Canadian character actor Bruce Greenwood spent the 1970s working in regional Vancouver theater, and appeared in many Canadian TV shows during the '80s. His first American film was a walk-on role in Rambo: First Blood. In the U.S., he fared much better with television pilots, miniseries, and made-for-TV movies. His first big role was Dr. Seth Griffin on St. Elsewhere from 1986-1988. Other TV projects included The FBI Murders, The Servants of Twilight, and Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys. By the '90s, he had found a home for himself on television. Greenwood played Pierce Lawson in 1991 on the evening soap opera Knots Landing, earned a Gemini (the Canadian Emmy) nomination for The Little Kidnappers, and then took home an award for his role in Road to Avonlea. He also starred as Thomas Veil on the UPN dramatic series Nowhere Man and guest starred as Roger Bingham on the HBO comedy series The Larry Sanders Show. He did quite well on NBC, as well, appearing in many TV movies (including Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge) and starring in the sci-fi mystery show Sleepwalkers as Dr. Nathan Bradford.
Greenwood made the leap to the big screen with a fellow Canadian, Egyptian-born filmmaker Atom Egoyan. In Exotica, he played the troubled Francis, a tax collector obsessed with a stripper. The film was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival, and Greenwood re-teamed with the director for his next film, The Sweet Hereafter, which won a special jury prize at Cannes, while Greenwood was nominated for a Genie award for his supporting role of mourning father Billy Ansell. By contrast, he played bad guys in mainstream thrillers in the '90s, with starring roles in Disturbing Behavior, Hide and Seek, Double Jeopardy, and Rules of Engagement He may be most well known, however, for playing President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the political thriller Thirteen Days, for which he won a Golden Satellite Award. With this role under his belt, Greenwood moved into more dramatic territory with the A&E miniseries The Magnificent Ambersons as well as a dual role in Egoyan's Ararat. In 2003, he produced fellow Canadian Deepa Mehta's film The Republic of Love and appeared in the action comedy Hollywood Homicide and the sci-fi thriller The Core. He continued to work steadily in a variety of projects including I, Robot, Racing Stripes, Capote, Déjà vu, and had a small part in Todd Haynes' 2007 idiosyncratic Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There. That same year he played the president in the hit sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets. He had a brief but memorable turn as Captain James T. Kirk's father in J.J. Abrams Star Trek, and played a bad guy in the comedy Dinner for Schmucks. He had a major role in the arty western Meek's Cutoff, and reteamed with Abrams when he appeared in the Spielberg homage Super 8.