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Chris Cooper
Chris Cooper at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Cooper at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Christopher Walton Cooper

(1951-07-09) July 9, 1951 (age 70)
Alma materUniversity of Missouri
Years active1977–present
(m. 1983)

Christopher Walton Cooper[1] (born July 9, 1951) is an American actor. He has appeared in supporting performances in several major Hollywood films, including American Beauty (1999), October Sky (1999), The Bourne Identity (2002), Seabiscuit (2003), Capote (2005), Syriana (2005), The Kingdom (2007), Where the Wild Things Are (2009), The Town (2010), The Muppets (2011), Cars 3 (2017), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019), and Little Women (2019). He also portrayed Sheriff July Johnson in the acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove, which became one of the most successful Westerns in history.

Cooper won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as John Laroche in the 2002 film Adaptation. He played a lead role in the historical and political thriller Breach (2007), playing FBI agent and traitor Robert Hanssen. He played Daniel Sloan in the 2012 political thriller The Company You Keep, and Norman Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). He also portrayed Al Templeton on the 2016 Hulu miniseries 11.22.63.

He is a frequent collaborator with director John Sayles, including Matewan (1987), City of Hope (1991), Lone Star (1996), Silver City (2004) and Amigo (2010).

Early life

Cooper was born on July 9, 1951, in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Charles and Mary Ann (Walton) Cooper.[1][2] He has an older brother, Chuck Cooper (born 1948).[3] His father was both a United States Air Force doctor and a cattleman, and his mother was a housewife.[4][5][6] Both of his parents were from Texas.[4] Cooper grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, and spent his summers at his family's cattle ranch, located about 15 miles west of Leavenworth, Kansas.[4][6] He was also raised in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Houston.[7] While attending Southwest High School in Kansas City, Cooper worked for a local theater company: "I had a background in carpentry, so I could build sets and work in the wings and shift scenes in the evening."[8] After he graduated high school, Cooper became the shop foreman for another repertory group.[8] He also considered helping his father raise cattle for a living.[6] Cooper avoided getting drafted to serve in the Vietnam War following a stint in the Coast Guard Reserve.[4][9]

Cooper attended the University of Missouri and enrolled in the theater program, originally majoring in set design.[4][8] It was during his sophomore year when Cooper changed his major to acting in order to overcome his "overpowering shyness."[4] Cooper, therefore, took acting classes at the University of Missouri.[6] He recalled in a 1996 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, "I started going in and watching some shows at the theater department. I started taking theater classes and auditioned for plays. And once I got into it, it was pretty immediate. I really felt right, felt at home."[8] Cooper also took dance classes at Stephens College.[5][9]

After he graduated from the University of Missouri, Cooper moved to New York City in 1976.[5][10] While living in New York, Cooper shared a one-bedroom railroad flat with four other aspiring actors and dancers.[4] He supported himself by renovating apartments.[4] In addition, he worked in construction and served as a janitor and a chauffeur.[5] At the same time, he studied with Stella Adler and Wynn Handman.[4][5][8] Prior to his film debut with Matewan (1987), Cooper spent the previous twelve years doing stage work with the Actors Theater of Louisville and the Seattle Repertory.[5][6] In 1985, Cooper appeared in the London revival of Sweet Bird of Youth.[10]


Cooper's early performances include John Sayles' 1987 film Matewan; the 1989 CBS-TV Western miniseries Lonesome Dove; the 1991 indie Western drama Thousand Pieces of Gold, and the 1992 ABC-TV docudrama Bed of Lies, opposite Susan Dey.

Some of his more notable later performances include: Money Train, as a psychotic pyromaniac who terrifies toll booth operators; Lone Star, in a rare leading role as a Texas sheriff charged with solving a decades-old case; as Deputy Dwayne Looney in director Joel Schumacher's 1996 film A Time to Kill (based on the John Grisham novel); as Frank Booker in 1998's The Horse Whisperer; and as a closeted homophobic Marine Corps colonel in American Beauty, a role that garnered him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. To get into character, Cooper said he "depended on a friend who'd fought in Vietnam. I asked him to go deep. What would this man have done? What would be on his walls? On his desk?"[11]

In 2000, Cooper played Colonel Harry Burwell (inspired by Lieutenant Colonel Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee) in The Patriot. He was nominated for another Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA Award, and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award in 2003 for playing the role of John Laroche in Adaptation. In 2002, Cooper also appeared in The Bourne Identity as a ruthless CIA special ops director, a role he reprised (in flashbacks) in The Bourne Supremacy.

Cooper received another Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his supporting role as racehorse trainer Tom Smith in 2003's Seabiscuit. In 2004, Cooper starred in Silver City, playing an inept Republican gubernatorial candidate, a character noted for similarities to U.S. President George W. Bush.[citation needed]

Cooper appeared in three acclaimed films in 2005: Jarhead (which reunited him with American Beauty director Sam Mendes and October Sky actor Jake Gyllenhaal); Capote; and Syriana. He also acted in the thriller Breach, playing real-life FBI agent and traitor Robert Hanssen. Cooper commented that Breach was "the first studio film where they've considered me the lead [actor]". In 2007, he appeared as a government agent in dangerous territory in the action thriller The Kingdom and voiced the character Douglas in the film adaptation of Maurice Sendak's book, Where the Wild Things Are (2009).

At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Cooper appeared alongside Ben Affleck in the drama, The Company Men, early reviews of which praised Cooper's performance as "pitch-perfect".[12]

In 2011, Chris Cooper appeared in The Muppets as Tex Richman, the antagonistic oil tycoon who is unable to laugh. In the musical film, Cooper performed the rap and dance number "Let's Talk About Me".[13]

In 2017, he and Laurie Metcalf starred in A Doll's House, Part 2, a Broadway play by Lucas Hnath based on Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, for which he received a Tony Award nomination. Cooper played Nora Helmer's husband, Torvald.[14]

Cooper portrayed Norman Osborn in the 2014 film The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in an uncredited role. He appeared in Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night, which was released in December 2016.

In 2019, Cooper starred in two acclaimed films, Marielle Heller's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Tom Hanks,[15] and Greta Gerwig's adaptation of Little Women with an ensemble cast featuring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep.[16]

Personal life

Cooper and wife Marianne Leone Cooper, April 2007
Cooper and wife Marianne Leone Cooper, April 2007

Cooper met his future wife, Marianne Leone, in 1979 at an acting class in New York City.[3][4][8] On their first date, she helped him carry sheet rock up eight flights of stairs: "That's when I knew this was the girl for me."[4] They married in July 1983.[2][3] Their son, Jesse Lanier Cooper,[17] was born three months prematurely in October 1987.[18] Three days after he was born, Jesse suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and developed cerebral palsy.[6][18][19] Jesse was eventually mainstreamed into Silver Lake Regional High School, where he became an honor student.[17][18] Cooper recalled in a 2003 interview with The Morning Call, "(Jesse) is the best thing that ever happened to us. He's in a wheelchair and he communicates only by computer, but he's taught me so much because he's just so incredibly focused. Now he's in a regular school, which we fought to get him into. He's an honors student, and he's doing great."[6] On January 3, 2005, Jesse Cooper died suddenly and unexpectedly from epilepsy.[17][18] A memorial fund was set up in his name, the Jesse Cooper Foundation.[20] Cooper has said that the death of his son has somewhat helped him understand several characters he played, such as Charles Aiken in August: Osage County (2013)[21] and Phil Eastwood in Demolition (2015).[22]

Cooper formerly maintained residences in Hoboken, New Jersey, and Plymouth, Massachusetts.[8] As of 2003, he resides in Kingston, Massachusetts.[23][24] He has been close friends with frequent collaborator John Sayles since 1985.[8][25] On May 14, 2016, Cooper received an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.[26]

He and his wife Marianne Leone Cooper adopt and live with rescue dogs.[27]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Matewan Joe Kenehan
1991 Guilty by Suspicion Larry Nolan
1991 Thousand Pieces of Gold Charlie
1991 City of Hope Riggs
1993 This Boy's Life Roy
1995 Pharaoh's Army Captain John Hull Abston
1995 Money Train Torch
1996 Boys John Baker
1996 Lone Star Sam Deeds Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
1996 A Time to Kill Deputy Dwayne Powell Looney
1997 Breast Men Dr. William Larson
1998 Great Expectations Joe
1998 The Horse Whisperer Frank Booker
1999 The 24 Hour Woman Ron Hacksby
1999 October Sky John Hickam
1999 American Beauty Colonel Frank Fitts, USMC Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
2000 Me, Myself & Irene Lieutenant Gerke
2000 The Patriot Colonel Harry Burwell
2002 Interstate 60 Bob Cody
2002 The Bourne Identity Alexander Conklin
2002 The Ring Child Murderer Uncredited cameo
2002 Adaptation John Laroche Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Village Voice Film Poll for Best Supporting Performance
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
2003 Seabiscuit Tom Smith Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2004 Silver City Richard 'Dicky' Pilager
2004 The Bourne Supremacy Alexander Conklin
2005 Capote Alvin Dewey Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2005 Jarhead Lieutenant Colonel Kazinski
2005 Syriana Jimmy Pope
2007 Breach Robert Hanssen
2007 The Kingdom FBI Agent Grant Sykes
2007 Married Life Harry Allen
2009 New York, I Love You Alex Simmons
2009 Where the Wild Things Are Douglas (voice)
2010 The Tempest Antonio
2010 The Company Men Phil Woodward Nominated – Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
2010 Remember Me Neil Craig
2010 Amigo Colonel Hardacre
2010 The Town Stephen MacRay National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2010 Bloom: The Plight of Lake Champlain Narrator (voice) Documentary (2011 New England Emmy Award, Environmental Program)
2011 The Muppets Tex Richman
2012 The Company You Keep Daniel Sloan
2012 Bloom: The Emergence of Ecological Design Narrator (voice) Documentary 3-part series (2013 New England Emmy Award, Environmental Program)
2013 August: Osage County Charles Aiken AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Award for Best Supporting Actor
Capri Ensemble Cast Award
Hollywood Film Award for Ensemble of the Year
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Norman Osborn Uncredited cameo
2015 Demolition Phil
2015 Coming Through the Rye J. D. Salinger
2016 Live by Night Irving Figgis
2017 Cars 3 Smokey (voice)
2019 A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Jerry Vogel
2019 Little Women Mr. Laurence
2019 Henrietta Bulkowski Danny Wilcox (voice) Animated short
2020 Irresistible Marine Colonel Jack Hastings
2021 With/In: Volume 2 Segment: "Nuts"; also director
2022 True Value Narrator (voice) Documentary


Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Equalizer Michael Episode: "The Rehearsal"
1988 American Playhouse Louis Halladay Episode: "Journey Into Genius"
1988 Miami Vice Jimmy Yagovitch Episode: "Mirror Image"
1989 Lonesome Dove July Johnson Miniseries
1990 Lifestories Mr. Hawkins Episode: "The Hawkins Family"
1991 In Broad Daylight Frank Wiliker Television film
1991 Darrow Eugene Debs Television film
1992 Bed of Lies Price Daniel, Jr. Television film
1992 Ned Blessing: The True Story of My Life Anthony Blessing Television film
1994 One More Mountain James Reed Television film
1996 Law & Order Roy Payne Episode: "Blood Libel"
2003 My House in Umbria Thomas Riversmith Television film
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor – Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2008 American Experience Walt Whitman Documentary
2009 American Experience Narrator (voice) Episode: "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln"
2016 11.22.63 Al Templeton Miniseries
2020 Homecoming Leonard Geist Season 2


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Of the Fields, Lately Ben Mercer Broadway debut [28]
2017 A Doll's House, Part 2 Torvald Helmer Nominated – Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2017 Cars 3: Driven to Win Smokey Voice

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards  Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role American Beauty Nominated [29]
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
2003 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Adaptation Won [30]
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor Won [31]
BAFTA Film Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated [32]
Screen Actors Guild Awards  Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Nominated [33]
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie My House in Umbria Nominated [34]
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards  Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Seabiscuit Nominated [35]
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Capote Nominated [36]
2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards August: Osage County Nominated [37]
2017 Tony Awards Best Actor in a Play A Doll's House, Part 2 Nominated [38]


  1. ^ a b "Mary Ann Walton Cooper 1925 - 2015 Obituary". Muehlebach Funeral Care. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Chris Cooper Biography (1951-)". Film Reference. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Chris Cooper". Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ryan, James (June 30, 1996). "Mr. 'Last-Minute' Gets a Plum Role". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Dutka, Elaine (January 3, 2003). "For this role, Cooper was willing to adapt (Part 2 of 2)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Longsdorf, Amy (July 26, 2003). "Like Seabiscuit, Oscar winner Chris Cooper beats the odds". The Morning Call. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  7. ^ Ivry, Bob (March 10, 1999). "Chris Cooper's New Role". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Rea, Steven (July 15, 1996). "From Actor, Echoes Of Another Cooper Chris Cooper Isn't Related To Gary, But The Star Of 'Lone Star' Has A Similar Presence". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 15, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Pringle, Gill (August 17, 2007). "Chris Cooper: The man who played a patriot in American Beauty is now turning traitor in Breach". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  10. ^ a b Blau, Eleanor (September 4, 1987). "NEW FACE; FINDING A PERFECT FIT IN A ROLE IN 'MATEWAN'". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "In Step With: Chris Cooper". Parade. October 24, 2004.
  12. ^ Peck, Aaron (January 24, 2010). "Review: The Company Men – Sundance Film Festival". Archived from the original on January 31, 2010.
  13. ^ Fowler, Tara (November 22, 2011). "Chris Cooper: 'Muppets hip-hop number went well'". Digital Spy. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  14. ^ Barone, Joshua (October 7, 2016). "'A Doll's House, Part 2' to Open on Broadway" – via
  15. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 21, 2018). "Chris Cooper Joins Tom Hanks in Mr. Rogers Film 'You Are My Friend' (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  16. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (September 28, 2018). "Oscar Winner Chris Cooper Boards Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women' Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c "Son of actor Chris Cooper dead at 17 in Kingston". The Boston Globe. January 5, 2005. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d Lehner, Marla (January 6, 2005). "Oscar Winner Chris Cooper's Son Dies at 17". People. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  19. ^ Oney, Steve (September 16, 2010). "Book review: 'Knowing Jesse' by Marianne Leone". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "Jesse Lanier Cooper memorial". Variety. January 5, 2005. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  21. ^ "Chris Cooper Brings A Lifetime Of Experience To 'August: Osage County'". WBUR-FM. January 10, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  22. ^ Shanahan, Mark (April 1, 2016). "For Chris Cooper, a study in grief". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  23. ^ "Chris Cooper gives 'Seabiscuit' the silent treatment". The Augusta Chronicle. July 28, 2003. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  24. ^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (November 6, 2014). "Chris Cooper to play J.D. Salinger". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  25. ^ Moore, Roger (April 7, 2008). "Chris Cooper: One tough character". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  26. ^ "Actor Chris Cooper honored at UMass Lowell". WHDH (TV). May 14, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  27. ^ Cooper ML. A father’s soothing ways: Boston Globe June 18, 2021, 5:19 a.m. Accessed June 20, 2021
  28. ^ "Chris Cooper, Playbill". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "The 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  30. ^ "2003 Oscars". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  31. ^ "Winners & Nominees Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  32. ^ "Film Actor in a Supporting Role in 2003". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  33. ^ "The 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  34. ^ "F55th Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  35. ^ "The 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  36. ^ "The 12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  37. ^ "The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  38. ^ "The Tony Award Nominations 2017". Retrieved December 4, 2020.

External links

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