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Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: August 15, 1957 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Ljubljana, SI Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Even though most people could not pronounce Zeljko Ivanek's name, there was no denying he made an impression every time he appeared onscreen. Already an accomplished stage star, Ivanek appeared in several film and TV projects, often as conniving and evil men who wore three-piece suits. His performance as a smooth-talking Southern lawyer in "Damages" (FX, 2007- ) earned the Slovenian-born actor his first time Emmy Award nomination and win in 2008, where he went up against his co-star Ted Danson for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.Zeljko Ivanek (pronounced Zhel-ko Ee-vah-nik) was born on Aug. 15, 1957 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then a part of Yugoslavia). The actor was just three years old when his parents brought him to the United States in 1960. Ivanek graduated from Yale University in 1978 before attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. "I started in theater in New York, and it's a smaller community, and it feels like you know the ins and outs more," Ivanek said. His theater training paid off in 1981, when the actor won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, for a production of Caryl Churchill's "Cloud Nine." A year later, he originated the role of Hally...

Even though most people could not pronounce Zeljko Ivanek's name, there was no denying he made an impression every time he appeared onscreen. Already an accomplished stage star, Ivanek appeared in several film and TV projects, often as conniving and evil men who wore three-piece suits. His performance as a smooth-talking Southern lawyer in "Damages" (FX, 2007- ) earned the Slovenian-born actor his first time Emmy Award nomination and win in 2008, where he went up against his co-star Ted Danson for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Zeljko Ivanek (pronounced Zhel-ko Ee-vah-nik) was born on Aug. 15, 1957 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then a part of Yugoslavia). The actor was just three years old when his parents brought him to the United States in 1960. Ivanek graduated from Yale University in 1978 before attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. "I started in theater in New York, and it's a smaller community, and it feels like you know the ins and outs more," Ivanek said. His theater training paid off in 1981, when the actor won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, for a production of Caryl Churchill's "Cloud Nine." A year later, he originated the role of Hally in the Athol Fugard play, "Master Harold and the Boys."

Broadway gave Ivanek an outlet to showcase his exceptional acting skills, even honoring him with multiple Tony Award nominations, including one for his performance in the original production of "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983). He also received critical praise - and more Tony nods - for "Two Shakespearean Actors" (1992) and for playing Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial" (2006). The marquee star never thought about changing his name, stating that even though it had been suggested, "it always seemed very peculiar to have my parents see me using a different name."

Ivanek's first feature film appearance was playing a hitchhiker in "Tex" (1982). Since that time, the actor's roles got bigger and meatier, with unforgettable turns as Bobby Kennedy in "The Rat Pack" (1998), a District Attorney in Lars Von Trier's heartbreaking "Dancer in the Dark" (2000), and a doctor in "Hannibal" (2001). Von Trier was so enthralled by the passion and depth Ivanek brought his characters that he cast the actor in two more films, "Dogville" (2003) and "Manderlay" (2005).

Perhaps even more than his stage and film appearances, Ivanek was mostly recognized for his extensive and impressive television resume. While still acting on Broadway, Ivanek joined the cast of the mystery soap series "The Edge of Night" (CBS, 1956-1975, ABC, 1975-1984) as Sammy Wheaton. He had supporting roles throughout the 1980s in shows like "St. Elsewhere" (NBC, 1982-88) and "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994) before landing a recurring role as prosecuting attorney Ed Danvers in "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-99).

In 1998, Ivanek was cast as Astronaut Ken Mattingly in the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" (HBO). He reprised his role of Ed Danvers for the 2000 film "Homicide, and two years later, Ivanek got cast in another recurring role - this time as Andre Drazen, the man who plotted to kill Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) and frame Jack Bauer ( Keifer Sutherland) in "24" (FOX, 2001- ).

Ivanek was not one to take on one acting job at a time. While acting in "24," he also appeared on episodes of "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), "The Twilight Zone" (UPN, 2002-03), and the gritty prison drama "Oz" (HBO, 1997-2003). In the latter, Ivanek played chillingly evil Governor James Devlin, the inmate-hated politician who advocated "No perks for prisoners." The year 2007 proved to be a big year for the Slovenian star, playing FBI Agent Molina in the film "Live Free or Die Hard" with Bruce Willis, and getting cast as the charmingly manipulative Southern lawyer Ray Fiske in the FX series "Damages."

Though his character ended up committing suicide in the first season of the show, Ivanek's performance caught the attention of Emmy voters, who gave him the statue in 2008. Asked about the irony of getting nominated for a role he could not reprise, the actor said, "It was just such a great part that when it happened, it was a wonderful way to end it and put a cap on it. It was such a nice bow to tie it all up." That same year, Ivanek portrayed Pennsylvania representative John Dickinson in the HBO miniseries "John Adams," opposite Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Words, The (2012)
2.
3.
4.
 Argo (2012)
5.
 Tower Heist (2011)
6.
 In Bruges (2008)
7.
8.
 Hoax, The (2006)
9.
 Manderlay (2005)
10.
 Manchurian Candidate, The (2004) Vaughn Utly
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1981:
Made Broadway debut in "The Survivor"
1981:
Appeared in U.S. premiere of Caryl Churchill's "Cloud Nine"
1982:
Originated the role of Hally in Athol Fugard's play "Master Harold...and the Boys"
1982:
Made film debut in "Tex"
1982:
Originated the role of Stanley in Neil Simon's Broadway play "Brighton Beach Memoirs"; earned a Tony Award nomination
1982:
First starring role in the horror film "The Sender"
1984:
Appeared opposite Jack Lemmon in the feature "Mass Appeal"
1984:
Made TV miniseries debut as Bill Gorton in "The Sun Also Rises" (NBC)
1992:
Played a malicious French teacher in "School Ties"
1993:
Cast in recurring role of prosecuting attorney Ed Danverson on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street"
1996:
Cast in Edward Zwick's "Courage Under Fire"
1996:
Played a Coast Guard Captain in the Ridley Scott directed "White Squall"
1997:
Cast as Governor James Devlin on the HBO prison drama "Oz"
1998:
Cast as one of John Travolta's associates in the legal drama "A Civil Action"
2000:
First film with director Lars von Trier, "Dancer in the Dark"
2000:
Acted on the London stage in Neil LaBute's "Bash: Latter-Day Plays"
2001:
Cast as an assistant to Mason Verger in Ridley Scott's "Hannibal"
2001:
Appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in "The Dumbwaiter" and "The Zoo Story"; both co-starred Sam Rockwell
2001:
Once again directed by Ridley Scott in "Black Hawk Down"
2002:
Appeared on the first season of "24" (Fox)
2003:
Second film with director Lars von Trier, "Dogville"
2005:
Cast in Martin McDonagh's Broadway play "The Pillowman" at the Booth Theatre
2006:
Cast as an intense naval officer in the Broadway revival of "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial"; earned a Tony Award nomination
2006:
Re-teamed with von Trier for "Manderlay"; the second part to director's U.S.A. trilogy
2007:
Cast as attorney Ray Fiske on FX legal drama "Damages"
2008:
Portrayed Pennsylvania representative John Dickinson in HBO miniseries "John Adams"
2009:
Appeared in the third and fourth seasons of "Big Love" (HBO) as Nicki Grant's (Chloƫ Sevigny) first husband
2010:
Cast as Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling on "The Event" (NBC)
2012:
Played a doctor in "The Bourne Legacy"
2012:
Cast alongside Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana in romantic drama "The Words"
2012:
Cast in political thriller "Argo," directed by Ben Affleck
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Education

Yale University: New Haven , Connecticut - 1978
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art: - 1980

Notes

His name is pronounced ZHEL-ko Ee-VAH-nek

Ivanek is proficient in English, French, German, Slovenian, and his native Serbo-Croat.

"[Acting] was the only thing that I took any real pleasure from, and it always seemed the most logical thing to pursue. I started out with a juvenile desire for attention, probably. By the time I got to college, I settled onto more specific reasons about what it is I get out of it and why I want to continue doing it." --Ivanek quoted in "Caught in the Act: New York Actors Face to Face", interviews by Don Shewey. New York: New American Library, 1986.

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