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Timothy Blake Nelson (born May 11, 1964) is an American actor, writer and director. His most famous roles include Delmar O'Donnell in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), Dr. Pendanski in Holes (2003), Daniel "Danny" Dalton Jr. in Syriana (2005), and Dr. Samuel Sterns in The Incredible Hulk (2008).

Tim Blake Nelson
Tim Blake Nelson 2016.jpg
Nelson at the 2016 Fantastic Fest
Born Timothy Blake Nelson[1]
(1964-05-11) May 11, 1964 (age 54)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
Alma mater Brown University
Juilliard School (Group 19, 1990)
Occupation Actor, writer, director
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Lisa Benavides (m. 1994)
Children 3


Early lifeEdit

Nelson was born to a Jewish family[2][3] in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Ruth (née Kaiser) Nelson,[4][5] who is a noted social activist and philanthropist in Tulsa, and Don Nelson, a geologist/wildcatter.[6][7] His uncle is businessman George Kaiser.[8]

His maternal grandparents, who were from Germany, escaped the Nazis shortly before World War II, moving to Britain in 1938 and immigrating to the United States in 1941.[9][10][11] His father's family were Russian Jewish emigrants.[12]

Nelson attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain Resort Arts and Conference Center in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma.[13]

Nelson is a 1982 graduate of Holland Hall School in Tulsa,[4] and a graduate of Brown University, where he was a Classics major as well as Senior Orator for his class of 1986. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Nelson won the Workman/Driskoll award for excellence in Classical Studies.[14] He graduated from Juilliard in 1990, a member of Group 19.[15]


Nelson with Ahna O'Reilly in 2012

Nelson's debut play, Eye of God, was produced at Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1992. The Grey Zone premiered at MCC Theater in New York in 1996, where his 1998 work Anadarko was produced. He was a co-star of the sketch comedy show The Unnaturals, which ran on HA! (later CTV, and would turn into Comedy Central) between 1989 and 1991, alongside Paul Zaloom, John Mariano and Siobhan Fallon Hogan.[16]

Nelson has appeared as an actor in film, TV and theatre. He had a featured role as Delmar in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. According to directors Joel and Ethan Coen, he was the only one in the cast or crew who had read Homer's Odyssey, a story upon which the film is loosely based. He was cast as the lead for his knowledge of the Greek mythology.[17] He sang "In the Jailhouse Now" on the film's soundtrack (which received a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2001). He played Samuel Sterns in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk.

Nelson narrated the 2001 audiobook At the Altar of Speed: The Fast Life and Tragic Death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.. He appeared on stage extensively off-Broadway in New York at theatres including Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Class Company, Soho Repertory Theater, New York Theater Workshop, and Central Park's Open Air Theater in the Shakespeare plays Richard III, Troilus and Cressida, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.

He has directed film versions of his plays The Grey Zone and Eye of God (for which he received an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for the Someone to Watch Award), as well as writing and directing two original screenplays: 1998's Kansas and Leaves of Grass which was released in 2009. He directed the film O, based on Othello and set in a modern-day high school.

He received, for Eye of God, the Tokyo Bronze Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival (1997) and the American Independent Award at the Seattle International Film Festival (1997); for O, the Best Director Award at the Seattle International Film Festival (2001); and for The Grey Zone, the National Board of Review's Freedom of Expression Award (2002). He is on the Board of Directors for The Actors Center in New York City, as well as Soho Rep Theatre.[citation needed]

Nelson guest-starred on the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 10 episode "Working Stiffs". In the episode "My Brother's Bomber" (aired September 29, 2015) of the PBS investigative series Frontline, he talked about the loss of his friend David Dornstein in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.[18]

Personal lifeEdit

Nelson currently resides in New York City with his wife, Lisa Benavides, and their three sons.[4] On May 8, 2009, he was inducted as an honorary member of the University of Tulsa's Beta of Oklahoma chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa national collegiate honor society.[citation needed]



Year Film Role Notes
1992 This Is My Life Dennis
1993 Motel Blue 19 Adult Luther (voice) Uncredited
1994 Amateur Young Detective
1995 Heavyweights Roger Johnson
1996 Joe's Apartment Cockroach (voice)
1997 Donnie Brasco FBI Technician
1997 Prix Fixe Busboy Short film
1998 The Thin Red Line Pvt. Tills
2000 Hamlet Flight Captain
2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou? Delmar O'Donnell
2002 The Good Girl Bubba
2002 Cherish Daly
2002 Minority Report Gideon
2003 A Foreign Affair Jake Adams
2003 Holes Dr. Pendanski
2003 Wonderland Billy Deverell
2004 Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Doctor Johnathan Jacobo
2004 The Last Shot Marshal Paris
2004 Bereft Dennis
2004 Meet the Fockers Officer LeFlore
2005 The Amateurs Barney Macklehatton
2005 My Suicidal Sweetheart Various
2005 The Big White Gary
2005 Syriana Danny Dalton
2006 Come Early Morning Uncle Tim
2006 The Darwin Awards Perp
2006 Hoot Curly
2006 Fido Mr. Theopolis
2007 The Astronaut Farmer Kevin Munchak
2008 The Incredible Hulk Samuel Sterns
2008 American Violet David Cohen
2009 Saint John of Las Vegas Militant Ned
2009 Leaves of Grass Bolger
2011 Flypaper Peanut Butter
2011 Yelling to the Sky Coleman
2011 Detachment Mr. Wiatt
2011 The Big Year Fuchs
2012 Big Miracle Pat Lafaytette
2012 Lincoln Richard Schell
2013 Blue Caprice Ray
2013 As I Lay Dying Anse
2013 Child of God Sheriff Fate
2013 Snake and Mongoose Mike McAllister
2014 The Homesman Freighter
2014 The Sound and the Fury Father
2014 Kill the Messenger Alan Fenster
2015 Anesthesia Adam Zarrow
2015 Fantastic Four Dr. Allen
2016 The Confirmation Vaughn
2016 Colossal Garth
2016 Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Wayne Pfister
2017 Deidra & Laney Rob a Train Truman
2017 The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Johan Tidemand
2017 The Institute Dr. Lemelle
2018 Monster Leroy Sawicki
2018 The Hustle Portnoy Post-production
TBA The Long Home Hovington Post-production
TBA Bukowski Henry Bukowski Post-production
TBA Angel Has Fallen Vice President Kirby Post-production
TBA The Torture Report Filming
Year Film Role Notes
1989–91 The Unnaturals Reoccurring characters
1995 House of Buggin' Kidnapper Episode: "The Paco Vasquez Story"
1996 Dead Man's Walk Johnny Carthage Miniseries, 3 episodes
2005 Stella Mountain Man Episode: "Camping"
2005 Warm Springs Tom Loyless TV film
2009 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Paulie Krill Episode: "Working Stiffs"
2011 CHAOS Casey Malick 13 episodes
2011 Modern Family Hank Episode: "Dude Ranch"
2012–15 Black Dynamite Chief McGillihorn 4 episodes
2014 Klondike Meeker 6 episodes
2015 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Randy 3 episodes
2017 Wormwood Sidney Gottlieb
2018 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Buster



  1. ^ "Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors". The Center. June 15, 2017 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ "Feature Article and Interviews - THE GREY ZONE (2001)". Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  3. ^ Bloom, Nate (February 2, 2012). "Jewish stars: Whales, ghosts and 'Smash'". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved April 16, 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c Michael Smith, "Bloomer Sooner: Tulsa native Tim Blake Nelson's roots are showing", Tulsa World, May 6, 2009.
  5. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  6. ^ Tulsa Historical Society, 1999 Hall of Fame Inductee: Ruth K. Nelson Archived 2009-01-26 at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed June 14, 2017.
  7. ^ Sherrow, Rita. "Native Tulsan Featured in Miniseries: Tim Nelson Makes Leap From Shakespeare to `Dead Man's Walk'". 
  8. ^ Bloom, Nate (August 6, 2015). "Celebrity jews". Retrieved April 16, 2018. 
  9. ^ "'The Grey Zone'". NPR. 2002-10-26. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  11. ^ "Jonathan Valania: O Brother Who Art Thou? A Q&A With Actor/Writer/Director Tim Blake Nelson". 2013-04-03. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  12. ^ "People adapt to 'Grey Zone' Jewish workers in Nazi camp". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-07-15. 
  13. ^ Oklahoma Arts Institute, Alumni Listing Archived 2007-08-25 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Kari Molvar, "Q&A: Tim Blake Nelson", Brown Alumni Magazine (March/April 2001).
  15. ^ [1] Archived December 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "The Unnaturals - TV Series - 1989". February 5, 2015. 
  17. ^ Romney, Jonathan. "The Coen brothers: Double vision", The Guardian, May 19, 2000.
  18. ^ "My Brother's Bomber". Retrieved April 16, 2018. 

External linksEdit