Todd Field

Todd Field

Born in Pomona, CA, Field was raised in Portland, OR from the age of two when his father, a truck driver, moved the family north after taking a job as a traveling salesman hocking welding supplies, while his mother worked as a librarian. Frustrated as a poet and sad to see the misery of his father, Field moved to New York, determined not to duplicate his father's Willy Loman-like lifestyle. Field hustled as best he could to land acting work, digging into dumpsters for yesterday's call sheets and going on auditions under the auspices of fictitious management companies. After making his television acting debut with a guest spot on "Head of the Class" (ABC, 1986-1991), Field landed his first feature with Woody Allen's nostalgic "Radio Days" (1987). The young performer soon segued to television series regular, playing an incompetent public relations maven on the short-lived sitcom "Take Five" (CBS, 1987). Following such forgettable films like the teen sex comedy, "The Allnighter" (1987) Field had his first major part as an overworked medical student alongside future production partner Matthew Modine in "Gross Anatomy" (1989). Another small turn in "Fat Man and Little Boy" (1989) led Field to join the down-and-dirty world of B-movies like "Full Fathom Five" (1990), a Roger Corman-produced "Red October" (1990) rip-off directed by Carl Franklin, before enjoying a better showcase in "Back to Back" (1990), playing a mentally handicapped man partnered with his lawyer brother (Bill Paxton) in an effort to clear their father's name. He had the good fortune of hooking up with Victor Nunez for the director's award-winning character study "Ruby in Paradise" (1993), playing the literate nurseryman and major love interest of Ashley Judd's title character, which led to great reviews and seemingly poised the actor for bigger and better things. Instead, Field took time off to study directing at the American Film Institute, where he made several short films including "Too Romantic" (1992); the Sundance-screened "Smoking" (1993), which he co-directed with Matthew Modine; "Delivering" (1993); When I Was a Boy" (1993) and "Nonnie and Alex" (1995), which earned an honorable mention at that year's Sundance Film Festival.Resuming his acting career, Field was cast alongside offscreen pal Eric Stoltz in "Sleep With Me" (1994), playing a politically incorrect guy who says exactly what he wants. He next offered a fine turn as the petty thief son of a big-time criminal (Ben Gazzara) in the moderately well-received "Farmer & Chase" (1995), while enjoying wider appeal with an appearance in the blockbuster "Twister" (1996), his first collaboration with director Jan De Bont. While "Twister" reached a large audience despite taking a critical drubbing, Field was better suited for Nicole Holofcener's directing debut, "Walking and Talking" (1996), in which he portrayed Anne Heche's nervous fiancé. While searching for the right project with which to make his feature directorial debut, Field remained busy in front of the cameras, landing a small role in De Bont's disappointing "The Haunting" (1999) before appearing in Stanley Kubrick's salacious swan song "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999). Field fared far better in the edgy independent "Broken Vessels," delivering arguably the best performance of his career as a slow-burning paramedic who thrives in the pressure cooker atmosphere of life behind the wheel of an ambulance, only to see his life spiral out of control from drug abuse. Instead of taking an over-the-top approach, Field chose just the right amount of subtly to add realism to his acclaimed performance.Field returned to series television as a regular for the second season of the family drama "Once and Again" (ABC, 1999-2002), playing the friend and business partner of a divorced father of two (Billy Campbell) getting back into the dating life after meeting a separated forty-something soccer mom (Sela Ward). Having directed an episode of the show, Field was ready to make his debut as a feature filmmaker. Adapting a short story by Andre Dubus, Field co-wrote and directed the haunting, visually appealing and extremely well-acted "In the Bedroom" (2001). The film focused on the after-effects of the tragic death of a young college student (Nick Stahl) who decides to forego graduate school in order to be with an older woman (Marisa Tomei). But when the woman's abusive husband (William Mapother) kills the student and gets released on bail, the boy's parents (Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson) come to the hard conclusion that justice will not prevail, leading to taking matters into their own hands. Rich, atmospheric and extremely well acted, "In the Bedroom" held the 2001 Sundance Film Festival audiences captive before earning nearly unanimous praise after its theatrical release. Consumed by numerous awards and nominations, including five nods at the Academy Awards, Field found himself as one of American cinema's most potent new voices.It was five years before Field directed another movie, with no writing or acting jobs in between, though he did direct episodes of the weird and short-lived "Carnivàle" (HBO, 2003-05). In 2004, well after the adulation he received for "In the Bedroom" had simmered down, Field went to work on his next project, "Little Children" (2006), a darkly satiric take on suburban life and the American way, based on the acclaimed novel by Tom Perrotta. The story focused on a stay at home mom, Sarah (Kate Winslett), a pariah among the other moms at the playground who engages in an illicit affair with an ex-jock, Brad (Patrick Wilson). Meanwhile, a depressed Brad rebels against his breadwinner wife (Jennifer Connelly), who wants him to get off his duff and become a big time lawyer. Thrown into the mix is a pedophile (Jackie Earle Haley) recently released from prison and moved into the neighborhood with his mom (Phyllis Somerville), who tries to set him up with a nice girl (Jane Adams). The film earned mostly rave reviews and numerous award nominations, including a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Field at the Academy Awards. Again, once the fervor died down, Field settled into a semi-reclusive state, neither acting nor directing, though he had several projects in the development pipeline.