Tony Goldwyn

Tony Goldwyn

Born in Los Angeles Anthony Howard Goldwyn was part of one of the most powerful show business families in the entertainment business; his grandfathers were Oscar-winning producer and studio chief Samuel Goldwyn, who created Paramount Pictures and Goldwyn Pictures (later Metro-Goldwyn Mayer) and playwright Sidney Howard, who wrote the screenplay for "Gone With the Wind" (1939). Goldwyn Sr.'s spouse was Broadway actress Frances Howard, and their son - Tony Goldwyn's father - was independent producer and studio chief Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. Unlike his father and brother, Paramount Motion Pictures president John Goldwyn, Tony followed in his grandmother's footsteps by pursuing the performing side of the business. After studying at Hamilton College and Brandeis University, he furthered his education at the London Academy of Music and Art. He would soon find work on the national stage, beginning in 1985 with the off-Broadway play "Digby." More substantive roles came with a 1985-86 turn in the Los Angeles production of Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing;" meanwhile, Goldwyn was making inroads to onscreen work. His first feature film appearance was in 1986's "Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI," where his character utters only a few lines before meeting his doom at the hands of the hockey-masked killer. Guest shots on episodic TV soon followed; most notably in a 1987 episode of "Designing Women" (CBS, 1986-1993) as a young man suffering from HIV who asks the show's quartet of interior designers to help him plan his own funeral. The episode generated considerable publicity for its subject matter, as well as two Emmy nominations.Goldwyn's breakthrough role came in 1990 with the supernatural romance "Ghost." Cast as well-groomed yuppie Carl Bruner, whose duplicitous scheming leads to the death of hero Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), Goldwyn was soon cemented in the public's mind as a well-groomed, upwardly type with a frequent streak of Bruner's cold-bloodedness. Goldwyn found the nuances within the roles to bring a sense of freshness to each of them; in "The Pelican Brief" (1993), he balances an outward charm with a deep-rooted ruthlessness as a villainous White House Chief of Staff, while his Dr. William Rudolph in the thriller "Kiss the Girls" (1997) hides a brutal rapist behind his handsome exterior. Not all of his screen characters were monstrous. In Oliver Stone's "Nixon" (1995), he played Harold Nixon, the saintly older brother of the future president, whose untimely death from tuberculosis allowed his sibling to attend law school. And in "From the Earth to the Moon" (HBO, 1998), he was certified hero Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the lunar surface. Goldwyn's most substantial film role, however, was one in which he did not appear on screen; he voiced the Lord of the Jungle in Disney's "Tarzan" (1999), a major animated hit for the studio and one of the last films to achieve box office gold before the Pixar boom of the late 1990s and 2000s. In 1999, Goldwyn made the successful transition to director with "A Walk on the Moon," a coming-of-age drama cum romance about a suburban wife (Diane Lane) and her daughter (Anna Paquin) who experience sexual and romantic awakenings at the dawn of Woodstock. While not a box office success, the film received positive feedback from critics, jumpstarted Diane Lane's comeback, and led to a string of directorial assignments for television, including "The L Word" (Showtime, 2004-2010) and "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005-). In 2007, he returned to feature directing with "The Last Kiss," a postmodern romance-drama with Zach Braff as a young man struggling with commitment to his girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett) after meeting a vivacious woman (Rachel Bilson) at a wedding. Goldwyn then resumed his TV directing career with several high-profile projects, including multiple episodes of "Dexter" and "Damages."Goldwyn's acting career continued to flourish while he built his directorial CV. As before, most of his work was in minor-key dramas like "Bounce" (2000) and "American Gun" (2005), though he enjoyed the spotlight in "The Last Samurai" (2003) and the remake of 1971's "The Last House on the Left" (2009). In the former, he was the ruthless cavalry officer who dispatches Tom Cruise's dissolute officer to Japan, where he learns the code of the Japanese nobility, while in the latter, he played a kindly doctor who transforms into a savage killer after his daughter is brutally assaulted by a gang of thugs. Goldwyn also made frequent returns to television during this period; most notably on "Dexter" as a calculating psychotherapist, targeted by Michael C. Hall's crusading killer for his involvement in the deaths of several female patients, who inadvertently provides Dexter with a psychological breakthrough. Goldwyn also appeared in several episodes of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC/USA Network, 2001-) as Frank Goren, whose drug and gambling addictions are a source of turmoil for his brother, Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio). In 2010, Goldwyn returned to the director's chair for what appeared to be his most high-profile feature to date, "Conviction," a true story based on the life of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), a single mother who spends a decade earning her law degree so that she can defend her brother (Sam Rockwell) against murder charges. While accompanying the film to festivals, Goldwyn surprised many by tackling his first Broadway musical, a revival of "Promises, Promises," in which he played a philandering business executive.