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John Diehl
American actor

John Diehl

John Diehl
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
Is Actor Television actor Film actor Film producer
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 1 May 1950, Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
Age 72 years
Star sign Taurus
Residence Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Spouse: Julie Christensen
St. Xavier High School (-1968)
The details (from wikipedia)


John Henry Diehl (born May 1, 1950) is an American character actor. Noted for his work in avant-garde theater, Diehl has performed in more than 140 films and television shows, including Land of Plenty, Stripes, Nixon, Jurassic Park III and the TV series Miami Vice, The Shield and Point Pleasant.

Diehl has "largely avoided the typecasting that is an accepted part of most character actors' careers." He has been a member of The Actors Studio since 2004.

Early life

Diehl was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1950. His father, John A. Diehl, was a civil engineer, and his mother, Mary, was a social worker. Raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic family, he was educated at parochial schools, and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1968.


In 1970, Diehl moved to New York, encouraged by his sister, who had just graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He spent 1971 squatting in Amsterdam and returned to New York in 1972. In 1976, he moved to Los Angeles. He had always been interested in drawing and making things, and intended to pursue a career in the visual arts there. Initially he supported himself in LA by moving furniture and objet d'art.

Although he had no previous experience as an actor, Diehl's interest turned to acting after he arrived in Los Angeles. He took a three-hour scene studies class in Hollywood twice a week, and in 1979 he was cast in Action, a one act play written by Sam Shepard. In 1980, he became an acting member of Murray Mednick's Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, an annual event which brought young playwrights from throughout the United States together to live and work with such playwrights as Mednick, Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, John O’Keefe, John Steppling, and Robert Glaudini. Diehl worked with all of the playwrights in residence over the course of his several years as an acting member of the festival.

Diehl's first significant film role was in the 1981 movie Stripes. In the 25th Anniversary DVD release of Stripes, Laroquette compared the improvisation of Candy and Diehl to the improvisation of Laurel and Hardy. In 1983, Diehl appeared in National Lampoon's Vacation, which Ramis directed.

In 1984, Diehl was cast as Detective Larry Zito in Miami Vice. Diehl found the role unfulfilling, and decided to leave. On January 9, 1987 — the 57th episode of Miami Vice — Zito's last appearance a two part episode, "Down for the Count", was aired and the character killed off.

Diehl moved into a basement apartment in Greenwich Village in New York, and despite a drastic reduction in his income, he declined television roles, and chose instead to continue working in film while pursuing a serious stage career. He subsequently appeared in The Hanoi Hilton (1987), a film about the experiences of American prisoners of war in Hanoi in the 1960s/70s, and Alex Cox's Walker (1987), which was shot in Nicaragua during the Contra War. In late 1988, Diehl relocated to Los Angeles after he was cast in Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind at the Mark Taper Forum.

He continued to work in theater in New York, however, and frequently returned to the stage there, most notably for a Shepherd play at the Public Theater with Shepard in residence at the Signature, and Mednick's Joe And Betty, which was produced twice on Theater Row in New York.

In 1997, Diehl reprised his role in Action at the Public Theater, and in 2005 he worked once again with Padua Playwrights, appearing in two plays in Mednick's Gary Trilogy. Among others, his theater credits include Life of Mine, (with Holly Hunter) at the Mark Taper Forum, Samuel Beckett's Endgame and Happy Days, one of three plays which Diehl directed.

He has appeared in more than 140 films, including Joysticks (1983), Angel (1984), City Limits (1984), Madhouse (1990), The Dark Side of the Moon (1990), Kickboxer 2 (1991), Mikey (1992), Mo' Money (1992), Gettsyburg (1993), The Client (1994), Stargate (1994), The New Age (1994), Mind Ripper (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Road to Nowhere (2010).

He played G. Gordon Liddy in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), the mercenary Cooper in Jurassic Park III (2001), and in recurring roles on The Shield, Friday Night Lights, The West Wing and The John Larroquette Show. In 2000, he appeared in Failsafe, which aired live on television. Between 2002 and 2004, he portrayed General Motors' Harley Earl in a series of 11 television commercials for Buick. The commercials were directed by Tony Scott, who had previously directed films including Top Gun and Crimson Tide.

In 2004, Wim Wenders cast Diehl as the male lead in Land of Plenty, a film about post 9/11 American life. Shot on digital video in 16 days, the film centered on Diehl's character, Paul, a troubled Vietnam veteran, and his niece, played by Michelle Williams. In a The New York Times review of the film, A.O. Scott wrote "Mr. Diehl gives a wry, cunning performance, allowing glimmers of Paul's intelligence and decency to shine through even in his moments of high self-delusion."

A member of the Actors Studio since 2004, Diehl won the Los Angeles Times Warren Award in 2012, and in 2014 won the Southampton Film Festival's Lead Actor Award for his role in the short film Kahea.

Personal life

Diehl and singer Julie Christensen were married in 1992. They live in Nashville, Tennessee, and have one son, Magnus Jackson Diehl.

He boxed as a middleweight in two professional matches (one win and one loss), and participated in several exhibition shows for charity.



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Falling in Love Again Beaver (1940s)
1981 Escape from New York Punk
1981 Stripes 'Cruiser'
1983 Joysticks Arnie
1983 Hysterical Taxi Driver
1983 National Lampoon's Vacation Asstiant Mechanic
1983 D.C. Cab Head Kidnapper
1984 Angel The Killer
1984 City Limits 'Whitey'
1987 The Hanoi Hilton Murphy
1987 Walker Strebbins
1990 Madhouse Fred
1990 Cool Blue Clayton Direct-to-video
1990 The Dark Side of the Moon Philip Jennings
1991 Kickboxer 2: The Road Back Jack
1991 Whore Derelict
1991 A Climate for Killing Wayne Paris
1991 Motorama Phil
1991 Trumpet #7 Bud
1992 Mikey Neil Trenton
1992 The Paint Job Father
1992 Mo' Money Keith Heading
1993 Falling Down Dad, Back Yard Party
1993 Remote Delbert McCoy Direct-to-video
1993 Gettysburg Private Bucklin
1994 Almost Dead Eddie Herbek
1994 The Client Jack Nance
1994 The New Age Lyle
1994 Stargate Lieutenant Kawalsky
1995 Mind Ripper Alex
1995 Three Wishes Leland's Father
1995 Nixon Gordon Liddy
1996 Female Perversions Jake Rock
1996 The Grave J.C. Cole
1996 The Destiny of Marty Fine Deke
1996 Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day Pinchot
1996 A Time to Kill Tim Nunley
1996 Foxfire Mr. Buttinger
1997 Casualties Polito
1997 Managua
1997 The End of Violence Lowell Lewis
1997 Con Air Public Defender Uncredited
1997 Fire Down Below EPA Agent Frank Elkins
1997 Most Wanted LAPD SWAT Captain
1998 Monument Ave. Digger
1998 The Hi-Lo Country Les Birk
1998 Davis Is Dead The Killer
1999 Anywhere But Here Jimmy
1999 Swap Meet
2000 Tully Mal 'Mac' MacAvoy
2000 Lost Souls Henry Birdson
2001 The Zeros Burl
2001 Pearl Harbor Senior Doctor
2001 Jurassic Park III Cooper
2001 Falling Like This Eddie Gallagher Also co-producer
2003 Bookies Vincent
2003 Out of Our Hands Vic Short film
2003 Just Another Story Al
2004 Pass for Human Ex-Husband
2004 Land of Plenty Paul
2005 Down in the Valley Steve
2006 The House Is Burning Mr. Garson
2006 The Far Side of Jericho 'Cash' Thornton
2006 Running Out of Time in Hollywood
2008 The Lucky Ones Tom Klinger
2008 Natural Disasters John
2009 Follow the Prophet Ted
2009 Gary's Walk Gary
2009 Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas Sheriff Larabie
2009 My Happy Faces Dr. M. Short film
2010 Road to Nowhere Bobby Billings
2011 Natural Selection Abe
2012 Swerve Samm Direct-to-video
2012 The Obama Effect Steve Warren
2012 Gabe the Cupid Dog Roger
2012 Apartment 1303 3D Detective
2012 Stillframe Father Short film
2013 Singularity Principle Jack Brenner
2014 A Long Way Off Mr. Abraham
2014 Kahea Jake Baldwin Short film
2014 Sal and the Goon William Truth Short film
2014 Strong Collected Spirit Marty Stock
2015 Forever Neil
2016 The North Star Master Anderson
2019 Out of the Wild Henry McBride


Year Title Role Notes
1980 A Rumor of War D.T. Television miniseries
1980 A Cry for Love Television film
1981 Hill Street Blues Tom Episode: "Chipped Beef"
1982 The Ambush Murders Ferguson Television film
1983 Cagney & Lacey Episode: "The Grandest Jewel Thief of Them All"
1983 The Family Tree The intruder Episode: "The Burglary"
1984 Hunter Bank robber Episode: "Hunter"
1984–1987 Miami Vice Det. Larry Zito 56 episodes
1988 Glitz Teddy Magyk Television film
1988 Monsters Miles Magnus Episode: "Pillow Talk"
1989 Beauty and the Beast Vernon Toulane Episode: "The Hollow Men"
1989 Falcon Crest Gus Wallach Episode: "The Price of Freedom"
1990 In the Heat of the Night John Sevrance Episode: "Triangle"
1992 Mann & Machine Concierge Episode: "Prototype"
1993 South of Sunset Merlin 2 episodes
1994 L.A. Law Tim / Kevin Delahanty 2 episodes
1994–1996 The John Larroquette Show Chris 5 episodes
1995 The Marshall Earl "The Beast" Lipscomb Episode: "The Bounty Hunter"
1995 Buffalo Girls General Custer Television miniseries
1995 Amanda and the Alien Colonel Rosencrans Television film
1996 The Lazarus Man Nat Pratchett 2 episodes
1996 Ruby Jean and Joe Harris Johnson Television film
1996 Profiler Toby "The Wick" Wood Episode: "Ring of Fire"
1996 ER Johnson's son Episode: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
1997 Nash Bridges Albert Foss Episode: "The Counterfeiters"
1997 The Outer Limits Joe Episode: "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson"
1998 The Pretender Sheriff Delmont Episode: "Red Rock Jarod"
1998 The Rat Pack Joe DiMaggio Television film
1999 Purgatory Badger Television film
1999 The X-Files Wilson Pinker Rawls Episode: "Trevor"
1999 JAG Jack Raglan Television film
2000 18 Wheels of Justice Matt Curran Episode: "Mr. Invisible"
2000 Get Real Harris Forman Episode: "Tough Love"
2000 Fail Safe Col. Cascio Television film
2000–2002 The West Wing Claypool 2 episodes
2001 Dead Last Richard Stengler Episode: "To Serve, with Love"
2002 NYPD Blue Joe Brady Episode: "Gypsy Woe's Me"
2002 The Guardian Fortunato Episode: "Sacrifice"
2003 The Shield Ben Gilroy 8 episodes
2003 Dragnet Dr. Rupert Miles Episode: "Sticks and Stones"
2003 Without a Trace Doyle Episode: "Revelations"
2003 Karen Sisco Junior McLeod Episode: "Nostalgia"
2005 Strong Medicine Mr. Lawson Episode: "Gunshot Wedding"
2005–2006 Point Pleasant David Burke 7 episodes
2006 Hidden Places Frank Wyatt Television film
2006 Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise Jerry Snyder Television film
2007 Jericho Governor Trader Episode: "Black Jack"
2007 Cold Case Isaac Keller 2 episodes
2007 Women's Murder Club Paul Galvan Episode: "The Past Comes Back to Haunt You"
2009 Mental Hank Crowley Episode: "Rainy Days"
2009 Friday Night Lights Richard Sherman 2 episodes
2010 Lie to Me Charlie Everett Episode: "Veronica"
2011 Trichotomy The Muse Video short
2011 Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe Adm. James G. Lawrence Television film
2011 Rizzoli & Isles Arthur Dunbar Episode: "My Own Worst Enemy"
2012 Scandal Ray Dwyer Episode: "The Other Woman"
2014 Almost Human Edward Kennex Episode: "Straw Man"
2019 Snowfall Colonel McDonald Episode: "Protect and Swerve"
2019 Castle Rock John Episode: "The Word"
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 18 Jan 2021. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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