Denis O'Hare

Active - 1998 - 2022  |   Born - Jan 17, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy Drama, Thriller, Comedy, Crime

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A Tony award-winning stage performer who has also made his mark on screens both big and small, Denis O'Hare has appeared in such popular television series as Law & Order, and such critically acclaimed features as The Anniversary Party and 21 Grams.

Initally known as a stage actor, the Kansas City native honed his craft at Northwestern University before jumping into the Chicago theater scene. Soon, O'Hare made the move to New York City to try his luck on Broadway. He proved a natural at musicals, and would quickly go on to earn accolades for performances in Assassins and Cabaret. He made minor headlines when he missed a performance of Sweet Charity: he and partner Hugo Redwood were inexplicably held by the TSA on terror charges while attempting to board a plane bound for New York (after attending his sister's wedding in Virginia). But O'Hare and co-star Christina Applegate both earned Drama Desk nominations for the play.

On the big screen, the actor made strides with appearances in such films as River Red and Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown. Though O'Hare did display an impressive onscreen charisma, his stage roots would continue to serve him well in roles opposite Campbell Scott in Hamlet, Carol Burnett in the made-for-TV Once Upon a Mattress, and in the New York theater-world melodrama Heights. O'Hare won points with the indie-hipster crowd in the twentysomething hit Garden State (as a philosophical man living in a landlocked houseboat), as well as in Ryan Fleck's Oscar-nominated drama Half Nelson. A role in director Michael Winterbottom's political drama A Mighty Heart followed in 2007.

He's appeared steadily in both critically lauded films and box office hits like Charlie Wilson's War, Michael Clayton, Milk, Baby Mama, and The Proposal. In 2011 he was cast as one of the main characters in the FX series American Horror Story.

An avid artist and activist in his spare time, O'Hare began crafting Cornell Boxes for friends after reading about the curious art pieces in a William Gibson novel, and devotes much of his energy toward promoting alternative energy sources and gay rights, protesting the Iraq War and the War on Terror, and helping to feed and clothe the homeless.

Movie Highlights

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  • After spending years acting on the Chicago stage, moved to New York when a play he was in, Hauptmann, transferred to off-Broadway. 
  • Made his Broadway debut in Racing Demon in 1995.
  • Originated the role of Mason Marzac in the play Take Me Out, opposite Daniel Sunjata. 
  • Has appeared on Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, playing different characters each time.
  • Joined the cast of True Blood during the third season as Russell Edgington, the vampire king of Mississippi.