Occupation: Actor, Producer
Date of Birth: December 17, 1954
Place of Birth: Hornell, NY, USA
Sign: Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Virgo
Relations: Wife: Tamara Hurwitz; kids: Maesa, Jack, Louis
Education: State University of New York (BA, theatre arts); University of Massachusetts (MFA, directing)
NICE GUYS DO finish first, and Bill Pullman is a perfect example. The only problem is, when you're talking about actors, nice guys with bland faces tend to be cast as nice-but-boring guys who never get the girl. Such was Pullman's fate for much of his early and middle career (The Accidental Tourist, Sleepless in Seattle, Singles, Sommersby).
The youngest of seven children, Pullman was born and raised in Hornell, New York. As a very shy child, he spent his formative years never fitting in and rarely dating. After graduation from high school, he headed to a technical school, where he studied construction. At the school, Pullman became acquainted with a drama teacher who cast the unlikely young man in a play. The rest is (sort of) history: Pullman fell in love with theatre, quit technical school and entered an undergraduate program at the State University of New York in Oneonta. With a B.A. behind him, Pullman headed to the University of Massachusetts to get his MFA in directing, then accepted a position as a drama teacher at Montana State University in 1978.
Within a year, Pullman had been promoted to department head. By 1980, he was itching to get back on the stage, so he moved to New York. After five years of the struggling actor thing, his break came when he landed a role in Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class, alongside Kathy Bates. Pullman moved to Hollywood, armed with superlative reviews of his work, and landed a gig at the brand-new Los Angeles Theatre Center. The following year, he made it into film as "the dumbest crook in the world," in Ruthless People.
For nearly ten years, Pullman paid his rent by portraying really nice, really bland guys whose really gorgeous wives/fiancees/girlfriends found Other Men (see above). Finally, in 1995, he landed his first romantic lead – albeit as a man who spends 80% of the film comatose – in While You Were Sleeping. Casting directors suddenly took notice. He still wasn't a typical leading man: in Mr. Wrong, his character essentially stalked Ellen DeGeneres, and it was only Pullman's blandness that kept the film from being outright offensive. His next big break came with the mega-hit Independence Day. Suddenly, people were no longer confusing Bill Pullman with Bill Paxton (or Jeff Daniels, for that matter).
Recently, Pullman has moved more towards the quirky, ranging from David Lynch's Lost Highway to Wim Wenders' offbeat The End of Violence. Although his scenes were cut from The Thin Red Line, limiting his visible screen time in 1998, Pullman has no fewer than five films scheduled for release in 1999, including the thriller Lake Placid and the frightening-in-a-different-way Brokedown Palace with Claire Danes. The year 2000 will see him voicing over a truly bizarre film, Titan A.E. (stands for "After Earth").
Like a normal nice guy, Pullman lives with his wife and three children in a California home he built himself. Guess technical school didn't go to waste, after all.
2000 Titan AE
1999 History Is Made at Night
1999 Brokedown Palace
1999 Lake Placid
1999 The Guilty
1999 A Man is Mostly Water
1998 Zero Effect
1998 The Thin Red Line
1997 Lost Highway
1997 The End of Violence
1996 Independence Day
1996 Mr. Wrong
1995 While You Were Sleeping
1994 Wyatt Earp
1994 The Favor
1993 Sleepless in Seattle
1993 Mr. Jones
1992 A League of Their Own
1992 Nervous Ticks
1991 Bright Angel
1990 Brain Dead
1990 Going Under
1990 Sibling Rivalry
1989 Cold Feet
1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow
1988 The Accidental Tourist
1988 Rocket Gibraltar
1986 Ruthless People
1997 Merry Christmas, George Bailey
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)