Bruce Davison


Actor

About

Also Known As
Bruce Davidson
Birth Place
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born
June 28, 1946

Biography

Bruce Davison is one of Hollywood's hardest-working "chameleons," having turned in dozens of outstanding performances in both lead and character roles on stage, screen and television. During his 30-plus-year career he has played many a villain and hero--tackling the roles of disturbed teenagers, crusading defense attorneys, romantic lovers and put-upon husbands. He has managed to avoid b...

Family & Companions

Jess Walton
Wife
Actor. Divorced.
Lisa Pelikan
Wife
Actor. Married in 1986; Pelikan filed for a divorce on March 24, 2003.

Notes

His official web site is www.brucedavison.com.

"I've been stigmatized by roles so many times over the course of my career. In 'Willard,' I kissed the rat, and that was the last living thing that I kissed on-screen for ten years." --Bruce Davison to Premiere, June 1990.

Biography

Bruce Davison is one of Hollywood's hardest-working "chameleons," having turned in dozens of outstanding performances in both lead and character roles on stage, screen and television. During his 30-plus-year career he has played many a villain and hero--tackling the roles of disturbed teenagers, crusading defense attorneys, romantic lovers and put-upon husbands. He has managed to avoid being typed, or when typed, the tag has not stuck long. Though some still identify him with the nerd who kissed the rodent in "Willard" (1971), others may remember him as Captain Wyler from NBC's "Hunter (1984-86), the sensitive caregiver in "Longtime Companion" (1990) or the senator who hates mutants in "X-Men" (2000). Davison has shown Hollywood he is an actor with a wide range, and the movie industry has rewarded him with challenging and diverse roles.

Born to an architect and a secretary and raised in Pennsylvania, this blond, college-educated actor made an auspicious debut in Frank Perry's sensitive teen film, "Last Summer" (1969), opposite Richard Thomas and Barbara Hershey, and followed with top billing in the cluttered Hollywood treatment of the Columbia student demonstrations "The Strawberry Statement" (1970) and in the box-office thriller "Willard," playing a sensitive loner who breeds pet rats to attack his former boss and co-workers, who were cruel to him.

Temporarily sidetracked into lesser big screen projects for much of the 1970s and 80s, Davison surfaced in some excellent television fare like the Emmy-winning special "The Gathering" (CBS, 1977) and the TV-movies "Summer of My German Soldier" (NBC, 1978) and "Ghost Dancing" (ABC, 1983). Although he helped his cause in features by accepting the controversial part of the child molester in Robert M Young's uncompromising prison drama, "Short Eyes" (1977), no role has been more pivotal to his career than that of David, a wealthy man who tenderly and patiently cares for his AIDS-stricken lover, in "Longtime Companion" (1990). His David is the heart of the movie, the character who draws together a group of gay men grappling with the horrors of the deadly disease. For his searing performance, he received numerous accolades from critics' groups as well as a richly deserved Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.

Since "Longtime Companion," Davison, has kept extremely busy in both films and on TV. He portrayed a father whose child is struck by a car in Robert Altman's oversized canvas "Short Cuts" and was one among many taken in by Will Smith's character in "Six Degrees of Separation" (both 1993). Two of his movies continued to reflect his concern about AIDS, "The Cure" (1995) and "It's My Party" (1996), and in spite of the fact that his wife, actress Lisa Pelikin, was just about to give birth to their son Ethan, the TV-movie script "Hidden in America" (Showtime, 1996) was too good for him to pass up. Other memorable supporting performances included his portrayals of a zealous Puritan minister in "The Crucible" (1996), Brad Renfro's sympathetic, yet clueless father in "Apt Pupil" (1998) and mutant-hating Senator Kelly (one of the few humans) in the big-screen version of the Marvel Comic's hit "X-Men" (2000) and its sequel "X2" (2003), the latter three films each helmed by Bryan Singer. Davison also specialized in playing tightly wound authority figures in such thrillers as "High Crimes" (2002) and "Runaway Jury" (2003).

In addition, Davison also found time to star on television as George Henderson in the syndicated comedy series "Harry and the Hendersons" (1990-93), episodes of which he directed. The actor, who thrice appeared as Wyck Fayer on the sit-com "Seinfeld" in 1996 and 1997, also delivered a particularly potent and surprising performance in his recurring role of accused murderer Scott Wallace in David E. Kelly's ABC legal drama "The Practice" during the 2000-2001 season (Davison previously worked in a recurring role on Kelly's medical series "Chicago Hope"). The actor also directed and co-starred in the well-recived holiday-themed TV movie "Off Season" (2001), the final film for actor Hume Cronin.

Davison's busy film schedule has not, however, prevented him from having a distinguished stage career. He appeared in daring works like "Streamers" (1978) and "The Normal Heart" (1986), both of which earned him Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards, and Off-Broadway in "The Cocktail Hour" (1989) and "How I Learned to Drive" (1997). in which he portrayed the pedophile Uncle Peck. His 1980 performance as John Merrick in Broadway's "The Elephant Man" and as Tom in "The Glass Menagerie" with Jessica Tandy in 1983 also wowed New York audiences.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Bigfoot (2012)
Director
Off Season (2001)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Great Alaskan Race (2019)
Insidious: The Last Key (2018)
3 Holiday Tails (2018)
Love Locks (2017)
A Violent Man (2017)
Get a Job (2016)
The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2016)
Displacement (2016)
Serena (2015)
The Leisure Class (2015)
Black Beauty (2015)
Words and Pictures (2014)
Persecuted (2014)
37: A Final Promise (2014)
108 Stitches (2014)
Stealing Roses (2014)
Barlowe Mann (2013)
Lords of Salem (2013)
Saving Lincoln (2013)
Bigfoot (2012)
3 Holiday Tails (2011)
Munger Road (2011)
Camp Hope (2011)
Coffin (2011)
Titanic II (2010)
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
Slade Wilson
Megafault (2009)
A Golden Christmas (2009)
Christmas Angel (2009)
The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice (2008)
Breach (2007)
The Dead Girl (2006)
Hate Crime (2005)
Touched (2005)
Eight Millimeter 2 (2005)
Evergreen (2004)
Frank Turly
Runaway Jury (2003)
Out of the Ashes (2003)
Manfast (2003)
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Dahmer (2002)
Lionel Dahmer
High Crimes (2002)
Too Young To Be a Dad (2002)
Dan Freeman
On the Edge (2001)
Summer Catch (2001)
Off Season (2001)
Dr Zimmer
Crazy/Beautiful (2001)
X-Men (2000)
The King is Alive (2000)
Ray
A Memory in My Heart (1999)
At First Sight (1999)
Locked in Silence (1999)
Jim Cline
Vendetta (1999)
Apt Pupil (1998)
Richard Bowden
Paulie (1998)
Little Girl Fly Away (1998)
Frank
Lovelife (1997)
Bruce
Grace of My Heart (1996)
John Murray
After Jimmy (1996)
Sam Stapp
Hidden in America (1996)
Dr Michael Millerton
It's My Party (1996)
The Crucible (1996)
Down, Out & Dangerous (1995)
Brad Harrington
The Skateboard Kid II (1995)
Widow's Kiss (1995)
The Cure (1995)
Dr Stevens
Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995)
Homage (1995)
The Baby-Sitters Club (1995)
Someone Else's Child (1994)
An Ambush of Ghosts (1993)
Bill Betts
Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)
Short Cuts (1993)
Howard Finnigan
A Mother's Revenge (1993)
Desperate Choices: To Save My Child (1992)
Live! From Death Row (1992)
Steel and Lace (1991)
Stolen: One Husband (1990)
Dr Peter Foley
Lady in a Corner (1989)
Longtime Companion (1989)
The Misfit Brigade (1988)
Lies (1986)
The Ladies Club (1986)
Richard Harrison
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985)
Betty Ames/Baker
Spies Like Us (1985)
Crimes of Passion (1984)
Donny Hopper
Ghost Dancing (1983)
Calvin Oberst
Tomorrow's Child (1982)
Cliff Bender
High Risk (1981)
Incident At Crestridge (1981)
Clint Larsen
Mind Over Murder (1979)
Jason
The Gathering, Part II (1979)
Deadman's Curve (1978)
Summer Of My German Soldier (1978)
Brass Target (1978)
French Quarter (1978)
Short Eyes (1977)
The Gathering (1977)
Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976)
Grand Jury (1976)
The Last Survivors (1975)
Mame (1974)
Ben (1972)
Willard Stiles
Ulzana's Raid (1972)
Lt. Garnett DeBuin
Willard (1971)
Willard Stiles
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (1971)
Fitzgore
Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (1971)
The Jerusalem File (1971)
David
The Strawberry Statement (1970)
Simon
Last Summer (1969)
Dan

Casting (Feature Film)

Lords of Salem (2013)
Casting

Cast (Special)

Knight Rider (2008)
X-Pose: X2 Mutants Uncovered (2003)
Outer Limits Farewell Tribute (2000)
X-Men: The Mutant Watch (2000)
The Trial of Adolf Eichmann (1997)
Voice
Burt Lancaster (1997)
Present Tense, Past Perfect (1996)
99 and 44/100% Pure Horror! (1995)
Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman in Carver Country (1994)
Himself
In a New Light (1992)
49th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1992)
Performer
Dakota's Way (1988)
The Astronauts (1982)
Astronaut David Ackroyd
The Wave (1981)
Portrait of Grandpa Doc (1977)
Bruce--As A Young Man
Ma and Pa (1974)
Priest
The Whirlwind (1974)
William Franklin
Cops (1973)

Misc. Crew (Special)

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

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

The Clinic (2004)
Martin Landrum
Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story (1987)
The Lathe of Heaven (1980)

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

The Lathe of Heaven (2002)
Coproducer

Life Events

1967

Broadway debut, Lincoln Center Repertory production of "Tiger at the Gates"

1969

Feature acting debut, "Last Summer"

1971

Made TV acting debut in an episode of the ABC series "Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law"

1971

First leading role; played a rat-loving social misfit in "Willard"

1973

Featured in episode of "Love, American Style"

1974

Appeared as the grown-up Patrick in Lucille Ball's last film of "Mame"

1977

Played a child molester in realistic prison drama, "Short Eyes"

1977

Had small role in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

1980

Starred on Broadway in "The Elephant Man"; succeeded original star Philip Anglim in the role of John Merrick

1983

Played Tom, the authorial stand-in, in a Broadway revival of "The Glass Menagerie" with Jessica Tandy

1984

Portrayed Captain Wyler on the NBC TV series "Hunter"

1984

Had leading role on TV in "V: The Series" (NBC)

1986

Played Felix, the journalist who succumbs to AIDS, in the L.A. premiere of Larry Kramer's play "The Normal Heart"

1987

Appeared in the NBC miniseries "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story"

1990

Received Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a gay man caring for his dying lover in "Longtime Companion"

1993

Acted in four films, including Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" and Fred Schepisi's "Six Degrees of Separation"

1996

Portrayed Reverend Paris in the film adaptation of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

1997

Starred in the controversial Showtime movie "The Color of Justice"

1997

Returned to the New York stage playing a man who commits incest with his niece in the Off-Broadway play "How I Learned to Drive"

1998

Earned an Emmy nomination for his guest stint on "Touched By an Angel"

1998

Played the father of a troubled teen in the film adaptation of the Stephen King novella "Apt Pupil", directed by Bryan Singer

1999

Guest starred as an arrogant plastic surgeon in the season premiere of "Chicago Hope" (CBS)

2000

Starred in the Dogma 95 production of "The King Is Alive", a drama about passengers who stage "King Lear" after their bus breaks down in the desert; premiered at Cannes

2000

Reunited with Singer for the big-screen version of the comic-book adventure "X-Men"; played Senator Kelly, a politician who believed mutants should not be treated like people

2001

Appeared as Jessica Biel's father in the Freddie Prinze Jr romance "Summer Catch"

2001

Portrayed yet another parent to a teen, this time a troubled young woman played by Kirsten Dunst in "crazy/beautiful"

2001

Made directorial debut with the Showtime original "Off Season"; also starred

2004

Cast as Dr. "Steg" Stegman, the arrogant chief of staff in Stephen King's medical drama "Kingdom Hospital"

2005

Had a recurring role on the CBS drama series, "Close to Home"

2007

Co-starred in "Breach," a thriller about FBI traitor Robert Hanssen played by Chris Cooper

Videos

Movie Clip

Ben (1972) - How Do I Play It Down? Dovetailing with the original (Willard, 1971) the crowd outside the house where the title character was killed by rats includes the Garrisons (Lee Harcourt Montgomery, Meredith Baxter and Rosemary Murphy), while the cop (Joseph Campanella) and editor (Arthur O’Connell) tangle inside, in the sequel Ben, 1972.
Willard (1971) - Are You Happy Here? Bruce Davison, the downtrodden title character, at work, catches his blowhard boss Martin (Ernest Borgnine) attacking an assistant (Joan Shawlee), then they get into a talk about the company, which was apparently all-but stolen from his late father, Sondra Locke watching, in Willard, 1971.
Willard (1971) - Something To Nibble On willard71_somethingtonibbleon_FC
Willard (1971) - Cats Are Really Very Good Company Bruce Davison (title character) getting friendlier with Joan (Sondra Locke), the temp brought in to help with his excessive workload, then visiting with the two rat friends he’s brought to the office, which leads to a problem when she reappears, in Willard, 1971.
Mame (1974) -- (Original Trailer) Original trailer for the Warner Bros. production of the Jerry Herman Broadway musical with Angela Lansbury, with Lucille Ball in the title role, Mame, 1974.
Last Summer (1969) - You've Traumatized Him Cathy Burns as "Rhoda," her first scene in her Academy Award-nominated performance, meets snotty pals Sandy (Barbara Hershey), Peter (Richard Thomas) and Dan (Bruce Davison) on the beach, in Last Summer, 1969.
Last Summer (1969) - Sweet Old Bird No ceremony in the opening, as Fire Island beach-combers Peter (Richard Thomas) and Dan (Bruce Davison) meet vacationer Sandy (Barbara Hershey) and her seagull, with New York AM radio background, in Last Summer, 1969.
Strawberry Statement, The - You're Very Compulsive Simon (Bruce Davison) has his first chat with student radical Linda (Kim Darby) while straying from his duties in the occupation of university offices, in the Irwin Winkler-Robert Chartoff production of The Strawberry Statement, 1970.
Strawberry Statement, The - Open, Circle Game After an opening scene, Buffy Sainte-Marie's bouncy recording of Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" in the credit sequence from the political comic-drama The Strawberry Statement, 1970, starring Bruce Davison and Kim Darby.
Strawberry Statement, The - You're A Commie Too! Simon (Bruce Davison) has a genial confrontation with a fellow semi-jock (Murray MacLeod) before some campus-unrest montage editing takes over, in The Strawberry Statement, from a screenplay by Israel Horovitz.

Family

Clair W Davison
Father
Architect, musician. Parents divorced when Davison was three.
Marian E Davison
Mother
Secretary. Parents divorced when Davison was three.
Ethan Pelikan Davison
Son
Born on April 5, 1996; mother, Lisa Pelikan.

Companions

Jess Walton
Wife
Actor. Divorced.
Lisa Pelikan
Wife
Actor. Married in 1986; Pelikan filed for a divorce on March 24, 2003.

Bibliography

Notes

His official web site is www.brucedavison.com.

"I've been stigmatized by roles so many times over the course of my career. In 'Willard,' I kissed the rat, and that was the last living thing that I kissed on-screen for ten years." --Bruce Davison to Premiere, June 1990.

Bruce Davison told US (November 1993) magazine he wanted a part in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" so badly he was prepared to "read the phone book naked, upside down" during his audition.Altman gave Davison a role without seeing him audtion for it.

" . . . I was in a public speaking class and I read something by Arthur Miller, actually, and it was a speech on what it means to be an actor. It said something like 'The rewards of being an actor do not come from the Oscars or other awards, but from the fact that one time in his life on a dark and empty stage an actor gave life to something. It was not himself, but everything he had ever felt or imagined. All the unsinkable heart song that the ordinary man may feel but never utter, he gave life to. And in doing so, somehow joins the ages.' And I thought that's what I would like to do . . ." --Bruce Davison to Patty Goldman in The Biz, December 27, 1996.