James Woods

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James Woods
James Woods 1995 Emmy Awards crop.jpg
Woods at the 47th Primetime Emmy Awards, 1995
BornJames Howard Woods
(1947-04-18) April 18, 1947 (age 67)
Vernal, Utah, U.S.
Other namesJames Howard Woods
EducationPilgrim High School
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationActor, producer, voice artist
Years active1970–present
ReligionRoman Catholic[1]
  • Kathryn Morrison (1980–83)
  • Sarah Owen (1989–90)
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For other people named James Woods, see James Woods (disambiguation).
James Woods
James Woods 1995 Emmy Awards crop.jpg
Woods at the 47th Primetime Emmy Awards, 1995
BornJames Howard Woods
(1947-04-18) April 18, 1947 (age 67)
Vernal, Utah, U.S.
Other namesJames Howard Woods
EducationPilgrim High School
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationActor, producer, voice artist
Years active1970–present
ReligionRoman Catholic[1]
  • Kathryn Morrison (1980–83)
  • Sarah Owen (1989–90)

James Howard Woods (born April 18, 1947) is an American actor, producer and voice artist. After his first Golden Globe nomination for a breakthrough role in The Onion Field (1979), Woods starred in Once Upon a Time in America, the Oliver Stone films Salvador and Nixon, Ghosts of Mississippi, and in the legal series Shark. He has won three Emmy Awards – for television movies Promise and My Name Is Bill W., and for the animated series Hercules. He has been nominated twice for an Academy Award. His voice work has been heard in the animated series The Simpsons, Family Guy, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and in films Stuart Little 2 (as Falcon) and Disney's Hercules (as Hades).

Early life[edit]

Woods was born in Vernal, Utah.[2] His father, Gail Peyton Woods, was an army intelligence officer who died in 1960[3] after routine surgery. His mother, Martha A. (née Smith), operated a pre-school after her husband's death[4] and later married Thomas E. Dixon.[5] Woods grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, where he attended Pilgrim High School. He is of part Irish descent and was raised Catholic, briefly serving as an altar boy.[6][7]

Woods ultimately chose to pursue his undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he majored in political science[8] (though he originally planned on a career as an eye surgeon). While at MIT, Woods pledged to 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. In order to pursue a career in acting, he dropped out of MIT in 1969 before his graduation.[9] Woods has said that he became an actor thanks to Tim Affleck (father of actor Ben Affleck), who was a stage manager at the Theatre Company of Boston while Woods was a student there.[10]



Woods appeared in 36 plays before making his Broadway debut in 1970 at the Lyceum Theatre, in the first US 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. In 1971, he played Bob Rettie in the American premiere of Michael Weller's Moonchildren at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. The production moved to Broadway the following year and 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.

Film and television[edit]

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 as of 2013, beginning with his first television appearance All the Way Home in 1971 and his film debut The Visitors in 1972. He is known for his dark, intense characters and villains. Early examples include his portrayals of a sadistic murderer in 1979's The Onion Field,[8] and of serial killer Carl Panzram in 1994's Killer: A Journal of Murder. He appeared in an episode of The Rockford Files, playing a son whose parents were murdered. He has been twice nominated for an Academy Award: first, for Best Actor, for playing a journalist chronicling events in El Salvador in the early Oliver Stone film Salvador (1986), and again in 1996, for Best Supporting Actor, for his performance as real-life white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith in drama Ghosts of Mississippi.[8] One of his favorite film roles is Max, the domineering gangster, in Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984).[11] In 1995, Woods took the role of pimp Lester Diamond in Martin Scorsese's Casino. That same year, he portrayed H. R. Haldeman in Nixon, the biopic of Richard M. Nixon, directed by Oliver Stone. In one of his most prominent television roles, Woods starred in the CBS legal drama series Shark, which ran for two seasons between 2006 and 2008. 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.

Woods at the Emmy Awards 1993

He was briefly considered for the role of the Joker by Tim Burton and Sam Hamm for Batman. Hamm recalls that he and Burton thought, "James Woods would be good and wouldn't need any makeup, which would save a couple of hours' work every morning." The role ended up going to Jack Nicholson.[12][citation needed] Quentin Tarantino wrote a part in Reservoir Dogs with Woods in mind, but Woods' 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.[13][14] Woods was also considered for the part of Donald Kimball in American Psycho, but he turned it down. Eventually, the part was given to Willem Dafoe. In 2006, Woods starred in End Game. He makes a cameo appearance as himself in the first episode of the third season of Entourage. In 2011, Woods appeared as Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, in HBO's Too Big to Fail, for which he gained an Emmy Award[15] nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-series or Movie.[16]

Voice work[edit]

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 1997 Disney film Hercules[17] 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 2001 film, Recess: School's Out. He also appeared as a fictional version of himself in the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer and Apu" and in seven episodes of Family Guy, which is set in Woods's home state of Rhode Island. Other references in Family Guy include the local high school, James Woods High School, and a forest named James Woods briefly mentioned in "The Fat Guy Strangler". In 2004, Woods voiced Jallak in the animated film Ark and Mike Toreno in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. He was also in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

Personal life[edit]

During a press interview for Kingdom Hearts II, Woods noted that he is an avid video game player.[18] He is an active dealer of antiques in Rhode Island.[19] Some of his favorite activities are playing golf and cooking.


Woods playing poker at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in California in 2005

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 2013, he has to his credit 22 major event[20] finishes, including two 2nd place, a 3rd place, and a 24th place finish (of 692) at the 2006 L.A. Poker Classic $10K final event, paying $40K.[21] Living part-time in the northeast, while not filming, he plays many tournaments at Foxwoods Casino in eastern CT throughout the year.


In 1988, Woods sued Sean Young for $2 million, accusing her of stalking him after they appeared together in the movie The Boost.[22] Young later countered that he had overreacted after she had spurned his advances on set.[23] The suit was settled out of court in August 1989.[24][25] On July 26, 2006, Woods' 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 suit was settled in 2009.[26][27]



Woods was a vocal supporter of former U.S. President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, though—as of 2003—he was still a registered Democrat.[28] He is a supporter of former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani. Woods lobbied hard to play Giuliani in the biopic Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story, and considers the role one of the favorites of his career.[29] In 2008, Woods appeared in David Zucker's comedy An American Carol (presented from a conservative-leaning perspective), along with active Republican actors Kelsey Grammer and Kevin Farley. Woods's name was in an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times (August 17, 2006) that condemned Hamas and Hezbollah and supported Israel in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.[30] Woods endorsed John McCain and Mitt Romney for President in 2008 and 2012, respectively.[31][32]


In late August 2001, Woods was on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles. On the flight he noticed four men near him acting suspiciously. He said that they never drank anything, ordered food service or talked to anybody. They were just whispering to each other. Woods reported his suspicions to the co-pilot in flight, and he claimed that those concerns were passed on to the FAA. On the evening of September 11, Woods called the FBI and repeated his concerns, who interviewed him at his home the next morning. Woods believed that he had encountered four of the nineteen terrorists/hijackers that were just on the flight to study it in preparation for the attacks.[33][34] Woods claims he has been interviewed several times by FBI agents regarding this incident. Woods has confirmed that he looked at pictures of the hijackers and has identified two terrorists as being among the men that he had seen on his flight.[35]


1972Hickey & BoggsLt. Wyatt
1972The VisitorsBill Schmidt
1973The Way We WereFrankie McVeigh
1974The GamblerBank Officer
1975Night MovesQuentin
1976The Billion Dollar BubbleArt Lewis
1976The Disappearance of AimeeAsst. Disty. Atty. Joseph RyanTelevision movie
1976Raid on EntebbeCapt. Sammy BergTelevision movie
1977The ChoirboysHarold Bloomguard
1978The Gift of LoveAlfred BrowningTelevision movie
1979The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg LaurelSin EaterTelevision movie
1979The Onion FieldGregory Ulas Powell
1979And Your Name Is JonahDanny CorelliTelevision movie
1981EyewitnessAldo Mercer
1982Split ImageCharles Pratt
1983VideodromeMax Renn
1984Against All OddsJake Wise
1984Once Upon a Time in AmericaMaximilian 'Max' Bercovicz
1985Cat's EyeDick Morrison
1985Badge of the AssassinRobert K. Tannenbaum / Assistant District AttorneyTelevision movie
1985Joshua Then and NowJoshua Shapiro
1986PromiseD.J.Television movie
1986SalvadorRichard Boyle
1987Best SellerCleve
1987In Love and WarJames B. 'Jim' StockdaleTelevision movie
1988CopLloyd HopkinsAlso producer
1988The BoostLenny Brown
1989True BelieverEddie Dodd
1989My Name Is Bill W.Bill WilsonTelevision movie
1989Immediate FamilyMichael Spector
1991The Hard WayDetective Lt. John Moss, NYPD
1991The BoysWalter FarmerTelevision movie
1992Citizen CohnRoy Marcus CohnTelevision movie
1992Straight TalkJack Russell
1992DiggstownGabriel Caine
1992ChaplinJoseph Scott
1994The GetawayJack Benyon
1994Curse of the Starving ClassWeston Tate
1994The SpecialistNed Trent
1994Jane's HousePaul ClarkTelevision movie
1994Next DoorMatt ColerTelevision movie
1995For Better or For WorseReggie Makeshift
1995Killer: A Journal of MurderCarl Panzram
1995CasinoLester Diamond
1995Indictment: The McMartin TrialDanny DavisTelevision movie
1995NixonH. R. Haldeman
1996Ghosts of MississippiByron De La Beckwith
1996The Summer of Ben TylerTemple RayburnTelevision Movie
1997Kicked in the HeadUncle Sam
1997ContactMichael Kitz
1998VampiresJack Crow
1998Another Day in ParadiseMelAlso producer
1999True CrimeAlan Mann
1999The Virgin SuicidesRonald Lisbon
1999Hercules: Zero to HeroHades (voice)Direct-to-video
1999The General's DaughterCol. Robert Moore
1999Any Given SundayDr. Harvey Mandrake
1999Play It to the BoneRingside Fan
2000Dirty PicturesDennis BarrieTelevision movie
2001Recess: School's OutDr. Philliam "Phil" BenedictVoice
2001Final Fantasy: The Spirits WithinGeneral HeinVoice
2001Scary Movie 2Father McFeely
2001Riding in Cars with BoysMr. Leonard Donofrio
2001Race to SpaceDr. Wilhelm von Huber
2002John QDr. Raymond Turner
2002Stuart Little 2The FalconVoice
2002Mickey's House of VillainsHades (voice)Direct-to-video
2003Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani StoryRudolph 'Rudy' GiulianiTelevision movie
2003NorthforkWalter O'BrienAlso executive producer
2003This Girl's LifePops
2005Pretty PersuasionHank Joyce
2005Be CoolTommy Athens
2006End GameVaughn Stevens
2007Surf's UpReggie BelafonteVoice
2008Big Fat Important MovieAgent Grosslight
2010Justice League: Crisis on Two EarthsOwlman (Voice)Direct-to-video
2011Straw DogsTom Heddon
2011Too Big to FailRichard FuldTelevision movie
2012Officer DownCaptain Verona
2013White House DownMartin Walker
2013JobsDean Jack Dudman
2013Mary and MarthaTomTelevision movie
2014Jamesy BoyLt. Falton


1974KojakCazEpisode: "Death Is Not a Passing Grade"
1974The Rockford FilesLarry KirkoffEpisode: "The Kirkoff Case"
1975Welcome Back, KotterAlex WellesEpisode: "The Great Debate"
1975The Streets of San FranciscoDougEpisode: "Trail of Terror"
1975The RookiesTed AyresEpisode: "A Time to Mourn"
1976Barnaby JonesDanny ReevesEpisode: "Sins of Thy Father"
1976Police StoryLewis PackerEpisode: "Thanksgiving"
1977FamilyDr. Robert StylesEpisode: "An Eye to the Future"
1978HolocaustKarl Weiss4 episodes
1979–1980Young MaverickLem Fraker2 episodes
1993Dream OnDennis YoungbloodEpisode: "Oral Sex, Lies and Videotape"
1993Fallen AngelsMickey CohenEpisode: "Since I Don't Have You"
1994The SimpsonsHimself (voice)Episode: "Homer and Apu"
1998–1999Hercules: The Animated SeriesHades (voice)27 episodes
2001Clerks: The Animated SeriesMajor Baklava (voice)Episode: "Leonardo Is Caught in the Grip of an Outbreak of Randal's Imagination
and Patrick Swayze Either Does or Doesn't Work in the New Pet Store"
2001–2002House of MouseHades (voice)10 episodes
2005Odd Job JackManny KowalskiEpisode: "Orgy: The Musical"
2005–2014Family GuyHimself (voice)7 episodes
2006ERDr. Nate LennoxEpisode: "Body & Soul"
2006EntourageHimselfEpisode: "Aquamom"
2006–2008SharkSebastian Stark38 episodes
2009iCarlySecurity Guard #2Episode: "iWant My Website Back"
2012ComaDr. Theodore Stark2 episodes
2013Ray DonovanPatrick Sullivan6 episodes

Video games[edit]

2002Kingdom HeartsHades (voice)
2004Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasMike Toreno (voice)
2005Kingdom Hearts IIHades (voice)
2006Scarface: The World Is YoursGeorge Sheffield (voice)
Nominated - Spike Video Game Award for Best Supporting Male Performance
2007Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+Hades (voice)
2010Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
2011Kingdom Hearts Re:coded
2013Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix
2014Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1980Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Motion Picture DramaThe Onion FieldNominated
1980Kansas City Film Critics Circle AwardsBest Supporting ActorThe Onion FieldWon
1987Academy AwardsBest ActorSalvadorNominated
1987Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmPromiseWon
1987Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MoviePromiseWon
1987Independent Spirit AwardsBest Male LeadSalvadorWon
1988Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmIn Love and WarNominated
1988Independent Spirit AwardsBest Male LeadBest SellerNominated
1989Independent Spirit AwardsBest Male LeadThe BoostNominated
1989Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieMy Name Is Bill W.Won
1990Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmHallmark Hall of FameNominated
1993CableACE AwardsBest Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieCitizen CohnNominated
1993Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmCitizen CohnNominated
1993Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieCitizen CohnNominated
1994CableACE AwardsBest Actor in a Drama SeriesFallen AngelsNominated
1995CableACE AwardsBest Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieIndictment: The McMartin TrialNominated
1995Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieIndictment: The McMartin TrialNominated
1996Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmIndictment: The McMartin TrialNominated
1996Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureNixonNominated
1997Academy AwardsBest Supporting ActorGhosts of MississippiNominated
1997Chicago Film Critics AssociationBest Supporting ActorGhosts of MississippiNominated
1997Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Motion PictureGhosts of MississippiNominated
1997Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmThe Summer of Ben TylerNominated
1997Satellite AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmThe Summer of Ben TylerNominated
1997Satellite AwardsBest Actor – Motion PictureKiller: A Journal of MurderWon
1999Saturn AwardsBest ActorVampiresWon
2000Daytime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Performer in an Animated ProgramHerculesWon
2000Las Vegas Film Critics SocietyBest Supporting ActorThe Virgin SuicidesNominated
2001Golden Globe AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmDirty PicturesNominated
2001Satellite AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmDirty PicturesWon
2001Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television MovieDirty PicturesNominated
2003Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieRudy: The Rudy Giuliani StoryNominated
2004Satellite AwardsBest Actor – Miniseries or Television FilmRudy: The Rudy Giuliani StoryWon
2006Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesERNominated
2006Satellite AwardsBest Actor – Television Series DramaSharkNominated
2011Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a MovieToo Big to FailNominated
2011Satellite AwardsBest Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television FilmToo Big to FailNominated
2012Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television MovieToo Big to FailNominated


  1. ^ "James Woods on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Utah Local News - Salt Lake City News, Sports, Archive - The Salt Lake Tribune". sltrib.com. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ Warwick Online: Michael Woods remembered for a smile, and a laugh at the Wayback Machine (archived November 11, 2007)
  4. ^ "James Woods Biography (1947-)". filmreference.com. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Martha A. Woods Dixon - Warwick Beacon". Warwick Beacon. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  6. ^ "James Woods on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  7. ^ McCardle, Kevin (September 17, 1999). "Face of the Day". The Herald. 
  8. ^ a b c Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2000
  9. ^ New York Times Service, published by New York Times and Arno press, 1989, page 788
  10. ^ Lidz, Franz (10 February 2000), "FILM; Ben Affleck Shocker: I Bargained With Devil for Fame", New York Times, retrieved 4 March 2012 
  11. ^ Turner Classic Movies biography, James Woods, accessed January 2, 2011
  12. ^ Batmanmovieonline.com at the Wayback Machine (archived February 11, 2008)[dead link]
  13. ^ Hollywood's new radicalism: war, globalisation and the movies from Reagan to George W. Bush, by Ben Dickenson, 2006, page 157
  14. ^ Film voices: Interviews From Post Script, by Gerald Duchovnay, 2004, pages 244–245
  15. ^ "James Woods". Television Academy. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  16. ^ 2011 Emmy Nominations List: 63rd Primetime Emmy Nominations Announced, Huffington Post, July 14, 2011. Accessed July 15, 2011
  17. ^ New York Magazine, July 7, 1997, page 54
  18. ^ Video on YouTube
  20. ^ Generally, a major event is one with a prize pool of at least $10K.
  21. ^ "James Woods Poker Tournament Results". CardPlayer.com. December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  22. ^ Woods Suit May be Settled, by Anne Trebbe, USA Today, August 23, 1989
  23. ^ "Young Revisits 20-Year-Old James Woods Harassment Controversy," ContactMusic.com, 17 September 2007
  24. ^ "Time Out". Orlando Sentinel. August 25, 1989. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ Puig, Claudia; Cerone, Daniel (August 24, 1989). "Legal File". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  26. ^ James Woods – Shark Halted After Woods' Brother Dies, ContactMusic.com, July 28, 2006
  27. ^ James Woods settles suit over brother’s death, by Associated Press, published by MSNBC.com, December 1, 2009
  28. ^ Reiter, Amy Woods on Fire, Front Page Magazine, Originally published in Salon.com August 1, 2003
  29. ^ bob the moo (March 30, 2003). "Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story (TV Movie 2003)". IMDb. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Nicole Kidman and 84 Others Stand United Against Terrorism" Hollywood Grind. 18 August 2006.
  31. ^ "James Woods, Friendly on Friday". Bauergriffinonline.com. April 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  32. ^ "Other Hollywood Celebrities include:". Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  33. ^ Woods, James. "Interview with Bill O'Reilly". YouTube. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  34. ^ Newspaper article, Probe reconstructs horror, calculated attacks on planes, by Glen Johnson, Boston Globe Staff, November 23, 2001
  35. ^ James Woods Reported Suspicious Passengers to FBI, ABC News.com, September 19, 2001

External links[edit]