of Pumping Iron" documentary that is included in a special anniversary edition of the movie Pumping Iron.[35] He also narrated the History Channel specials Ape to Man,[citation needed] The Lost Kennedy Home Movies,[36] and America: The Story of Us.[37]

Schreiber reprised his role as narrator for HBO's 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic NHL documentary, which followed the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals as they prepared to face each other in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 1, 2011. Once again, Schreiber was the narrator for the HBO series, 24/7 : Road to the Winter Classic. That year, the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers battled in the Classic, at Citizens Bank Park in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. Once more, Schreiber narrated for the HBO series in 2014 for the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, which showcased the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[38]

Schreiber has been the narrator in HBO's Hard Knocks for every season, except for the 2007 season when Paul Rudd filled that role,[39] with the Kansas City Chiefs.[40] He also narrated the 2011 documentary Hitler's G.I. Death Camp on the National Geographic Channel.[41] Released in 2012, Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald was narrated by Schreiber,[42] as was the 2013 documentary Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve.[43] He provided the voiceover for the 2018 Kia Stinger GT commercial.[44]

Directing and 2000s workEdit

Schreiber (in white) and other actors celebrating the world premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in Tempe, Arizona, April 2009

Schreiber told The New Yorker in 1999, "I don't know that I want to be an actor for the rest of my life." For a time in the late '90s, he hoped to produce and direct an adaptation of The Merchant of Venice starring Dustin Hoffman.[9]

During that time, Schreiber started writing a screenplay about his relationship with his Ukrainian grandfather, a project he abandoned when, according to The New York Times, "he read Jonathan Safran Foer's hit novel, Everything Is Illuminated, and decided Mr. Foer had done it better."[45] Schreiber's film adaptation of the short story from which the novel originated, which he both wrote and directed, was released in 2005. The film, which starred Elijah Wood, received lukewarm-to-positive reviews,[46] with Roger Ebert calling it "a film that grows in reflection."

In 2002, he starred in Neil LaBute's play The Mercy Seat along with Sigourney Weaver off-Broadway that was critically and commercially very successful. In the spring of 2005, Schreiber played the role of Richard Roma in the Broadway revival of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. As Roma, Schreiber won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play. In 2006, Schreiber was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[47]

In the fall of that year, he directed and starred in the "2006 Join the Fight" AIDS PSA campaign for Cable Positive and Kismet Films (others involved with the campaign included actress Naomi Watts, fashion designer Calvin Klein, and playwright Tony Kushner).

Schreiber played Charlie Townsend in the 2006 film The Painted Veil, starring opposite Watts and Edward Norton. In the same year, Schreiber also appeared in The Omen, which was a remake of the 1976 film of the same name. For television, the actor portrayed a character who temporarily replaces Gil Grissom (played by William Petersen) on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2006–07 season) as Michael Keppler, a seasoned CSI with a strong reputation in various police departments across the nation, before joining the veteran Las Vegas team.

Schreiber joined the cast on January 18, 2007, and shot a four-episode arc.[24] He appeared in the Broadway revival of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio. The show began previews at the Longacre Theatre on February 15, 2007, in preparation for its March opening. On May 11, 2007, he won the Drama League Award for distinguished performance for his portrayal of shock jock "Barry Champlain" in Talk Radio, and has received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for the role. The New York Times' Ben Brantley called his performance "the most lacerating portrait of a human meltdown this side of a Francis Bacon painting."[19] Schreiber played the womanizing Lotario Thurgot in Mike Newell's screen adaptation of Love in the Time of Cholera, released in 2007. In a January 2007 interview, Schreiber mentioned that he was working on a screenplay.[24]

Late in 2008, Schreiber portrayed Jewish resistance fighter Zus Bielski in the film Defiance, alongside Daniel Craig. That same year, 20th Century Fox announced Schreiber would play the mutant supervillain Victor Creed in the Marvel Comics film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, released on May 1, 2009.[48] This was the second film he has done with Hugh Jackman. In March 2010, it was announced that he was interested in returning for Scream 4,[49] portraying Cotton Weary a fourth time (the film was subsequently made without his involvement).[50]

In 2010, he returned to Broadway in A View from the Bridge for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor in a Play. Schreiber narrates Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three-hour documentary that premiered on PBS in October 2013.[51]


Wes Anderson, Koyu Rankin, Schreiber, Jeff Goldblum, Kunichi Nomura, and panel moderator Anatol Weber at the press conference of Isle of Dogs at Berlinale 2018.

He co-starred alongside Janet McTeer in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway, with Schreiber cast as the Machiavellian seducer Vicomte de Valmont.[52] The play ran from October 2016 to January 2017.

In 2017, Schreiber returned to play Ross "The Boss" Rhea in Goon: Last of the Enforcers.

During the story development for Logan, Liev had been approached about the potential of Victor Creed to return to the X-Men film universe. Following the film's release, Hugh Jackman revealed that early versions of the script included the character but that element was eventually removed from the final screenplay.[53]

In 2017, Liev was cast to voice the Storm King, the main antagonist in the 2017 film My Little Pony: The Movie, based on the show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. On his acceptance of the part, Liev said that, because of his kids' exposure to his adult-oriented movie work, he wanted something more child-friendly for them to watch.[54]

Schreiber at the March 2018 premiere of Isle of Dogs

In 2018, he was part of the ensemble cast of the animated film Isle of Dogs, which premiered at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival; and voiced the supervillain Kingpin in the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

In the year 2019, Schreiber had a supporting role in A Rainy Day in New York, which was written and directed by Woody Allen. The same year, he starred in the lead role for Human Capital, where he also served as a producer. In a second collaboration with filmmaker Wes Anderson, he completed filming for The French Dispatch in a currently unspecified role. The film was originally set to be released in 2020, but it was delayed numerous times due to the COVID-19 pandemic before being planned for a release in July 2021. The film was subsequently released at the Cannes Film Festival on July 12, and is now delayed again for a theatrical release in the U.S. on October 22, 2021. His role in the movie was also revealed to be that of an unnamed Talk Show Host.

Schreiber is currently working on a film adaptation of Across the River and Into the Trees. In the film, he plays the leading role of Colonel Richard Cantwell, which was originally set to be played by Pierce Brosnan.

Personal lifeEdit

Schreiber was in a relationship with British-Australian actress Naomi Watts (with whom he appeared in The Painted Veil).[55] Their first son, Alexander, was born in 2007, and their second son, Samuel, was born in 2008.[56][57][58][59] On September 26, 2016, Schreiber and Watts announced their separation after 11 years together.[60]

Schreiber has lived in a loft apartment in Noho, in Lower Manhattan in New York City, that was featured in Architectural Digest.[61]



Year Film Role Notes
1994 Mixed Nuts Chris
1995 Denise Calls Up Jerry Heckerman
Mad Love Salesman
Party Girl Nigel
1996 The Daytrippers Carl Petrovic
Walking and Talking Andrew
Big Night Leo
Scream Cotton Weary Cameo
Ransom Clark Barnes
1997 His and Hers Glenn
Scream 2 Cotton Weary
1998 Phantoms Deputy Stuart 'Stu' Wargle
Sphere Ted Fielding
Twilight Jeff Willis
Desert Blue Mickey Moonday Voice
1999 A Walk on the Moon Marty Kantrowitz
Jakob the Liar Mischa
The Hurricane Sam Chaiton
2000 Spring Forward Paul
Hamlet Laertes
Scream 3 Cotton Weary
2001 Kate & Leopold Stuart Besser
2002 The Sum of All Fears John Clark
2003 Spinning Boris Joe Shumate
2004 The Manchurian Candidate Congressman Raymond Prentiss Shaw
2005 Everything Is Illuminated N/A Director
2006 The Omen Robert Thorn
The Painted Veil Charles Townsend
2007 Chicago 10 William Kunstler Voice
The Ten Ray Johnson
Love in the Time of Cholera Lotario Thurgot
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure Narrator
2008 Defiance Zus Bielski
2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Victor Creed / Sabretooth Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain
Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Rumble (with Hugh Jackman)
Nominated — People's Choice Award for Favorite On-Screen Team (with Hugh Jackman, Will.I.Am, Dominic Monaghan, Ryan Reynolds & Kevin Durand)
Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (with Hugh Jackman & Ryan Reynolds)
Taking Woodstock Vilma
Every Day Ned Freed
2010 America: The Story of Us Narrator
Repo Men Frank
Salt Theodore "Ted" Winters
2011 Goon Ross "The Boss" Rhea
2012 Mental Trevor Blundell
The Reluctant Fundamentalist Bobby Lincoln
2013 Movie 43 Robert Segment: "Homeschooled"
Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust Narrator Documentary
The Last Days on Mars Vincent Campbell
The Butler Lyndon B. Johnson
A Perfect Man James
Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve Narrator
Fading Gigolo Dovi
2014 Pawn Sacrifice Boris Spassky
2015 Unity Narrator Documentary
Spotlight Martin Baron
Creed HBO 24/7 Narrator Voice
2016 The 5th Wave Colonel Vosch
Chuck Chuck Wepner Also producer
2017 Goon: Last of the Enforcers Ross "The Boss" Rhea
My Little Pony: The Movie The Storm King Voice
2018 Isle of Dogs Spots Voice
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Wilson Fisk / Kingpin Voice
2019 A Rainy Day in New York Roland Pollard
Human Capital Drew Hagel Also producer
2021 The French Dispatch Talk Show Host
TBA Across the River and Into the Trees Richard Cantwell Post-production
Untitled Wes Anderson film Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Buffalo Girls Ogden Television movie
1996 The Sunshine Boys Ricky Gregg Television movie
1998 Since You've Been Gone Fred Linderhoff Television movie
1999 RKO 281 Orson Welles Television movie
2002 Ulysses S. Grant Narrator American Experience documentary film
2003 Hitler: The Rise of Evil Ernst Hanfstaengl Miniseries
2006 Lackawanna Blues Ulysses Ford Television movie
2007 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Michael Keppler 4 episodes
2008 Independent Lens William Kunstler Episode: "Chicago 10"
2009 Nature Narrator Episode: "Raptor Force"
2011 Sesame Street Himself 2 episodes
2012 Robot Chicken Iron Man / King Triton Voice; Episode: "Collateral Damage in Gang Turf War"
2013 Clear History Tibor Television movie; uncredited
2013–2020 Ray Donovan Ray Donovan 82 episodes (Lead role)
2015 BoJack Horseman Copernicus Voice; Episode: "Out to Sea"
2016 Saturday Night Live Himself Episode: "Adam Driver/Chris Stapleton"
2016 Drunk History Victor Lustig Episode: "Landmarks"
2017 America in Color Narrator Five episode Smithsonian Channel program
2018 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Liev Schreiber/Lil Wayne"
2018 Civilisations Himself (narrator) Voice; 9 episodes
2019 The Simpsons "Dateline: Springfield" narrator Voice; Episode: "Woo-Hoo Dunnit?"
2020 Speaking Truth to Power Narrator Orpheus presentation of Beethoven's Egmont, Op. 84[62]


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
1992 Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) Lionel Classic Stage Company
1993 In the Summer House Eliot Vivian Beaumont Theater
1995 The Tempest Sebastian Shakespeare in the Park
1995 Moonlight Jake Laura Pels Theatre
1998 Macbeth Banquo/Seyton The Public Theater
1998 Cymbeline Iachimo/Jupiter Shakespeare in the Park
1999 Hamlet Prince Hamlet The Public Theater
2000 Betrayal Jerry American Airlines Theatre
2001 Othello Iago The Public Theater
2002 The Mercy Seat Ben MCC Theater
2003 Henry V Henry V of England Shakespeare in the Park
2005 Glengarry Glen Ross Richard Roma Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
2006 Macbeth Macbeth Shakespeare in the Park
2007 Talk Radio Barry Champlain Longacre Theatre
2010 A View From the Bridge Eddie Cort Theatre
2016 Les Liaisons Dangereuses Le Vicomte de Valmont Booth Theatre

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Category Title of work Result
2000 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film RKO 281 Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
2005 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play
Glengarry Glen Ross
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor
The Manchurian Candidate
Tony Awards Best Actor in a Play
Talk Radio
2010 A View from the Bridge Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Play Won
2014 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Ray Donovan
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Butler
2015 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Ray Donovan Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Best Supporting Actor
Gotham Independent Film Awards Ensemble Performance Won
Independent Spirit Awards Robert Altman Award Won
Satellite Awards Best Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
2016 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama Ray Donovan Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2017 Nominated
Outstanding Narrator
Muhammad Ali: Only One
UConn: The March To Madness
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Ray Donovan
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Narrator
The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti


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