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Canadian Film Encyclopedia

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Maury Chaykin

(b. July 27, 1949 Brooklyn, New York)

One of the most recognizable faces in Canadian cinema, Maury Chaykin is one of the top Canadian character actors of his generation. A master of the show-stopping cameo whose girth and wildly eccentric mannerisms have often landed him in roles as an unkempt menace or a melancholy loner, he has nonetheless shown considerable range and built a solid career as a Hollywood character actor, though he has done his most ambitious and original work in Canada.

Maclean’s magazine film critic Brian D. Johnson has summed up Chaykin’s screen persona by observing that he “brings an unnerving edge to whatever character he plays, a disturbing sense of dissociation. But while all his roles are weird, each is weird in its own way. Modifying his signature from one role to the next, Chaykin gives the impression of creating the character as the camera rolls.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York to a Canadian mother and an American father, Chaykin studied acting at the State University of New York in Buffalo, where beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso were his faculty sponsors. After graduating, he received rigorous classical training at Buffalo’s American Contemporary Theatre and also founded the Swamp Fox Theatre Group, which was voted the most original theatre company in America at the 1969 Yale Drama Festival. His wealth of experience also included working with the legendary avant-garde playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett on the stage adaptation of Beckett’s The Unnameable in the early seventies. In 1974, after failing to find paying work in his native New York – in spite of an impressive resume that included between thirty and forty off-off-Broadway plays – he was offered a job at an underground theatre in Toronto, where he was able to live and work near his uncle, television director and producer George Bloomfield.

Chaykin has worked on stage and screen virtually non-stop ever since and splits his time between residences in Los Angeles and Toronto. He won critical acclaim for the titular role of an American labour boss in Donald Brittain’s Canada’s Sweetheart (1985) and won a Best Leading Actor Genie for his portrayal of an agoraphobic rock star in Whale Music (1994). Impressed with Chaykin’s performance as a sinister truck driver with ulterior motives in Cold Comfort (1989), Kevin Costner cast him as a mentally unstable cavalry officer in Dances with Wolves (1990), which proved to be his breakout role. Chaykin followed this with his finest work to date as an obsessive games player with more money than sense in Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster (1991).

He has had supporting parts in innumerable Hollywood films, including War Games (1983), Twins (1988), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Hero (1992), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), The Mask of Zorro (1998) and Entrapment (1999). He has also appeared in dozens of television series, including “King of Kensington,” “Street Legal,” “Due South,” “Made in Canada,” “CSI” and “The Eleventh Hour.” He won a Gemini award for a guest role on “La Femme Nikita” and starred opposite Timothy Hutton as Rex Stout’s popular pulp detective Nero Wolfe in a series of movies for A&E. Chaykin also has his own production company that is involved with the development of several scripts and projects in Canada.

Film and video work includes

A Moedinha Do Amor/Half a Sixpence, 1968 (actor)
Me, 1975 (actor)
King of Kensington, 1978 (actor; TV, one episode)
Riel, 1979 (actor; TV)
Double Negative, 1980 (actor)
Jimmy B. & André, 1980 (actor; TV)
Nothing Personal, 1980 (actor)
The Kidnapping of the President, 1980 (actor)
Death Hunt, 1981 (actor)
The July Group, 1981 (actor; TV)
Just Jessie, 1981 (actor; TV)
Seeing Things series, 1982, 1984, 1985 & 1986 (actor; TV, five episodes)
Soup for One, 1982 (actor)
Curtains, 1983 (actor)
Of Unknown Origin, 1983 (actor)
WarGames, 1983 (actor)
The Guardian, 1984 (actor; TV)
Harry and Son, 1984 (actor)
Highpoint, 1984 (actor)
Hockey Night, 1984 (actor; TV)
Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, 1984 (actor; TV)
Mrs. Soffel, 1984 (actor)
Def-Con 4, 1985 (actor)
In Like Flynn, 1985 (actor)
Labour of Love, 1985 (actor; TV)
Turk 182, 1985 (actor)
Act of Vengeance, 1986 (actor; TV)
Adderly, 1986 (actor; TV, one episode)
Crime Story series, 1986 (actor; TV, one episode)
Night Heat, 1986 (actor; TV, two episodes)
The Suicide Murders, 1986 (actor; TV)
The Vindicator, 1986 (actor)
The Bedroom Window, 1987 (actor)
Diamonds series, 1987 & 1988 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Future Block, 1987 (voice)
Hearts of Fire, 1987 (actor)
Higher Education, 1987 (actor)
Meatballs III, 1987 (actor)
Nowhere to Hide, 1987 (actor)
Race for the Bomb series, 1987 (actor; TV)
Wild Thing, 1987 (actor)
Caribe, 1988 (actor)
Hot Paint, 1988 (actor)
Iron Eagle II, 1988 (actor)
Stars and Bars, 1988 (actor)
Twins, 1988 (actor)
Breaking In, 1989 (actor)
A Game of Pool, The Twilight Zone series, 1989 (actor; TV)
George's Island, 1989 (actor)
Millenium, 1989 (actor)
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye series, 1989 (actor; TV, one episode)
Conspiracy of Silence, 1990 (actor; TV)
Dances with Wolves, 1990 (actor)
Mr. Destiny, 1990 (actor)
Street Legal, 1990 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Where the Heart Is, 1990 (actor)
The Pianist, 1991 (actor)
Hero,1992 (actor)
Leaving Normal, 1992 (actor)
My Cousin Vinny, 1992 (actor)
Split Images, 1992 (actor; TV)
Beethoven's Second, 1993 (actor)
Buried on Sunday, 1993 (actor)
Josh and S.A.M., 1993 (actor)
Matrix series, 1993 (actor; TV, one episode)
Money for Nothing, 1993 (actor)
Sommersby, 1993 (actor)
Camilla, 1994 (actor)
Transplant, 1994 (actor)
Whale Music, 1994 (actor)
Cutthroat Island, 1995 (actor)
Devil in a Blue Dress, 1995 (actor)
Sugartime, 1995 (actor; TV)
Unstrung Heroes, 1995 (actor)
Harriet the Spy, 1996 (actor)
If Looks Could Kill, 1996 (actor; TV)
Keeping the Promise, 1996 (actor; TV)
Due South series, 1997 & 1998 (actor; TV, two episodes)
La Femme Nikita series, 1997 (actor; TV, one episode)
Gone Fishin', 1997 (actor, uncredited)
A Life Less Ordinary, 1997 (actor)
Love and Death on Long Island, 1997 (actor)
Mousehunt, 1997 (actor)
Northern Lights, 1997 (actor)
Pale Saints, 1997 (actor)
The Postman, 1997 (actor)
Strip Search, 1997 (actor)
Death By Dawn, 1998 (actor)
Emily of New Moon series, 1998 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Jerry and Tom, 1998 (actor)
The Mask of Zorro, 1998 (actor)
Oz, 1998 (actor; TV, 1 episode, uncredited)
Psi Factor series, 1998 (actor; TV, one episode)
Tracey Takes On... series, 1998 (actor; TV, one episode)
Entrapment, 1999 (actor)
Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang, 1999 (actor)
Joan of Arc, 1999 (actor; TV)
Let the Devil Wear Black, 1999 (actor)
Lexx series, 1999 (actor; TV, 2 episodes)
Made In Canada series, 1999 (actor; TV, one episode)
Mystery, Alaska, 1999 (actor)
Touched, 1999 (actor)
The Art of War, 2000 (actor)
The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, 2000 (actor; TV)
What's Cooking?, 2000 (actor)
Bartleby, 2001 (actor)
Nero Wolfe series, 2001-2002 (actor; TV)
On Their Knees, 2001 (actor)
Plan B, 2001 (actor)
Varian's War, 2001 (actor; TV)
Bleacher Bums, 2002 (actor; TV)
Crossed Over, 2002 (actor; TV)
The Hire: Hostage, 2002 (actor)
Past Perfect, 2002 (actor)
Table for Two, 2002 (appears as himself; TV)
The Wet Season, 2002 (actor)
Andromeda series, 2003, 2004 (actor; TV, two episodes)
Owning Mahoney, 2003 (actor)
Tracy Ullman in the Trailer Tales, 2003 (actor; TV)
Being Julia, 2004 (actor)
Camp Hollywood, 2004 (actor; appears as himself; TV)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation series, 2004 (actor; TV, one episode)
The Eleventh Hour series, 2004 (actor; TV one episode)
Intern Academy, 2004 (actor)
Sex Traffic, 2004 (actor; TV)
Sugar, 2004 (actor)
Where the Truth Lies, 2005 (actor)