James Woods: American film, stage and television actor (1947-) | Biography, Filmography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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James Woods
American film, stage and television actor

James Woods

James Woods
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American film, stage and television actor
A.K.A. James Howard Woods
Is Actor Television actor Film actor Voice actor Film producer Screenwriter Stage actor Poker player
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 18 April 1947, Vernal, USA
Age 76 years
Star sign Aries
Politics Republican Party
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Notable Works
Daytime Emmy Award  
Theatre World Award 1972
James Woods
The details (from wikipedia)


James Howard Woods (born April 18, 1947) is an American actor and producer. His film work includes Videodrome (1983), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Casino (1995), Nixon (1995), Contact (1997), the voice of Hades in Disney's animated feature Hercules (1997), and the voice of Falcon in the movie Stuart Little 2 (2002). Woods was nominated for two Academy Awards: one in the Best Actor category for Salvador (1986) and the other in the Best Supporting Actor category for Ghosts of Mississippi (1996). He is the recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards for the television movies Promise (1987) and My Name Is Bill W. (1989). On television, he is known for his lead role in the CBS drama Shark (2006–2008), his guest appearances in Showtime's Ray Donovan (2013) and for voice-acting as himself on various episodes of Family Guy and The Simpsons.

Early life

Woods was born in Vernal, Utah, on April 18, 1947 and had a brother ten years younger. His father, Gail Peyton Woods, was an army intelligence officer who died in 1960 after routine surgery. His mother, Martha A. (née Smith), operated a pre-school after her husband's death and later married Thomas E. Dixon. Woods grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, where he attended Pilgrim High School, from which he graduated in 1965. He is of part Irish descent and was raised Catholic, briefly serving as an altar boy.

He pursued his undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Woods stated on Inside the Actors Studio that he originally intended to follow a career as an eye surgeon.) While at MIT, Woods pledged to the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. He was also an active member of the student theatre group "Dramashop", where he both acted in and directed a number of plays. He dropped out of MIT in 1969, one semester prior to graduating to pursue a career in acting.

Woods has said that he owes his acting career to Tim Affleck (father of actors Ben and Casey Affleck), who was a stage manager at the Theatre Company of Boston while Woods was a student there.



Woods appeared in 36 plays before making his Broadway debut in 1970 at the Lyceum Theatre, in the first American production of Frank McMahon's Borstal Boy. He got the part by pretending he was British. He returned to Broadway the following year to portray David Darst in Daniel Berrigan's The Trial of the Catonsville Nine also at the Lyceum Theatre. In 1971, he played Bob Rettie in the American premiere of Michael Weller's Moonchildren at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The following year the production moved to Broadway at the Royale Theatre where Woods starred alongside Edward Herrmann, and Christopher Guest. In 1972, Woods won a Theatre World Award for his performance. He returned to Broadway in 1973 to portray Steven Cooper in the original production of Jean Kerr's Finishing Touches at the Plymouth Theatre.


Woods at an AIDS Project Los Angeles benefit in September 1990

A prominent Hollywood character actor, Woods has appeared in over 130 films and television series. By the early 1970s, he was getting small movie roles including his feature film debut in Elia Kazan's The Visitors and a spot as Barbra Streisand's boyfriend in "The Way We Were."

Woods starred in The Onion Field (1979) as a sadistic murderer for which he received good notices as well as a Golden Globe Nomination and nominations from the National Society of Film Critics, and the New York Film Critics Circle Association.

Woods played Max, a domineering gangster, in Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984) alongside Robert De Niro, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci and Danny Aiello. Woods considers his role in the film as one of his favorites. The film premiered at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival and received a 15 minute standing ovation. Rotten Tomatoes reports an 86% approval rating with 51 reviews, the consensus reading, "Sergio Leone's epic crime drama is visually stunning, stylistically bold, and emotionally haunting, and filled with great performances from the likes of Robert De Niro and James Woods."

In Oliver Stone's drama Salvador (1986), Woods portrayed real-life journalist Rick Boyle as he chronicles events in El Salvador. Despite his criticism that ""Salvador" is long and disjointed and tries to tell too many stories," Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "This is the sort of role Woods was born to play". He won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Actor. He also received his first Academy Award nomination for his performance.

Woods was offered a leading role in Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut, the low-budget film Reservoir Dogs (1992), but his agent rejected the script without showing it to the actor. When Woods learned of this some time later, he fired his agents (CAA), replacing them with ICM.

Woods played a minor role of a hustler, Lester Diamond, in Martin Scorsese's Casino (1995), alongside Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci. When Woods had heard that Scorsese was interested in working with him, he called Scorsese's office and left the following message: "Any time, any place, any part, any fee." The film was well received by critics, earning a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, "Impressive ambition and bravura performances from an outstanding cast help Casino pay off in spite of a familiar narrative that may strike some viewers as a safe bet for director Martin Scorsese." Also in 1995, he starred in Oliver Stone's Nixon, alongside Anthony Hopkins playing Nixon, with Woods playing H. R. Haldeman. Woods received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination along with the rest of the cast for its ensemble work.

In Rob Reiner's film Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), Woods appeared alongside Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg. He portrayed the white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. The film was not a box-office success and received mixed reviews. Critics however praised Woods' performance. Janet Maslin in her New York Times review states, "Woods's performance as the hateful old reprobate Beckwith is the films chief sign of life". The Los Angeles Times published an article titled "James Woods is So Good at Being Bad". In the articles it describes Woods having aggressively lobbied director Rob Reiner for the role, which Reiner originally intended for an actor in his 70s, like Paul Newman. "Beckwith's Mississippi accent, which Woods perfected by watching tapes and working with an accent coach, helped him distance himself from the character. 'I imagined I was speaking a foreign language'." Woods earned a Golden Globe nomination as well as his second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor

Voicing Hades in the Disney Animated film, Hercules (1997), critic Roger Ebert described Woods performance as full of "diabolical glee" and compared his performance of "verbal inventiveness" to that of Robin Williams in Aladdin. Janet Maslin of The New York Times also praised Woods's performance remarking "Woods shows off the full verve of an edgy Scarfe villain", and added "On any level, earthly or otherwise, the ingenious new animated Hercules is pretty divine." Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported the film has an approval rating of 84% with the website's 55 reviewers' critical consensus reading, "Fast-paced and packed with dozens of pop culture references, Hercules might not measure up with the true classics of the Disney pantheon, but it's still plenty of fun."

Woods appeared in Sofia Coppola's directorial debut The Virgin Suicides (1999) alongside Kirsten Dunst, and Kathleen Turner. The film premiered at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival to a largely positive critical reception. The film is Certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with the critical consensus reading, "The Virgin Suicides drifts with a dreamlike melancholy that may strike some audiences as tedious."

Woods at the Emmy Awards 1993


Woods starred in the four episode miniseries Holocaust (1978) alongside Meryl Streep, Michael Moriarty, and Rosemary Harris. Holocaust won the Outstanding Limited Series category for its year.

In 1987, Woods won his first Primetime Emmy Award for his role in the made for television film Promise (1986). The film also starred James Garner, and Piper Laurie. In 1989, Woods won his second Primetime Emmy Award, for his role in the made for television drama film, My Name is Bill W. starring James Garner, and Gary Sinese.

On October 28, 1989, Woods hosted Saturday Night Live with Don Henley as the Musical guest.

In 2006-2008, Woods starred in the CBS legal drama series Shark. He played an infamous defense lawyer who, after growing disillusioned when his client commits a murder, becomes a successful prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

In 2011, Woods appeared in HBO's Too Big to Fail with Paul Giamatti, William Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shalhoub and Bill Pullman. Woods played Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, for which he won critical praise. The TV Movie earned 11 Primetime Emmy Award nominations including for Woods for Best Outstanding Supporting Actor. Woods also earned a Screen Actors Guild Nomination for his performance.

In 2013, Woods appeared in 6 episodes of Showtime's critically acclaimed series Ray Donovan starring Liev Schrieber, and Jon Voight.

Voice work

Woods has lent his voice talents to many animated television shows and feature films. He garnered critical praise for his voice work as Hades in the Disney film Hercules (1997) and he won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2000 for the role in the follow-up television series (for the 1999 season). He also voiced Phillium Benedict, the twisted former headmaster who attempts to abolish summer vacation in the film, Recess: School's Out (2001), and Falcon in Stuart Little 2 (2002). He also appeared as a fictional version of himself in the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer and Apu" and in eight episodes of Family Guy, which is set in Woods' home state of Rhode Island. He is also the namesake for James Woods high school in Family Guy. The high school's name was later changed to Adam West High School to reflect the death of Adam West, who was a character in the show. Woods has lent his voice to video games such as Kingdom Hearts, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Scarface: The World Is Yours.

Personal life

In 1980, Woods married costume designer Kathryn Morrison-Pahoa. The couple divorced in 1983. In 1989 when Woods was 42, he married 26-year-old equestrian and boutique owner Sarah Owens, but they divorced four months later. He has not since remarried nor does he have children.

During a press interview for Kingdom Hearts II, Woods noted that he is an avid video game player. He is a dealer of antiques in Rhode Island. On December 14, 2015, while Woods was driving alone westbound through an ice storm on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, a driver who was speeding lost control and crashed into five other cars. Woods swerved his Jeep Grand Cherokee to avoid the accident and collided with a retaining wall, but slid backwards into a guard rail 100 feet (30 m) above the Colorado River. Woods suffered a minor concussion from the accident.


Woods is an avid poker player, playing in cash games and many tournaments. He played in the WPT's Hollywood Home Game series in 2004 for the American Stroke Association charity. As of 2018, he has over 80 tournament cashes to his credit, including a seventh place at the 2015 World Series of Poker in the $3000 No Limit Shootout event and a fifth place in the $1,500 Dealers Choice event at the 2018 WSOP.


In 1988, Woods sued Sean Young for $2 million, accusing her of stalking him after they appeared together in the film The Boost. Young later countered that Woods had overreacted after she had spurned his advances on set. The suit was settled out of court in August 1989 including a payment of $227,000 to Young to cover her legal costs.

In 2006, his younger brother Michael Jeffrey Woods died from cardiac arrest at the age of 49. Woods sued Kent Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island, alleging negligence. The lawsuit was settled in 2009.

In July 2015, Woods sued an anonymous Twitter user for $10 million over an allegedly libelous tweet suggesting Woods was a "cocaine addict." Woods unsuccessfully sought to obtain the name of the Twitter user, the Los Angeles Superior Court denied Woods' motion for discovery in October 2015, holding that Woods could not "use legal process to pierce the anonymity of internet speakers unless [Woods] can make a prima facie case." In February 2016, the court abruptly allowed the action to proceed, which was appealed by the user's attorney. In October 2016, attorney Lisa Bloom, who represented the anonymous Twitter user, revealed that the user had suddenly died. Woods reacted by saying that he hoped the person had "died screaming my name, in agony". The case was later settled out of court soon afterwards, with Woods getting a letter from Bloom saying that her client, "regretted making the tweet and further regrets any harm caused to Mr. Woods' reputation by the tweet."

In 2017, shortly before the Abe List litigation was resolved, Portia Boulger sued Woods for misidentifying her as a Nazi in an allegedly libelous tweet. The tweet included a photo of a different woman giving a Nazi salute while wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt at a campaign event and misidentified the woman as Boulger. Woods shared the tweet and accused Boulger, who ran the Women for Bernie Sanders Twitter account, of being a "#BernieSanders agitator/operative." Donald Trump Jr. shared the original tweet as well as Wood's commentary and further promoted the conspiracy that Boulger staged the photo. Boulger claimed to have been inundated with threatening messages due to the misidentification and sought $3 million in the lawsuit. The court ruled in favor of Woods under the innocent construction rule. Boulger appealed, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the lower court's ruling.


Woods has stated that he was a member of the Democratic Party until the impeachment of Bill Clinton, commenting that "every single Democrat without exception stood behind a convicted perjurer. That was the end." Woods was a registered Independent during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama; he has since joined the Republican Party. When Carly Fiorina pulled out of the 2016 presidential race, he shifted his endorsement to Ted Cruz in November 2015.

Woods' name was in an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times (August 17, 2006) that condemned Hamas and Hezbollah and supported Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War.

On July 4, 2018, The Gersh Agency, Woods' long–time talent agency, notified him by email that they would no longer represent him. Woods stated that the agency dropped him due to his outspoken political views. Woods has said that "there are many conservative stars who didn’t speak up [in defense of conservative values] because 'the blacklist against conservatives in Hollywood is very real.'"


Woods has become known for frequently espousing his political views on his Twitter page, which has over 2 million followers. In September 2018, Twitter briefly blocked his account over a hoax meme he shared purporting to be from the Democratic Party telling men not to vote.

Woods has promoted conspiracy theories on Twitter; in 2017, he used the platform to echo claims that George Soros was behind a violent far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in 2018 he suggested that a series of mail bombs sent to Trump critics was a staged "political stunt," although he later deleted that tweet.

Also in 2018, Woods turned his Twitter feed into a bulletin board for missing California wildfire evacuees. He was credited with saving lives and helping to reunite missing loved ones and pets with their families. He also helped Alyssa Milano locate her horses during the fire via his Twitter hashtag.

Woods' Twitter account was suspended in mid-April 2019 after a tweet that was considered to threaten violence. He was defended in a tweet posted by President Donald Trump. In February 2020, after an absence of nearly 10 months, Woods returned to Twitter.

In February 2020, Woods spread a viral Twitter meme falsely asserting that under Bernie Sanders' proposed taxation plan anyone making over $29,000 per year would be taxed at a rate of 52%.


Woods is Roman Catholic. He has criticized Pope Francis for tolerating what he called "pro-abortion hospitality".

Misconduct allegations

In September 2017, Amber Tamblyn wrote an open letter to Woods accusing him of inviting her and her friend to Las Vegas when she was 16, and not backing down from his offer even when they made their ages clear. Woods denied the story. The same month, actress Katie Aselton said that she also had "a James Woods story" from when she was 19 years old, asking "how many of us are there?"

Awards and nominations

On October 15, 1998, Woods was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a star at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

Academy Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1987 Salvador Best Actor Nominated
1997 Ghosts of Mississippi Best Supporting Actor Nominated

Primetime Emmy Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1987 Promise Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Won
1989 My Name Is Bill W. Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Won
1993 Citizen Cohn Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
1995 Indictment: The McMartin Trial Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
2003 Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
2006 ER Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2011 Too Big to Fail Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated

Daytime Emmy Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
2000 Hercules: The Animated Series Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program Won

Golden Globe Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1980 The Onion Field Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
1987 Promise Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Won
1988 In Love and War Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
1990 My Name Is Bill W. Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
1993 Citizen Cohn Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
1996 Indictment: The McMartin Trial Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
1997 Ghosts of Mississippi Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Nominated
2001 Dirty Pictures Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Nominated

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1996 Nixon Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2001 Dirty Pictures Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
2012 Too Big to Fail Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated

Independent Spirit Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result
1987 Salvador Best Male Lead Won
1988 Best Seller Best Male Lead Nominated
1989 The Boost Best Male Lead Nominated
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 06 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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