skip navigation
Lee Tergesen

Lee Tergesen

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Army Wives: The Complete Fifth... The drama and excitement reach new heights for America's beloved military... more info $15.95was $19.99 Buy Now

The Collection ... When Elena is talked into attending an underground warehouse party with her... more info $6.95was $9.98 Buy Now

No One Lives ... A ruthless criminal gang takes a young couple hostage and goes to ground in an... more info $13.95was $19.99 Buy Now

No One Lives ... A ruthless criminal gang takes a young couple hostage and goes to ground in an... more info $9.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 8, 1965 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Ivoryton, Connecticut, USA Profession: actor, singer, waiter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A brown-haired actor of medium build with malleable good looks that lent credence to portrayals of all-American charmers as well as sinister psychopaths, Lee Tergesen has enjoyed a varied career, snagging roles he has certainly made the most of since his debut in the early 1990s, not the least of which was his shockingly candid turn on the HBO series "Oz" (1997-2003). A graduate of Manhattan's American Musical and Dramatic Academy, this Connecticut native acted on the NYC stage and waited tables in the city in the late 1980s, where and when he was spotted by writer-producer Tom Fontana. With a 1990 episode of NBC's "Law & Order" to his credit, Tergesen relocated to Los Angeles for a Fontana-aided role in the surfers-as-bank-robbers action flick "Point Break" (1991) and proceeded to get parts in television-premiered projects including Lifetime's "The Killing Mind" and the HBO-screened thriller "Cast a Deadly Spell."1992 saw the actor take on a particularly iconic role, playing a sidekick in the "Saturday Night Live" spin-off feature "Wayne's World." As head-banging head case Terry, Tergesen gave a high-energy performance, and introduced the quickly-overused catchphrase "I love you, man!" into the pop...

A brown-haired actor of medium build with malleable good looks that lent credence to portrayals of all-American charmers as well as sinister psychopaths, Lee Tergesen has enjoyed a varied career, snagging roles he has certainly made the most of since his debut in the early 1990s, not the least of which was his shockingly candid turn on the HBO series "Oz" (1997-2003). A graduate of Manhattan's American Musical and Dramatic Academy, this Connecticut native acted on the NYC stage and waited tables in the city in the late 1980s, where and when he was spotted by writer-producer Tom Fontana. With a 1990 episode of NBC's "Law & Order" to his credit, Tergesen relocated to Los Angeles for a Fontana-aided role in the surfers-as-bank-robbers action flick "Point Break" (1991) and proceeded to get parts in television-premiered projects including Lifetime's "The Killing Mind" and the HBO-screened thriller "Cast a Deadly Spell."

1992 saw the actor take on a particularly iconic role, playing a sidekick in the "Saturday Night Live" spin-off feature "Wayne's World." As head-banging head case Terry, Tergesen gave a high-energy performance, and introduced the quickly-overused catchphrase "I love you, man!" into the pop culture lexicon. Tergesen reprised the role in the 1993 sequel, but didn't rest on the success of the film, instead doing Los Angeles theater and starring in a recurring capacity on several 1993 episodes of "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC). A Tom Fontana-created series, "Homicide" was a good starting ground for Tergesen, who found his feet playing a police officer who is blinded by a shot taken in the line of duty. The character's wife on the series was played by Edie Falco, another Fontana vet who would also work as a regular on "Oz."

A role as the sadistic and stupid older brother Chett on the USA Network/Sci-Fi Channel series "Weird Science" was an unfortunately little-seen opportunity for the actor to really stretch the bounds of malice and comedy, though nothing would come close to the depths of horror, fear, shame and love he would plumb as Tobias Beecher on "Oz," an alcoholic lawyer who goes to prison on a vehicular manslaughter charge and is, like most inmates, monumentally failed by the system. A series of violations and humiliations at the hands of Aryan leader Schillinger (J.K. Simmons) led to Beecher's downward spiral, while finding his own strength, forgiveness, and an unlikely love in Chris Keller (Christopher Meloni) started his slow uphill climb. Tergesen gave a courageous, unforgettable performance, breathing real life into Beecher and fleshing out the character's many dimensions and quirks.

"Oz" continued for season after season though it was surely too brutal to lure a solid mainstream audience. Tergesen kept busy with film roles in such independents as "The Shot" (1994), "George B" (1996) and "Diamonds" (1999) and a regular part in the very short-lived UPN police drama "The Beat." Another Fontana project, "The Beat" featured Tergesen as a firefighter with a police officer younger brother. The actor saw in the new millennium by adding to his resume with supporting turns in the cable-screened "Shot in the Heart" (lensed 2001 for HBO) and "Black Iris" (Showtime, 2001). The eclectic cast of the 2001 Sundance premiered improvisational parody "Perfume" included Tergesen alongside such varied performers as Paul Sorvino, Coolio and Sonia Braga.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Equity (2016)
2.
 Silver Tongues (2011)
6.
 Monster (2004) Vincent Corey
7.
 Shot In The Heart (2001) Frank Gilmore Jr
8.
 Bark (2001) Peter
9.
 Wild Iris (2001) Lud Van Eppy
10.
 Shaft (2000) Luger
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1991:
Acted in the Lifetime TV-movie "The Killing Mind"
2005:
Landed a recurring role as Sully on the FX drama "Rescue Me"
1991:
Made feature debut with a significant supporting role in "Point Break"
1999:
Played a border guard in the independent feature "Diamonds"
1993:
Reprised role of Terry in "Wayne's World 2"
1993:
With the New York-based theater company Naked Angels, performed in "Naked at the Coast," an acclaimed selection of one-act plays produced at the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood
1993:
Acted in the addiction-themed NBC TV-movie "Darkness Before Dawn"
1997:
Acted in the independent feature "George B"
1992:
Cast in a memorable supporting role in "Wayne's World" as Terry, the headbanging sidekick of Wayne and Garth who often said "I love you, man!"
1994:
Cast as a regular on the USA Network/Sci-Fi Channel sitcom "Weird Science," playing sadistic older brother Chett Donnelly
2000:
Acted in John Singleton's appropriately stylized remake "Shaft" as the helpful but racist cop Luger
2003:
Appeared in the film "Monster"
1990:
Early television credit, guest starring on an episode of "Law & Order" (NBC)
2001:
Featured in the comedy-drama "Black Iris" on Showtime
1991:
Featured in the period thriller "Cast a Deadly Spell" on HBO
1995:
Guest starred on an episode of the NBC series "JAG"
2006:
Played a menacing biker in the prequel "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning"
2001:
Played the eldest brother of executed murderer Gary Gilmore in the HBO biopic "Shot in the Heart," directed by Agnieszka Holland
:
Relocated to Los Angeles
2001:
Acted in the improvisational parody "Perfume"; screened at Sundance
1992:
Arrested for DWI; spent one night in a Los Angeles jail
1992:
Co-starred in the "Showtime 30-Minute Movie" presentation "Session Man"
1996:
Featured in "The Shot," an independent comedy satirizing the movie business
1996:
Had a guest role on the ABC drama "Hudson Street"
1993:
Landed a recurring role on the NBC detective series "Homicide: Life on the Street" as a police officer who loses his sight after being shot in in the line of duty
1989:
Met filmmaker Tom Fontana while waiting tables in NYC
2006:
Played Bree Van de Kamp's (Marcia Cross) AA sponsor and romantic interest on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC)
1997:
Starred as prisoner Tobias Beecher on the brutal prison-set HBO series "Oz"
2000:
Was a regular on Tom Fontana's short-lived UPN series "The Beat," playing firefighter Steve Dorigan
2007:
Cast in HBO's Western drama "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"
2008:
Co-starred with Alexander SkarsgÄrd and James Ransone in the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill"
2010:
Landed a recurring role on Lifetime's "Army Wives"
2012:
Cast in the WWII drama "Red Tails," about a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program; executive produced by George Lucas
2012:
Cast in horror thriller "The Collection"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

American Musical and Dramatic Academy: New York, New York - 1985

Notes

Tergesen on how his character on "Oz" has adapted to the surroundings: "At first, I saw him as a poor guy in the wrong place. Now, after having everything stripped away from him - his freedom, his family, his profession - he's evil. He's using what's at his core. Lawyers play with power. They're opportunists, and they can be vengeful." --to Knight Ridder Newspapers columnist Gail Shister, July 7, 1998.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Chris Tergesen. Music supervisor, recording engineer. Worked on "Oz", "The Beat" and "Homicide: Life on the Street".

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute