Frank Langella

Active - 1970 - 2020  |   Born - Jan 1, 1940 in Bayonne, New Jersey, United States  |   Genres - Drama, History, Comedy, Thriller, Adventure

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Biography by Rovi

An imposing and highly memorable presence on the Broadway stage, actor Frank Langella has won only a fraction of the acclaim he's received in the theater for his film career; still, his brooding good looks and his ability to play both villains and comic foils with a touch of menace has made him a welcome (and increasingly familiar) fare to film buffs. Frank Langella was born in Bayonne, NJ, on New Year's Day, 1940. Langella caught the acting bug when he was 11, after playing an elderly man in a school play on the life of Abraham Lincoln, and he went on to earn a degree in Theater from Syracuse University. After studying acting with Elia Kazan, Langella began working with regional theater companies in the East Coast and the Midwest, and in 1963, made his New York stage debut when he landed the leading role in an off-Broadway revival of The Immoralist. Between 1964 and 1966, Langella would win three Obie awards for his work in off-Broadway theater, and in 1969, he received a Drama Desk award for his work in the drama A Cry of Players. In 1974, he made his Broadway debut in Edward Albee's Seascape, and, the following year, won another Drama Desk award as well as a Tony for his performance.

Langella made his film debut in 1970 with a supporting role in Diary of a Mad Housewife, and later that same year, scored a larger part in The Twelve Chairs, written and directed by Mel Brooks. While Langella landed occasional television and film roles through much of the 1970s, he was still busiest as a stage actor. In 1977, Langella was cast in the leading role of a Broadway revival of Dracula, and his con brio performance as the bloodthirsty count earned rave reviews, turning the production into an unexpected hit. Langella was tapped to reprise his performance for a film version of Dracula released in 1979, but he was forced to tone down his unique take on the role for the screen, and what would have seemingly been the perfect screen vehicle for his talents became a critical and box-office disappointment. However, Langella maintained a busy schedule of stage work, and in the 1990s, finally scored a breakthrough screen role in the comedy Dave as the deceitful political puppet master Bob Alexander. A busy schedule of character roles in such films as Junior, Lolita, and The Ninth Gate followed, though Langella still remained a frequent and distinguished presence in the New York theatrical community. He worked steadily at the beginning of the twenty-first century in films as diverse as the romantic drama Sweet November, and David Duchovny's directorial debut House of D. He scored an artistic and critical success in 2005 playing William Paley in George Clooney's historical docudrama about Edward R. Murrow Good Night, and Good Luck. He was then tapped by Bryan Singer to embody Daily Planet editor Perry White in the 2006 summer blockbuster Superman Returns.

In 2007, Langella earned strong reviews and some awards buzz for his starring role in Starting Out in the Evening, but it was actually the next year, 2008 when he captured a Best Actor Academy Award nomination, a well as a SAG nomination, for his portrayal of disgraced former president Richard Nixon in Ron Howard's big-screen adaptation of Frost/Nixon. Over the next several years, Langella would appear in many more films, includign The Box, All Good Things, Unknown, and Robot and Frank.

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  • Lost his New Jersey accent as a teenager by repeatedly listening to recordings of John Gielgud.
  • Prior to finding work as an actor, sang folk songs in coffee shops.
  • Won a 1975 Tony Award for his Broadway debut in Edward Albee's Seascape, in which he played a lizard.
  • Became known as a sex symbol for his lead role in Dracula, first on the Broadway stage and later in the 1979 feature film. 
  • Replaced Hugh Laurie as Daily Planet editor Perry White in 2006's Superman Returns.
  • Notably portrayed Richard Nixon in the play Frost/Nixon, first in 2006 in London's West End and then on Broadway, where his performance earned him a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actor.
  • Reprised his role of Richard Nixon in the 2008 film adaptation of Frost/Nixon, and earned his first Oscar nomination.