Jeffrey DeMunn

Jeffrey DeMunn Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: April 25, 1947

Age: 77 years old

Birth Place: Buffalo, New York

Versatile performer Jeffrey DeMunn is among a select group of stage, screen and television talents who defined the term "character actor." For over three decades, he moved effortlessly between roles as varied as Harry Houdini in "Ragtime" (1981) and playwright Clifford Odets in "Frances" (1982) to a fiendish serial killer in "Citizen X" (HBO, 1995) and a zombie hunter on "The Walking Dead" (AMC, 2010- ). His extensive theatrical background, which included a Tony-nominated turn in "K2" (1983), brought a strength of presence and oratory to his screen turns, making him a favorite for complex figures of authority like doctors, lawyers, professors and fathers of all moral stripes. He was a particular favorite of writer-director Frank Darabont, who cast him in nearly all of his films, as well as audience members who appreciated his apparently limitless skills, even if his name escaped them.

Born in Buffalo, NY on April 25, 1947, Jeffrey DeMunn was the son of noted regional actors James DeMunn and his wife, Violet. He received his start in acting as a member of The Mountebanks, the oldest, continuously running student theater group in the United States; there, he received valuable training in speech and drama that carried him to Union College, where he planned to study engineering, but eventually returned to the craft he loved best. After moving to England in the early 1970s to train at the Old Vic Theatre, he returned to the United States to work extensively with the National Shakespeare Company and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. He would associate with numerous stage and screen productions of the playwright's work, and essayed both O'Neill himself in voiceover for the documentary "A Glory of Ghosts" (PBS, 1983), as well as O'Neill's writing teacher, George Pierce Baker, in "Journey Into Genius" (PBS, 1988).

His screen career began on television in the latter half of the decade, where he divided his time between network movies of the week and productions of classical theater works for public television, including O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra" (PBS, 1978). His movie debut arrived with 1980's "Resurrection" as Ellen Burstyn's husband, who died in a car wreck that ends up giving her extraordinary healing powers. From there, he worked steadily in features and on television, playing a richly diverse range of characters. DeMunn was equally skilled at such larger-than-life roles as Harry Houdini in Milos Forman's "Ragtime" (1981), which saw him share the screen with James Cagney; the moody playwright Clifford Odets opposite Jessica Lange in "Frances" (1982); and Western legend Doc Holliday in "I Married Wyatt Earp" (NBC, 1983), as he was playing down-to-earth figures like the husband of rape victim Dianne Wiest in "The Face of Rage" (ABC, 1983) or the father of a boy (Corey Haim) struggling with muscular dystrophy in "A Time to Live" (NBC, 1985). During this period, DeMunn was also busy on Broadway, appearing in "Bent," "Spoils of War" and "K2," which was set on the eponymous Himalayan mountain and required DeMunn to scale a mockup of a sheer rockface three times a night for eight performances a week. DeMunn received a Tony nomination for his physically and emotionally demanding performance.

DeMunn's relationship with Frank Darabont began in 1988 with a remake of "The Blob," for which the writer was one of four scribes credited with its script. DeMunn, who played the town sheriff faced with fighting the amorphous monster, would late appear in all of Darabont's subsequent efforts as director, starting in 1994 with "The Shawshank Redemption," in which he played the tough district attorney who sent Tim Robbins to the titular prison. He later played an experienced prison guard in "The Green Mile" (1999) and the mayor of a small town who welcomed fugitive Hollywood screenwriter Jim Carrey as a long-lost war hero in "The Majestic" (2002). A more substantive role came in "The Mist" (2007), Darabont's third adaptation of a Stephen King story, with DeMunn as a former Marine who aided Thomas Jane's hero in escaping from a supermarket besieged by otherworldly monsters.

In between assignments for Darabont, DeMunn worked steadily in features and television. He earned Emmy and CableACE award nominations as pathetic and prolific Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, who murdered and cannibalized dozens of children and adults. DeMunn also tackled such real-life figures as Robert Oppenheimer, the brain behind the Manhattan Project, in 1995's "Hiroshima" (Hallmark); advertising executive Mel Korn, who was newscaster Jessica Savitch's husband in "Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story" (NBC, 1995); actor George Reeves' manager, Art Weissman, in the feature "Hollywoodland" (2006); and President Abraham Lincoln in the film short "The Persistence of Dreams" (2005), which explored the last moments of his life. Other significant projects during this period included a nervous business exec in "Barbarians at the Gate" (HBO, 1993); a professor studying John Travolta's newfound powers in "Phenomenon" (1996); the pompous town official under siege by an emissary of Satan in the ABC miniseries of Stephen King's "Storm of the Century" (1999); and the kindly Mr. Webb in a PBS production of "Our Town" (2003) that featured Paul Newman as the stage manager.

DeMunn joined his first weekly series as Dale Horvath, a no-nonsense survivor of a worldwide zombie apocalypse in Darabont's series "The Walking Dead" (AMC 2010- ). As a widower who served as surrogate father figure to sisters Laurie Holden and Emma Bell, Dale provided the voice of reason in the survivors' camp, as well as a hint of melancholy over the loss of civilization and gentility. After Dale's character arc came to an end, DeMunn joined Darabont's next series, the short-lived "Mob City" (TNT 2013). He next appeared on the big screen in the comedy "Adult Beginners" (2014).

Credits

The Amaranth

Actor
Richard Kendrick
Movie
2018

Halfway

Actor
Walt
Movie
2017

BillionsStream

Actor
Chuck Roades, Sr.
Series
2016
91%

A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.

Actor
Movie
2016

Mob CityStream

Actor
Hal Morrison
Series
2013
66%

The BlacklistStream

Guest Star
Earl King
Series
2013
91%

Chicago FireStream

Guest Star
Peter
Series
2012

Another Happy Day

Actor
Lee
Movie
2011

The Walking DeadStream

Actor
Dale
Series
2010
79%

God in America

Actor
Show
2010

Ubezhische

Actor
Movie
2010

Shelter

Actor
Dr. Harding
Movie
2010

The Good WifeStream

Guest Star
Chief Justice Virgil Ryvlan
Series
2009
93%

Cayman Went

Actor
Rodgers Bowman
Movie
2009

Cashmere Mafia

Guest Star
Show
2008

Burn After ReadingStream

Actor
Cosmetic Surgeon
Movie
2008
78%

The MistStream

Actor
Dan Miller
Movie
2007
73%

Empire FallsStream

Actor
Horace
Miniseries
2005

The Lucky Ones

Actor
Simon
Movie
2004

Hack

Guest Star
Show
2002

The Majestic

Actor
Ernie Cole
Movie
2001

Swimming Upstream

Actor
Dr. Henry Berkson
Movie
2001

Gideon's Crossing

Guest Star
Show
2000

The Fugitive

Guest Star
Show
2000

D.C.

Guest Star
Show
2000

Noriega: God's Favorite

Actor
Nuncio
Movie
2000

Storm of the CenturyStream

Actor
Robbie Beals
Miniseries
1999
83%

The Green MileStream

Actor
Harry Terwilliger
Movie
1999
79%

Harvest

Actor
Jake Yates
Movie
1999

La Gran Cosecha

Actor
Movie
1998

Black Cat Run

Actor
Bill Grissom
Movie
1998

The X-FilesStream

Actor
Dr. Ben Bronschweig
Movie
1998
66%

Cracker

Guest Star
Show
1997

Night Sins

Actor
SAC Bruce Di Palma
Movie
1997

Turbulence

Actor
Brooks
Movie
1997

A Christmas Memory

Actor
Seabone
Movie
1997

RocketMan

Actor
Paul Wick
Movie
1997

L'Homme fusée

Actor
Movie
1997

PhenomenonStream

Actor
Prof. John Ringold, Seismologist
Movie
1996
49%

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Dr. Adam Pike
Series
1995

Citizen XStream

Actor
Andrei Chikatilo
Movie
1995
86%

Hiroshima

Actor
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Movie
1995

Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story

Actor
Mel Korn
Movie
1995

Ebbie

Actor
Jake Marley
Movie
1995

ERStream

Guest Star
Treatment Center Doctor
Series
1994

Betrayal of Trust

Actor
Dick Shelton
Movie
1994

The Shawshank RedemptionStream

Actor
District Attorney
Movie
1994
91%

Eyes of an Angel

Actor
Georgie
Movie
1994

Barbarians at the Gate

Actor
H. John Greeniaus
Movie
1993

Treacherous Crossing

Actor
Dr. Johnston
Movie
1992

Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted

Actor
Frank Moore
Movie
1992

The Haunted

Actor
Jack Smurl
Movie
1991

Law & OrderStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

By Dawn's Early LightStream

Actor
Harpoon
Movie
1990

Crash: The Mystery of Flight 1501

Actor
Scott Cody
Movie
1990

Le crime oublié

Actor
Movie
1989

Settle the Score

Actor
Dr. Josh Longcrest
Movie
1989

Blaze

Actor
Eldon Tuck
Movie
1989

Nudo Sangriento

Actor
Movie
1989

Dear John

Guest Star
Series
1988

LincolnStream

Actor
Movie
1988

Lincoln

Actor
Show
1988

The BlobStream

Actor
Sheriff Herb Geller
Movie
1988
64%

BetrayedStream

Actor
Flynn
Movie
1988
36%

Eugene O'Neill: En Contacto Con el Genio

Actor
Movie
1988

Eugene O'Neill: Journey Into Genius

Actor
Movie
1988

Young Harry Houdini

Actor
Adult Harry Houdini
Movie
1987

The Hitcher

Actor
Captain Esteridge
Movie
1986

Who Is Julia?

Actor
Dr. David Matthews
Movie
1986

Spenser For HireStream

Actor
Series
1985

Coeur en suri

Actor
Movie
1985

Doubletake

Actor
Andrew Lane
Movie
1985

Warning Sign

Actor
Dr. Dan Fairchild
Movie
1985

A Time to Live

Actor
Larry Weisman
Movie
1985

When She Says No

Actor
Brian Garvey
Movie
1984

Windy City

Actor
Bobby
Movie
1984

Sessions

Actor
Dr. Walter Hemmings
Movie
1983

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

Actor
Ricardo
Movie
1983

I Married Wyatt Earp

Actor
Doc Holliday
Movie
1983

Consentement obligatoire

Actor
Movie
1983

FrancesStream

Actor
Clifford Odets
Movie
1982
67%

Hill Street BluesStream

Guest Star
Jerry Goff
Series
1981
97%

RagtimeStream

Actor
Harry Houdini
Movie
1981
83%

Keeping On

Actor
George
Movie
1981

King Crab

Actor
Sam Campana
Movie
1980

Christmas EvilStream

Actor
Philip Stadling
Movie
1980
67%

Resurrection

Actor
Joe
Movie
1980

Word of Honor

Actor
District Attorney Burke
Movie
1980

The First Deadly Sin

Actor
Sergeant Fernandez Correlli
Movie
1980

Sanctuary of Fear

Actor
Whitney Fowler
Movie
1979

News aboutJeffrey DeMunn