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A stage-trained performer equally adept in both leading and supporting roles, actor Rob Morrow achieved success playing smart, but sometimes callow young professionals in films and on television. Following several false stars, Morrow became an overnight star when he landed the career-transforming role of a hotshot medical school graduate and devoted New Yorker who relocates to a remote Alaskan town for a job to pay off his loans in the charming comedy-drama, "Northern Exposure" (CBS, 1990-95). Morrow moved easily between cool professionalism and prickly antagonism while displaying a sharp, sometimes peevish wit as hotshot Dr. Joel Fleischman. But his demands for a better contract pushed him out of the spotlight in favor of the show's other quirky characters, though he remained in his role for the show's entire run. While he held down his primetime job, he delivered one of his best feature performances, playing an idealistic government lawyer investigating rigged games shows in Robert Redford's acclaimed "Quiz Show" (1994). After several supporting roles and starting a second career as both a feature and television director, Morrow returned to small screen prominence with a successful starring role on the steady procedural, "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2005-2010), which allowed him to remain in-demand as a performer and director.
Born Sept. 21, 1962, Morrow was raised in New Rochelle, NY by his father, Murray, an industrial lighting manufacturer, and his mother, Diane, a dental hygienist. His parents divorced when he was only 9 years old. As a creative outlet, Morrow began pursuing a professional acting career after dropping out of Edgemont High School during his senior year, though he later earned his Graduate Equivalency Diploma and briefly attended college. Moving to Manhattan, Morrow studied acting with coach Melodie Sommers at HB Studio before making his professional stage debut in the gay-themed off-Broadway musical, "Ragged Dick." He moved on to several Broadway and off-Broadway productions like "Soulful Scream of a Chosen Son," "The Boys of Winter," "Slam" and a leading role in Chaim Potok's musical adaptation of "The Chosen." But it was while working as an assistant on the hit musical "Dreamgirls" (1983) that Morrow received his first break from director Michael Bennett, who later cast him in a major role for the play "Third Street" at the Circle Repertory Theater.
Making the big jump from stage to screen, Morrow had his film debut in the forgettable comedy "Private Resort" (1985), starring Johnny Depp. In 1986, he co-founded the theater group "The Naked Angels" with actress and then-girlfriend, Leslie Urdang, performing some 35-odd stage productions over the years, including "The Return of Pinocchio" (1986), "Aven'U Boys" (1989) and Jon Rabin Baitz's "The Substance of Fire" (1990). After guest starring on "Fame" (NBC, 1982-87) and "Spencer for Hire" (ABC, 1985-88), Morrow made his debut as a regular on the short-lived drama series, "Tattingers" (NBC, 1988), playing a bartender at a posh Manhattan restaurant owned by a divorced couple (Stephen Collins and Blythe Danner) who nonetheless remain business partners. But it was around this time that Morrow auditioned for a surreal character-driven drama called "Northern Exposure" (CBS, 1990-95), which cast him as Joel Fleischman, a Jewish doctor from New York City, who relocates to a remote Alaskan town right out of medical school. There, his character struggles to co-exist with his quirky new community, while entering into a love-hate relationship with rugged brush pilot Maggie O'Connell (Janine Turner). Thanks to the show's cult popularity and numerous award nominations, Morrow became a television star overnight. But as the series progressed, a number of supporting characters were developed more deeply, mainly brought about by Morrow and his representatives looking for a better contract, which led to his character's prominence being reduced. Despite the limited exposure in later seasons, Morrow stayed aboard until the show ended.
While still appearing on "Northern Exposure," Morrow returned to features with a strong supporting performance in Robert Redford's critically acclaimed "Quiz Show" (1994), which explored to great effect the quiz show scandal in the 1950s involving the popular "Twenty One" (NBC, 1956-58). He played idealistic Congressional lawyer Dick Goodwin, who launched an investigation after a past contestant, Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), claimed to have participated in the rigging of the show in order to prop-up the all-American intellectual, Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes). Though the lion's share of acclaim went to Fiennes and Turturro, Morrow was nonetheless a standout. After a turn as a clemency lawyer reinvestigating a double-murder committed by a death row inmate (Sharon Stone) in "Last Dance" (1996), Morrow played the brother of a neurotic, self-obsessed writer (Albert Brooks) unable to sustain a lasting relationship with women in the entertaining "Mother" (1996). He next starred in the short-lived London stage production of "Birdy" (1997), while returning to the small screen to play John Wilkes Booth in "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" (TNT, 1998) and to star opposite Marisa Tomei in the CBS/Hallmark Entertainment miniseries, "Only Love" (1998).
Following a turn opposite Kyra Sedgwick and Mary Tyler Moore in the broad comedy, "Labor Pains" (2000), Morrow made his feature directing debut with "Maze" (2001), a touching romantic comedy in which he portrayed an artist with Tourette's Syndrome. He next had a leading role as a former marijuana smuggler on the Showtime series, "Street Time" (2002), which failed to last longer than one season, before appearing in a supporting capacity in "The Emperor's Club" (2002), and the Bollywood-inspired musical/sex farce, "The Guru" (2002), starring Heather Graham. Because Morrow had directed several episodes of "Street Time," he moved on to helm episodes of the brutal prison drama "Oz" (HBO, 1997-2003) and "Joan of Arcadia" (CBSM 2003-05), which happened to be created by "Northern Exposure" writer Barbara Hall. Meanwhile, Morrow returned to regular series prominence as the star of the long-running procedural, "Numb3rs" (CBS, 2005-2010), playing FBI agent Don Eppes, who recruits his mathematical genius brother (David Krumholtz) to help solve a wide range of difficult-to-crack crimes in Los Angeles. Though never a breakout hit, "Numb3rs" nonetheless was a steady ratings earner over the course of its six seasons. Once the show went off the air, Morrow again returned to the small screen as a lead on "The Whole Truth" (ABC, 2010), a legal drama that presented cases from the both the prosecution's and the defense's points-of-view.
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Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Moved to New York City to study acting at age 17
Made stage debut in the gay-themed off-Broadway musical "Ragged Dick"
Worked as Michael Bennett's assistant for the Los Angeles stage production of "Dreamgirls"
Made film debut in the teen sex comedy "Private Resort"; played a lead role alongside Johnny Depp
Co-founded the theater group Naked Angels
Early TV appearances, had small guest spots on the sitcom, "Everything's Relative" (CBS) and the detective series, "Spenser: For Hire" (ABC)
Made debut as a series regular on the short-lived NBC series "Tattingers"
Turned down chance at a role in proposed CBS series, "The Antagonists" to appear in the play "The Substance of Fire"
Played the lead role of Dr. Joel Fleischman on the CBS series "Northern Exposure"
Directed a 20-minute film he wrote about a child reacting to his divorced mother's new relationship, "The Silent Alarm"; premiered at the Seattle Film Festival; released theatrically in 1993
Returned to feature-length films after nine years to co-star in "Quiz Show"
Had featured role in "Last Dance"; love interest played by Jayne Brook
Cast as Albert Brooks' successful brother in the comedy "Mother"
Starred in short-lived London stage production of "Birdy"
Returned to TV to play John Wilkes Booth in "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" (TNT)
Reunited onscreen with Jayne Brook (this time as his wife) in "Into My Heart"
Starred in the Showtime fact-based drama "The Thin Blue Lie"
Feature film directorial debut, "Maze" (filmed in 1999), also had lead role as a painter with Tourette Syndrome
Returned to series TV as co-star of the Showtime drama "Street Time"
Cast in the drama feature "The Emperor's Club"
Directed an episode of the CBS drama "Joan of Arcadia"
Co-starred in Henry Jaglom's "Going Shopping" with Victoria Foyt, Lee Grant and Bruce Davison
Played an FBI agent who recruits his brother, a mathematician, to help the FBI solve crimes in "Numbers" (CBS), also directed episodes
Played Jack Nicholson's doctor, Dr. Hollins, in "The Bucket List"
Joined Maura Tierney for the ABC legal drama "The Whole Truth"
Appeared in "Begin Again"
Landed a supporting role in "Little Loopers"
Played Colonel James Fannin on the mini-series "Texas Rising"
Nabbed a recurring part on the Showtime drama "Billions"
Played Will on three episodes of the dramatic TV series "The Fosters"
Played O.J. Simpson's criminal defense attorney Barry Scheck on "American Crime Story"