Born into Illinois aristocracy, Bruce Dern was expected to follow family tradition and become a lawyer. He was, however, inspired by the effect James Dean had on a theater audience. “I decided I wanted to be an artist as an actor, whatever it took,” Dern says. “I geared my whole life, lifestyle and all my energies to that end. For me, there were no alternatives.” He studied at Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in New York, and soon began winning roles on Broadway. 1960, he landed a movie role under Elia Kazan's direction in ‘Wild River.’
Dern made his way out to Hollywood, where he created over 100 television and movie character portraits. Knowing that he had what it took to be a leading man, Dern decided not to take any more featured performer roles. Although he didn't work for ten months, Dern's determination paid off. He was cast in Jack Nicholson's ‘Drive, He Said,’ and received the award for Best Supporting Actor from the National Film Critics Association.
He has since won numerous honors, including an Academy Award® nomination and a Golden Globe® nomination for ‘Coming Home,’ Genie Award nominations for his work in ‘Middle Age Crazy’ and ‘Harry Tracy, Desperado,’ and the Best Actor Award at the Berlin Film Festival for ‘That Championship Season.’
Dern's starring credits reveal uncommon versatility. He has performed leading roles in such films as ‘The Great Gatsby,’ ‘Family Plot,’ ‘Black Sunday,’ ‘Smile,’ ‘The Driver,’ ‘The King of Marvin Gardens,’ ‘They Shoot Horses, Don't They?’ ‘Tattoo,’ ‘Space’ and ‘Toughlove.’ More recently, he was seen in ‘Down Periscope,’ ‘Mulholland Falls,’ ‘Last Man Standing,’ ‘The Haunting,’ ‘All the Pretty Horses’ and ‘The Glass House.’
Dern received rave reviews for his performances in Showtime's ‘Mrs. Munck’ with Diane Ladd, and TNT's ‘Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight.’ He also costarred with Linda Hamilton in USA Network's ‘A Mother's Prayer’ and Burt Reynolds in TNT's ‘The Premonition.’
Bruce has recently starred in ‘The Astronaut Farmer,’ opposite Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, ‘Believe in Me,’ ‘Down in the Valley,’ opposite Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood, ‘The Hard Easy’ and ‘Walker.’ Other recent independent film credits include ‘Monster,’ ‘Masked and Anonymous,’ ‘Madison’ and ‘Milwaukee, Minnesota.’