Goran Visnjic

Active - 1995 - 2021  |   Born - Sep 9, 1972 in Sibenik, Yugoslavia  |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Perhaps Croatia's most recognizable actor, Goran Visnjic became known to an American audience in the late 1990s, thanks to his work in American films and television. The darkly handsome actor, whom Vogue dubbed "the Tom Cruise of Croatia," was born in Sibenik on September 9, 1972, to a bus driver and a food market worker.

Like just about all of his compatriots, Visnjic was indelibly affected by the Bosnian War. Although he decided at an early age that he wanted to be an actor and trained at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, his country's terrible conflict resulted in Visnjic's joining the Croatian army when he was 18. He trained as a paratrooper, ultimately extending his service by three months in order to better defend his country.

After Visnjic finished his time with the military, he returned to acting. He began gaining popularity in his country when, at the age of 21, he was cast as Hamlet in a production of the play at the prestigious Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The production earned wide acclaim, and Visnjic himself was the recipient of three national Best Actor awards, including an Orlando, the Croatian equivalent of a Tony.

In addition to his work on the stage (he went on to portray Hamlet six years in a row), Visnjic also began appearing in Croatian feature films, and he made his American screen debut in Michael Winterbottom's Welcome to Sarajevo (1997). In 1998, he earned greater international recognition with his role in Practical Magic; although the film itself was a disappointment, Visnjic managed to make a sizable impression on audience members in his role as Nicole Kidman's ne'er-do-well boyfriend. The following year, the actor landed a recurring role on the popular TV medical drama E.R.; his profile further ascended with his casting in a number of feature films, including Committed (2000), a road trip comedy starring Heather Graham and Luke Wilson.

Movie Highlights

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  • Made film debut at age 16 before serving in Croatian and Yugoslavian armies.
  • At 21 played the lead in Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and won three national Best Actor Awards and an Orlando (which is comparable to a Tony Award).
  • Appeared in commercials for Tuborg beer.
  • Had a breakthrough role as Risto Bavic in 1997's Welcome to Sarajevo.
  • Featured in Madonna’s 1998 video “The Power of Good-bye.”
  • Named People magazine's Sexiest Import in 1999 and one of TV's Sexiest Men by TV GUIDE in 2005.
  • Worked with PETA and Animal Friends Croatia on PETA's first anti-fur campaign in eastern Europe.