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James Woods Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (33) | Personal Quotes (25) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 April 1947Vernal, Utah, USA
Birth NameJames Howard Woods
Nickname Jimmy
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

James Woods is a leanly built, strangely handsome actor-producer-director with intense eyes and a sometimes untrustworthy grin, who has been impressing audiences for over three decades with his compelling performances. James Howard Woods was born on April 18th, 1947 in Vernal, Utah, the son of Martha A. (Smith) and Gail Peyton Woods, a United States Army intelligence officer who died during Woods' childhood. James is of Irish, English, and German descent. He grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, with his mother and stepfather. He graduated from Pilgrim High School in 1965, near the top of his class. He earned a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; dropping out during his sophomore year in 1967, he then headed off to New York with his fraternity brother Martin Donovan to pursue aspirations to appear on the stage. After appearing in a handful of New York City theater productions, Woods scored his first film role in All the Way Home (1971) and followed that up with meager supporting roles in The Way We Were (1973) and The Choirboys (1977).

However, it was Woods' cold-blooded performance as the cop killer in The Onion Field (1979), based on a Joseph Wambaugh novel, that seized the attention of movie-goers to his on-screen power. Woods quickly followed up with another role in another Joseph Wambaugh film adaptation, The Black Marble (1980), as a sleazy and unstable cable-T.V.-station owner in David Cronenberg's mind-bending and prophetic Videodrome (1983), as gangster Max Bercovicz in Sergio Leones mammoth epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984), and scored a best actor Academy Award nomination as abrasive journalist Richard Boyle in Oliver Stone's gritty and unsettling Salvador (1986).

There seemed to be no stopping the rise of this star as he continued to amaze movie-goers with his remarkable versatility and his ability to create such intense, memorable characters. The decade of the 1990s started off strongly with high praise for his role as Roy Cohn in the television production of Citizen Cohn (1992). Woods was equally impressive as sneaky hustler Lester Diamond who cons Sharon Stone in Casino (1995), made a tremendous H.R. Haldeman in Nixon (1995), portrayed serial killer Carl Panzram in Killer: A Journal of Murder (1995), and then as accused civil rights assassin Byron De La Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi (1996).

Not to be typecast solely as hostile hoodlums, Woods has further expanded his range to encompass providing voice-overs for animated productions including Hercules (1997), Hooves of Fire (1999), and Stuart Little 2 (2002). Woods also recently appeared in the critically praised The Virgin Suicides (1999), in the coming-of-age movie Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), as a corrupt medico in Any Given Sunday (1999), and in the comedy-horror spoof Scary Movie 2 (2001). A remarkable performer with an incredibly diverse range of acting talent, Woods remains one of Hollywood's outstanding leading men.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44

Spouse (2)

Sarah Owen (2 June 1989 - 1990) (divorced)
Kathryn Morrison (31 August 1980 - 20 September 1983) (divorced)

Trade Mark (5)

Often plays eccentric, fast-talking characters
Often plays weaselly but intergrating characters
Skilled at delivering wisecracks
Pockmarked face with intense eyes
Many of his characters have short tempers or are quick to anger.

Trivia (33)

Received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on October 15, 1998.
A reserve officer in the Los Angeles Police Department.
He appeared in the music video and sang in the choir on the song "Voices That Care."
Fired his agent for not telling him of Quentin Tarantino's offer to star as Mr. Orange/Freddie in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Majored in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Older brother of actor Michael Jeffrey Woods.
Member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity.
1997: Was engaged to actress Missy Crider; they met when she played his daughter in the television movie Jane's House (1994).
2001: While on a commercial flight from Boston to Los Angeles in August, he noticed a group of men acting suspiciously on the plane and informed a flight attendant that he felt they were planning to hijack the plane. He has thus been in several interviews with FBI agents since the September 11 attacks.
Provided the voice of Carl, the straight-laced rabbit in the pet store across the street from a rental station, in a series of Blockbuster commercials.
Is ambidextrous (as seen in The Virgin Suicides (1999), writes on chalkboard with both hands).
Is the son of a United States Army intelligence officer.
The high school in the animated series Family Guy (1999) was named after him (James Woods High School).
Visits his family in Rhode Island frequently.
Loves cooking and is an excellent chef.
Enjoys playing golf.
Quit smoking cigarettes in 1993. Played as a man trying to break the habit using drastic, preventive measures in Stephen King's Cat's Eye (1985).
Loves photography.
He was accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on a full scholarship, majoring not in the physical sciences but in political science. He also pursued acting, appearing in 36 plays at MIT, Harvard, and the Theater Company of Boston and also performed in summer stock at the Provincetown Playhouse. He dropped out of MIT during his last year to move to New York and pursue acting full-time.
Got his third television role, as a thug on Kojak (1973), after Richard Dreyfuss and Martin Sheen had turned it down.
Referred to composer Howard Shore as the Bernard Herrmann of the synthesizer.
He was considered a brilliant student, enrolling in a UCLA linear algebra course while still attending high school. He scored a perfect 800 on the verbal SAT and a 779 on the math portion.
Childhood friend of Wall Street Journal personal technology columnist Walter Mossberg.
Hades from the Disney franchise is his favorite role and he states that he'll continue playing the character, whenever needed, until the day he dies because he loves the character so very much.
Is against capital punishment.
Is good friends with Sharon Stone and told Cigar Aficionado in an interview that he considers her one of the smartest women in the movie business.
Writes with his right hand mostly but does pretty much everything else with his left.
He plays a character who works for Richard Nixon in Nixon (1995) and played one of a band of men who wore Nixon masks when they robbed a police depository in Best Seller (1987).
Is an avid video gamer.
Has said he has an I.Q. of 180. Albert Einstein had an I.Q. of approximately 160. Another source lists Woods' I.Q. as 184. He scored a perfect 800 on the Verbal portion of the SAT and a 779 in Math.
As of 2013, his two Oscar nominated performances were for his portrayals on real life characters: Richard Boyle in Salvador (1986) and Byron De La Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi (1996).
His father, who was born in Illinois, had English and German ancestry, with deep roots in the American Midwest. His mother, who was born in Rhode Island, was of Irish descent.
He and his then fiancée filed a $2 million suit for harassment against his ex-girlfriend Sean Young in 1988, alleging that, for instance, Young left a disfigured doll on his doorstep and trampled the couple's expensive flower bed. The case was settled out of court in 1989.

Personal Quotes (25)

My parents loved each other. I was raised in a house of total love and respect. My dad worked very hard and my mother was incredibly devoted to him. I can unequivocally, without any peradventure of doubt, tell you that I was raised with the kind of love that we only dream of. My mother and my father loved me and my brother like we love the air we breathe--out of necessity. It was a necessity for them to love us in some deep inner genetic calling in their hearts and minds and souls. I have that as a standard.
I was really bright as a kid and tested well, and it was clear that I was going to get scholarships to any schools I wanted. My dad always said I could be an engineer; at that time it was the elite of society: steady job, working in science, which was then the answer to every problem we had. It was kind of a mandate. Kind of a dream he had for me.
"It was a very wrenching and painful decision for me--in my senior year at MIT, on high dean's list and full scholarships--to decide that maybe I wanted to be an artist. I think it is actually something that my father would understand. Whether I'm making 30 grand a day or union scale, I have found something that I truly love, and that is something he would have admired." - On leaving school to go to NYC and become an actor.
I always have a rule that acting is acting and truth is truth and you just go out there and you do it. But what happens in each medium is that you have other responsibilities. The acting remains the same, but each medium dictates assuming other halves to make the acting work. When I'm working on a film, I just play the absolute purity of the moments. I don't worry about the pacing, because the pacing is going to be dictated by the director and the editor. On the stage I have to give pacing to the play. As an actor, you, in fact, become the editor of the piece, in terms of the timing. You are required to engineer the pace yourself. In television, everything is in so close, that you realize that most of what you do has to register in your thought process.
A cardinal rule of being a movie star, according to the agents and all the people who have wisdom, is that you should be aloof, do very little press and you shouldn't ever get on television. I don't think there is a piece of political film making in the United States that is a good as, let alone better than, Citizen Cohn. Let's assume that I am not even in the picture. I mean, just the writer of the piece, David Franzoni. I look at Promise, written by Richard Friendenberg and directed by Glenn Jordan, a wonderful director. Forgetting that I am in it, just looking at the material itself, My Name Is Bill W. would not have had the same impact if it were a feature film; it would have come and gone. But on television, 25 million people get to watch it all at the same time. So television has a power all its own and it has an allure all its own, and I think that television often deals with more meaningful subjects than many feature films do.
If you star in movies, which I predominantly do, most agents would assume that you don't want to do a two-day part in a movie. But when you read a script like Casino and you know it is being directed by a genius like Martin Scorcese, you say, hey, I'll be an extra in this movie. I'll do anything. I called up Marty and said, 'Any part, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.' Because I want to work in good scripts with good directors, and this was a great script with a phenomenal director, it makes the choice really easy. We ended up making a two-scene part into a 10- scene part. Which proves my point. When you're working with great people and great material, you're going to milk it. I have learned that you can't be a champion unless you are in the championship zone. You can't win unless you're in the zone, whatever winning might mean. Right now, maybe they are not going to star me in a $100 million movie all by myself the way they would some other actor, but if I'm in that championship zone, I have got a shot.
Robert Redford understands film acting better than anybody on the face on the earth. You know how some carnivores get every bit of meat off of a carcass they can? Well, there's nobody who gets as much blood out of a moment as Redford. Within the range of his talent, he knows how to get every single note available, and he is a genius not only at getting those notes but in making them fully accessible to his audience. He is one of the few actors that can play three or four emotions at the same time, and he is amazing; he truly understands the subtlety of film acting.
I am one of those guys who could do the most emotional scene and crack a joke instantly. I'm lucky. I'm just like an idiot savant. I have one enormously enjoyable, pleasurable--for me--talent, which is being able to act. I do it without any confusion or restriction or ambivalence or hesitation, and it just flows, almost as naturally as anything in my life. So I don't have a big burden about it. I'm not one of those 'method' guys. I'm tired of the Actors' Studio bullshit that has ruined movies for 40 years. All these guys running around pretending they are turnips or whatever the hell they do. You just play the character as he really is. As a loudmouth, blowhard, coward, shithead. You know, it's OK to be just who the guy is. One of the reasons that I'm not very good about talking about the process of acting is that so much of it requires you to be unconscious [of it] when you do it. When you're aware of what you're doing, it's never very good. If you just let go and you're in the scene, all of a sudden, it's good. I can't act; I swear to you, I feel like I can't. I dread it every time I do it. I feel like the more I do it, the less I know. Which is a good thing.
My nightmare in life, my absolute fundamental, overwhelming, egregious nightmare, is Bill Gates' vision of the future, where there will be a video camera on every corner and every conversation will be recorded. Man, I'd rather put a pitchfork in my eyes than live in a world like that.
I've never formally studied with anybody but I've always loved great photography. I like to shoot people. I always like to get into faces when there is something happening. It comes from the same motive as acting -- which is wanting to understand how people think and what they do. It feels exactly the same. You are observing human nature. I'm doing one by recreating it on film and another by capturing it on film. I just love studying human behavior.
Achieving success as an actor has not been easy for me. My biggest, probably most irrational complaint has been that I've had to work harder for what I've gotten. I've seen other people with nepotism or wealth or cheesy good looks on their side who've had it easy, whereas I felt that I had to 'overprove' myself. No one ever went out of their way and said, 'Let's make Jimmy Woods a star.' With many frustrations and disappointments early in my career, I went into a deep depression. One time, I just sat in a chair for eighteen days. I worked my way out of that depressed state, but it took three years of therapy.
Do you think I want to be the one lone voice against the Hollywood liberal establishment? It's not going to do me any good.
"I love George W. Bush right now - and I always have! I'm the only guy in L.A. who voted for him" (January 2002).
"Scratch a liberal and you'll find a fascist ... I'm not joking. You look at what's happening in this country now. Catharine MacKinnon thinks that we should now limit free speech, anything that offends a woman should now no longer be allowed - no reasonable man or woman in this country would subscribe to that, it's just insanity." (1994)
But, you know, feminists have just destroyed the world as we, know it. I haven't met a woman lately, and I'm talking about women who work and have a high position, who doesn't agree with that. It has just destroyed relationships between men and women. Men and women are very wary of each other now. I listen to these feminists rave about, "How dare they attack Bill Clinton for having a little consensual sex act", but went nuts because Clarence Thomas allegedly made a joke about a Coke can. And the other guy is humiliating his wife and getting oral sex while he's talking about Bosnia to a congressman. Hello? Barbara Boxer is, you know, the most worthless, hypocritical "feminist" loser on the face of the earth .... I just loathe with every fiber of my being, liars. My second ex-wife was a liar. And Nixon was a liar. And this Clinton is a liar. I have no respect for him no matter what in the world he ever does.
[on Oliver Stone] An artist whose vision transcends politics. And his passion isn't bogus - he doesn't play "Imagine" at the end of Platoon (1986) to break people's hearts.
I just like to pick things that are just different, challenging and that maybe people wouldn't expect me to do or that I wouldn't have done before.
Shark (2006) came at a time when I didn't really need the work at all. I didn't take it for the money. I live a very modest life. I don't want a private jet. I'm just a non-material guy.
I'm cautious of people who are too charming. Charming people can be dangerous - my alarm goes off immediately.
After I read the script for Shark (2006), I thought, Wow I haven't read a part like this in 10 years. Men in their 50s are typecast as the corporate villain. Shark (2006) gave me the opportunity to be a tainted hero - the best kind of hero to portray. It's a golden opportunity for an old samurai like myself.
[on working on independent films] Starting with The Onion Field (1979) and Salvador (1986) and movies like that, I've been doing this for 20 years. And the lifeblood of my career has been independent film. I mean, I got one Oscar nomination for a studio film, Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), but, you know, its heart was in the right place. It was dealing with a socially important issue.
[2005] I can honestly say that I'm in a business where I would happily have worked for free every day of my life.
So much of what Hollywood does now, I'm sorry to say... they're busy with the political agenda, socially political agenda, and that's fine. But the older white heterosexual European male is only the villain in movies. Very rarely are we anything but the villain now.
Oliver Stone was pretty much going to offer me Wall Street, but I was committed to doing Cop. He said, "Don't be silly, go and do Wall Street", and I told him I was going to do Cop. You know, could have been a mistake! But I have no regrets.
The '80s period was some of the greatest filmmaking ever, and a lot of those films are lost forever.

Salary (1)

Northfork (2003) $5,000

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