An atypical actor who easily adapted himself in a variety of film and television projects, Peter Sarsgaard built a career disappearing into challenging and sometimes outright difficult roles most othe...
Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, USA
|The Center of the World||2001||Actor||Richard Longman||20017|
|Conan||2014 2009 - 2014||Actor||Guest||20147|
|Shattered Glass||2003||Actor||Charles "Chuck" Lane||20037|
|The Mysteries of Pittsburgh||2009||Actor||Cleveland Arning||20097|
|Year of the Dog||2007||Actor||Newt||20077|
|Knight and Day||2010||Actor||Fitzgerald||20107|
|Boys Don't Cry||1999||Actor||John Lotter||19997|
|Green Lantern||2011||Actor||Hector Hammond||20117|
|Elegy||2008||Actor||Dr. Kenny Kepesh||20087|
|Freak City||Actor||Cal Jackson||7|
|The Skeleton Key||2005||Actor||Luke||20057|
|In the Electric Mist||2013||Actor||Elrod T Sykes||20137|
|Robot & Frank||2012||Voice||Robot||20126|
|Unconditional Love (New Line)||2002 2001 - 2002||Actor||Window Washer||20027|
|The Salton Sea||2002||Actor||Jimmy the Finn||20027|
|Very Good Girls||2014||Actor||n/a||20147|
|Another Day in Paradise||1998||Actor||Ty||19987|
|The Man in the Iron Mask||1998||Actor||Raoul--Son of Athos||19987|
|Indie Sex: Extremes||Actor||Interviewee||7|
|Indie Sex: Teens||Actor||Interviewee||7|
|Indie Sex: Censored||Actor||Interviewee||7|
|The 2007 Film Independent's Spirit Awards||2006 2005 - 2006||Actor||Presenter||20067|
|Death of a Dynasty||2005||Actor||Brendon III||20057|
|Dead Man Walking||1995||Actor||Walter Delacroix||19957|
|Indie Sex: Censored||Actor||n/a||7|
|The 10th Annual Critics' Choice Awards||2004 2003 - 2004||Actor||n/a||20047|
|K-19: The Widowmaker||2002||Actor||Vadim||20027|
|Subway Stories: Tales From the Underground||1996 1995 - 1996||Actor||("Underground")||19967|
|The 82nd Annual Academy Awards||2009 2008 - 2009||Actor||Presenter||20097|
|Portrayed a bisexual screenwriter in "The Dying Gaul"|
|Portrayed a marine in Sam Mendes' "Jarhead" based on former Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling novel|
|Lent his voice to "Robot & Frank"|
|Played the lead in Wayne Wang's erotic thriller, "Center of the World"|
|Played the sarcastic best friend to Zach Braff's character in Braff's directorial debut "Garden State"|
|Cast in Larry Clark's "Another Day in Paradise"|
|Appeared in the Drama Department's off-Broadway production of "Kingdom of Earth"|
|Cast as a meth addict in "The Salton Sea"|
|Earned critical recognition for his breakthrough role as real-life killer John Lotter in "Boys Don't Cry"|
|Featured in the "Underground" segment of HBO's anthology special "Subway Stories"|
|First professional stage role in the off-Broadway Horton Foote play, "Laura Dennis"|
|Co-starred with fiance Maggie Gyllenhaal in the Off-Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya"|
|Guest-starred on "The Killing"|
|Played the local attorney, opposite Kate Hudson in the thriller "Skeleton Key"|
|Made Broadway debut in an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" alongside Kristin Scott Thomas at the Royal Court Theatre|
|Co-starred with Elisabeth Shue in an off-Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson's "Burn This"|
|Made TV debut in an episode of NBC's "Law & Order"|
|Feature film debut in Tim Robbins' film "Dead Man Walking" playing one of the young murder victims|
|Played an institutionalized quadriplegic in the Showtime drama "Freak City"|
|Portrayed John Malkovich's son and Leonardo DiCaprio's rival in "The Man in the Iron Mask"|
|Featured in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine"|
|Appeared in the film version of Michael Chabon's novel, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh"|
|Cast as researcher Clyde Martin in "Kinsey" opposite Liam Neeson as Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research; received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Male|
|Co-starred with Reese Witherspoon in "Rendition"|
|Starred as David in Lone Scherfig's coming of age film "An Education"|
|Played an asexual activist opposite Molly Shannon in "Year of the Dog"|
|Offered a critically acclaimed performance as Hayden Christensen's editor in "Shattered Glass"; earned an Independent Spirit Award and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor|
|Cast as villain Hector Hammond in the superhero film, "Green Lantern"|
|Played a supporting role opposite Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in the action/comedy "Knight and Day"|
Born on March 7, 1971 on Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, IL, Sarsgaard was raised an only child in a Catholic family that moved around the country numerous times, due to his father's work as an Air Force engineer. When he was young, Sarsgaard aspired to be a soccer player and took ballet after learning football players took dance to improve their game. When he attended Fairfield College Preparatory School in Connecticut, Sarsgaard was exposed to the film world courtesy of the Jesuit priests who exposed students to foreign cinema like the Italian neorealists of the 1950s. Meanwhile, too many concussions playing soccer forced him to pursue other interests, which he found in writing and later, the theater. After Fairfield Prep, he attended Bard College for two years before transferring to Washington University, where he began performing on stage and formed the comedy improv group, "Mama's Pot Roast." He later moved to New Haven, where his then-girlfriend, Malerie Marder, studied photography. He became a frequent subject of her work, including a bizarre nude pictorial of him and Marder's mother.
Sarsgaard soon made his big screen debut with a small role as one of the murder victims of death row inmate Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) in director Tim Robbins' gripping prison drama, "Dead Man Walking" (1995). After moving to Los Angeles with Marder, only to break up with her and head back to New York, Sarsgaard appeared off-Broadway in "Kingdom of Earth" (1996) and was featured in a segment of the anthology series "Subway Stories: Tales From the Underground" (HBO, 1997). Following episodes of "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990- ), he had a small, but pivotal role in "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1998), playing the doomed Raoul, son of Athos (John Malkovich) and suitor of Christine (Judith Godreche) whose death on the frontlines of war waged by King Louis XIV (Leonardo DiCaprio) leads to a mutiny led by three of the four Musketeers. Sarsgaard landed more small roles in gritty independents like "Another Day in Paradise" (1998) and "Desert Blue" (1998), with the charismatic actor turning in strong performances with little screen time.
With previous film work including turns as innocent victim and noble hero, Sarsgaard switched gears and essayed a disturbing supporting turn in Kimberly Peirce's powerful "Boys Don't Cry" (1999). This acclaimed and moving feature was based on the 1993 murder of Teena Brandon (Hilary Swank), a young woman living as a man in Falls City, NE. Sarsgaard's talents were showcased in the film by his appropriately intense and unnerving portrayal of John Lotter, the unstable friend convicted of raping and murdering Brandon after her identity as a biological female is exposed. He impressed both critics and audiences in the harrowing role, conveying both Lotter's winning charm as well as the underlying violence, which were evidenced by the character's erratic outbursts and the alarming brutality of his attack on Brandon. Taking a career step up, at least in terms of visibility, Sarsgaard co-starred opposite Jennifer Lopez and Vince Vaughn in the thriller "The Cell" (1999), and alongside Rupert Everett and Kathy Bates in "Unconditional Love" (1999), directed by P.J. Hogan.
Though he was making strides in his career, Sarsgaard was careful to avoid taking on roles that were less-than-challenging. Instead, he developed early on in his career a taste for starring in films most other actors would dismiss or seriously amend. He landed the leading role in Wayne Wang's erotic drama "The Center of the World" (2001), playing a successful dotcom entrepreneur whose technological immersion has left him devoid of human connection. But when he meets a stripper and rock drummer (Molly Parker), he embarks on a three-day trek to Las Vegas where the two explore the limits of their sensuality, despite her hard and fast rules of avoiding emotional involvement. He also had a noticeable turn as a meth addict in the kinetic indie crime drama "The Salton Sea" (2002), while supporting Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson as a cowardly nuclear reactor technician in the Soviet submarine thriller "K-19: The Widowmaker" (2002). Meanwhile, he co-starred in the urban crime drama "Empire" (2002), playing a slick stock market investor who draws drug dealer (John Leguizamo) into a world of trouble.
Sarsgaard had a major breakthrough with his performance in writer-director Billy Ray's compelling, but understated taken-from-the-headlines drama "Shattered Glass" (2003). In a well-measured story of journalistic ethics woven around the true case of wunderkind reporter Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), who fabricated several articles for major publications, Sarsgaard's nuanced performance as New Republic editor Chuck Lane served as the story's moral compass. The actor's realistic, uncompromising portrayal earned him considerable praise, as well as several critics' awards and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Meanwhile, he deftly played the eccentric high school buddy of an emotionally numbed young man (writer-director-star Zach Braff) who returns home upon learning his mother has just passed away in the charming, off-kilter indie dramedy "Garden State" (2004). Sarsgaard had a memorable supporting role in "Kinsey" (2004), playing the bisexual assistant of the famed sexologist, Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson). He attracted considerable media attention not only for his performance, but also because of several scenes where he and Neeson kissed. When asked if his scenes were difficult, he said that he would rather do something awkward than physically exhausting.
Atypically, the usually restrained Sarsgaard was borderline over-the-top in his next film, playing a Southern lawyer in the gothic thriller "The Skeleton Key" (2005), starring Kate Hudson. In an effort to attempt something different, he provided a welcome presence as a U.S. air marshal who attempts to alternately calm and humor a frantic mother (Jodie Foster) who believes she's lost her daughter on an airline in "Flightplan" (2005). In "Jarhead" (2005), director Sam Mendes' insightful adaptation of former U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling memoir of his service during the 1990 Gulf War in Iraq, Sarsgaard was pitch-perfect as Troy, scout to sniper Swoff (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a die-hard member of the Marine Corps who hopes to prove himself in combat. Offscreen, Sarsgaard became strong friends with Gyllenhaal prior to "Jarhead," thanks to his romantic relationship with the actor's sister, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. Meanwhile, he earned critical kudos for "The Dying Gaul" (2005), in which he was a novice screenwriter who writes a love story about his partner dying of AIDS-related complications. In 2006, Gyllenhaal gave birth to the couple's first child, Ramona.
After a supporting turn as an asexual animal rights activist in "Year of the Dog" (2007), Sarsgaard reunited with "Jarhead" co-star Jake Gyllenhaal for "Rendition" (2007), a political thriller that focused on the questionable CIA practice of transporting international terrorists to third world countries to be tortured and interrogated. He next co-starred in "Elegy" (2008), a psychological drama about a respected college professor who indulges himself in a relationship with a beautiful graduate student (Penélope Cruz). Sticking with independent cinema, Sarsgaard was finally seen in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" (2009), an indie drama in which he played a young man returning home for the first time after having been away at college. The film was shot three years prior to its release and was previously shown at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. In 2009, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Sarsgaard married in Italy. The same year, he appeared as the male lead in the successful "An Education" (2009). Playing a mysterious older man who bewitches an intelligent British teenager (Carey Mulligan) on the cusp of womanhood, Sarsgaard received good reviews and the film itself was showered with critical praise, strong box office and awards. His next film, the horror film "Orphan" (2009), was successful as well, but most certainly not equally beloved by critics. In the movie, Vera Farmiga and Sarsgaard adopt the mysterious Esther, who is hiding a shocking secret. The actor followed this up with the big-budget "Knight & Day" (2010), as a federal agent opposite stars Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
In 2011, Sarsgaard continued his Hollywood stint as Dr. Hector Hammond, a misguided scientist who clashes with Ryan Reynolds' title superhero in "Green Lantern," a comic-book adaptation that was heavily dismissed. Revisiting far subtler small-scale fare, he voiced an endearing automaton in the dramedy "Robot & Frank" (2012), starring Frank Langella. In a notable about-face, Sarsgaard then portrayed manipulative pornographer Chuck Traynor in the biopic "Lovelace" (2013), featuring Amanda Seyfried in the titular role. Continuing a busy year, he also appeared in Woody Allen's acclaimed dramedy "Blue Jasmine" and turned up in episodes of "The Killing" (AMC, 2011- ) as imprisoned murderer Ray Seward.
|Maggie Gyllenhaal||Wife||Began dating in 2002; Engaged in 2006; Married May 2, 2009 in Brindisi, Italy|
|Jacob Gyllenhaal||Brother-in-Law||Co-starred in "Jarhead" (2005)|
|Shalom Harlow||Companion||Briefly dated in 2000|
|Malerie Marder||Companion||Sarsgaard lived with his close friend from his days at Bard college; Marder featured him in some of her early work; No longer together|
|Ramona Sarsgaard||Daughter||Born Oct. 3, 2006; mother, Maggie Gyllenhaal|
|Gloria Sarsgaard||Daughter||Born April 19, 2012; mother, Maggie Gyllenhaal|
|Fairfield College Preparatory School|
|T. Schreiber Studio|
|"It can be such an understandable and commonly held default position of any actor to please an audience - to be liked. So how refreshing when an actor thinks, 'What is the best thing in service of the play as a whole?'" - Sarsgaard to the Associated Press, Sept. 30, 2008|
|On working on the Broadway stage in "The Seagull": "It's a decadent thing to me for some reason. I guess because it doesn't nourish my family directly as much as me going off and doing a movie," he says. "If a father's job is to go out and bring things home for his family - and grab as many things as he can grab - then that's not particularly the way to do it." - Sarsgaard to the Associated Press, Sept. 30, 2008|
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