Brad Dourif

Active - 1975 - 2021  |   Born - Mar 18, 1950 in Huntington, West Virginia, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Thriller

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Biography by AllMovie

Brad Dourif is a quirky character actor whose gallery of killers, sociopaths, and other lost souls brought to life any number of contemporary horror and science fiction projects. Born March 18, 1950, in Huntington, WV, he began his professional acting career after graduating from college, honing his skills during a three-year apprenticeship with New York's Circle Repertory under the celebrated drama coach Sanford Meisner. While appearing off-Broadway in a production of When You Comin' Back, Red Rider?, Dourif was spotted by director Milos Forman, who immediately cast him in his 1975 film adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Dourif's turn as a suicidal teen asylum inmate was one of the most acclaimed film debuts in memory, earning a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe as well as an Oscar nomination. However, the performance also typecast him as a talent best suited to idiosyncratic, off-center character roles, a straitjacket he remained unable to break from for the duration of his career. He then did not reappear onscreen for another two years before co-starring in the 1977 West German production Gruppenbild mit Dame.

Dourif's next major performance came in the 1978 Irvin Kershner thriller The Eyes of Laura Mars, followed by a superb starring turn as a damaged war veteran in John Huston's Wise Blood. Upon completing a supporting role in the 1980 television film Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones, Dourif next surfaced in Michael Cimino's legendary flop Heaven's Gate, the first in a string of big-budget disasters to which the actor was attached including Forman's Ragtime and David Lynch's Dune. A series of low-budget projects followed before Dourif reunited with Lynch for a small role in the director's 1986 masterpiece Blue Velvet. However, no other offers of a similar caliber were immediately forthcoming, and instead he found himself providing the voice of the evil doll Chuckie in the Child's Play series of slasher movies. In the years which followed, Dourif occasionally reappeared in more substantial projects (including the 1988 Alan Parker film Mississippi Burning, the 1990 Ken Loach picture Hidden Agenda, and Hanif Kureishi's 1991 directorial debut London Kills Me), but he remained primarily confined to low-budget genre work; additionally, he often guest starred on television, appearing in series including The X-Files, Millennium, and Star Trek: Voyager. In 2001, Dourif took a break from low-budget fright flicks to appear in a decidedly more enormous production, director Peter Jackson's eagerly anticipated Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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  • Was inspired to pursue an acting career by his mother, herself a local community theater actor.
  • Began his amateur acting career in school and community theater, before dropping out of college and moving to New York City where he joined the fledgling Circle Repertory Company.
  • Breakout role came in the 1975 Milos Forman film adaptation of Ken Kesey's famous novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, costarring Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd.
  • Nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, and won both the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year for his portrayal of the shy, stuttering mental patient Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
  • Taught acting and directing classes for several years at Columbia University in New York.