Peter Coyote

Actor, Voice Actor


Also Known As
Peter Cohon, Rachmil Pinchus Ben Mosha Cohon
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
October 10, 1941


A handsome actor who has made a career playing dark, seductive, often intellectually complex characters, Peter Coyote also has leant his distinctive voice--which sounds as if it has been delicately scratched with sand--as narrator of numerous documentary programs. As a leading man and screen villain, Coyote is best recalled as the object of the competition between Shelley Long and Bette ...

Family & Companions

Stephanie Coyote
Second wife.


"Sleeping Where I Fall"
Peter Coyote, Counterpoint (1998)


He has an official website at

Coyote received a 1993 Pushcart Prize for the short story "Carla's Story", a chapter from the novel in progress "The Freefall Chronicles"


A handsome actor who has made a career playing dark, seductive, often intellectually complex characters, Peter Coyote also has leant his distinctive voice--which sounds as if it has been delicately scratched with sand--as narrator of numerous documentary programs. As a leading man and screen villain, Coyote is best recalled as the object of the competition between Shelley Long and Bette Midler in "Outrageous Fortune" (1987) and as the emotionally abusive expatriate in Roman Polanski's "Bitter Moon" (1994), a role considered by some to be based on Polanski himself.

A self-styled nonconformist who has eschewed the commercial, Coyote (born Peter Cohon) has had three bouts with hepatitis brought on by the intravenous drug use he has conquered. Born in New York and raised in suburban New Jersey and on his family's Pennsylvania farm, he moved to San Francisco in 1963 to attend college, but dropped out of the Masters Degree writing program to pursue work with a radical mime group and in the theater. Coyote had his first taste of show business for real in 1967 when he directed "The Minstrel Show" with Dick Gregory. The show originated in San Francisco, toured the USA and eventually played Off-Broadway where it earned an OBIE Award. Despite this flush of success, Coyote dropped out of both show business and urban life for a 10-year period, during which he traveled cross-country, supporting himself by killing birds and selling their feathers. He also assisted his mother in the operation of the family farm.

After kicking his drug habit and adopting Zen Buddhism, Coyote returned to acting in 1975 with Paul Sills' San Francisco production of "Story Theatre." He continued to act onstage and was appointed by then-governor Jerry Brown to the California Council for the Arts. Within a year he was named co-chair and fought hard to raise its budget from $1 million to $13 million. Coyote finally broke into films with a bit part in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1978), but it was not until 1982 that he had a part of note--playing the scientist, Keys, in Steven Spielberg's "E.T. The Extraterrestrial." He was then in demand as a leading man in Hollywood, but seemed awkward opposite Mary Steenburgen in "Cross Creek" (1983). Coyote hit a new stride playing the tenacious prosecutor in "Jagged Edge" (1985) and finally seemed to have found his screen persona, that of the antagonist who may be right. He had such a role alongside Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone in Barry Levinson's "Sphere" (1998), played against Robin Williams in the dramedy "Patch Adams" (1998) and opposite Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas in "Random Hearts" (1999).

Coyote first began appearing in TV-movies and miniseries with "Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story" (NBC, 1980), but found better roles as a bizarre, murderous teacher in "Ech s of the Darkness" (CBS, 1987) and as Buffalo Bill Cody in "Buffalo Girls" (CBS, 1995). He played against type as the almost milquetoast husband married to manipulative psychotic Ann-Margret in "Seduced By Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story" (NBC, 1996). Coyote began doing narration and voice work in the 80s, often for projects with adventure, outdoor, wildlife, or Western themes, like the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC specials "The Grizzlies" (PBS, 1987) and "African Odyssey" (PBS, 1989). An accomplished writer, Coyote had his short fiction "Carla's Story" published in the award-winning "Pushcart Prize" literary anthology in 1993 and has posted other chapters of his work-in-progress, "The Freefall Chronicles," on the Internet at

Coyote developed a lucrative side-career as a voiceover artist for many commercials and a narrator for several documentaries. Perhaps his best-known voice work was as the official television announcer for the Academy Awards telecast. But Coyote continued to appear in visible roles in major motion pictures, including "Erin Brokovich" (2002). He was very effective as Mandy Moore's overprotective father in the teen sleeper hit "A Walk to Remember" (2002) and was recruited to play Rebecca Romijn-Stamos' ideal husband in Brian De Palma's neo-noir "Femme Fatale" (2002). After playing the father of a dancer (Larisa Oleynik) who wants to attend Julliard despite having cancer in "A Time for Dancing"(2002), Coyote co-starred in the made-for-TV, "Phenomenon II" (ABC, 2003), the sequel to the feature film starring John Travolta. In "Northfork" (2003), the enchanting and mythic drama from the Polish brothers, Coyote played an FBI man sent to remove hangers-on from a town emptied of its citizens to make room for a massive hydr lectric plant.

Coyote hammed it up in "The Hebrew Hammer" (2003), playing the eye-patch-wearing head of the Jewish Justice League who recruits a private investigator (Adam Goldberg) to track down Santa Claus' evil son (Andy Dick) before he destroys Hanukkah forever. After playing a famous American director who arrives in Paris looking for the lead role in his Yiddish adaptation of The Merchant of Venice in the French-subtitled comedy "Le Grand Role" (2003), he was seen in the comedic war epic "Bon Voyage" (2003), also dubbed in French. Segueing back into television, Coyote appeared on episodes of "Deadwood" (HBO, 2004-06), "The 4400" (USA, 2004-07) and "Law & Order: Trial By Jury" (NBC, 2004-2005) before landing a regular part on "The Inside" (Fox, 2004-2005) as the boss of an FBI profiler (Rachel Nichols) who is part of a secret rogue division of the bureau.

Coyote went on to narrate the three-part miniseries "Guns, Germs and Steel (PBS, 2005), a historical documentary based on Jared Diamond's book about how geographical advantage and developed immunity to disease-not race-contributed to Europeans conquering large parts of the world. He also narrated "Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room" (2005), a documentary that probed the business scandal involving Enron, the energy behemoth that used favorable deregulation laws to bilk California out of billions of dollars only to crumble under the weight of enormous debt hidden in numerous offshore accounts and the hubris of its corporate leadership. Coyote landed another regular television role on "Commander In Chief" (ABC, 2005-06), playing the new vice president of a female president (Geena Davis) sworn into the highest office in the land after her predecessor died in office.



Cast (Feature Film)

Life at These Speeds (2017)
Girl on the Edge (2015)
Good Kill (2015)
Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary (2012)
Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012)
Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence (2011)
These Amazing Shadows (2011)
The Gundown (2011)
Adopt a Sailor (2009)
Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story (2009)
Stealing America: Vote by Vote (2008)
All Roads Lead Home (2008)
$5 a Day (2008)
Strange Culture (2007)
Fog City Mavericks (2007)
Resurrecting the Champ (2007)
A A/k/Tommy Chong (2006)
End Game (2006)
A Little Trip to Heaven (2005)
Written in Blood (2005)
John Traveller
Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)
Le Grand Role (2005)
A Time for Dancing (2004)
The Hebrew Hammer (2003)
Phenomenon II (2003)
More Dogs Than Bones (2003)
Bon Voyage (2003)
Northfork (2003)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 20th Anniversary Special (2002)
A Walk to Remember (2002)
Femme Fatale (2002)
Midwives (2001)
Stephen Hastings
Suddenly Naked (2001)
Lionel Heathcoate
Jack the Dog (2001)
Alfred Stieglitz
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Kurt Potter
The Wednesday Woman (2000)
Red Letters (2000)
Voices of the Sierra Tarahumara (2000)
Random Hearts (1999)
A Murder on Shadow Mountain (1999)
Denny Traynor
The Basket (1999)
Last Call (1999)
Execution of Justice (1999)
Patch Adams (1998)
Two for Texas (1998)
Indiscreet (1998)
Route 9 (1998)
Dwayne Hogan
Seeds of Doubt (1998)
Sphere (1998)
Murder in My Mind (1997)
Terminal Justice (1996)
Unforgettable (1996)
Dalva (1996)
Breach of Conduct (1994)
That Eye, The Sky (1994)
Kika (1994)
The Peyote Road (1994)
Keeper of the City (1992)
Bitter Moon (1992)
Living a Lie (1991)
Crooked Hearts (1991)
A Seduction in Travis County (1991)
The Man Inside (1990)
Henry Tobel
Heart of Midnight (1989)
Unconquered (1989)
Baja Oklahoma (1988)
Contrary Warriors: The Story of the Crow Tribe (1988)
A Man in Love (1987)
Steve Elliot
Stacking (1987)
Outrageous Fortune (1987)
Sworn to Silence (1987)
Sam Fischetti
Child's Cry (1986)
The Blue Yonder (1985)
Max Knickerbocker
Jagged Edge (1985)
The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)
Scorned And Swindled (1984)
Anthony Ristelli
Slayground (1984)
Best Kept Secrets (1984)
Stranger's Kiss (1984)
Heartbreakers (1984)
Arthur Blue
Cross Creek (1983)
Timerider (1983)
Endangered Species (1982)
Out (1982)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Pursuit Of D.B. Cooper (1981)
Isabel's Choice (1981)
Southern Comfort (1981)
Tell Me a Riddle (1980)
Die Laughing (1980)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

A A/k/Tommy Chong (2006)

Cast (Special)

Out of the Blue (2003)
The Shape of Life (2002)
Glacier Bay: Alaska's Wild Coast (2001)
In the Light of Reverence (2001)
Natural Connections (2001)
Sex in the 20th Century (2001)
Roman Polanski: Reflections of Darkness (2000)
72nd Annual Academy Awards Presentation (2000)
Founding Fathers (2000)
Frontier: The Decisive Battles (2000)
The History of Sex (1999)
Hoover Dam (1999)
Sled Dogs: An Alaskan Epic (1999)
Rome: Power & Glory (1999)
Search For the Submarine I-52 (1999)
Kakadu: Australia's Ancient Wilderness (1999)
Lost in the Grand Canyon (1999)
The Battle For Midway (1999)
Avalanche: The White Death (1999)
Titanic: Breaking New Ground (1998)
Top of the World (1998)
Frontier: Legends of the Old Northwest (1998)
John Denver: Let This Be a Voice (1998)
Roman Polanski: The E! True Hollywood Story (1998)
Storm of the Century (1998)
The World's Most Scariest Police Chases (1997)
Cheating Death: Catastrophes Caught on Tape (1997)
Close Call: Cheating Death II (1997)
Video Justice: Crime Caught on Tape (1997)
The Secrets of 007: The James Bond Files (1997)
When Disasters Strike II (1997)
21st Century Jet: The Building of the 777 (1996)
Cyclone! (1995)
Edison's Miracle of Light (1995)
Earth and the American Dream (1993)
Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom (1992)
Orson Welles: What Went Wrong? (1992)
The New Range Wars (1991)
Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey (1990)
Ocean of Wisdom (1990)
Return of the Wolves (1989)
African Odyssey (1988)
Troupers (1988)
The Grizzlies (1987)
Sgt. Pepper: It Was Twenty Years Ago Today (1987)
The Booth (1985)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Drug Years (2006)
Road Ends (1997)
Seduced by Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story (1996)
Buffalo Girls (1995)
Echoes in the Darkness (1987)
The People vs. Jean Harris (1981)
Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story (1980)

Life Events


Stage directing debut, "The Minstrel Show" with the San Francisco Actors Workshop


Moved to London


After a long hiatus, returned to acting in a San Francisco production of Paul Sills' "Story Theatre"


Served as co-chair of the California Arts Council


Made first screen appearance in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"


Made TV longform debut in "Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story" (NBC)


Played first major feature film role as Keys, the scientist on the trail of "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"


Began active second career as a documentary narrator with "The Grizzlies" for National Geographic/PBS


Was love object of Shelley Long and Bette Midler in "Outrageous Fortune"


Appeared in Roman Polanski's "Bitter Moon"


Published critically-acclaimed short story "Carla's Story"


Played doomed husband of Ann-Margret in NBC miniseries "Seduced By Madness: The Diane Borchardt Story"


Narrated "The West" for Ken Burns/PBS


Co-starred with Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone in "Sphere" for Barry Levinson


Had featured role in "Patch Adams"


Narrated the Oscar-nominated short documentary "A Place in the Land"


Played Larisa Oleynik's father in "A Time for Dancing"


Selected as the "voice of the Oscars"; serving as announcer for the annual telecast


Co-starred with Sissy Spacek in the Lifetime movie "Midwives"


Cast in the thriller feature "Femme Fatale"


Cast opposite GĂ©rard Depardieu in "Bon voyage"


Featured in the holiday comedy "The Hebrew Hammer"


Joined the cast of ABC's "Commander in Chief" as a Vice-Presidential nominee


Narrated the documentary film "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"


Had a four episode turn as Sally Field's disreputable boyfriend in "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC)


Played the District Attorney in "Law & Order: Los Angeles" (NBC)


Stephanie Coyote
Second wife.


"Sleeping Where I Fall"
Peter Coyote, Counterpoint (1998)


He has an official website at

Coyote received a 1993 Pushcart Prize for the short story "Carla's Story", a chapter from the novel in progress "The Freefall Chronicles"

Although Coyote has never confirmed, he is said to have chosen his adult surname after kicking his drug addiction with the companionship of a coyote puppy. Coyote has said that the shine of the coyote's coat and the glean of the pup's teeth made him realize how beautiful healthy life could be.

"I have a low tolerance for boredom. There's more to life than 10 per cent of the gross and million dollars per picture". Peter Coyote in TV GUIDE, October 24, 1987.

"I've always been a writer. Acting is the way I make my living. The terrible thing about acting is that it's not a sole occupation. Writing is something I can do by myself." --Peter Coyote in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, May 27, 1994.

"My perceptions are informed by an arena that's larger than my career. Obviously I would love to succeed. I would love to be a powerful megalopolis superstar and have all these offers and production deals. But I'm not going to bend, flip, staple or roll one inch to do it. It's either going to happen according to my own way of being or not happen at all." --Peter Coyote