Oscar Actors: Dern, Bruce–Background, Career, Awards

December 15, 2020
Bruce Dern Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: Middle, father utility chief and attorney





Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

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TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut:

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Other Noms:

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Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

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Bruce MacLeish Dern (born June 4, 1936) is an American actor, often playing supporting villainous characters of unstable nature. He was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Coming Home (1978) and the Best Actor for Nebraska (2013).[2] His other major film appearances include Silent Running (1972), The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), The Cowboys (1972), Posse (1975), Family Plot (1976), Black Sunday (1977), Tattoo (1981), Monster (2003), The Hateful Eight (2015), Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), and The Artist’s Wife (2020).

Dern was born in Chicago, the son of Jean (née MacLeish; 1908–1972) and John Dern (1903–1958), a utility chief and attorney.

He grew up in Kenilworth, Illinois.[5] His paternal grandfather, George, was a Utah governor and Secretary of War (he was serving in the latter position during the time of Bruce’s birth). Dern’s maternal grandfather was a Vice President of the Carson, Pirie and Scott stores,[6][7] which were established by his own father, Scottish-born businessman Andrew MacLeish. Dern’s maternal granduncle was poet Archibald MacLeish. His godfather was Illinois governor and two-time presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson II.[8] His ancestry includes Dutch, English, German and Scottish. He attended New Trier High School and the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong avid runner, he was a track star in high school and sought to qualify for the United States Olympic trials in 1956.[1]


Dern at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Dern starred on stage in the Philadelphia premiere of Waiting for Godot before heading to Hollywood. He appeared in an uncredited role in 1960 in Wild River as Jack Roper, who is so upset with his friend for hitting a woman that he punches himself. He played the sailor in a few flashbacks with Marnie’s mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie. Dern played a murderous rustler in Clint Eastwood’s Hang ‘Em High and a gunfighter in the western spoof Support Your Local Sheriff!. He played cattle thief Asa Watts, who murders John Wayne’s character in The Cowboys (1972). Wayne warned Dern, “America will hate you for this.” Dern replied, “Yeah, but they’ll love me in Berkeley.” Having played a series of villains, that same year he played against type as a sensitive ecologist in the science-fiction film Silent Running.

Through the 1970s, he appeared in a variety of co-starring or supporting roles including the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, 1975’s Posse, directed by and co-starring Kirk Douglas, and reuniting with Hitchcock for 1976’s Family Plot, the legendary filmmaker’s final film.

He played a vengeful Vietnam War veteran who uses his job as a Goodyear Blimp pilot to launch a massive terrorist attack at the Super Bowl in 1977’s Black Sunday. In 1981 he starred in Tattoo, as an increasingly deranged tattoo artist who develops an obsession with a model. Dern was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Coming Home. In 1983, he won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival for That Championship Season.[9] In 2013, Dern won the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival for Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.[10][11]

Personal life
Dern was married to Marie Dawn Pierce from 1957 to 1959.[12] He then married Diane Ladd in 1960.[13] Their first daughter, Diane Elizabeth Dern (born November 29, 1960), died at 18 months from head injuries after falling into a swimming pool on May 18, 1962.[13] The couple’s second daughter, Laura[13] (born February 10, 1967), is also an actress. After his divorce from Ladd in 1969, Dern married Andrea Beckett.

Dern, Ladd, and their daughter Laura received adjoining stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 1, 2010.

Year Title Role Director Notes
1960 Wild River Jack Roper Elia Kazan Uncredited
1962 The Crimebusters Joe Krajac Boris Sagal
1964 Marnie Sailor Alfred Hitchcock
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte John Mayhew Robert Aldrich
1965 Gunsmoke,”Ten Little Indians” Phleger Mark Rydell
1966 The Wild Angels Loser Roger Corman
1967 The War Wagon Hammond Burt Kennedy
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre John May Roger Corman
The Trip John
Waterhole No. 3 Deputy Sam Tippen William A. Graham
Will Penny Rafe Quint Tom Gries
1968 Psych-Out Steve Davis Richard Rush
Hang ‘Em High Miller Ted Post
1969 Support Your Local Sheriff! Joe Danby Burt Kennedy
Castle Keep Lt. Billy Byron Bix Sydney Pollack
Number One Richie Fowler Tom Gries
The Cycle Savages Keeg Bill Brame
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? James Sydney Pollack
1970 Bloody Mama Dirkman Roger Corman
The Rebel Rousers J.J. Weston Martin B. Cohen
1971 The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant Roger Anthony M. Lanza
Drive, He Said Coach Bullion Jack Nicholson
1972 The Cowboys Asa Watts (Long Hair) Mark Rydell
Silent Running Freeman Lowell Douglas Trumbull
Thumb Tripping Smitty Quentin Masters
The King of Marvin Gardens Jason Staebler Bob Rafelson
1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid Deputy Sam Peckinpah Uncredited
The Laughing Policeman Leo Larsen Stuart Rosenberg
1974 The Great Gatsby Tom Buchanan Jack Clayton
1975 Posse Jack Strawhorn Kirk Douglas
Smile Big Bob Freelander Michael Ritchie
1976 Family Plot George Lumley Alfred Hitchcock
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Grayson Potchuck Michael Winner
Folies bourgeoises William Brandels Claude Chabrol
1977 Black Sunday Michael Lander John Frankenheimer
1978 Coming Home Captain Bob Hyde Hal Ashby
The Driver The Detective Walter Hill
1980 Middle Age Crazy Bobby Lee Burnett John Trent
1981 Tattoo Karl Kinsky Bob Brooks
1982 That Championship Season George Sitkowski Jason Miller
Harry Tracy, Desperado Harry Tracy William A. Graham
1986 On the Edge Wes Holman Rob Nilsson
1987 The Big Town Mr. Edwards Ben Bolt and Harold Becker
World Gone Wild Ethan Lee H. Katzin
1988 1969 Cliff Ernest Thompson
1989 The ‘Burbs Mark Rumsfield Joe Dante
1990 After Dark, My Sweet Garrett “Uncle Bud” Stoker James Foley
1992 Diggstown John Gillon Michael Ritchie
1995 Wild Bill Will Plummer Walter Hill
1996 Down Periscope Admiral Yancy Graham David S. Ward
Mulholland Falls The Chief Lee Tamahori Uncredited
Last Man Standing Sheriff Ed Galt Walter Hill
1998 Small Soldiers Link Static (Voice) Joe Dante
1999 The Haunting Mr. Dudley Jan de Bont
If… Dog… Rabbit… McGurdy Matthew Modine
2000 All the Pretty Horses The Judge Billy Bob Thornton
2001 The Glass House Begleiter Daniel Sackheim
2003 Masked and Anonymous Editor Larry Charles
Milwaukee, Minnesota Sean McNally Allan Mindel
Monster Thomas Patty Jenkins
2005 Madison Harry Volpi William Bindley
Down in the Valley Charlie David Jacobson
2006 Believe in Me Ellis Brawley Robert Collector
Walker Payne Chester Matt Williams
The Astronaut Farmer Hal Michael Polish
The Hard Easy Gene Ari Ryan
2007 The Cake Eaters Easy Kimbrough Mary Stuart Masterson
2008 Swamp Devil Howard Blame David Winning
The Golden Boys Captain Perez Daniel Adams
2009 American Cowslip Cliff Mark David
The Hole 3D Creepy Carl Joe Dante
The Lightkeepers Bennie Daniel Adams
2010 Trim Dale Banks Allan Mindel
2011 Choose Dr. Ronald Pendleton Marcus Graves
Inside Out Vic Small Artie Mandelberg
Twixt Bobby LaGrange Francis Ford Coppola
2012 From Up on Poppy Hill Yoshio Onodera (voice) Gorō Miyazaki English dub
Hitting the Cycle James Darin Anthony and J. Richey Nash
Django Unchained Curtis Carrucan Quentin Tarantino
2013 Coffin Baby Vance Henrickson Dean Jones
Northern Borders Austin Kittredge Sr. Jay Craven
Nebraska Woody Grant Alexander Payne
Fighting for Freedom Christian Dobbe Farhad Mann
2014 Cut Bank Georgie Wits Matt Shakman
2015 The Hateful Eight General Sanford Smithers Quentin Tarantino
2017 American Violence Richard Morton Timothy Woodward Jr.
Class Rank Oswald Eric Stoltz
The Lears Davenport Lear Carl Bessai
Hickok Doc Rivers O’Roark Timothy Woodward Jr.
Our Souls at Night Dorlan Ritesh Batra
Chappaquiddick Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. John Curran
2018 Nostalgia Ronnie Ashemore Mark Pellington
White Boy Rick Ray Wershe Yann Demange
Freaks Mr. Snowcone Adam Stein
Zach Lipovsky
Warning Shot Calvin Dustin Fairbanks
American Dresser King Carmine Cangialosi
Lez Bomb Grandpa Jenna Laurenzo
2019 The Mustang Myles Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
The Peanut Butter Falcon Carl Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood George Spahn Quentin Tarantino
Remember Me Claude Martin Rosete
QT8: The First Eight Himself Tara Wood Documentary[14]
The Artist’s Wife[15] Richard Smythson Tom Dolby
Badland[16] Reginald Cooke Justin Lee
2020 Emperor Levi Coffin Mark Amin
Crabs in a Bucket Coach Finnegan Paolo Pilladi Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
1960 Route 66 Albert Episode: “The Man on the Monkey Board”
1961 Naked City Hollis / Nicky Uncredited
2 episodes
1961 Sea Hunt FBI Agent John Furillo Episode: “Crime at Sea”
1961 Surfside 6 Johnny Page Episode: “Daphne, Girl Detective”
1961 Thriller Johnny Norton Episode: “The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk”
1961 Ben Casey Billy Harris Episode: “A Dark Night for Billy Harris”
1961 The Detectives Jud Treadwell Episode: “Act of God”
1961–1962 Cain’s Hundred Eddie Light / Joe Krajac 2 episodes
1962–1963 Stoney Burke E.J. Stocker 17 episodes
1962–1963 The Dick Powell Show Deering 2 episodes
1963 Kraft Suspense Theatre Maynard Episode: “The Hunt”
1963 The Outer Limits Ben Garth Episode: “The Zanti Misfits”
1963–1965 Wagon Train Wilkins / Jud Fisher / Seth Bancroft 3 episodes
1963–1966 The Fugitive Deputy Martin / Charley / Hutch / Hank / Cody 5 episodes
1964–1965 The Virginian Bert Kramer / Lee Darrow / Pell 3 episodes
1964 77 Sunset Strip Ralph Wheeler Episode: “Lovers’ Lane”
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth Vernon Episode: “The Last of the Strongmen”
1964 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Jesse / Roy Bullock 2 episodes
1964–1965 Twelve O’Clock High TSgt. Frank Jones / Lieutenant Michaels / Lieutenant Danton 4 episodes
1965 Rawhide Ed Rankin Episode: “Walk into Terror”
1965 Laredo Joe Durkee Episode: “Rendezvous at Arillo”
1965 A Man Called Shenandoah Bobby Ballantine Episode: “The Verdict”
1965, 1968 The F.B.I. Virgil Roy Phipps / PFC Byron Landy 2 episodes
1969 Gunsmoke Guerin / Lou Stone / Judd Print / Doyle Phleger 4 episodes
1966 Branded Les Episode: “The Wolfers”
1966 The Loner Merrick Episode: “To Hang a Dead Man”
1966 Disneyland Turk Episode: “Gallegher Goes West: Crusading Reporter”
1966–1967 Run for Your Life Alex Ryder 3 episodes
1966–1968 The Big Valley John Weaver / Gabe Skeels / Clovis / Harry Dixon / Jack Follet 5 episodes
1968–1969 Lancer Tom Nevill / Lucas Thatcher 2 episodes
1968, 1970 Bonanza Bayliss / Cully Maco 2 episodes
1969 Then Came Bronson Bucky O’Neill Episode: “Amid Splinters of the Thunderbolt”
1970 Land of the Giants Thorg Episode: “Wild Journey”
1970 The High Chaparral Wade Episode: “Only the Bad Come to Sonora”
1970 The Immortal Luther Seacombe Episode: “To the Gods Alone”
1985 Space Stanley Mott 5 episodes
1985 Toughlove Rob Charters Television film
1987 Roses Are for the Rich Douglas Osborne Television film
1987 Uncle Tom’s Cabin Augustine St. Claire Television film
1989 Trenchcoat in Paradise John Hollander Television film
1990 The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson Scout Ed Higgins Television film
1991 Into the Badlands T.L. Barston Television film
1991 Carolina Skeletons Junior Stoker Television film
1993 It’s Nothing Personal Billy Archer Television film
1994 Dead Man’s Revenge Payton McCay Television film
1994 Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight George Putnam Television film
1995 A Mother’s Prayer Grandpa Television film
1995 Mrs. Munck Patrick Leary Television film
1999 Hard Time: The Premonition Winston Television film
2003 King of the Hill Randy Strickland (voice) Episode: “Boxing Luanne”
2003 Hard Ground Nate Hutchinson Television film
2006–2011 Big Love Frank Harlow 29 episodes
2007 CSI: NY Vet Episode: “Boo”
2013 Pete’s Christmas Grandpa Television film
2019 Black Monday Rod “The Jammer” Jaminski 2 episodes
2019 Mr. Mercedes John Rothstein 8 episodes
Video Games
Year Title Role
2020 Shadow Stalkers The Director[17]
2020 MegaRace: DeathMatch Rabies[18]
Awards and nominations
Year Title Award
1972 Drive, He Said National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor
1973 The Cowboys Bronze Wrangler for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
1975 The Great Gatsby Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1979 Coming Home Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1983 That Championship Season Silver Bear for Best Actor
2009 Swamp Devil Philadelphia Film Festival Jury Prize
2014 Nebraska AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Award for Best Actor
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award
Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated – American Comedy Award for Comedy Actor – Film
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Gold Derby Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Guardian Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated – London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year
Nominated – San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture
2019 Freaks Best Actor at Horrorant International Film Festival