Also Credited As:Timothy Francis Robbins
|Actor, Director, Producer, Writer, Music|
|Timothy Francis Robbins on October 16, 1958 in West Covina, California, USA|
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The son of a folk-singing father and an actress mother, Robbins was born Oct. 16, 1958, and raised in New York City's Greenwich Village. He hit the stage at age 12, when he began performing with the Theater for the New City, an avant-garde company that performed on city streets. He was also active in the drama department at Stuyvesant High School, and after a few years at the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, went on to graduate with honors from UCLA Film School in 1981. Shortly afterwards, Robbins co-founded The Actors' Gang and began co-writing (with Adam Simon) original pieces for the theater group. Meanwhile, he began his professional screen career, co-starring opposite Helen Hunt in the TV movie "Quarterback Princess" (CBS, 1983), and following with his feature debut in "No Small Affair" (1984). Audiences began to notice the tall, dimpled player when he delivered a memorable turn as the show tune-singing driver in Rob Reiner's "The Sure Thing" (1985) alongside fellow Actor's Gang member John Cusack, as well as his supporting role of fighter pilot Merlin on the periphery of the blockbuster, "Top Gun" (1986).
His first leading role in the notorious flop of all flops, "Howard the Duck" (1986), might not have boded well for Robbins' future, but the actor soldiered on to star with Jodie Foster and John Turturro in the unheralded, early-1960s civil rights drama, "Five Corners" (1987), scripted by esteemed scribe John Patrick Shanley. Robbins reunited with buddy Cusack as a reluctant video director in the cult comedy classic, "Tapeheads" (1988), before his career breakout with Ron Shelton's "Bull Durham" (1988). Longtime baseball fan Robbins won over critics and audiences alike as the goofy, garter-wearing minor league ball player, 'Nuke' LaLoosh, an innocent who is being coached towards the major leagues by veteran ball player, Kevin Costner, while simultaneously lured in by baseball groupie, Susan Sarandon. The low-budget film with low expectations knocked it out of the park to become one of the most loved sports films of all time, and jettisoned Robbins into the Hollywood spotlight (while simultaneously allowing him to show off his pitching prowess with a fastball clocked at 85 miles per hour).
When the cameras stopped rolling, Robbins and Sarandon maintained their romantic coupling, and over the next 20 years were one of the most stable and admired couples in the film world, known for their social activism and outspoken liberal politics. They also became, along with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, one of the two most famous and successful unmarried couples in Hollywood. If Robbins' high profile film success in "Durham" had created the misconception of him as a sort of male bimbo, he quickly dispelled that image - not only as the co-writer and performer in the off-Broadway satire of Christian fundamentalism, "Carnage," but in "Miss Firecracker" (1989) and Terry Jones' comedy "Eric the Viking" (1989). After stealing the show from the manic Robin Williams in "Cadillac Man" (1990), Robbins made a dramatic breakthrough with his role as a tormented Vietnam veteran in Adrian Lyne's "Jacob's Ladder" (1990), and then played the first in his "trilogy of assh*les" in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" (1991). With his baby face and easy manner, Robbins could make even a killer seem sympathetic, which he managed to do in Robert Altman's "The Player" (1992). Starring as insecure studio executive Griffin Mill, Robbins' deceptively wicked performance earned Best Actor awards at both Cannes and the Golden Globes.
The 1992 "mockumentary" "Bob Roberts" marked Robbins' feature directorial and screenwriting debut - a smart and biting effort in which he earned a Golden Globe nomination for starring as a right wing, folk-singing, profoundly crooked politician who spins a respectable, down-home image. Reuniting with Altman for "Short Cuts" (1993), a resetting of Raymond Carver short stories, Robbins provided much of the film's humor with his portrayal of an egocentric, wildly manipulative, and hilariously inappropriate Los Angeles cop. His third film with Altman, however, the fashion industry send-up "Ready to Wear (Prêt-a-Porter)" (1994), earned the director some of the most scathing reviews of his career. But other renowned directors were waiting in the wings to recruit Robbins, and in 1994, he scored again when he harnessed his ability for hapless charm to portray an idealistic bumpkin who unwittingly becomes a corporate stooge in The Coen brothers' "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994). While his early career was characterized by mainly independent film, Robbins crossed over into mainstream Hollywood in the mid-1990s with mixed results. He paired as the romantic lead opposite Meg Ryan in "IQ" (1994), but fared better in Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), where he gave an exquisitely modulated performance as a mild-mannered, unjustly imprisoned banker, befriended by a seasoned lifer (Morgan Freeman). His efforts significantly elevated the well-crafted but somewhat predictable jailhouse drama adapted from a novella by Stephen King.
Robbins' own production company rolled out another prison-set offering the following year, the death penalty saga "Dead Man Walking" (1995). The sophomore director cast Sarandon in the lead as a nun and spiritual counselor to a death row murderer (Sean Penn) in this even-handed examination of capital punishment. For his efforts, he garnered a Best Director Academy Award nomination, while his partner Sarandon took home an Oscar and Penn an Oscar nomination. Robbins subsequently adapted a stage play of the film, offering exclusive performance rights to educational institutions committed to exploring the death penalty in their curriculum, resulting in productions of the play being staged around the world. Following a puzzling decision to star opposite Martin Lawrence in the broad crime comedy, "Nothing to Lose" (1997), Robbins took an 18-month hiatus to concentrate on fatherhood and returned to the screen in 1999 in "Arlington Road," Mark Pellington's thriller echoing the Oklahoma City bombing and raising hard questions about domestic terrorism. For his third directorial effort, "Cradle Will Rock" (1999), Robbins used the 1936 leftist play "The Cradle Will Rock" as a starting point, and in his "play-within-movie," explored the tumultuous political and social issues of the time; from the labor movement to the intellectual trend towards socialist ideals. A rare Hollywood-backed venture, the ambitious picture was a testament to Robbins' creative vision, earning the filmmaker a Palm D'Or nomination at the Cannes Film Festival and a National Board of Review Award for Special Achievement in Filmmaking.
After the artistic (though not commercial) triumph of "Cradle," Robbins eased into a succession of character roles in mid-level Hollywood movies, playing an astronaut in Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars" (2000), and a broadly drawn hippie in "High Fidelity" (2000), which pitted him against record storeowner and longtime friend John Cusack for the affections of lawyer Iben Hjejle. The outspoken liberal actor campaigned on behalf of Ralph Nader that year before going on to dig his teeth into the role of a Bill Gates-esque software manufacturer in the thriller "Antitrust" (2001), and a scientist who discovers a feral man in the off-kilter Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, "Human Nature" (2002). After a four-year absence, he reassumed the reigns at the Actors' Gang, returning as artistic director in 2001 and spearheading an ambitious schedule that included productions of "Mephisto," "The Guys," and a revival of "Alagazam," which he co-wrote with Adam Simon. When he returned to the big screen it was in a mainstream project - Jonathan Demme's "The Truth About Charlie" (2002). In this remake of the 1963 film "Charade," Robbins supported in the calculating role of the duplicitous Mr. Bartholomew, in which he freely and gleefully borrowed from Walter Matthau's original characterization.
Robbins followed up with one of the most compelling and lauded performances of his career in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" (2003). Rounding out a heavy-hitting cast of thespians including Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Laura Linney, Robbins earned Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Best Supporting Actor for playing a man forced to confront demons from his childhood when he is implicated in a local murder. A career highlight for Robbins and one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, the actor followed up with a lighthearted cameo in the Will Ferrell comedy "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy" (2004), where he sent up his liberal image by appearing as a public TV anchor. He returned to blockbuster drama territory in 2005, giving a compelling performance as a shell-shocked survivalist who provides shelter to a desperate dad (Tom Cruise) and his daughter (Dakota Fanning) during an alien invasion in Steven Spielberg's remake of "War of the Worlds" (2005). Over the subsequent few years, Robbins focused his attention on smaller, international film projects, starring as a burn victim who forms an unusual relationship with his caregiver (Sarah Polley) in "The Secret Life of Words" (2005), and delving into the dangerous politics of apartheid-era South Africa in "Catch a Fire" (2006), directed by Philip Noyce.
Robbins was more visible on the presidential campaign trail of John Edwards than for his starring role in "The Lucky Ones" (2008), about a road trip taken by three military service members. He remained low profile until news of his shocking split from Sarandon surfaced in December 2009, though the couple's statement revealed they had been apart since the summer. After 20 years together, two children, and a shared passion for politics and human rights around the world, their unexpected breakup in the summer raised more than its share of eyebrows. Meanwhile, Robbins returned to the fore on the small screen in "Cinema Verite" (HBO, 2011), playing the patriarch of the Loud family, which was depicted in the famed documentary series "An American Family" (PBS, 1973). That summer, he was the disapproving father of arch-villain Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) in the blockbuster comic book adaptation of "The Green Lantern" (2011), starring Ryan Reynolds as the titular superhero.