Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart

Bruce Greenwood

(b. August 12, 1956 Noranda, Quebec)

Director Atom Egoyan has said that Bruce Greenwood has “a remarkable presence. He can be someone who at once possesses Everyman, everyday qualities – someone who is attractive and very identifiable as a leading man – but who at the same time has this searing intelligence. I think both in person and onscreen he’s incredibly curious and engaged, and he’s able to convey that to the viewer.”

A happy-go-lucky, vagabond spirit and a gifted performer blessed with a keen intellect and boyish enthusiasm, Greenwood was born in Noranda, Quebec, where his Vancouver-born, geophysicist father was working on a mining project. When he was growing up, Greenwood never lived in one place longer than four years. He spent the first three years of his life in Princeton, New Jersey, where his father earned his graduate degrees, the next three years in Washington, DC and Maryland and the three after that back in Princeton. He was raised primarily in Vancouver, where his family moved when he was eleven, although he graduated high school in Zurich, Switzerland, where his family lived for thirteen months. Afterwards, Greenwood lived on his own exploring the European ski circuit. He planned on becoming a professional skier until he injured his knee when he was sixteen (he has since had surgery on it six times; one of many serious injuries the resilient, athletic Greenwood has dealt with).

For three years, he attended the University of British Columbia, where his father was head of the Geology Department and his mother was a nurse in the extended care unit. He studied philosophy and economics and only took his first drama class for an easy credit. Attracted to acting as a career, he appeared regularly at the Arts Club Theatre in Vancouver while working in a chemical factory before scoring his first part in the movie Bear Island (1979). Encouraged by his success, he left Vancouver to pursue work in Los Angeles, although this proved to be simply an excuse to tour the western United States on his motorbike; he returned to Vancouver shortly thereafter.

Always the adventurous type, Greenwood worked as a diamond driller in the Northwest Territories to pay for his studies at The London Central School of Speech and Learning, though he dropped out a year shy of graduation to work on a sailboat in Greece. He then attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City for a year from 1980 to 1981, and upon returning to Vancouver landed a minor speaking part in First Blood (1982), Sylvester Stallone’s first “Rambo” film, although his twelve lines were cut and his part was edited to a walk-on. After working for a while on an oil drilling crew in Alberta, Greenwood took the leap and moved to Los Angeles in 1983. By 1984, he had a one-year contract with Warner Bros. to do television pilots, and in 1986 landed his first big break as Dr. Seth Griffin on “St. Elsewhere.” He followed this with roles in numerous TV movies in Canada and the United States and bit parts in movies such as Wild Orchid (1990) and Passenger 57 (1992). He also had regular roles on series such as “Knots Landing” and “The Little Kidnappers.”

Greenwood made his leap to the big screen with his skilfully tortured performance in Atom Egoyan’s Exotica (1994), which opened the door for much more TV work – ten projects in the next two years, including half-a-dozen TV movies and the lead role in the short-lived TV series “Nowhere Man” (1995). Also in 1995, he won a Gemini for a guest performance on “Road to Avonlea.” His outstanding performance in Egoyan’s acclaimed The Sweet Hereafter (1997) – a subtle mix of rage, apathy, vulnerability and righteousness – garnered a great deal of attention, earning him a Genie nomination for Best Lead Actor and leading to roles in seven Hollywood films, including Double Jeopardy (1999) and The Rules of Engagement (2000). He is perhaps most widely recognized for his gripping and uncanny portrayal of John F. Kennedy in the Cold War political thriller Thirteen Days (2000). He continued his collaboration with Egoyan in Ararat (2002), produced and starred in Deepa Mehta’s The Republic of Love (2003), contributed charming supporting work to Istvan Szabó’s Being Julia (2004) – for which he earned a Genie nomination for Best Supporting Actor – and appeared in numerous recent Hollywood films such as The Core (2003) and I, Robot (2004). An avid musician, he also performs blues gigs in local Los Angeles bars and spends ample time in his recording studio.

Film and video work includes

Beachcombers series, 1979 -1983 (actor; TV)
Bear Island, aka Alistair MacLean's Bear Island, 1979 (actor)
Huckleberry Finn & Friends, 1980 (actor; TV)
Ritter's Cove, 1980 (actor; TV)
First Blood, aka Rambo: First Blood, 1982 (actor)
The Hitchhiker: Shattered vows, 1983 (actor; TV)
Jessie series, 1984 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Legmen, 1984 (actor; TV)
Danger Bay series, 1985 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Malibu Bikini Shop, 1985 (actor)
Peyton Place: The Next Generation, 1985 (actor; TV)
Striker's Mountain, 1985 (actor; TV)
Danger Bay series, 1986 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Climb, 1986 (actor)
St. Elsewhere series, 1986 (actor; TV)
Destination America, 1987 (actor; TV)
Jake and the Fatman series, 1987 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Matlock series, 1987 (actor; TV, two episodes) I
n the Line of Duty: The F.B.I. Murders, 1988 (actor; TV)
Another Chance, 1989 (actor)
Perry Mason: The Case of the All-Star Assassin, 1989 (actor; TV)
Pursuit, aka Twist of Fate, 1989 (actor; TV)
Spy, 1989 (actor; TV)
The Little Kidnappers, 1990 (actor; TV)
Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys, 1990 (actor; TV)
Wild Orchid, 1990 (actor)
The Great Pretender, 1991 (actor; TV)
Knots Landing series, 1991-1992 (actor; TV)
The Servants of Twilight, 1991 (actor; TV)
Veronica Clare series, 1991 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Passenger 57, 1992 (actor)
Adrift, 1993 (actor; TV)
Rio Diablo, 1993 (actor; TV)
Woman on the Run: The Lawrence Bembenek Story, 1993 (actor; TV)
Bitter Vengeance, 1994 (actor; TV)
The Companion, 1994 (actor; TV)
Hardball, 1994 (actor; TV)
Heart of a Child, 1994 (actor; TV)
Paint Cans, 1994 (actor)
Road to Avonlea series, 1994 (actor; TV)
Treacherous Beauties, 1994 (actor; TV)
Dazzle, aka Judith Krantz's Dazzle, 1995 (actor; TV)
Dream Man, 1995 (actor)
Mixed Blessings, aka Danielle Steel's Mixed Blessings, 1995 (actor; TV)
Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge, 1995 (actor; TV)
Nowhere Man series, 1995 (actor; TV)
Sidewalks Entertainment, 1995 (as himself; TV, one episode)
The Absolute Truth, 1997 (actor; TV)
Fathers' Day, 1997 (actor)
The Larry Sanders Show series, 1997 - 1998 (actor; TV)
Sleepwalkers, 1997 (actor; TV)
Tell Me No Secrets, 1997 (actor; TV)
Disturbing Behaviour, 1998 (actor)
Thick as Thieves, 1998 (actor)
The Color of Courage, 1999 (actor; TV)
Double Jeopardy, 1999 (actor)
The Lost Son, 1999 (actor)
The Soul Collector, 1999 (actor; TV)
Thick as Thieves, 1999 (actor)
Here on Earth, 2000 (actor)
Hide and Seek, aka Cord, 2000 (actor)
Rules of Engagement, 2000 (actor)
Thirteen Days, 2000 (actor)
A Girl Thing, 2001 (actor; TV)
Haven, 2001 (actor; TV)
Below, 2002 (actor)
The Magnificent Ambersons series, 2002 (actor; TV)
Swept Away, 2002 (actor)
The Core, 2003 (actor)
Hollywood Homicide, 2003 (actor)
Republic of Love, 2003 (executive producer; actor)
Being Julia, 2004 (actor)
I, Robot, 2004 (actor)
The Life, 2004 (actor; TV)
Meltdown, 2004 (actor; TV)
The Riverman, 2004 (actor; TV)
Capote, 2005 (actor)
Racing Stripes, 2005 (actor)
Saving Milly, 2005 (actor; TV)
The Water Giant, 2005 (actor)
The World's Fastest Indian, 2005 (actor)