Timothy Busfield

Active - 1981 - 2020  |   Born - Jun 12, 1957 in Lansing, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Thriller, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Red-haired, occasionally bearded American actor Timothy Busfield was a stage professional virtually from the moment he left East Tennessee State University. His earliest regular TV work was on the short-lived 1983 sitcom Reggie, playing the layabout aspiring-actor son of Richard Mulligan. One year later, Busfield was cast as Pernell Roberts' intern son on Trapper John, MD. He also appeared as Poindexter in Revenge of the Nerds and its sequel. In 1987, Busfield was fortuitously cast on the "yuppie" TV weekly thirtysomething, playing Elliot Weston, the business partner and best friend of series lead Michael Steadman (Ken Olin). From this point onward, Busfield was able to secure choice film supporting roles, generally as a stuffy, snotty "upwardly mobile" type. In addition to being honored with Emmy nominations from 1988-1990 for his work on thirtysomething, Busfield won a Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Emmy in 1991. His most likeable screen portrayal was as Kevin Costner's uptight, money-conscious, and essentially decent brother-in-law in the 1989 blockbuster Field of Dreams.

Busfield forged a career behind the scenes as well, starting with directing episodes of thirtysomething while he was acting on that show. Among the series for which he has directed episodes are Sports Night, Ed, Las Vegas, and Joan of Arcadia. He also took on co-executive producing with the shows Ed and Without a Trace. Busfield still acted regularly throughout the '90s and into the new millenium in both film and television, but his more major roles tended to be on the small screen. He starred in the family drama Byrds of Paradise and the sitcom Champs, also making guest-starring appearances on numerous shows, including Ed and Without a Trace. But Busfield's most memorable and notable TV role of this period was that of White House reporter Danny Concannon on the critically acclaimed series The West Wing. Busfield played the character off-and-on through the whole series, appearing in the second-to-last episode, wooing Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg. Busfield worked on Aaron Sorkin's follow-up series, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, playing director Cal Shanley on the show, and also helmed six episodes. Studio 60 was canceled after only one season, and since then, Busfield has alternated between guest spots and directing gigs.

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  • Played semipro baseball.
  • Made his movie debut in 1981's Stripes.
  • Grew a beard to look older (he was 29 at the time) when he auditioned as Elliot in thirtysomething.
  • Made his Broadway debut in Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men in 1990. Later worked with Sorkin on Sports Night (as a director), The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
  • Played himself on several 2009 episodes of Entourage.
  • West Wing castmate Joshua Malina was previously his brother-in-law.