Timothy Busfield

Timothy Busfield Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: June 12, 1957

Age: 67 years old

Birth Place: Lansing, Michigan

Spouses: Melissa Gilbert

Character actor Timothy Busfield was already a veteran of two television series by the time he rose to fame with his Emmy-winning performance as Elliot Weston, who struggled with infidelity and his wife's cancer on "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987-1991). In its wake, Busfield starred and/or guested on several more programs; some notable - "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) - and others less than memorable - "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (NBC, 2006-07). In many cases, however, his easygoing flair for both high drama and comedy were often the show's best asset. Along the way, Busfield developed into a dependable TV director and a likable lead in several features and made-for-TV movies.

Born June 12, 1957 in Lansing, MI, Busfield got his first exposure to acting through his father, who taught in the drama department at Michigan State University. His mother, also a college professor, taught literature. He landed his first professional acting job at 18 in a children's theater adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Busfield studied drama at East Tennessee State University and traveled frequently with the Actors Theater of Louisville, which took him to Europe and Israel. In 1981, he moved to New York City, NY, where he joined the Circle Repertory Company for their production of Lanford Wilson's "Talley and Son." That same year, he landed his first film role with a bit part as a mortar-bearing soldier in the comedy classic, "Stripes" (1981).

More stage work followed, including a stint as understudy to Matthew Broderick in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" in 1982. The following year, Busfield relocated to Los Angeles to join the cast of "Reggie" (ABC, 1983), a short-lived comedy based on the British television series "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" (BBC, 1976-79). The year 1984 proved to be a busy one for Busfield; not only did he land his first substantial film role as Arnold Poindexter, the goofiest of the geek fraternity brothers in the hit comedy "Revenge of the Nerds" (1984) and its 1987 sequel, but he joined the cast of the long-running drama "Trapper John, M.D." (CBS, 1979-1986), starring as the son of Pernell Roberts' Trapper John McIntyre. He held the role until the series' conclusion in 1986.

Following the demise of "Trapper John," he joined forces with his brother Buck to create the Fantasy Theatre, a professional touring company for children's audiences - and later Honorary State Children's Theater for California - based in his new hometown of Sacramento, CA. The Busfields also established the award-winning B Street Theater there in 1992, which was devoted to more adult productions. The following year, Busfield was cast as Elliot on "thirtysomething." The part was his first mature role to date, and the producers requested that he grow a beard to help sell his image as a married man and father. Over the course of the hit Yuppie show's three-season run, Elliot came to personify the best and worst aspects of the series: a successful advertising executive and father, Elliot also infuriated his friends and family (and viewers) with his marital infidelity and competitive streak with partner Michael Steadman (Ken Olin), all of which went on while his wife Nancy (Patricia Wettig) struggled with ovarian cancer. Despite his character's unpleasant tendencies, Busfield brought humor and honesty to the role, and was nominated three times for an Emmy before winning one in 1991, shortly before conflicts between the producers and cast brought the show to an abrupt conclusion.

Busfield had remained exceptionally busy during his "thirtysomething" stint, appearing as the nominal villain in the popular Kevin Costner fantasy "Field of Dreams" in 1989, and in 1990, replacing Tom Hulce as the lead in "A Few Good Men," a smash Broadway production written by Aaron Sorkin, with whom he would later enjoy fruitful collaborations. He also made his directorial debut with a 1990 episode of "thirtysomething," and would helm three episodes of the series before it ran its course. Roles in television features and theatrical films followed, including supporting turns in "Sneakers" (1992), "Quiz Show" (1994) and the likable kids' fantasy "Little Big League" (1994), which allowed Busfield to show off his baseball skills as the first baseman for the Minnesota Twins (an avowed baseball fan, Busfield occasionally served as pitcher in several minor league games).

Busfield returned to network television several times during the late 1990s for high profile shows that never quite caught on with viewers. He was the patriarch of the Byrd clan, which moved from Connecticut to Hawaii in the Steven Bochco-produced "Byrds of Paradise" (ABC, 1993-94), and starred as one of a group of former high school jocks still clinging to their glory days in "Champs" (ABC, 1996) for Ron Howard. By the late 1990s, Busfield was dividing his time between acting and directing for television, helming multiple episodes of several shows, including Sorkin's "Sports Night" (ABC, 1998-2000), as well as "Ed" (NBC, 2000-04), for which he also served as associate producer and guest star (as Ed's down-on-his-luck brother Lloyd). During this period, Busfield also began his recurring role as Pulitzer Prize-winning White House correspondent - and love interest to Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg - Danny Concannon on "The West Wing." He would appear sporadically on the show throughout its entire network run.

Busfield kept a foot on both sides of the camera from 2000 on; directing and executive producing the successful CBS drama "Without a Trace" (2002-09) and appearing occasionally as the wheelchair-bound divorce attorney for Anthony LaPaglia's Jack Malone. He also directed episodes of "Las Vegas" (NBC, 2003-08), "Damages" (FX, 2007-12), and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." On the latter, he squeezed in time to co-star on the short-lived Aaron Sorkin series as Cal Shanley, the occasionally nerve-plagued control director for the program's self-titled show-within-a-show. Though that show went spectacularly down in flames, despite much marketing as the "next big thing," in 2007, Busfield moved on, serving as executive producer of the Brooke Shields-led drama, "Lipstick Jungle" (NBC, 2008-09).

Credits

The Cleaning LadyStream

Director
Series
2022

The IndependentStream

Actor
Tom Mayfield
Movie
2022
35%

For LifeStream

Actor
Henry Roswell
Series
2020
86%

FBI: Most WantedStream

Director
Series
2020

Dolly Parton's HeartstringsStream

Actor
Logan Cantrell
Series
2019
54%

Dolly Parton's HeartstringsStream

Director
Series
2019
54%

Almost FamilyStream

Guest Star
Ron Doyle
Series
2019
32%

Guest Artist

Director
Movie
2019

Guest Artist

Producer
Movie
2019

The RookieStream

Director
Series
2018

The ConnersStream

Director
Series
2018
93%

FBIStream

Director
Series
2018

Designated SurvivorStream

Director
Series
2016
71%

Designated SurvivorStream

Guest Star
Dr. Adam Louden
Series
2016
71%

Chicago MedStream

Director
Series
2015

Secrets and LiesStream

Actor
Series
2015
35%

Secrets and LiesStream

Director
Series
2015
35%

Secrets and LiesStream

Guest Star
Series
2015
35%

The Night ShiftStream

Guest Star
Shane
Series
2014

Mind Games

Director
Show
2014

23 Blast

Actor
Jasper A. Duncan
Movie
2014

Sleepy HollowStream

Guest Star
Series
2013
74%

GracelandStream

Director
Series
2013
86%

Nightcomer

Actor
Marty
Movie
2013

Restless Virgins

Actor
Senator Whitman
Movie
2013

NashvilleStream

Director
Series
2012
91%

RevolutionStream

Guest Star
Series
2012
67%

The Client ListStream

Director
Series
2012
68%

Save the Date

Actor
Benjie
Movie
2012

Franklin & BashStream

Director
Series
2011
61%

Beyond the BlackboardStream

Actor
School district's HR representative
Movie
2011

No Ordinary FamilyStream

Director
Series
2010
71%

Blue BloodsStream

Guest Star
Series
2010

The DefendersStream

Director
Series
2010
74%

The Deep End

Director
Show
2010

Maneater

Director
Show
2009

Maneater

Director
Show
2009

Lie to MeStream

Director
Series
2009

The Ex List

Director
Show
2008

Lipstick JungleStream

Executive Producer
Series
2008
19%

Studio 60 on the Sunset StripStream

Actor
Cal Shanley
Series
2006
74%

Studio 60 on the Sunset StripStream

Guest Star
Cal Shanley
Series
2006
74%

Estudio 60

Actor
Show
2006

EntourageStream

Guest Star
TV Director
Series
2004
65%

Summerland

Director
Show
2004

Joan of Arcadia

Director
Series
2003
96%

National SecurityStream

Actor
Charlie Reed
Movie
2003
11%

Without a TraceStream

Director
Series
2002

Without a TraceStream

Guest Star
Series
2002

Dead in a Heartbeat

Actor
Franklin
Movie
2002

Danny

Director
Show
2001

Terminal Error

Actor
Elliot
Movie
2001

Ed

Guest Star
Series
2000

That's Life

Director
Show
2000

The West WingStream

Actor
Danny Concannon
Series
1999
81%

The West WingStream

Guest Star
Danny Concannon
Series
1999
81%

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Director
Series
1999
78%

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Guest Star
Daniel Carter
Series
1999
78%

Rapto Mortal

Actor
Fr. Donnelly
Movie
1999

Time at the Top

Actor
Frank Shawson
Movie
1999

The Darklings

Actor
Clayton Shepherd
Movie
1999

Se Busca

Actor
Movie
1999

Prófugo de la Mafia

Actor
Movie
1999

Wanted

Actor
Fr. Donnelly
Movie
1999

Sports NightStream

Director
Series
1998
90%

Dream House

Actor
Richard Connor Thornton
Movie
1998

Erasable You

Actor
Brian
Movie
1998

When Secrets Kill

Actor
Det. Walter Ferrence
Movie
1997

Trucks

Actor
Ray
Movie
1997

Buffalo SoldiersStream

Actor
Maj. Robert Carr
Movie
1997

The Souler Opposite

Actor
Robert Levin
Movie
1997

Champs

Actor
Tom McManus
Show
1996

The Unspeakable

Actor
Matthew Grissom
Movie
1996

First Kid

Actor
Woods
Movie
1996

The Outer LimitsStream

Actor
Dr. Jon Holland
Series
1995

La Sombra de la Muerte

Actor
Det. Walt Keller
Movie
1995

In the Shadow of Evil

Actor
Det. Walt Keller
Movie
1995

In the Line of Duty: Kidnapped

Actor
Pete Honeycutt
Movie
1995

The Byrds of Paradise

Actor
Sam Byrd
Show
1994

Nunca me Abandonarás

Actor
Movie
1994

Murder Between Friends

Actor
John Thorn
Movie
1994

Little Big LeagueStream

Actor
Lou Collins
Movie
1994
37%

Un des siens

Actor
Movie
1993

Sam y el Monopatín

Actor
Movie
1993

Fade to Black

Actor
Professor Del Calvin
Movie
1993

The Skateboard Kid

Actor
Frank
Movie
1993

Striking DistanceStream

Actor
Tony Sacco
Movie
1993
20%

Wall of Silence

Actor
Ephraim Lipshitz
Movie
1993

El Fondo de la Mentira

Actor
Movie
1992

Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer? The Bambi Bembenek Story

Actor
Fred Schultz
Movie
1992

SneakersStream

Actor
Dick Gordon
Movie
1992
80%

Maison des félins

Actor
Movie
1991

Strays

Actor
Paul Jarrett
Movie
1991

Law & OrderStream

Director
Series
1990

Law & OrderStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Field of DreamsStream

Actor
Mark
Movie
1989
88%

thirtysomething

Actor
Elliot Weston
Series
1987
83%

Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in ParadiseStream

Actor
Arnold Poindexter
Movie
1987
7%

MatlockStream

Guest Star
Series
1986

Revenge of the NerdsStream

Actor
Arnold Poindexter
Movie
1984
71%

El Regreso de los Nerds

Actor
Movie
1984

Hotel

Guest Star
Soap
1983

Reggie

Actor
Mark Potter; his son
Show
1983

Family TiesStream

Guest Star
Series
1982

StripesStream

Actor
Soldier with mortar
Movie
1981
88%

Trapper John, M.D.

Actor
Dr. John 'J.T.' McIntyre
Series
1979

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