James Howard Woods (born April 18, 1947) is an American film, stage and television actor. 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 legal series Shark. He has won three Emmy Awards (for tele-movies Promise and My Name Is Bill W., and for the animated series of Hercules). He has been twice nominated for an Academy Award. His voice work has been heard in the animated series The Simpsons, Family Guy, Disney movie Hercules as Hades and the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.Edit
Woods was born in Vernal, Utah. 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. According to rumor, he scored a perfect 800 on the verbal section of the SAT and 779 on the math section of the SAT, yielding a total score of 1579. He was nominated for the United States Air Force Academy and received scholarships from Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University for both undergraduate and graduate studies, intending to go to medical school.Edit
Woods ultimately chose to pursue his undergraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he majored in political science (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. Woods has said that he became an actor because of the father of actor Ben Affleck, Tim Affleck, who was a stage manager at the Theatre Company of Boston while Woods was a student there.Edit
Career[edit source | editbeta] Woods did 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 and 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. Since then, he has worked regularly as an actor for film and television. In 1975, he portrayed an arrogant high school drama teacher and debate team leader in the television sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Woods is a prominent Hollywood character actor. He is known for his dark, intense characters. Early examples include his portrayals of a sadistic murderer in 1979's The Onion Field, 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 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. One of his favorite film roles is Max, the domineering gangster, in Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in America (1984). 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. One of his most prominent television roles to date saw him starring in CBS legal drama TV 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. He was briefly considered for the role of The Joker by director Tim Burton and screenwriter Sam Hamm for the 1989 film 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. 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 considered firing his agent. Woods was also considered for the part of Donald Kimball in American Psycho, but he turned it down. The part was given to Willem Dafoe. In 2006, Woods starred in the political thriller End Game with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and makes a cameo of himself in the premiere episode of Entourage's third season. 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 nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-series or Movie.