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Gary Sinise

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: March 17, 1955 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Blue Island, Illinois, USA Profession: actor, director, producer, musician

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

As one of the founding members of the renowned Steppenwolf Theater, actor Gary Sinise honed his skills on the stage before becoming an accomplished supporting and lead actor on television and in films. Sinise began his rise to prominence with a taped stage performance of Sam Shepard's "True West" (PBS, 1984), which was previously performed off-Broadway to great acclaim. But his first real forays into Hollywood were as a director, not an actor - he helmed episodes of "Crime Story" (NBC, 1986-88) and "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987-1991), while making his feature directorial debut with "Miles from Home" (1988), before finally stepping in front of the camera for a memorable performance as an emotionally fragile soldier in "A Midnight Clear" (1992). He next received high praise for both his directing and acting with his adaptation of "Of Mice and Men" (1992). But Sinise soon delivered his most enduring role, playing Lt. Dan in the winning drama "Forrest Gump" (1994), a role many fans identified with the actor for the rest of his career. Following a pivotal supporting turn in Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" (1995), he went on to deliver two powerful leading performances of historical figures, playing "Truman"...

As one of the founding members of the renowned Steppenwolf Theater, actor Gary Sinise honed his skills on the stage before becoming an accomplished supporting and lead actor on television and in films. Sinise began his rise to prominence with a taped stage performance of Sam Shepard's "True West" (PBS, 1984), which was previously performed off-Broadway to great acclaim. But his first real forays into Hollywood were as a director, not an actor - he helmed episodes of "Crime Story" (NBC, 1986-88) and "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987-1991), while making his feature directorial debut with "Miles from Home" (1988), before finally stepping in front of the camera for a memorable performance as an emotionally fragile soldier in "A Midnight Clear" (1992). He next received high praise for both his directing and acting with his adaptation of "Of Mice and Men" (1992). But Sinise soon delivered his most enduring role, playing Lt. Dan in the winning drama "Forrest Gump" (1994), a role many fans identified with the actor for the rest of his career. Following a pivotal supporting turn in Ron Howard's "Apollo 13" (1995), he went on to deliver two powerful leading performances of historical figures, playing "Truman" (HBO, 1995) and "George Wallace" (TNT, 1997); the latter of which earned him an Emmy Award. A string of varied roles, playing both hero and villain in movies like "Reindeer Games" (2000), "Mission to Mars" (2000) and "The Human Stain" (2003) soon followed. But he took an unpredictable turn toward series television, landing the lead role in the hit spin-off procedural, "CSI: NY" (CBS, 2004- ). While the show took him away from features, Sinise nonetheless remained a prominent performer capable of maintaining a high-level of public interest and critical acclaim.

Born on March 17, 1955 in Blue Island, IL, Sinise was raised by his father, Robert, a film editor, and his mother, Millie. He first began acting while attending Highland Park High School, where he gained his first experience with a performance in "West Side Story," while receiving the continued encouragement of drama teacher Barbara Patterson. Right out of high school, he banded with Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry and others to form the famed Steppenwolf Theater in 1974, which was initially housed in a church basement in Highland Park. Serving as artistic director until 1987, Sinise honed his skills as both actor and director in productions like "The Indian Wants the Bronx" (1976), before striking out for Los Angeles in 1979. Looking to make good on screen, the young actor found little work beyond extra jobs in disco scenes on "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ) and bit roles on primetimes shows like "Knots Landing" (CBS, 1979-1993). Unable to secure regular work, Sinise returned to Chicago, where he embarked on a successful stint with Steppenwolf that he later managed to parlay into Hollywood success.

Back in Chicago with Steppenwolf, Sinise directed "Waiting for the Parade" (1981) before co-starring in a staging of Michael Weller's "Loose Ends" (1982). He next earned widespread praise for his staging of Sam Shepard's drama of sibling rivalry, "True West" (1982). The production was staged off-Broadway in New York City, with Sinise starring opposite John Malkovich to nearly universal acclaim. In fact, the production was preserved on tape and later aired on PBS in 1984. Sinise became a talent in demand in New York's theatrical community, where he alternated as director with John Guare's "Landscape of the Body" (1984) and "Orphans" (1985), with performing on stage in productions like "Balm in Gilead"(1985), under Malkovich's direction. Inevitably the lure of Hollywood prevailed and Sinise once again opted to try his luck in Los Angeles. But unlike his first sojourn, Sinise had accrued a newfound respect that made his talents both as an actor and director very much in-demand. In between directing episodes of the Chicago-set drama "Crime Story" (NBC, 1986-88) and the acclaimed relationship drama "thirtysomething" (ABC, 1987-1991), he made his feature directorial debut with "Miles from Home" (1988), an earnest if ultimately off-putting drama of a family losing its farm, starring Richard Gere and Helen Hunt.

Back on stage, Sinise delivered an acclaimed performance as Tom Joad in a highly-praised adaptation of the John Steinbeck classic "The Grapes of Wrath" (1988). Originating at Steppenwolf, the production moved to Broadway, where it won the Tony Award as Best Play, while Sinise scored a nomination as Best Lead Actor in a Play. The play moved on to tour London, while Sinise eventually reprised his role on PBS in 1991. After directing an episode of the popular drama, "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-1991), Sinise finally made his debut in front of the film cameras with a memorable turn as an emotionally fragile soldier in "A Midnight Clear" (1992), Keith Gordon's underappreciated adaptation of William Wharton's novel. Later that year, he returned to Steinbeck and served triple duty as producer, director and star of a remake of "Of Mice and Men" (1992), which Roger Ebert called "a quiet triumph." Playing George, the caretaker to Malkovich's slow-witted Lennie, Sinise had the more difficult role, but he managed to imbue the character with a simple grace and dignity. Behind the camera, he kept things equally uncomplicated, zeroing in on the human elements of the story while eliciting fine performances from a cast that also included Ray Walston and Sherilyn Fenn.

Had "Of Mice and Men" been more successful at the box office, Sinise might have been tempted to remain behind the camera. Instead, he continued to act, proving a fine albeit surprising romantic lead opposite Molly Ringwald in the ABC miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand" (1994). In his most defining role, Sinise offered a riveting portrait of embittered and acerbic paraplegic Vietnam veteran, Lt. Dan, in "Forrest Gump" (1994), a character whose life is saved by a slow-witted infantryman (Tom Hanks) under his command. Though initially contemptuous of Gump's heroics, the legless vet drinks himself silly post-war, before finding solace, forgiveness and eventually gratitude towards Gump, thanks to a successful shrimp-catching business and a new bride. The role was the most recognizable of his career, and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Sinise followed up with another unlikely role, playing Sharon Stone's father - as seen in flashbacks - in the entertaining, but flawed revisionist Western from Sam Raimi, "The Quick and the Dead" (1995).

With his feature career on the rise, Sinise was primed to deliver eye-catching performances in high-profile projects. He was astronaut Ken Mattingly, whose illness grounds him from the ultimately ill-fated "Apollo 13" (1995), directed by Ron Howard and starring Hanks, Ed Harris and Kevin Bacon. He rounded out a strong year with an Emmy-nominated turn as "Truman" (HBO, 1995), the first of two television biopics that solidified his reputation as one of America's most compelling actors. The other was his Emmy-winning portrayal of "George Wallace" (TNT, 1997), the Governor of Alabama whose segregationist views catapulted him into the national spotlight, leading to a run for president in 1972 that ended with an assassination attempt. In both cases, the actor not only physically captured the political giants, but also managed to evince their inner lives, allowing audiences to empathize with each despite some less than admirable qualities. Having demonstrated chameleon-like ability to portray historical figures, Sinise branched out into a wide array of character roles, playing a shady New York cop trying to help a married couple (Mel Gibson and Rene Russo) find their kidnapped son in "Ransom" (1996). He took another turn toward villainy as a Navy commander who helps engineer the assassination of the Defense Secretary (Joel Fabiani) in Brian De Palma's "Snake Eyes" (1998).

Following a small role in "The Green Mile" (1999), Sinise opted once more to play the bad guy in "Reindeer Games" (2000), only to tackle more conventional heroic leads in the forgettable "Mission to Mars" (2000). Meanwhile, he returned to the stage to great acclaim, playing Randle P. McMurphy in a lauded Steppenwolf revival of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (2000), which originated in Chicago before taking up residence in London. The following year, Sinise reprised the role on Broadway and earned himself a Tony Award nomination. He stepped into the producer role, as well as playing the lead in "Imposter" (2002), a critically panned sci-fi action movie based on a Philip K. Dick short story that suffered from a lack of imagination, though Sinise was singled out for his well-acted performance. Following a cameo appearance as George Wallace in "Path to War" (HBO, 2002), he starred opposite heavyweights Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris in the film adaptation of novelist Phillip Roth's "The Human Stain" (2003), playing frequent recurring character Nathan Zuckerman, who appears in numerous Roth novels as either narrator or protagonist.

In the meandering, Elmore Leonard-derived caper "The Big Bounce" (2004), Sinise took on another villainous role, playing a developer who wants to put up high-rise hotels and spoil the flavor of Hawaiian paradise. But Sinise tabled performing on the big screen for a time in order to tackle his first regular series role as the star of "CSI: New York" (CBS, 2004- ), on which he played Det. Mac Taylor, the leader of a forensic science team for the NYPD who is plagued by the death of his wife at the World Trade Center on 9/11. During his long stint on the show, Sinise had little time for other projects, though he had a supporting turn in the critically maligned paranormal thriller "The Forgotten" (2004). Turning to voice artist work, he was a hunting fanatic tracking down a 900-pound bear (Martin Lawrence) in the animated "Open Season" (2006). He next narrated "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions" (Discovery Channel, 2008), a six-part series that chronicled the 50-year history of NASA. For the History Channel, WWII buff Sinise narrated "WWII in HD" (2009), an acclaimed 10-part series that looked at World War II through the experiences of 12 service members, including an Army nurse, an Austrian Jew and a Japanese American who was imprisoned in Europe.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Of Mice and Men (1992) Director
2.
  Miles From Home (1988) Director
3.
  Sam Shepard's "True West" (1984) Stage Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 We Believe (2009)
3.
 OPEN SEASON (2006) Cast
4.
 Forgotten, The (2004) Dr Jack Munce
5.
 Big Bounce, The (2004) Ray Ritchie
6.
 The Human Stain (2003) Nathan Zuckerman
7.
 Fallen Angel (2003) Terry Mcquinn
8.
 Impostor (2002) Spence Olham
9.
 Gentleman's Game, A (2001) Foster Pearse
10.
 Bruno (2000) Dino
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born in Blue Island, IL (Chicago's south side); raised in Highland Park, IL
1973:
Professional stage debut, "The Physicist" at age 17
1974:
At age 18, co-founded (with Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry) Chicago's acclaimed Steppenwolf Theatre at a church in Highland Park
1976:
Appeared in "The Indian Wants the Bronx" at Steppenwolf
1979:
Moved to Los Angeles
1980:
Made TV debut as an extra in disco scenes on the ABC daytime serial "General Hospital" (date approx.)
1980:
Primetime debut, had a two-line role on CBS drama "Knots Landing"
:
Returned to Chicago and began appearing in Steppenwolf productions
1981:
Early stage directing credit, "Waiting for the Parade" at Steppenwolf
1982:
Co-starred in Steppenwolf staging of "Loose Ends"
1982:
Directed Steppenwolf production of "True West" by Sam Shepard; production moved off-Broadway in NYC; also played role of Austin
1984:
First notable TV work, recreating stage role in "True West" opposite John Malkovich for a presentation of PBS' "American Playhouse"
1984:
First network TV-movie, "Family Secrets" (NBC); appeared as a motorcyclist
1985:
Appeared in "Balm in Gilead" off-Broadway; production directed by Malkovich
1986:
Acted with wife Moira Harris on an episode of "Crime Story" (NBC)
1987:
TV directorial debut with a two-part episode of "Crime Story"
1988:
Starred in the Steppenwolf production of "The Grapes of Wrath," which toured New York, London, Chicago and La Jolla; received Tony Award nomination for Broadway production; reprised role in a 1991 PBS production
1988:
Feature directorial debut with "Miles From Home"
1989:
Helmed two episodes of "thirtysomething" (ABC)
1991:
Directed "The Always Goodbye" episode of the ABC drama "China Beach"
1992:
Made feature acting debut in "A Midnight Clear"
1992:
Debut as a producer with "Of Mice and Men"; also directed and played first leading film role as George
1994:
Landed lead role in the ABC miniseries version of Stephen King's "The Stand"
1994:
Co-starred as the paraplegic Lieutenant Dan Taylor opposite Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump"; received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination
1995:
Portrayed astronaut Ken Mattingly in "Apollo 13"; first collaboration with director Ron Howard
1995:
Won praise for portrayal of U.S. President Harry Truman in the HBO biopic "Truman"
1996:
Cast as a police detective investigating a kidnapping in "Ransom," directed by Howard
1996:
Broadway debut as co-producer and director, "Buried Child"; received Tony nomination as Director of a Play
1997:
Garnered an Emmy Award for portrayal of the Alabama governor in TNT's "George Wallace"
1997:
Starred as Stanley in the 50th Anniversary production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" at Steppenwolf Theatre
:
Formed band The Bonsoir Boys; played bass and sang
1998:
Appeared in the Brian De Palma-directed thriller "Snake Eyes"
1999:
Teamed with fellow Steppenwolf actor Terry Kinney in the Showtime remake of "That Championship Season," co-starring and directed by Paul Sorvino
1999:
Made cameo appearance opposite Tom Hanks in "The Green Mile"; cast as the lawyer hired to defend John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan)
2000:
Undertook villainous role in the Frankenheimer-directed "Reindeer Games"
2000:
Returned to outer space as an astronaut leading a "Mission to Mars," helmed by De Palma
2000:
Starred as Randle P. McMurphy in Steppenwolf revival of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; production originated in Chicago before moving to London
2001:
Recreated role of McMurphy in Broadway revival of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; earned Tony nomination
2002:
Starred in the sci-fi tilm "Impostor"; originally intended as one of three short films to be released under the title "Alien Love Story," movie was re-worked into a feature; also co-produced with director Gary Fleder
2003:
Portrayed a novelist opposite Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in "The Human Stain"
2004:
Played wealthy developer Ray Ritchie in "The Big Bounce" opposite Owen Wilson and Morgan Freeman
2004:
Cast in starring role on "CSI: NY" (CBS) as a crime-scene investigator; first foray into series television
2004:
Played a psychiatrist opposite Julianne Moore in the thriller "The Forgotten"
2006:
Voiced a paranoid ├╝ber-hunter in the animated comedy "Open Season"
2009:
Guest starred as his "CSI: NY" character on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS)
2010:
Narrated The History Channel's "Missions That Changed the War"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Highland Park High School: Highland Park , Illinois -

Notes

Ironically, on the night Sinise won his Emmy for his portrayal of politician George Wallace, Wallace died.

"The actors I was most impressed with and who were influencing my taste were all movie actors, so I always wanted to do movies but I didn't want to go to Hollywood and become a waiter in the meantime. The chances are really slim that an actor will be discovered in Hollywood. ... I've never had to compromise myself for a job, ever."---Gary Sinise to Neon, November 1998.

"I'm still basically a character actor in the business. Until you prove yourself as a box office star, you're not going to get offered those things. But I'm still driven by whether I connect to the character, and does it make sense to me as a movie. I've turned down things, possible commercial choices, but they just didn't feel right. I turned down some starring roles in features, but nothing I've ever regretted."---Gary Sinise quoted in The Boston Globe, August 2, 1998.

"Each time out, I try to have some impact. If the part's important to the story, that's the vital thing."---Sinise quoted in Live!, September 1996.

"'The Stand' came out in May of '94 and was seen by 60 million people a night for four nights, and then two months later 'Forrest Gump' opened. So within a very short time I went from being depressed about not getting any work to being in two of the most popular shows of the year."---Sinise to Movieline, June 1995.

"He wasn't the best student, and he hadn't done a lot of reading. We used to tease him that he would only read the plays he was about to do. In that sense, he's come miles."---Steppenwolf actor Laurie Metcalf on Sinise to Entertainment Weekly, July 29, 1994.

"There are times when I just love acting so much. It's almost spiritual. A visceral adrenaline thing that's kind of addicting. There's something really insecure inside me. I never lose that insecure actor thing, I've always had that. Even when things are working. There's something I have to keep proving to myself I can do it."---From "At Lunch with Gary Sinise: A Takeoff Fueled By Passion" by Bernard Weinraub, The New York Times, July 27, 1994.

"Television is very, very good to guys my age. The movies are very good to guys half my age. Things like type, age and celebrity all come into play with what's going to be available to you as an actor. Also, unless you are a very well established movie star, the level of writing you tend see is not all that good. The writing on television these days is quite often much better than in the movies."---Sinise on taking the role in "CSI: NY" to emmy, issue no. 5, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Moira Harris. Actor. Together since c. 1975; married in 1981; original member of Steppenwolf Theatre; won 1987 Chicago Area Emmy as Best Actress for "Murder in Green Meadows".

Family close complete family listing

father:
Robert L Sinise. Film editor. Has worked on episodes of "John Grisham's 'The Client'".
mother:
Millie Sinise.
daughter:
Sophie Sinise. Born c. 1988; mother, Moira Harris.
son:
McCanna Sinise. Born c. 1990; mother, Moira Harris.
daughter:
Ella Sinise. Born c. 1992; mother, Moira Harris.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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