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John Heard

John Heard

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: March 7, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Washington, Washington D.C., USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An Obie-winning theater star of the 1970s, John Heard made the leap to motion pictures during that decade as the lead in such overlooked cult favorites as "Between the Lines" (1977), "Chilly Scenes of Winter" (1979) and "Cutter's Way" (1981) before transitioning to character roles in Hollywood, most notably as Macauley Culkin's dad in "Home Alone" (1990). Heard excelled as men in turmoil, whether romantic, moral or criminal, and brought gravity and complexity to even minor roles in films like "Awakenings" (1992) and "In the Line of Fire" (1993). Recurring roles on television provided him the time to flesh out his roles, including an Emmy-nominated turn as a crooked cop on "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007). His versatility made him one of the business's most recognizable and dependable actors.Born in Washington, D.C. on March 7, 1945, he was educated by the Jesuits at Gonzaga College High School before graduating from Clark University in Massachusetts. Theater had been in his blood since his high school days, and he blossomed into one of the leading lights on the New York and Chicago stage scenes in the early 1970s, beginning with productions for Chicago's experimental Organic Theater. He later returned...

An Obie-winning theater star of the 1970s, John Heard made the leap to motion pictures during that decade as the lead in such overlooked cult favorites as "Between the Lines" (1977), "Chilly Scenes of Winter" (1979) and "Cutter's Way" (1981) before transitioning to character roles in Hollywood, most notably as Macauley Culkin's dad in "Home Alone" (1990). Heard excelled as men in turmoil, whether romantic, moral or criminal, and brought gravity and complexity to even minor roles in films like "Awakenings" (1992) and "In the Line of Fire" (1993). Recurring roles on television provided him the time to flesh out his roles, including an Emmy-nominated turn as a crooked cop on "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007). His versatility made him one of the business's most recognizable and dependable actors.

Born in Washington, D.C. on March 7, 1945, he was educated by the Jesuits at Gonzaga College High School before graduating from Clark University in Massachusetts. Theater had been in his blood since his high school days, and he blossomed into one of the leading lights on the New York and Chicago stage scenes in the early 1970s, beginning with productions for Chicago's experimental Organic Theater. He later returned to the East Coast, where he won a Theatre World Award for the 1976 production of David Rabe's "Streamers" in New Haven, CT. In 1979, he claimed Obie Awards as Cassio in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Othello" and in the Second Stage Theatre's "Split" in 1980. His feature film debut came three years earlier with a largely forgotten romantic comedy about bicycle messengers called "Rush It" (1976). A year later, he earned his first lead in director Joan Micklin Silver's "Between the Lines" (1977), an endearingly quirky comedy-drama about the staff of a Boston underground newspaper awaiting their fates as a larger conglomerate plan to purchase them. More indie films of this ilk soon followed, including the gritty, Silver-produced prison drama "On the Yard" (1978), and a faithful, four-part adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" (PBS, 1979), with Heard as the tormented reverend, Arthur Dimmesdale.

Heard received rave notices for Silver's "Chilly Scenes of Winter" (1979), an offbeat romantic drama about a civil servant (Heard) who falls in love with and later becomes obsessed with a co-worker (Mary Beth Hurt). A cult favorite after its re-release in 1982, where its original happy ending was changed to reflect the more melancholy conclusion of the source novel by Ann Beattie, it minted Heard as an up-and-coming leading man who specialized in thoughtful, arthouse-minded fare. He would continue in this vein for several subsequent features, all of which earned him superb reviews; in "Heart Beat" (1982), he played the brilliant but erratic Beat novelist Jack Kerouac, and a maimed Vietnam War vet who concocts an elaborate blackmail scheme to trap an alleged killer in the underrated meta-thriller "Cutter's Way" (1981). While each helped to boost Heard's reputation as a powerful performer, none of the films made much of a showing at the box office, with "Cutter" and "Chilly" actually pulled from release due to lack of audience interest.

Eventually, Heard's reviews would bring him to the attention of Hollywood. After playing the zoo keeper who falls for Nastassja Kinski's half-human, half-animal seductress in Paul Schrader's "Cat People" (1982), he found a niche playing men with deep character flaws, which either reduced them to antagonists or forced them to struggle mightily to achieve their goals. The former included his malevolent bartender in Martin Scorsese's "After Hours" (1985), Geraldine Page's selfish son in "The Trip to Bountiful," Tom Hanks' bullying competition in "Big" (1988), and the monstrous Ku Klux Klan leader in "Cross of Fire" (NBC, 1989). Among the more palatable turns of the second type were his disillusioned photographer who discovers mutants preying on the homeless in the cult favorite "CHUD" (1984) and the '60s radical-turned-newspaper editor in Robert Redford's "The Milagro Beanfield War" (1988).

However, the role that largely defined Heard to mainstream audiences was Peter McAllister, father to perpetually forgotten Kevin McAllister (Macauley Culkin) in the John Hughes-penned "Home Alone" (1990). Though Culkin's performance and the slapstick shenanigans of his battle with two inept thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) were the core of the film's massive popularity, Heard managed to eke out a likable performance as a father who wrangles his large, extended brood with extraordinary patience. "Home Alone" turned out to be the third highest grossing film of 1990, which in turn gave Heard's profile a considerable boost. A lesser sequel, "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992), was a foregone conclusion, and Heard wisely avoided the lesser third film (1997).

Now in his late forties, but still retaining his boyish looks, Heard settled comfortably into character actor status, playing men of authority who frequently straddled the moral fence in major features like "Awakenings" (1992), "In the Line of Fire" (1993), "The Pelican Brief" (1993) and "My Fellow Americans" (1996). He appeared to save his best turns for more independent-minded fare like "Rambling Rose" (1991), where he played a man whose return to his Southern homestead sets in motion a recollection of his family's relationship with a troubled young woman (Laura Dern). In 1995, he stepped into the role of Roy Foultrigg, the Louisiana-based district attorney, in a TV adaptation of John Grisham's "The Client" (CBS, 1995-96). Despite solid reviews, the show lasted only a season.

Television soon became one of Heard's best showcases. He won favorable reviews for his performance as ABC sports chief Roone Arledge in "Monday Night Mayhem" (TNT, 2002) and the alcoholic lawyer-father to Emily Procter's Calliegh Duquesne on numerous episodes of "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002- ). Political figures continued to be a staple of Heard's appearances. He essayed Missouri Republican senator Dennis Morgenthal, future political opponent to President Robert McAllister on the well-loved but short-lived "Jack & Bobby" (The WB, 2004-05), and Frank Tancredi, ill-fated governor of Illinois and father to Sarah Wayne Callies' Sara Tancredi on "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09). However, his most notable small screen turn during this period was as Vin Makazian on "The Sopranos." A New Jersey police detective on the payroll of mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), his struggles with alcohol and depression made him debase himself in his need for Tony's approval. He assaulted a friend of Tony's psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) and frequented criminal locations with mob associates. His most significant job was providing the information that proved "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) was talking to the FBI; however, when even that failed to win over Tony, Makazian committed suicide. For his work on "The Sopranos," Heard received an Emmy nomination in 1999.

Heard continued to divide his time between television and features in the new millennium. Among his more notable roles was as Benjamin McKenzie's father on "Southland" (NBC/TNT, 2009- ), a preacher with a strong anti-Germanic streak in the clever indie "Sweet Land" (2005), and the paranoid, incompetent Commander Barry Garner on the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi Channel, 2004-09).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Runner, Runner (2013)
3.
 Sharknado (2013)
4.
 Would You Rather (2013)
5.
6.
 Too Big to Fail (2011)
7.
 Stealing Roses (2011)
8.
 Formosa Betrayed (2010)
10.
 P.J. (2008)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Made professional stage debut in "The Remarkable Mr. Penny Packer"
:
Joined Chicago's Organic Theatre playing the lead in "Warp" (Chicago and NY)
:
Performed in numerous productions on-and-off Brodway from mid-1970s to early 80s
1977:
Feature film debut in starring role, "Between the Lines"
1979:
TV debut in PBS drama special, "The Scarlet Letter
1983:
TV-movie debut, "Legs"
1985:
TV-miniseries debut, "Tender Is The Night"
1995:
Co-starred in "John Grisham's 'The Client'" (CBS)
2002:
Portrayed Roone Arledge in TNT's "Monday Night Mayhem"
1996:
Played Vice President Ted Matthews in the comedy "My Fellow Americans"
1998:
Starred in Brian De Palma's "Snake Eyes" with Nicolas Cage
2000:
Cast in the critically acclaimed "Pollock," starring Ed Harris as the American painter
2005:
Cast as Prof. Roseman in the political drama "The Deal," starring Christian Slater
2006:
Co-starred in the independent film, "Sweet Land"
2007:
Co-starred with Denzel Washington (also directed) in "The Great Debaters"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Gonzaga College High School: Washington , Washington D.C. -
Clark University: Worcester , Massachusetts -

Notes

Arrested in November 1991 after defying a court order to leave his son alone, violating strict visitation rights, and slapping his son's mother Melissa Leo; charged with criminal contempt of court, custodial interference and assault.

In November 1996, Heard was charged with stalking his son, the boy's mother Melissa Leo and her boyfriend. He was freed on $50,000 bond. Heard was later convicted of telephone misuse and trespassing with sentencing set for May 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Margot Kidder. Actor. Married briefly; divorced c. 1980.
companion:
Melissa Leo. Actor. Mother of Heard's son.
wife:
Sharon Heard. Separated c. 1995; mother of Heard's younger two children.

Family close complete family listing

son:
John Matthew Heard. Born September 1987; mother Melissa Leo; denied custody in 1994 by NY judge who ruled Heard lack the temperament for parenting skills.

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