Bruce Dern

Bruce Dern Headshot

Actor

Birth Name: Bruce MacLeish Dern

Birth Date: June 4, 1936

Age: 87 years old

Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois

Spouses: Diane Ladd

Children: Laura Dern

An intense character actor who was frequently typecast as a psycho or villain, Bruce Dern started on television with credits on multiple Westerns. He scored film success with roles in Hitchcock's "Marnie" (1964), Bette Davis' "Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964), and a string of projects with Roger Corman, including "The Wild Angels" (1966). As a genre star, Dern was most recognizable for his committed turns in lower quality but vivid productions including the mad scientist film "The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant" (1971), the sci-fi proto-environmental picture "Silent Running" (1972), and the deranged mastermind behind a blimp bombing of the Super Bowl in "Black Sunday" (1977). Other notable film work included "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969), "Support Your Local Sheriff!" (1969), and his infamous turn as a cattle rustler who kills John Wayne in "The Cowboys" (1972). He garnered award recognition as the spoiled Tom Buchanan in "The Great Gatsby" (1974) and as a disillusioned Vietnam vet in "Coming Home" (1978). The ex-husband of fellow actor Diane Ladd and the father of actress Laura Dern, he continued to book roles into later age, including a chilling turn as the domineering father of polygamist Bill (Bill Paxton) on "Big Love" (HBO, 2006-2011) and a former Confederate general in Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" (2015). Although he never fully broke out of his typecasting as a genre heavy, Bruce Dern proved he possessed impressive enough acting chops to build a long-lasting career.

Born June 4, 1936 in Chicago, IL, Bruce MacLeish Dern came from a powerful patrician family. He received his start in the theater, where he caught the eye of director Elia Kazan in a 1959 production and was subsequently invited to train at the Actors Studio. After falling in love with Diane Ladd, one of his theatrical co-stars, the two married in 1960, with Ladd giving birth to a daughter, Laura Dern, in 1967. The couple divorced two years later. His first film appearance was an uncredited bit part in Kazan's "Wild River" (1960), and for the remainder of the decade, Dern moved easily between TV and features. He made guest appearances on "The Fugitive" (ABC, 1963-67) and many Westerns, including episodes of "Wagon Train" (NBC, 1957-1962; ABC, 1962-65), "The Virginian" (NBC, 1962-1971) and a regular role on "Stoney Burke" (ABC, 1962-63), but made his biggest impression as a psycho on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS, 1955-1960, 1962-64; NBC, 1960-62, 1964-65), an image he would find difficult to shake professionally.

On the big screen, he played a sailor in Hitchcock's "Marnie" (1964) and the doomed, married lover of Bette Davis in the Southern gothic horror film "Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (1964). His success in genre projects, especially his longtime association with B-movie king Roger Corman, ensured steady paychecks with roles in the biker drama "The Wild Angels" (1966), the gangster biopic "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre" (1967), and the LSD-fueled thriller "The Trip" (1967), but these parts damaged his reputation as a "serious" actor. On TV, he continued to play heavies, especially in law enforcement and Western roles, making multiple appearances on "The F.B.I." (ABC, 1965-1974), "The Big Valley" (ABC, 1965-69), "Gunsmoke" (CBS, 1955-1975) and "Bonanza" (NBC, 1959-1973).

Dern revealed more versatility with a role as a desperate dance marathon contestant in the taut, Depression-set drama "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" (1969) alongside Jane Fonda, as well as his hotheaded gunslinger in the Western spoof "Support Your Local Sheriff!" (1969). But genre work was never that far away, with roles in the Cline Eastwood Western "Hang 'Em High" (1968), the Ma Barker shoot-'em-up "Bloody Mama" (1970), and the mad scientist flick "The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant" (1971). He earned a National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor award for his role as a zealous basketball coach in the polarizing Jack Nicholson-helmed drama "Drive, He Said" (1971) and made an indelible mark for many fans as a rebellious botanist in the sci-fi "Silent Running" (1972). Oddly enough, he received real-life death threats for doing the unthinkable: killing John Wayne onscreen in "The Cowboys" (1972).

Achieving a hard-earned reputation as one of the era's most talented character actors among his peers if not always with critics, Dern reteamed with Jack Nicholson to play a con man in "The King of Marvin Gardens" (1972) and received a Golden Globe nomination as the spoiled Tom Buchanan in the high-profile flop "The Great Gatsby" (1974). The actor reteamed with Hitchcock for the director's final film, "Family Plot" (1976) and played a deranged blimp pilot intent on suicide bombing the Super Bowl in "Black Sunday" (1977). Critics and fans who thought they knew the extent of Dern's range, however, were bowled over by his wrenching turn as a disillusioned Marine struggling with PTSD and the unfaithfulness of his wife (Jane Fonda) with a paraplegic Vietnam vet-turned-antiwar protestor (Jon Voight) in the Oscar-winning drama "Coming Home" (1978). Dern earned nominations for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for his work. His subsequent bid for leading man stardom, "Middle Age Crazy" (1980), flopped, and he retreated to more familiar ground, playing a psycho. His turn as a crazed tattoo artist obsessed with a model (Maud Adams) in the sexually-charged disaster "Tattoo" (1981) was universally reviled, earning him a Razzie nomination, and he further damaged his reputation by claiming that he and Adams had actually had sex on camera during the film. Dern next played a mayor desperately trying to win re-election in "That Championship Season" (1982), but despite its impressive pedigree, the film had little impact. His career slowed as the 1980s wore on, although he appeared in a small role in the dark Tom Hanks comedy "The 'Burbs" (1989) and briefly sparked some Oscar buzz as a con man in the desert noir flick "After Dark, My Sweet" (1990).

Balancing out small roles in made-for-TV projects, Dern continued to book film work at a slower pace, appearing in the submarine comedy "Down Periscope" (1996), the Western "Last Man Standing" (1996), the supernatural horror film "The Haunting" (1999), the Cormac McCarthy adaptation "All the Pretty Horses" (2000) and the evil stepparents thriller "The Glass House" (2001). He played one of the only supportive male figures in the life of serial killer Aileen Wournos (Charlize Theron) in Patty Jenkins' Oscar-winning biopic "Monster" (2003) and essayed likable turns opposite Billy Bob Thornton in "The Astronaut Farmer" (2006) and Kristen Stewart in "The Cake Eaters" (2007). On television, he recurred as the domineering and abusive father of polygamist Bill (Bill Paxton) on "Big Love" (HBO, 2006-2011), and was honored in November 2010 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the same day that his daughter Laura Dern and ex-wife Diane Ladd received their stars. More significantly, Dern earned an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Frank Harlow on "Big Love." Back in features, Dern had roles in the little-seen horror thriller "Twixt" (2011), starring Val Kilmer, and the critically-savaged crime thriller "Inside Out" (2011), with pro wrestler Paul "Triple H" Levesque. From there, he had a supporting turn in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" (2012), which starred Jamie Foxx as an escaped slave who hunts down two ruthless killers with a white bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz). In 2013, Dern received rave reviews for his role as the surly Woody Grant in director Alexander Payne's thoughtful road drama, "Nebraska." Dern's performance in the film earned him the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, thus making the 77-year-old actor an early favorite to receive an Academy Award nomination.

Credits

Palm RoyaleStream

Actor
Skeet
Series
2024
56%

The Last Drive-In Live: A Tribute to Roger Corman

Guest
Show
2024

Bloodline KillerStream

Actor
Dr. Lucien
Movie
2024

B'Twixt Now and Sunrise

Actor
Sheriff Bobby LaGrange
Movie
2023

Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

Actor
Mike Cassidy
Movie
2023

Hunting Games

Actor
Movie
2023

Butch vs. Sundance

Actor
Mike Cassidy
Movie
2023

Buck Alamo or a Phantasmagorical Ballad

Actor
Death
Movie
2023

Accidental TexanStream

Actor
Scheermeyer
Movie
2023
52%

The Most Dangerous Game

Actor
Whitney Tyler
Movie
2022

Hellblazers

Actor
Bill Unger
Movie
2022

Mid-CenturyStream

Actor
Emil Larson
Movie
2022
47%

I Am Burt ReynoldsStream

Self
Movie
2021

Last Call

Actor
Coach Finnegan
Movie
2021

Overrun

Actor
Arkadi Dubkova
Movie
2021

The GatewayStream

Actor
Marcus
Movie
2021
51%

Hands That Bind

Actor
Hank
Movie
2021

Christmas vs. the Walters

Actor
Cliff Walters
Movie
2021

Coast

Executive Producer
Movie
2021

The Hater

Actor
Movie
2021

Emperor

Actor
Levi Coffin
Movie
2020

Death in Texas

Actor
Reynolds
Movie
2020

The Cowboy

Guest
Show
2019

Once Upon a Time in HollywoodStream

Actor
George Spahn
Movie
2019
85%

The MustangStream

Actor
Myles
Movie
2019
95%

The Peanut Butter FalconStream

Actor
Carl
Movie
2019
95%

Remember Me

Actor
Claude
Movie
2019

QT8: The First Eight

Self
Movie
2019

Badland

Actor
Reginald Cooke
Movie
2019

Inherit the Viper

Actor
Clay Carter
Movie
2019

Nation's Fire

Actor
PopPop
Movie
2019

The Artist's Wife

Actor
Richard Smythson
Movie
2019

Swing Low

Actor
Mallincrkrodt
Movie
2019

White Boy RickStream

Actor
Grandpa Roman "Ray" Wershe
Movie
2018
57%

NostalgiaStream

Actor
Ronnie
Movie
2018
39%

Warning Shot

Actor
Calvin
Movie
2018

American Dresser

Actor
King
Movie
2018

Lez Bomb

Actor
Grandpa
Movie
2018

FreaksStream

Actor
Mr. Snowcone
Movie
2018
88%

American Violence

Actor
Richard Morton
Movie
2017

Our Souls at Night

Actor
Dorlan
Movie
2017

HickokStream

Actor
Doc Rivers O'Roark
Movie
2017
50%

The Lears

Actor
Davenport Lear
Movie
2017

ChappaquiddickStream

Actor
Joe Kennedy
Movie
2017
80%

Class Rank

Actor
Oswald Flannigan
Movie
2017

The Last Fight

Narrator
Movie
2017

GoliathStream

Actor
Frank Stax
Series
2016
86%

The Millionaires' Unit

Narrator
Movie
2015

The Hateful EightStream

Actor
General Sandy Smithers
Movie
2015
75%

Cut Bank

Actor
Georgie Wits
Movie
2014

Northern Borders

Actor
Austen Kittredge Sr.
Movie
2013

Fighting for Freedom

Actor
Christian Dobbe
Movie
2013

Pete's Christmas

Actor
Grandpa
Movie
2013

NebraskaStream

Actor
Woody Grant
Movie
2013
91%

Live! With Kelly and Michael

Guest
Talk
2012

Larry King NowStream

Guest
Talk
2012

CBS This Morning: Saturday

Guest
Show
2012

Django UnchainedStream

Actor
Curtis Carrucan
Movie
2012
87%

TBK: The Toolbox Murders 2

Actor
Vance
Movie
2012

Hitting the Cycle

Actor
James
Movie
2012

Inside Out

Actor
Vic Small
Movie
2011

Twixt

Actor
Bobby LaGrange
Movie
2011

From Up on Poppy Hill

Voice
Yoshio Onodera
Movie
2011

Trim

Actor
Dale
Movie
2010

Choose

Actor
Dr. Ronald Pendleton
Movie
2010

Chatham

Actor
Captain Perez
Movie
2009

American Cowslip

Actor
Georgia's father
Movie
2009

The Lightkeepers

Actor
Bennie
Movie
2009

The Hole

Actor
Creepy Carl
Movie
2009

Studio Spotlight

Actor
Show
2008

Swamp Devil

Actor
Howard Blaime
Movie
2008

The Astronaut farmer

Actor
Hal
Movie
2007

The Cake Eaters

Actor
Easy Kimbrough
Movie
2007

Between the Lines With Barry Kibrick

Guest
Show
2006

Big LoveStream

Actor
Frank Harlow
Series
2006
80%

Big LoveStream

Guest Star
Frank Harlow
Series
2006
80%

The Hard Easy

Actor
Gene
Movie
2006

Believe in Me

Actor
Ellis Brawley
Movie
2006

Walker Payne

Actor
Chester
Movie
2006

Down in the ValleyStream

Actor
Charlie
Movie
2005
52%

Madison

Actor
Harry Volpi
Movie
2005

CSI: NYStream

Guest Star
Vet
Series
2004

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

Real Time With Bill MaherStream

Guest
Talk
2003

Jimmy Kimmel Live!Stream

Guest
Talk
2003

Hard Ground

Actor
Sheriff Hutch Hutchinson
Movie
2003

MonsterStream

Actor
Thomas
Movie
2003
82%

Masked and Anonymous

Actor
Editor
Movie
2003

Milwaukee, Minnesota

Actor
Sean McNally
Movie
2003

The Glass House

Actor
Begleiter
Movie
2001

All the Pretty Horses

Actor
Judge
Movie
2000

Hard Time II: The Premonition

Actor
Winston
Movie
1999

Hard Time: The PremonitionStream

Actor
Ray Earl Winston
Movie
1999

The HauntingStream

Actor
Mr. Dudley
Movie
1999
17%

Perfect Prey

Actor
Capt. Swaggert
Movie
1998

Small SoldiersStream

Voice
Link Static
Movie
1998
49%

If... Dog... Rabbit

Actor
McGurdy
Movie
1998

King of the HillStream

Guest Voice
Randy Strickland
Series
1997

Mrs. Munck

Actor
Patrick Leary
Movie
1996

Down PeriscopeStream

Actor
RAdm. Yancy Graham
Movie
1996
11%

Mulholland FallsStream

Actor
The Chief (uncredited)
Movie
1996
31%

Last Man Standing

Actor
Sheriff Ed Galt
Movie
1996

A Mother's Prayer

Actor
John Walker
Movie
1995

Wild BillStream

Actor
Will Plummer
Movie
1995
46%

Inside the Actors Studio

Guest
Talk
1994

A Deadman's Revenge

Actor
Movie
1994

La Vengeance de Luck Hatcher

Actor
Movie
1994

Dead Man's Revenge

Actor
Payton McCay
Movie
1994

Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight

Actor
George Putnam
Movie
1994

It's Nothing Personal

Actor
Billy Archer
Movie
1993

DiggstownStream

Actor
John Gillon
Movie
1992
60%

Charlie RoseStream

Guest
Talk
1991

Into the Badlands

Actor
T.L. Barston
Movie
1991

Carolina Skeletons

Actor
Junior Stoker
Movie
1991

After Dark, My Sweet

Actor
Uncle Bud
Movie
1990

The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

Actor
Scout Ed Higgins
Movie
1990

The 'Burbs

Actor
Lt. Mark Rumsfield
Movie
1989

Trenchcoat in Paradise

Actor
John Hollander
Movie
1989

World Gone Wild

Actor
Ethan
Movie
1988

1969

Actor
Cliff
Movie
1988

Roses Are for the Rich

Actor
Show
1987

The Big Town

Actor
Mr. Edwards
Movie
1987

Uncle Tom's Cabin

Actor
Augustine St. Claire
Movie
1987

On the Edge

Actor
Wes Holman
Movie
1986

Space

Actor
Miniseries
1985

SOS amour

Actor
Movie
1985

Toughlove

Actor
Rob Charters
Movie
1985

Toughlove

Actor
Movie
1985

That Championship Season

Actor
George Sitkowski
Movie
1982

Harry Tracy

Actor
Harry Tracy
Movie
1982

Tattoo

Actor
Karl Kinsky
Movie
1981

Middle Age Crazy

Actor
Bobby Lee
Movie
1980

Le Tournant

Actor
Movie
1980

CBS News Sunday Morning

Guest
News
1979

Coming Home

Actor
Capt. Bob Hyde
Movie
1978
83%

The Driver

Actor
The Detective
Movie
1978
79%

Black SundayStream

Actor
Michael Lander
Movie
1977
74%

Folies Bourgeoises

Actor
Movie
1976

Alfred Hitchcock og hans verden

Self
Movie
1976

Family PlotStream

Actor
George Lumley
Movie
1976
93%

The Twist

Actor
William Brandels
Movie
1976

Folies bourgeoises

Actor
Movie
1976

Locuras de un Matrimonio Burgués

Actor
Movie
1976

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

Saturday Night LiveStream

Host
Series
1975

PosseStream

Actor
Jack Strawhorn
Movie
1975
67%

Smile

Actor
Big Bob
Movie
1975

Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood

Actor
Grayson Potchuck
Movie
1975

The Great GatsbyStream

Actor
Tom Buchanan
Movie
1974
41%

The Laughing Policeman

Actor
Insp. Leo Larsen SFPD
Movie
1973
55%

Viajeros Sin Rumbo

Actor
Movie
1972

The CowboysStream

Actor
Long Hair
Movie
1972
75%

Silent RunningStream

Actor
Freeman Lowell
Movie
1972
71%

The King of Marvin Gardens

Actor
Jason Staebler
Movie
1972

Silencieuse au bout du canon

Actor
Movie
1972

Who Killed the Mysterious Mr. Foster?

Actor
Deputy Doyle Pickett
Movie
1971

Drive, He Said

Actor
Coach Bullion
Movie
1971

The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant

Actor
Roger
Movie
1971

The Immortal

Guest Star
Show
1970

Cycle Savages

Actor
Keeg
Movie
1970

Bloody MamaStream

Actor
Kevin Dirkman
Movie
1970
14%

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Actor
James
Movie
1969

Number One

Actor
Richie Fowler
Movie
1969

Support Your Local Sheriff!Stream

Actor
Joe Danby
Movie
1969
76%

Castle Keep

Actor
Lt. Billy Byron Bix
Movie
1969

Lancer

Guest Star
Series
1968

The Dick Cavett ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1968

Hang 'Em HighStream

Actor
Miller
Movie
1968
92%

Will PennyStream

Actor
Rafe Quint
Movie
1968
87%

Psych-Out

Actor
Steve Davis
Movie
1968

The High Chaparral

Guest Star
Series
1967

The St. Valentine's Day MassacreStream

Actor
Johnny May
Movie
1967
89%

Waterhole No. 3

Actor
Deputy Samuel P. Tippen
Movie
1967

Rebel Rousers

Actor
J.J. Weston
Movie
1967

The War WagonStream

Actor
Hammond
Movie
1967
82%

The TripStream

Actor
John
Movie
1967
39%

The Wild AngelsStream

Actor
Joe 'Loser' Kearns
Movie
1966
63%

The Loner

Guest Star
Show
1965

Laredo

Guest Star
Series
1965

The Big Valley

Guest Star
Series
1965

A Man Called Shenandoah

Guest Star
Show
1965

Branded-1965

Guest Star
Series
1965

Hush... Hush, Sweet CharlotteStream

Actor
John Mayhew
Movie
1965
82%

12 O'Clock High

Guest Star
Series
1964

The FugitiveStream

Guest Star
Hank
Series
1963

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Ben Garth
Series
1963
92%

Stoney Burke

Actor
E.J. Stocker
Show
1962

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonStream

Guest
Talk
1962

Alfred Hitchcock HourStream

Actor
Series
1962

Ben Casey

Guest Star
Billy Harris
Series
1961

Route 66Stream

Guest Star
Series
1960

The Law and Mr. Jones

Guest Star
Show
1960

ThrillerStream

Actor
Series
1960

Wild RiverStream

Actor
Jack Roper
Movie
1960
92%

The Detectives

Guest Star
Series
1959

BonanzaStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

RawhideStream

Guest Star
Series
1959

77 Sunset Strip

Guest Star
Ralph Wheeler
Series
1958

Wagon TrainStream

Guest Star
Series
1957

GunsmokeStream

Guest Star
Doyle Phleger
Series
1955

News aboutBruce Dern