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Tim Matheson Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (12)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 31 December 1947Glendale, California, USA
Birth NameTimothy Lewis Matthieson
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Tim Matheson is an American actor, director and producer perhaps best known for his portrayal of the smooth talking 'Eric "Otter" Stratton' in the 1978 comedy, Animal House (1978), but has had a variety of other well-known roles both before and since, including critical accolades for his playing "Vice President John Hoynes" on the television series, The West Wing (1999), which garnered him two Primetime Emmy award nominations for Best Guest Star in a Drama Series. From 2011 to 2015, Matheson starred as 'Dr. Brick Breeland' in The CW series, Hart of Dixie (2011), opposite Rachel Bilson. He has and continues to direct several episodes each season throughout the series. Not limited to "Hart of Dixie", Matheson has made a career of directing an array of episodic projects on some of television's most prominent shows, including "The Last Ship," "Burn Notice," "Criminal Minds," "Without a Trace," "Cold Case," "Numbers," "Drop Dead Diva," "Suits," "Eureka" and "White Collar," as well as pilots for Fox's "The Good Guys" and the USA Network successful original series "Covert Affairs." Beginning his career at the age of 13, Matheson appeared in Robert Young's CBS nostalgia comedy series, Window on Main Street (1961), during the 1961-1962 television season. In 1964, he provided the voice of the lead character in the cartoon program Jonny Quest (1964), as well as the voice of "Jace" in the original animated series, Space Ghost (1966). Additionally, he played the role of the oldest son, "Mike Beardsley", in the film Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), which starred Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. In 1969, Matheson joined the cast of NBC's western series, The Virginian (1962), in its eighth season, as "Jim Horn". During the final season of the television western Bonanza (1959) in 1972-1973, Matheson played "Griff King", a parolee who tries to reform his life as a worker at the Ponderosa Ranch under Ben Cartwright's watch. Following that, he portrayed young motorcycle cop "Phil Sweet", in the 1973 film, Magnum Force (1973). In the fall of 1976, Matheson was seen opposite Kurt Russell in the NBC series, The Quest (1976), the story of two young men in the American West seeking the whereabouts of their sister, a captive of the Cheyenne. In 1978, he co-starred in the acclaimed Animal House (1978), opposite John Belushi; the following year, he appeared alongside Belushi again in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979). Matheson and Catherine Hicks played "Rick Tucker" and "Amanda Tucker", who operate a detective agency in Laurel Canyon in CBS' Tucker's Witch (1982), which aired during the 1982-1983 season. He then appeared in the 1983 To Be or Not to Be (1983), starring Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft and went on to star in the 1984 comedy, Up the Creek (1984) and 1985's Fletch (1985). Matheson, along with business partner 'Dan Grodnik', bought National Lampoon in 1989, when the magazine was facing financial decline. They were unable to reverse the magazine fortunes, however, and sold it in 1991. In 1996, Matheson took on the role of a con man who claims to be Carol Brady's thought-to-be-dead husband in A Very Brady Sequel (1996). Matheson was seen opposite Ryan Reynolds in the feature comedy Van Wilder (2002) in 2002, playing the father of the title character, who was inspired by his own character in Animal House (1978), as a nod to the original film. He was born in Glendale, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, and has three wonderful children from former wife, Megan Murphy Matheson.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Mike Liotta

Spouse (2)

Megan Murphy Matheson (29 June 1985 - 2012) (divorced) (3 children)
Jennifer Leak (28 September 1968 - 1971) (divorced)

Trivia (14)

Born at 9:00pm-PST.
Was the voice of Jonny Quest in the Jonny Quest (1964) series.
Served in the USMC reserves.
Daughters: Molly Matthieson (b. 1986), Emma Matthieson (b. 1988).
Son: Cooper Matthieson (b. 1994).
For years after playing ladies'-man Otter in Animal House (1978), he had to explain to disappointed fans that, no, that was only a character he played, and he couldn't really offer them sexual advice.
Worked with John Belushi, John Candy, Sam Kinison, and Chris Farley, all (legendary) overweight comic actors who died at a young age(JB-33, drugs; JC-43, heart attack; SK-38, drunk driver; CF-33, drugs).
Played a character with the surname Stratton in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) and then a character trying to romance a beautiful young woman whose surname was Stratton in 1941 (1979).
Shares his birthday with Val Kilmer.
When he originally auditioned for Animal House (1978), the producers wanted him to play one of the no-nonsense. straight-laced Omegas. However, he adamantly refused, saying, "I'm tired of playing it straight," and sought a role as one of the hard-partying, fun-loving Deltas. He succeeded and got the role of Otter, one of the most fun-loving Deltas of the whole film.
He met his first wife Jennifer Leak when they were co-stars in the movie Yours, Mine and Ours (1968).
Lives in Los Angeles, California.
Shot his entire part in Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia (2009) in two days.
He played Lieutenant Andrei Sobinski in To Be or Not to Be (1983) while his 1941 (1979) co-star Robert Stack played him in the original version To Be or Not to Be (1942).

Personal Quotes (12)

I've stolen something from every director I've worked with. As an actor and a director, you steal from the best. And there's no reason why any shame should be attached to it.
[on starting out in his career as a child actor] Kurt [Kurt Russell] taught me a lot. Basically, Kurt left the business for about five years. He made a lot of money as a kid, then sort of went to be a baseball player. And after that he focused on skiing ... bought a house in Aspen and skied ... And he didn't care about it. My point is that you have to have a real life. I also think one has to reinvent oneself as a performer every five to seven years. I look at my career, and I was a kid actor who did cartoons, then I was a Western actor as a young man, then I was a comedy actor in movies, then a TV-movie actor, then a TV director ... There are different phases ... But I think one has a shelf life of about five to seven years where you're in a series, or you play a character, or you hit in a movie -- and that sort of wears out its welcome after a certain point. Then you've got to put it on its head, reinvent it, find a new approach, otherwise you're just stuck being that guy who did that thing back then. So I've always sought out new challenges. Also, I've tried to have a home life and a family. I raised my kids up in Santa Barbara and got away from the city of Los Angeles so that [the environment] wasn't so crazy for them to grow up in.
Some directors just shoot characters walking around a set, and they think that's all they have to do. That's not it. Howard Hawks and John Ford knew where to put the camera. They knew if the camera was here or there, it tells the story better. And, early on as an actor, I remember sometimes thinking that I'd given a good performance in certain shows, but then when I finally saw my work, it wasn't particularly dynamic. There were flat shots, the directing wasn't very good ... But when I'd work with better directors, who'd stage my scenes differently, who use stronger camera angles, and -- perhaps even though I didn't give what I thought was the best performance -- the result was more dynamic and effective. And I thought, "Ah-ah! He made me a better actor by what he did as a director." So I think my job as a director is to help the actor give his or her best performance, as well as frame it in such a way to enhance whatever they do to create a stronger impact.
[2009, on Fletch (1985)] I got to work with one of my dear friends, Michael Ritchie, who ended up being my next-door neighbor for several years. And Chevy Chase, finally. I'd known Chevy a bit, but I'd never gotten to work with him. Chevy had been a bad boy with a drug problem, and had never really realized his potential. Fletch was the first movie he sort of straightened up on. And Michael was Harvard-educated, 6'6", a brilliant director and political thinker. He was the guy the studio thought could handle Chevy, and keep him in check. And he could. He'd shoot the movie the way he wanted it, then do one take for Chevy. When I worked with Chevy, he'd say, "Just ad lib and try to break me up. Just insult me. Anything." When we were doing his close-up, or when my back was to the camera, I would come up with jokes or quips or anything, to get a real reaction out of him. He was smart enough to know that was gold. So it was great fun working with him and Michael, and getting to see how the two worked together. I think Fletch and Clark Griswold were Chevy's two best roles. He's so incredibly talented and still vastly underused. I don't even know what he's doing now.
[2009, on 1941 (1979)] It had a lot of us "Animal House" guys in it. And working with Steven Spielberg, how bad could it be? But it was one of those excessively big movies where every action scene was done and re-done and re-done again. It was so overproduced and overly expensive. And it wasn't terribly funny. I must say Steven was great to me, and I loved working with him. He called me up on the phone and was like, "I want you to be in this movie. There are a couple of parts. You can take whichever one you want. One of them is a main character who is involved in everything, and there's another character who has his own storyline and goes off on his own. He's probably the funnier, more unique character." I said, "Well let me do that second one."

When we started shooting and I read the script, I realized "They could cut this part out in a second." But he's great. Steven's one of the most visually talented and character-oriented directors I've ever worked with. And I learn from him every time I watch one of his movies. Good or bad-and he has made some awful movies-they're never uninteresting. He's made four or five of the greatest movies of all time. Perfect movies, like E.T. or Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan. I also think Duel is perfect for a television movie. I liked Munich a lot too. So whenever I study a genre of filmmaking, he's the first guy I go to. Even Catch Me If You Can, which is a very lightweight kind of thing, if you just look at the economy of the way he designs his shots and works around actors, the craft is amazing.
[2009, on Jonny Quest (1964)] That was one of the most fun things I ever did, and I gotta tell you, I worked with some of the best actors I've ever worked with: Mel Blanc and Don Messick. They could play a scene against themselves. Think of the characters that Mel created, and they're as good or better than any performance anyone has ever given. I mean: Daffy Duck! Think of the specific voice Mel gave Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig... It's just astonishing. When I did Jonny Quest, I was in that gawky stage between kid and adult. I wasn't working much. So I focused on studying, and I really learned what it means to be an actor. And here I was on Jonny Quest,working with all these great people from back in the golden age of Hollywood, who came up doing radio. These were journeymen, working actors. It made me proud, and gave me some insight into what acting was really about if you weren't a star. Though you know, they used to send a car for Mel and Don every day. Don lived up here in Santa Barbara. They would drive him down and he would go from studio to studio and job to job all day long. Then the limo would drive him home at night, because he was such a valuable commodity. Mel was equally as talented or even better. It was a great education.
[2009, on Leave It to Beaver (1957)] I was so star-struck, meeting Jerry Mathers. He invited me to his house for a party after I did like three episodes over the course of a season, and I remember thinking, "This is it, man. This is the Hollywood life! I'm an actor and I'm going to Jerry's party. This is how it begins!" I was 13 or 14, and I thought this was the beginning of something. And I kept thinking that with all those first jobs, "This is the beginning of something!" And then nothing would happen. That's the real Hollywood.
[2009, on Animal House (1978)] That wasn't too long after The Quest (1976). I was just dying to get out of the constraints of television, and the constraints of the parts I'd been playing. I had taken a bunch of improv classes and was performing with The Groundlings. I wanted to get into more adult, risky stuff. I had read the Animal House script, and by hook and crook, I finally got an audition. I'd been turned down by them a couple of times, and offered a lesser role as one of the asshole Omegas. I said, "No way." Then I finally got the audition, and it was a great one. John Landis followed me out into the hallway afterward and said, "I've never done this before, but you've got the job. Now don't tell anyone!" I've never had a director do that. It was one of those Hollywood-dream-come-true stories. They saw me as a surfer or cowboy, not a preppie, but someone begged and borrowed me an audition, and I went in and got it. And it was one of those dream jobs where the cast came together and you looked around and were like, "Wow, this is great."
(2009) I was born and raised in L.A. My father was born and raised in L.A. So we're old hands here... I always wanted to be an actor. I was one of those lucky kids-or cursed kids-who always knew what he wanted to do. My wife too. She's a ballet dancer, and she's known what she wanted to do since she was 5. My mother used to tell this story about how our TV set had been taken to be repaired, and back then, they took the set out of the console. So there was this empty console with an empty TV screen in it, and I would climb inside and be like, "I'm on TV!"
[2009, on Charlie Hoover (1991)] That could've been a good show if we'd done it before an audience. Sam Kinison was so charismatic, but he needed an audience. It would've been so much better if we'd gotten away from all this special-effects nonsense of having him be on my shoulder. It was cute, and maybe they used that device to sell it, but we should've just done it with a live audience, because Sam was amazing in front of a live audience. What a tragic character. I just adored him, but you could just see the train wreck coming. He was one of the most compulsive people I'd ever seen. John Belushi was that way, and Chris Farley was that way. He was incredibly talented and made me laugh so hard, and there was nothing he wouldn't say. Such a unique, amazing, cynical, realistic, but still optimistic look at life he had. It was great fun to get to know him.
[2009, on The Quest (1976)] I learned a hell of a lot from my co-star, Kurt Russell. He's one of my closest friends and was one of my best teachers. He was the pro. He approached it like a baseball player. Acting is a contact sport to him. He's one of the most optimistic, fun, wiseacre type of guys I've ever have run into. You can't be pompous around him. I used to take acting so seriously, but after we did the Quest pilot and the show sold, Kurt said, "You know, you work too hard. You'll make yourself sick. You can't work that hard doing a series, because it goes on so long. It's like a baseball season. You've got 162 games. You can't just go all-out the first week or two. You can't maintain that pace." And it's true. Then he said another brilliant thing. He had starred in umpteen movies by that point. And he said, "Generally speaking, in every film I've done, there are only about three or four scenes that I can really do something with. For the rest of it, it's not so much that you don't have to prepare, but there's not much you can really do. You just do what is asked of you in those scenes. You don't want to do too much." He's so smart. It was a great insight. You don't hear technical stuff like that taught in acting school. It's the kind of sage wisdom coming from a guy who was 25 at the time, but already had 20 years of experience. He's a wonderful actor and a great guy. The Quest was a treat.
[2009, on The West Wing (1999)] So dear to my heart. The finest group of actors, the best directors, the best writers... as good as any that I've ever worked with. The funny thing about it is-and I don't know what Aaron Sorkin says about it-but I'm convinced it was a comedy. It's a very intellectual and cerebral comedy, but it was SportsNight in the White House. It had an energy and a vitality and an intelligence and a passion that's rare. And it was extremely difficult to do, because they were so demanding about the dialogue. You had to say it exactly as written, to the punctuation. And if you didn't, you'd do it again. But it was so worthwhile. It was one of the few times you realize, "I should say this dialogue the way it's written, because it's exactly right."

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