Richard Dale Jenkins was born in 1947, in DeKalb, Illinois, to Mary and Dale Jenkins. His father was a dentist and his mother a housewife. He attended DeKalb High School, and before he became an actor, worked as a truck driver. After earning a degree in Drama at Illinois University, he moved to Rhode Island.

These days he is one of those faces that you recognise but just cannot put a name to, and after years of working in theatre, television and films, is one of the most sought after character actors in Hollywood.

Early Years

Richard Jenkins worked for many years in regional theatre, and this included fifteen years at the Trinity Repertory Theatre in Rhode Island where he not only was an actor but also worked for a number of years as the artistic director for the theatre. He started to get film and television roles in the mid 1970s starting off his career with a PBS broadcast about Oscar Wilde and his imprisonment. The production was called Feasting with Panthers, and it was after this that Richard Jenkins and his wife and family relocated to Los Angeles. The idea behind the move was to get more experience at on-camera work in the film media, but after only ten months, he returned to Rhode Island where he started building a portfolio of more television and film work.

Rcihard JenkinsCredit: Accreditation

Although, at the time, there was sporadic work in films, including small parts in Hannah and Her Sisters and the Witches of Eastwick, he spent a great deal of his time in the early part of the 90s working in television movies. After almost ten years in mainly dramatic roles, Jenkins gained what was to be his first role that gave him wider recognition, with David O Russell’s Flirting with Disaster where he worked alongside Ben Stiller, Alan Alda and George Segal. Jenkins got some positive reviews for the comedy role that he played in the movie as a Drugs Enforcement Agency officer who always played by the rules. The fact that he is madly in love with his side-kick played by Josh Brolin, and an absolutely brilliant interpretation of having a "bad acid trip" showed what a natural the actor was for comedy. He gained many new admirers for his role as well as an Independent Spirit Nomination for 1997.  

Academy Award Nomination

After the success of Flirting with Disaster, comedy roles became abundant along with the occasional straight performances. One of the notable milestones in his career, surprisingly, was when he played a role where he was killed off in the first few minutes of a highly acclaimed television series. The HBO series Six Feet Under saw the character that he played, Nathaniel Fisher being killed in a horrendous road traffic accident in the pilot episode, only to return every now and then as a Spirit to warn of dangers and give advice to his son Nate, played by Peter Krause.

The show did a lot to make Richard Jenkins a more 'recognised' actor, by the general public, and he won a nomination along with the rest of the cast in the series for the Screen Actors Guild award (2002). It was this recognition that made Richard Jenkins one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood.

After spending many years in the tough world of films and television as a support actor, Jenkins got his first role as the star of a film in Tom McCarthy's The Visitor. This is a complex tale where he portrays an introverted and repressed professor, who learns to live life to the full again with the help of an immigrant from the Middle East. For his portrayal of Walter in the film, Jenkins was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor and also received a SAG nomination.  

To Date

After his Oscar nomination for The Visitor in 2008, there has followed in the years after more accolades, and wider audiences as he worked on films such as The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp and Drew Goddard's, Cabin in the Woods. His latest film God's Pocket is due for release soon.

Private Life

Richard Jenkins was married in August 23 1969 to Sharon R Friedrick. The couple have two children a son Andrew Richard and a daughter Sarah Pamela. The Family home is in Cumberland Rhode Island.


1985 Silverado
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters
1986 On Valentine's Day
1986 The Manhattan Project
1987 Courtship
1987 The Witches of Eastwick
1987 Rachel River
1988 Little Nikita
1988 Stealing Home
1989 Blue Steel
1989 How I Got Into College
1989 Sea of Love
1989 Blaze
1993 Undercover Blues
1994 Wolf
1994 It Could Happen to You
1994 Trapped in Paradise
1995 The Indian in the Cupboard
1995 How to Make an American Quilt
1996 A Couch in New York
1996 Flirting with Disaster
1996 Eddie
1997 Absolute Power
1997 Eye of God
1998 The Imposters
1998 There's Something About Mary
1999 The Confession
1999 The Mod Squad
1999 Outside Providence
1999 Snow Falling on Cedars
1999 Random Hearts
2000 What Planet Are You From?
2000 Me, Myself & Irene
2001 Say It Isn't So
2001 One Night at McCool's
2001 The Man Who Wasn't There
2002 Changing Lanes
2002 Stealing Harvard
2003 The Mudge Boy
2003 The Core
2003 Intolerable Cruelty
2003 Cheaper by the Dozen
2004 I Heart Huckabees
2004 Shall We Dance
2005 North Country
2005 Fun with Dick and Jane
2005 Rumor Has It...
2007 The Kingdom
2007 The Visitor
2008 The Broken
2008 Step Brothers
2008 Burn After Reading
2008 The Tale of Despereaux
2010 Happythankyoumoreplease
2010 Dear John
2010 Waiting for Forever
2010 Norman
2010 Eat Pray Love
2010 Let Me In
2011 Hall Pass
2011 Friends with Benefits
2011 The Rum Diary
2012 Liberal Arts
2012 Darling Companion
2012 The Cabin in the Woods
2012 Killing Them Softly
2012 The Company You Keep
2012 Jack Reacher
2013 A.C.O.D.
2013 White House Down
2013 Turbo
2013 One Square Mile
2013 Lullaby
2014 God's Pocket


1974-5 Great Performances
1982 Parole
1984-6 American Playhouse
1985 Spenser: For Hire
1985-9 Miami Vice
1988 In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I. Murders
1989 Out on the Edge
1990 Challenger
1990 Rising Son
1990 When You Remember Me
1990 Descending Angel
1990 Against the Law
1991 The Perfect Tribute
1991 Doublecrossed
1991 Carolina Skeletons
1991 Kojak: Fatal Flaw
1992 Afterburn
1992 Crossroads
1993 Queen
1993 And the Band Played On
1994 Getting Out
1996 The Boys Next Door
1997 Into Thin Air: Death on Everest
2001 Ally McBeal
2001-5 Six Feet Under
2002 Reel Comedy
2002 Sins of the Father
2005 Earth to America
2014 Olive Kitteridge
The Visitor
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