Oscar Actors: Langella, Frank–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage, Tonys)

December 15, 2020
Frank Langella Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: Middle; father business executive





Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut:

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role: Frost/Nixon, 2008; aged 70

Other Noms:

Other Awards:

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:




Frank A. Langella Jr. (born January 1, 1938) is an American stage and film actor.

He has won four Tony Awards: two for Best Leading Actor in a Play for his performance as Richard Nixon in Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon and as André in Florian Zeller’s The Father, and two for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performances in Edward Albee’s Seascape and Ivan Turgenev’s Fortune’s Fool.

His reprisal of the Nixon role in the film production of Frost/Nixon earned him Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Langella has starred in films such as Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970), Mel Brooks’ The Twelve Chairs (1970), Dracula (1979), Masters of the Universe (1987), Dave (1993), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Starting Out in the Evening (2007), Robot & Frank (2012), Captain Fantastic (2016), and The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020). He is also known for his performances in the HBO television films Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (2013), and All the Way (2016). He had a recurring role as Gabriel, the KGB handler for the lead characters, in the FX series The Americans (2013-2017), and has played Sebastian Piccirillo in the Showtime series Kidding (2018-2020).

Langella, an Italian American, was born January 1, 1938, in Bayonne, New Jersey, the son of Angelina and Frank A. Langella Sr., a business executive who was the president of the Bayonne Barrel and Drum Company.

Langella attended Washington Elementary School and Bayonne High School in Bayonne.[9] After the family moved to South Orange, New Jersey, he graduated from Columbia High School, in the South Orange-Maplewood School District, in 1955, and graduated from Syracuse University in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in drama.

Langella appeared off-Broadway (e.g. in The Immoralist at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre in 1963,[11] and Robert Lowell’s The Old Glory in 1965) before he made his first foray on a Broadway stage in New York in Federico García Lorca’s Yerma at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, Lincoln Center, on December 8, 1966. He followed this role by appearing in William Gibson’s A Cry of Players, playing a young, highly fictionalized William Shakespeare, opposite Anne Bancroft at the same venue in 1968.

He won film fame in two 1970 films: Mel Brooks’ The Twelve Chairs and Frank Perry’s Diary of a Mad Housewife, being nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for the latter. Langella won his first Tony Award for his performance in Edward Albee’s Seascape in 1975 and was nominated again for what may have been the performance for which he was best known in the early part of his career: the title role of the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula. Despite his initial misgivings about continuing to play the role, he was persuaded to star opposite Laurence Olivier in the subsequent film version directed by John Badham. He eschewed the career of a traditional film star by always making the stage the focal point of his career, appearing on Broadway in such plays as Strindberg’s The Father (winning a Drama Desk Award), Match (Tony Award nomination), and Fortune’s Fool, for which he won a second Tony Award.

Langella would continue to juggle film and television with his stage work, playing Sherlock Holmes in a 1981 adaptation of William Gillette’s play Sherlock Holmes. He repeated the role on Broadway in 1987 in Charles Marowitz’s play Sherlock’s Last Case. That same year, Langella would also portray the villain Skeletor in Masters of the Universe, which he has described as one of his favorite roles.[12] In 1988, Langella co-starred in the film And God Created Woman.

In 1993, he made a three-episode appearance on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the devious Jaro Essa. That same year he also starred in the political comedy Dave starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. He also played a supporting role the Ivan Reitman comedy Junior alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, and Emma Thompson. In 1994 he narrated the American Masters documentary on Tennessee Williams. In 1996 Langella starred in the comedy film Eddie starring Whoopi Goldberg who he entered into a romantic relationship with until 2001. He also played Clare Quilty in the 1997 film adaptation of Lolita starring Jeremy Irons and Melanie Griffith. In 1999 he starred opposite Johnny Depp in the Roman Polanski directed film The Ninth Gate.

In 2000, he played the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in a musical version of A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden.[13] He has also appeared in notable off-Broadway productions, including in the title role of Robert Kalfin’s Chelsea Theater Center production of The Prince of Homburg, which was filmed by PBS for the Theatre in America series.[14] He starred as Sir Thomas More in the 2008 Broadway revival of A Man for All Seasons.[15]

He also appeared as Al Baker in “Dominance”, a 2003 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and had a recurring role as Pino in the 2005 short-lived sitcom Kitchen Confidential.

He was cast as Richard Nixon in Peter Morgan’s play Frost/Nixon alongside Michael Sheen, which received enthusiastic reviews during a run at the Donmar Warehouse and Gielgud Theatre in London before moving to Broadway in New York’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theater in April 2007, culminating in Langella’s third Tony Award. He reprised the role of Nixon in the 2008 Oscar nominated Best Picture film Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard. He received Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA nominations for Best Actor for his performance. He was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Actor category for the role, losing to Sean Penn’s performance in Milk.

His film work also includes roles in George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) as former CBS chief executive William S. Paley for which he was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Ensemble Cast. He also appeared in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) as Daily Planet editor Perry White. Langella received critical acclaim as well as the Boston Society of Film Critics Award in 2007 for his sensitive portrayal of an elderly novelist in Starting Out in the Evening. In late 2009, he starred in the Richard Kelly film The Box alongside Cameron Diaz and James Marsden.

In 2010 he played Louis Zabel in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps alongside Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, and Carey Mulligan. That same year he played a supporting role in All Good Things alongside Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. In 2011, Langella starred in the drama thriller Unknown alongside Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger.[17] In 2012, he earned critical praise for his role in the independent film Robot & Frank with Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine calling his performance “a masterclass in acting”.[18]

In 2013 he starred in the Stephen Frears’ HBO made-for-television film Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight as Chief Justice Warren E. Burger alongside Christopher Plummer playing Justice John Marshall Harlan. In October and November 2013, Langella played King Lear at the Minerva, Chichester Festival Theatre in Chichester, UK. It travelled to the Harvey Theater at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York in 2014.

In 2015, Langella joined the cast of FX’s critically praised drama The Americans with Keri Russell, and Matthew Rhys.[19] He appeared in seasons 3 through 5.

In 2016, he played the title role in Doug Hughes’ production of the US premiere of Florian Zeller’s play The Father at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway.[20] He won his career fourth Tony Award for his performance.[21] That same year he appeared in Captain Fantastic alongside Viggo Mortensen and was again nominated with the ensemble cast for the Screen Actors Guild Award. He also starred in the HBO television movie All the Way (2016) as Senator Richard Russell Jr. alongside Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon B. Johnson. Langella received a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries nomination for his performance.

From 2018 to 2020 Langella appeared as Sebestian in Showtime’s Kidding starring Jim Carrey. The show was executive produced by Michel Gondry. The series received positive reviews.

In 2020, he played Judge Julius Hoffman in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. The film follows the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. It was released in September, by Netflix.

Langella was married to Ruth Weil from June 14, 1977 to their divorce in 1996. They have two children. He also lived with actress/comedian Whoopi Goldberg, whom he had met on the set of Eddie, from 1996 until they separated in March 2001.

Langella published a memoir in 2012 called Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them.[22] In a review in the New York Times Book Review, Ada Calhoun wrote that “Langella’s book celebrated sluttiness as a worthy—even noble—way of life. There was so much happy sexuality in this book that reading it was like being flirted with for a whole party by the hottest person in the room. It was no wonder Langella was invited everywhere.”

Year Title Role Theatre(s)
1963–1964 The Immoralist Michael Bouwerie Lane Theatre
1964 The Old Glory Don Benito Cereno Theater at St. Clement’s Church
1965 Good Day The Young Men Cherry Lane Theatre
1965–1966 The White Devil Flamineo Circle in the Square Theatre
1966–1967 Yerma Vivian Beaumont Theatre
1968–1969 A Cry of Players Will Vivian Beaumont Theatre
1975 Seascape Leslie Shubert Theatre
1976 The Prince of Homburg Prince Friedrich Arthur of Homburg Westside Theatre
1977–1978 Dracula Count Dracula Martin Beck Theatre
1982 Amadeus Antonio Salieri Broadhurst Theatre
1983 Passion Jim Longacre Theatre
1984 Design for Living Otto Circle in the Square Theatre
1984 After the Fall Quentin Playhouse 91
1985 Hurlyburly Eddie Ethel Barrymore Theatre
1987 Sherlock’s Last Case Sherlock Holmes Nederlander Theatre
1989 The Tempest Prospero Union Square Theatre
1994 Booth Junius York Theatre
1996 The Father (Strindberg) The Cavalry Captain Criterion Center Stage Right
1996–1997 Present Laughter Garry Essendine Walter Kerr Theatre
1997–1998 Cyrano De Bergerac Cyrano de Bergerac Also director
Laura Pels Theatre
2000 A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge Madison Square Garden
2002 Fortune’s Fool Flegont Alexandrovitch Tropatcho Music Box Theatre
2004 Match Tobi Plymouth Theatre
2006–2007 Frost/Nixon Richard Nixon Donmar Warehouse
Gielgud Theatre
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
2008 A Man for All Seasons Sir Thomas More American Airlines Theatre
2011 Man and Boy Gregor Antonescu American Airlines Theatre
2013–2014 King Lear Lear Chichester Festival Theatre
2016 The Father (Zeller) André Samuel J. Friedman Theatre


1970 Diary of a Mad Housewife, George Prager
The Twelve Chairs Ostap Bender
1971 The Deadly Trap Philippe
1972 The Wrath of God De La Plata
1979 Dracula Count Dracula
1980 Those Lips, Those Eyes Harry Crystal
1981 Sphinx Akmed Khazzan
1986 The Men’s Club Harold Canterbury
1987 Masters of the Universe Skeletor
1988 And God Created Woman James Tiernan
1991 True Identity Leland Carver
1992 1492: Conquest of Paradise Santangel
1993 Body of Evidence Jeffrey Roston
Dave White House Chief of Staff Bob Alexander
1994 Brainscan Detective Hayden
Junior Noah Banes
1995 Bad Company Vic Grimes
Cutthroat Island Dawg Brown
1996 Eddie Wild Bill Burgess
1997 Lolita Clare Quilty
1998 Small Soldiers Archer Voice
I’m Losing You Perry Needham Krohn
Alegría Guilietta’s father/Fleur
1999 The Ninth Gate Boris Balkan
2000 Stardom Blaine De Castillon
2001 Sweet November Edgar Price
2004 House of D Reverend Duncan
The Novice Father Tew
2005 Back in the Day Lt. Bill Hudson
How You Look to Me Professor Driskoll
Good Night, and Good Luck William S. Paley
2006 Superman Returns Perry White
2007 Starting Out in the Evening Leonard Schiller
2008 The Caller Jimmy Stevens
Frost/Nixon Richard Nixon
The Tale of Despereaux The Mayor Voice
2009 The Box Arlington Steward
2010 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Louis Zabel
All Good Things Sanford Marks
2011 Unknown Rodney Cole
2012 Robot & Frank Frank
The Time Being Warner Dax
2013 Parts per Billion Andy
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Beefeater Vicar Cameo
Noah Og Voice
Draft Day Anthony Molina
5 to 7 Sam
Grace of Monaco Father Francis Tucker
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet Pasha Voice
2015 The Driftless Area Tim Geer
2016 Captain Fantastic Jack Bertrang
Youth in Oregon Raymond Engersol
2020 The Trial of the Chicago 7 Julius Hoffman
Year Title Role Notes
1965 The Trials of O’Brien Michael Romani Episode: “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?”
1967 NBC Experiment in Television The Young Man Episode: “Good Day”
NET Playhouse Episode: “Benito Cereno”
1973 Marcus Welby, M.D. Carey Robins Episode: “Friends in High Places”
Mannix Harry Tass Episode: “Silent Target”
Love Story Jimmy Lewin Episode: “When the Girls Came Out to Play”
1974 The Mark of Zorro Don Diego de la Vega / Zorro Television film
1976 Swiss Family Robinson Jean Lafitte 2 episodes
1981 Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes Television recording of live stage production
1988 CBS Summer Playhouse Dr. Paradise Episode: “Dr. Paradise”
1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Minister Jaro Essa 3 episodes
1994 Doomsday Gun Gerald Bull Television film
1995 Moses Merneptah Television film
1996 The Greatest Pharaohs Narrator Voice
2000 Jason and the Argonauts King Aeëtes 2 episodes
Cry Baby Lane Mr. Bennett Television film
2001 The Beast Jackson Burns 6 episodes
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Al Baker Episode: “Dominance”
2005 Now You See It… Max Television film
Unscripted Goddard Fulton 10 episodes
2005–2006 Kitchen Confidential Pino 6 episodes
2006 10.5: Apocalypse Dr. Earl Hill 2 episodes
2013 Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight Warren Burger Television film
2015–2017 The Americans Gabriel 31 episodes
2016 All the Way Richard Russell Jr. Television film
2018 American Dad! Commodore Francis Stoat Voice
Episode: “Shell Game”
2018–2020 Kidding Sebastian Piccirillo 17 episodes
Video game
Year Title Role Notes
2017 Destiny 2 The Consul Voice
Awards and nominations
Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
2008 Academy Award Best Actor Frost/Nixon Nominated
1975 Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play Seascape Won
1978 Best Actor in a Play Dracula Nominated
2002 Best Featured Actor in a Play Fortune’s Fool Won
2004 Best Actor in a Play Match Nominated
2007 Frost/Nixon Won
2012 Man and Boy Nominated
2016 The Father Won
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Informational Programming I, Leonardo: A Journey of the Mind Nominated
1971 Golden Globe Award Most Promising Newcomer -Male Diary of a Mad Housewife Nominated
2008 Best Actor in a Drama Film Frost/Nixon Nominated
2008 British Academy Film Awards Best Leading Actor Nominated
2005 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Good Night, and Good Luck Nominated
2008 Best Actor in a Motion Picture Frost/Nixon Nominated
Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
2016 Captain Fantastic Nominated
2008 Independent Spirit Award Best Male Lead Starting Out in the Evening Nominated
2016 Drama Desk Award Actor in a Play The Father Won
1965 Obie Awards Distinguished Performance Good Day Won
1966 Distinguished Performance The White Devil Won