Tim Robbins


Actor, Director
Tim Robbins

About

Also Known As
Timothy Francis Robbins
Birth Place
West Covina, California, USA
Born
October 16, 1958

Biography

Recognized by the Academy as both an actor and a director, Tim Robbins stood out in Hollywood not only for his 6'5" height, but also for his high-caliber, character-driven work and his career-long commitment to social issues. The New York stage actor had his Hollywood breakout in the atypical role of a dim jock in the classic baseball flick "Bull Durham" (1988), but five years later, he ...

Family & Companions

Susan Sarandon
Companion
Actor. Co-starred in "Bull Durham" (1988); also appeared in the Robbins-directed "Bob Roberts" (1992) and won an Oscar under his direction for "Dead Men Walking" (1995).

Notes

Robbins and Sarandon created a controversy at the 1993 Oscar ceremony by chiding the government on its treatment of HIV-positive Haitian immigrants.

About the fallout from the 1993 Oscars: "What I found really interesting is that in all the times I've protested something in a Republican administration, I've never caught the hell that I've caught protesting against a Democratic administration. And I don't want to say it isn't a coincidence or anything, but I've been audited twice during the Clinton administration. You fill in the blanks." --Tim Robbins quoted in US, June 1997

Biography

Recognized by the Academy as both an actor and a director, Tim Robbins stood out in Hollywood not only for his 6'5" height, but also for his high-caliber, character-driven work and his career-long commitment to social issues. The New York stage actor had his Hollywood breakout in the atypical role of a dim jock in the classic baseball flick "Bull Durham" (1988), but five years later, he had established himself as a force to be reckoned with as the writer-director of the satire "Bob Roberts" (1992), and the Golden Globe-winning star of Robert Altman's sinister industry send-up "The Player" (1992). While directors like Clint Eastwood continued to tap Robbins the actor for films like "Arlington Road" (1999), "Human Nature" (2002) and "Mystic River" (2003), Robbins the filmmaker went on to helm the acclaimed death penalty drama "Dead Man Walking" (1995), and the Depression-era musical "Cradle Will Rock" (1999), where he skillfully offered viewers new perspectives on political and social issues; not through dogma, but through engaging, relatable characters and stories.

The son of a folk-singing father and an actress mother, Robbins was born Oct. 16, 1958, and raised in New York City's Greenwich Village. He hit the stage at age 12, when he began performing with the Theater for the New City, an avant-garde company that performed on city streets. He was also active in the drama department at Stuyvesant High School, and after a few years at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, went on to graduate with honors from UCLA Film School in 1981. Shortly afterwards, Robbins co-founded The Actors' Gang and began co-writing (with Adam Simon) original pieces for the theater group. Meanwhile, he began his professional screen career, co-starring opposite Helen Hunt in the TV movie "Quarterback Princess" (CBS, 1983), and following with his feature debut in "No Small Affair" (1984). Audiences began to notice the tall, dimpled player when he delivered a memorable turn as the show tune-singing driver in Rob Reiner's "The Sure Thing" (1985) alongside fellow Actor's Gang member John Cusack, as well as his supporting role of fighter pilot Merlin on the periphery of the blockbuster, "Top Gun" (1986).

His first leading role in the notorious flop of all flops, "Howard the Duck" (1986), might not have boded well for Robbins' future, but the actor soldiered on to star with Jodie Foster and John Turturro in the unheralded, early-1960s civil rights drama, "Five Corners" (1987), scripted by esteemed scribe John Patrick Shanley. Robbins reunited with buddy Cusack as a reluctant video director in the cult comedy classic, "Tapeheads" (1988), before his career breakout with Ron Shelton's "Bull Durham" (1988). Longtime baseball fan Robbins won over critics and audiences alike as the goofy, garter-wearing minor league ball player, 'Nuke' LaLoosh, an innocent who is being coached towards the major leagues by veteran ball player, Kevin Costner, while simultaneously lured in by baseball groupie, Susan Sarandon. The low-budget film with low expectations knocked it out of the park to become one of the most loved sports films of all time, and jettisoned Robbins into the Hollywood spotlight (while simultaneously allowing him to show off his pitching prowess with a fastball clocked at 85 miles per hour).

When the cameras stopped rolling, Robbins and Sarandon maintained their romantic coupling, and over the next 20 years were one of the most stable and admired couples in the film world, known for their social activism and outspoken liberal politics. They also became, along with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, one of the two most famous and successful unmarried couples in Hollywood. If Robbins' high profile film success in "Durham" had created the misconception of him as a sort of male bimbo, he quickly dispelled that image - not only as the co-writer and performer in the off-Broadway satire of Christian fundamentalism, "Carnage," but in "Miss Firecracker" (1989) and Terry Jones' comedy "Eric the Viking" (1989). After stealing the show from the manic Robin Williams in "Cadillac Man" (1990), Robbins made a dramatic breakthrough with his role as a tormented Vietnam veteran in Adrian Lyne's "Jacob's Ladder" (1990), and then played the first in his "trilogy of assh*les" in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" (1991). With his baby face and easy manner, Robbins could make even a killer seem sympathetic, which he managed to do in Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992). Starring as insecure studio executive Griffin Mill, Robbins' deceptively wicked performance earned Best Actor awards at both Cannes and the Golden Globes.

The 1992 "mockumentary" "Bob Roberts" marked Robbins' feature directorial and screenwriting debut - a smart and biting effort in which he earned a Golden Globe nomination for starring as a right wing, folk-singing, profoundly crooked politician who spins a respectable, down-home image. Reuniting with Altman for "Short Cuts" (1993), a resetting of Raymond Carver short stories, Robbins provided much of the film's humor with his portrayal of an egocentric, wildly manipulative, and hilariously inappropriate Los Angeles cop. His third film with Altman, however, the fashion industry send-up "Ready to Wear (Prêt-a-Porter)" (1994), earned the director some of the most scathing reviews of his career. But other renowned directors were waiting in the wings to recruit Robbins, and in 1994, he scored again when he harnessed his ability for hapless charm to portray an idealistic bumpkin who unwittingly becomes a corporate stooge in The Coen brothers' "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994). While his early career was characterized by mainly independent film, Robbins crossed over into mainstream Hollywood in the mid-1990s with mixed results. He paired as the romantic lead opposite Meg Ryan in "IQ" (1994), but fared better in Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), where he gave an exquisitely modulated performance as a mild-mannered, unjustly imprisoned banker, befriended by a seasoned lifer (Morgan Freeman). His efforts significantly elevated the well-crafted but somewhat predictable jailhouse drama adapted from a novella by Stephen King.

Robbins' own production company rolled out another prison-set offering the following year, the death penalty saga "Dead Man Walking" (1995). The sophomore director cast Sarandon in the lead as a nun and spiritual counselor to a death row murderer (Sean Penn) in this even-handed examination of capital punishment. For his efforts, he garnered a Best Director Academy Award nomination, while his partner Sarandon took home an Oscar and Penn an Oscar nomination. Robbins subsequently adapted a stage play of the film, offering exclusive performance rights to educational institutions committed to exploring the death penalty in their curriculum, resulting in productions of the play being staged around the world. Following a puzzling decision to star opposite Martin Lawrence in the broad crime comedy, "Nothing to Lose" (1997), Robbins took an 18-month hiatus to concentrate on fatherhood and returned to the screen in 1999 in "Arlington Road," Mark Pellington's thriller echoing the Oklahoma City bombing and raising hard questions about domestic terrorism. For his third directorial effort, "Cradle Will Rock" (1999), Robbins used the 1936 leftist play "The Cradle Will Rock" as a starting point, and in his "play-within-movie," explored the tumultuous political and social issues of the time; from the labor movement to the intellectual trend towards socialist ideals. A rare Hollywood-backed venture, the ambitious picture was a testament to Robbins' creative vision, earning the filmmaker a Palm D'Or nomination at the Cannes Film Festival and a National Board of Review Award for Special Achievement in Filmmaking.

After the artistic (though not commercial) triumph of "Cradle," Robbins eased into a succession of character roles in mid-level Hollywood movies, playing an astronaut in Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars" (2000), and a broadly drawn hippie in "High Fidelity" (2000), which pitted him against record storeowner and longtime friend John Cusack for the affections of lawyer Iben Hjejle. The outspoken liberal actor campaigned on behalf of Ralph Nader that year before going on to dig his teeth into the role of a Bill Gates-esque software manufacturer in the thriller "Antitrust" (2001), and a scientist who discovers a feral man in the off-kilter Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, "Human Nature" (2002). After a four-year absence, he reassumed the reigns at the Actors' Gang, returning as artistic director in 2001 and spearheading an ambitious schedule that included productions of "Mephisto," "The Guys," and a revival of "Alagazam," which he co-wrote with Adam Simon. When he returned to the big screen it was in a mainstream project - Jonathan Demme's "The Truth About Charlie" (2002). In this remake of the 1963 film "Charade," Robbins supported in the calculating role of the duplicitous Mr. Bartholomew, in which he freely and gleefully borrowed from Walter Matthau's original characterization.

Robbins followed up with one of the most compelling and lauded performances of his career in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" (2003). Rounding out a heavy-hitting cast of thespians including Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Laura Linney, Robbins earned Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Best Supporting Actor for playing a man forced to confront demons from his childhood when he is implicated in a local murder. A career highlight for Robbins and one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, the actor followed up with a lighthearted cameo in the Will Ferrell comedy "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy" (2004), where he sent up his liberal image by appearing as a public TV anchor. He returned to blockbuster drama territory in 2005, giving a compelling performance as a shell-shocked survivalist who provides shelter to a desperate dad (Tom Cruise) and his daughter (Dakota Fanning) during an alien invasion in Steven Spielberg's remake of "War of the Worlds" (2005). Over the subsequent few years, Robbins focused his attention on smaller, international film projects, starring as a burn victim who forms an unusual relationship with his caregiver (Sarah Polley) in "The Secret Life of Words" (2005), and delving into the dangerous politics of apartheid-era South Africa in "Catch a Fire" (2006), directed by Philip Noyce.

Robbins was more visible on the presidential campaign trail of John Edwards than for his starring role in "The Lucky Ones" (2008), about a road trip taken by three military service members. He remained low profile until news of his shocking split from Sarandon surfaced in December 2009, though the couple's statement revealed they had been apart since the summer. After 20 years together, two children, and a shared passion for politics and human rights around the world, their unexpected breakup in the summer raised more than its share of eyebrows. Meanwhile, Robbins returned to the fore on the small screen in "Cinema Verite" (HBO, 2011), playing the patriarch of the Loud family, which was depicted in the famed documentary series "An American Family" (PBS, 1973). That summer, he was the disapproving father of arch-villain Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) in the blockbuster comic book adaptation of "The Green Lantern" (2011), starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular superhero.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Embedded/Live (2005)
Director
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Director
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Director
Bob Roberts (1992)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Dark Waters (2019)
Marjorie Prime (2017)
A Perfect Day (2015)
Life of Crime (2014)
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (2013)
Himself
Back to 1942 (2012)
Revenge of the Electric Car (2011)
Narrator
Cinema Verite (2011)
Green Lantern (2011)
Then She Found Me (2008)
Himself
The Lucky Ones (2008)
City of Ember (2008)
Manufacturing Dissent (2007)
Himself
Noise (2007)
Tenacious D In: The Pick of Destiny (2006)
Catch a Fire (2006)
Golden Venture (2006)
Narrator
War of the Worlds (2005)
The Secret Life of Words (2005)
Embedded/Live (2005)
Zathura (2005)
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2004)
Himself
Mystic River (2003)
Dave Boyle
Code 46 (2003)
William Geld
Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2003)
Voice-Over
Party's Over (2003)
Himself
The Truth About Charlie (2002)
AntiTrust (2001)
Gary Winston
Human Nature (2001)
Nathan Bronfman
High Fidelity (2000)
Ian [Raymond]
Mission to Mars (2000)
Arlington Road (1999)
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Nusrat: A Voice from Heaven (1998)
Himself
Nothing to Lose (1997)
The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera (1996)
Himself
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Ready to Wear (1994)
Joe Flynn--Sportswriter
I.Q. (1994)
Editor Walters
Short Cuts (1993)
Gene Shepard
The Player (1992)
Griffin Mill
Bob Roberts (1992)
Performer
Jungle Fever (1991)
Cadillac Man (1990)
Larry
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Trenchcoat in Paradise (1989)
1st Teen
Erik The Viking (1989)
Erik The Viking
Twister (1989)
Tapeheads (1988)
Bull Durham (1988)
Ebby Calvin "Nuke" Laloosh
Five Corners (1988)
Top Gun (1986)
Howard The Duck (1986)
The Sure Thing (1985)
Fraternity Vacation (1985)
Mother
Malice in Wonderland (1985)
No Small Affair (1984)
Quarterback Princess (1983)
Marvin

Writer (Feature Film)

Embedded/Live (2005)
Source Material
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Screenplay
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Screenplay
Bob Roberts (1992)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Marjorie Prime (2017)
Executive Producer
The Big Fix (2011)
Executive Producer
Embedded/Live (2005)
Producer
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Producer
The Typewriter, the Rifle & the Movie Camera (1996)
Executive Producer
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Catch a Fire (2006)
Song Performer
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Song
Bob Roberts (1992)
Song Performer
Bob Roberts (1992)
Music
Bob Roberts (1992)
Song
Tapeheads (1988)
Song Performer
Tapeheads (1988)
Song

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (2013)
Other
Then She Found Me (2008)
Other
Manufacturing Dissent (2007)
Other
Orwell Rolls in His Grave (2004)
Other
Party's Over (2003)
Other

Cast (Special)

The 76th Annual Academy Awards (2004)
New York at the Movies (2002)
VH1 News Special: Islamabad Rock City (2001)
Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular (2000)
The 10th Annual IFP Gotham Awards (2000)
Presenter
The 56th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1999)
Presenter
Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Awards (1999)
Presenter
The 24th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (1997)
Presenter
The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera (1996)
Narrator
The 1996 MTV Video Music Awards (1996)
Presenter
Gore Vidal's Gore Vidal (1995)
The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995)
Presenter
Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country (1994)
Himself
51st Annual Golden Globe Awards (1994)
Presenter
The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1993)
Presenter
50th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1993)
Performer
Comic Relief IV (1990)

Producer (Special)

Salgado: The Spectre of Hope (2001)
Executive Producer
The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera (1996)
Executive Producer

Misc. Crew (Special)

Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country (1994)
Other

Life Events

1960

Family moved to Greenwich Village in NYC

1967

First acting experience at age nine, playing St Peter in a Catholic school play

1970

Joined the Theater for the New City by age 12

1981

Co-founded with a group of fellow UCLA students The Actors' Gang in Los Angeles (served as artistic director until 1997)

1983

Made TV-movie debut in CBS' "Quarterback Princess"

1984

Made Film debut in "No Small Affair"

1985

Played Joseph Cotton in the CBS TV-movie "Malice in Wonderland"

1985

Wrote and filmed an early version of 'Bob Roberts' for "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)

1986

First feature lead in the disastrous "Howard the Duck"; produced by George Lucas

1988

Acted opposite John Cusack in the energetic but pretentious "Tapeheads"

1988

Breakthrough role as 'Nuke' LaLoosh in Ron Shelton's baseball comedy "Bull Durham"; met future significant other Susan Sarandon

1989

Co-wrote and directed The Actors Gang production of "Carnage"

1989

First time headlining a feature as the eponymous "Erik the Viking"

1990

Played a crazed, simple-minded husband who takes everyone hostage in a car dealership in the comedy "Cadillac Man"

1990

Starred as the troubled Vietnam veteran of the underrated "Jacob's Ladder"; directed by Adrian Lyne

1992

First teaming with Altman, playing an amoral movie executive in "The Player"; featured an ensemble cast

1992

Feature directorial debut, "Bob Roberts"; also starred as the titular character and penned the script

1993

Second collaboration with Altman, playing an unethical cop in the ensemble, "Short Cuts"

1993

Formed Chaos Productions

1994

Cast as the wide-eyed patsy of the Coen brothers' extravagant "The Hudsucker Proxy"

1994

Changed production company name from Chaos to Havoc, Inc.

1994

Final film collaboration with Altman "Prêt-à-Porter (Ready to Wear)"

1994

Starred alongside Morgan Freeman in the critically acclaimed "The Shawshank Redemption"; based on Stephen King's short story

1995

Earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Director for "Dead Man Walking"; starred Sarandon who won the Oscar for Best Actress

1997

Played a hotshot advertising executive who goes on a rampage in Steve Oedekerk's "Nothing to Lose"

1999

Starred opposite Jeff Bridges in the thriller "Arlington Road"

1999

Contributed a cameo as the President in "Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me"

1999

Directed second feature, "Cradle Will Rock"; again collaborated with Cusack and Sarandon

2000

Acted in Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars"

2001

Portrayed a billionaire software manufacturer in the thriller "Antitrust"

2001

Resumed position as artistic director of the Actors' Gang Theater; directed new production of "Mephisto"

2001

Teamed with Patricia Arquette as a scientist who discovers a feral man in the Charlie Kaufman scripted "Human Nature"

2002

Directed the CBS TV pilot "Queens Supreme"

2002

Acted opposite Helen Hunt in the Actors' Gang production of the 9/11 themed two-person play "The Guys"

2003

Starred in director Clint Eastwood's psychological thriller "Mystic River," as a man traumatized from having been molested as a child

2005

Starred with Tom Cruise in Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds," based on H.G. Wells' novel

2006

Co-starred in the political thriller "Catch a Fire," directed by Phillip Noyce

2008

Co-starred as an Iraq War veteran in Neil Burger's "The Lucky Ones" with Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams

2008

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

2011

Played the father of the movie's villain in "Green Lantern"

Photo Collections

The Hudsucker Proxy - Movie Poster
The Hudsucker Proxy - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Player, The (1992) -- Nice Boat You Got There A critical moment, Tim Robbins as studio exec Griffin Mill believes Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio) is the screenwriter who’s been sending threatening post cards, offers again to buy him off, leading to a scuffle, director Robert Altman shooting outside the still-standing Rialto in South Pasadena, in The Player, 1992.
Player, The (1992) -- She's Booked For The Next Two Years Director Robert Altman dazzling, still in the opening scene at the studio, Griffin (Tim Robbins) visits exec Joel (Brion James), with side-man Walter (Fred Ward) and a hanger-on, then at a restaurant cameos for Anjelica Huston and John Cusack, and a better look at rival Larry (Peter Gallagher), early in The Player, 1992.
Player, The (1992) -- I Hope You Don't Remember Me Robert Altman has quasi-villain Peter Gallagher leaving and lead Tim Robbins arriving at a chic L-A lunch spot, with a parenthetical use of Burt Reynolds and critic Charles Champlin, the table of studio boss Brion James being ground zero, in a typical episode from his Hollywood satire The Player, 1992.
Miss Firecracker (1989) -- (Movie Clip) Scrape Up That Dog! Carnelle (Holly Hunter), apparently dyeing her hair even-more red, takes a call from glamorous cousin Elain (Mary Steenburgen), who won the pageant she’s entering years earlier, then together they introduce Delmount (Tim Robbins), who’s just been “released,” in Miss Firecracker, 1989.
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004) -- (Movie Clip) No Touching Of The Hair Or Face The famous fight scene, from the screenplay by director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell, Ron Burgundy leads Brian, Champ and Brick (Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carrell) into a rumble with rivals led by Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller, in Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, 2004.
Player, The (1992) -- Touch Of Evil Robert Altman’s opening shot runs eight minutes and seven seconds, surpassing the Orson Welles shot from Touch Of Evil, 1956, referred to twice by Fred Ward, and we meet handfuls of studio people, principally Tim Robbins as exe Griffin, and Buck Henry pitching a sequel to his own movie, in The Player, 1992.

Trailer

Family

Gil Robbins
Father
Folk singer, publishing executive. Ran the Gaslight, a nightclub and cafe; member of the folk group The Highwaymen, joining them one year after their 1961 Number 1 hit "Michael" (aka "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore"); acted in son's "Bob Roberts", "Dead Man Walking" and "Cradle Will Rock".
Adele Robbins
Sister
Actor. Appeared in "Dead Man Walking"; older.
Gabrielle Robbins
Sister
Cabaret artist. Older.
David Robbins
Brother
Composer. Wrote the music for the folk songs in "Bob Roberts"; older.
Eva Marie Livia Amurri
Step-Daughter
Born c. 1985; father, director Franco Amurri; made screen debut in "Dead Man Walking".
Jack Henry Robbins
Son
Born in May 1989; mother, Susan Sarandon; godfather, Ron Shelton.
Miles Guthrie Robbins
Son
Born on May 4, 1992; mother, Susan Sarandon; godfathers are Gore Vidal and Robert Altman.

Companions

Susan Sarandon
Companion
Actor. Co-starred in "Bull Durham" (1988); also appeared in the Robbins-directed "Bob Roberts" (1992) and won an Oscar under his direction for "Dead Men Walking" (1995).

Bibliography

Notes

Robbins and Sarandon created a controversy at the 1993 Oscar ceremony by chiding the government on its treatment of HIV-positive Haitian immigrants.

About the fallout from the 1993 Oscars: "What I found really interesting is that in all the times I've protested something in a Republican administration, I've never caught the hell that I've caught protesting against a Democratic administration. And I don't want to say it isn't a coincidence or anything, but I've been audited twice during the Clinton administration. You fill in the blanks." --Tim Robbins quoted in US, June 1997

On getting movies made: "There is always a test of wills, always a point where you have to face down the devil and say, 'Do I want to make this movie, because no one is making it easy?'"It's never easy, no matter who you are. Even Martin Scorsese has trouble putting his films together. There is always someone who will find a way to humiliate you or make you work for less or question your motives or find some fault with your movie or say: 'There's no commerciality in this project ...'"You have to realise that doing what you love to do invovlves a certain amount of challenge and a lot of obstacles that will be placed in your path. That's good in a way, I suppose, because it means you have to examine yourself and the project and see whether you really want to go through with it. I try to keep a sense of humour about it, I really do." --Robbins to Martyn Palmer in the London Times, November 13, 1997.

"If an actor doesn't surprise me, I won't work with him again. They've got to show me something I could never think up myself. But what really amazed me was Tim's restraint as a director in 'Dead Man Walking'. A lot of guys are facile at showing off. But he hid. To do that, you have to have your ego in the right place. I can't do that. It was masterful." --Robert Altman quoted in Us, June 1997.