Edward Allen “Ed” Harris (born November 28, 1950) is an American actor, writer, and director, known for his performances in Pollock, Appaloosa, The Rock, The Abyss, A Beautiful Mind, A History of Violence, Enemy at the Gates, The Right Stuff, State of Grace, Glengarry Glen Ross, Alamo Bay, Gone Baby Gone, The Hours, and also genre classics such as Coma, Creepshow, and The Stand. He is a three-time nominee of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performances in Apollo 13, The Truman Show and The Hours, along with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the title role in Pollock.
Harris was born in Englewood Hospital, in Englewood, New Jersey, and raised in Tenafly, the son of Margaret, a travel agent, and Robert L. Harris, who worked at the bookstore of the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated from Tenafly High School in 1969, where he played on the football team, serving as the team’s captain in his senior year. He was a star athlete in high school, and competed in athletics at Columbia University in 1969. He enrolled at the University of Oklahoma to study drama, and after several successful roles in the local theater, he moved to Los Angeles, and enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts where he spent two years, and graduated with a BFA.
Harris’s wife is actress Amy Madigan, the couple married on 21 November 1983, while they were filming Places of the Heart in which they played an adulterous couple. They have a daughter, Lily Dolores Harris, born in 1993.
Harris’s first important film role was in Borderline with Charles Bronson. After roles in TV series Lou Grant and CHiPs, he had a small role in the Stephen King scripted George A. Romero directed Creepshow (1982). Then in 1983, Harris became well known, playing astronaut John Glenn in The Right Stuff. Twelve years later, a film with a similar theme led to Harris being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his portrayal of NASA flight director Gene Kranz in Apollo 13 (1995).
His more notable performances came in the excellent Alamo Bay (1985), Jackknife (1989), The Abyss (1989), State of Grace (1990), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and a further two Stephen King adaptations in Needful Things (1993) and the TV movie The Stand (1994). He was excellent in The Truman Show (1998) before making his cinema directing debut in 2000, with Pollock (2000) in which he starred as the acclaimed American artist Jackson Pollock.
He has also portrayed such diverse real-life characters as William Walker, a 19th Century American who appointed himself president of Nicaragua, in the film Walker (1987), Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt in the Oliver Stone biopic Nixon (1995), composer Ludwig van Beethoven in the film Copying Beethoven (2006) and more recently as Senator John McCain in HBO’s made-for-television drama Game Change (2012).
Harris also portrayed a German Army sniper, Major Erwin König, in Enemy at the Gates (2001). He appeared as a vengeful mobster in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2005) and as a police officer alongside Casey Affleck and Morgan Freeman, in Gone, Baby, Gone (2007), directed by Ben Affleck.
Harris has directed a number of theater productions as well as having an active stage acting career. Most notably, he starred in the production of Neil LaBute’s one-man play Wrecks at the Public Theater in New York City and later at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles. For the LA production, he won the LA Drama Critics Circle Award. Wrecks premiered at the Everyman Theater in Cork, Ireland and then in the US at the Public Theater in New York.
Harris, busy as ever has voiced the game Call of Duty: Black Ops, and currently has 6 projects in post-production including the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer.