Jonathan Vincent Voight (born December 29, 1938) is an Academy Award-winning American film actor. He has had a long and distinguished career as both a leading man and, in recent years, character actor, with an extensive and compelling range. He came to prominence at the end of the sixties, with a performance as a would-be hustler in 1969's Best Picture winner, Midnight Cowboy, for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination. Throughout the following decades, Voight built his reputation with an array of challenging roles and has appeared in such landmark films as 1972's Deliverance, and 1978's Coming Home, for which he received an Academy Award for Best Actor. Voight's impersonation of the late sportscaster/journalist Howard Cosell, in 2001's biopic Ali, earned Voight critical raves and his fourth Oscar nomination. He is also the estranged father of actress Angelina Jolie, and brother of singer-songwriter Chip Taylor.
Voight's film debut did not come until 1967, when he took a part in Phillip Kaufman's crimefighter spoof, Fearless Frank. Voight also took a small role in 1967's western, Hour of the Gun, directed by veteran helmer John Sturges. That year he and Lauri Peters were divorced, after five years of marriage. In 1968 Voight took the lead role in counterculture director Paul Williams' Out of It. Shot in a vérité style reminiscent of John Cassavettes, Out of It tapped into the zeitgeist and was geared toward the burgeoning youth culture.
While Voight pursued acting, his brother Wes found success as a songwriter under the nom de plume Chip Taylor. Taylor penned The Troggs' 1966 hit, Wild Thing, as well as Angel of the Morning. Another of Jon's brothers, Barry Voight, studied geology at Columbia University and is a world-renowned volcanologist at Pennsylvania State University.
Now a "name" actor, in 1970 Voight went on to join the all-star cast of Mike Nichols' ill-fated adaptation of Catch-22. Adapted by Buck Henry from Joseph Heller's comic anti-war novel, and featuring the acting talents of Voight, Alan Arkin as the main character of John Yossarian, Anthony Perkins, Art Garfunkel, Bob Newhart, Richard Benjamin, and Orson Welles, the film failed to connect with either the critics or audiences, despite the film's parallels with the then-raging war in Vietnam. The same year, Voight re-teamed with director Paul Williams to star in The Revolutionary, as a left wing college student struggling with his conscience.
Voight next appeared in 1972's Deliverance, directed by John Boorman, from a script that poet James Dickey had helped to adapt from his novel of the same name. The story of a canoe trip gone awry in a feral, backwoods America, the film resonated on several levels, tapping into urban anxieties about the untamed country and modern man's fear of his own darker instincts. The film and the performances of Voight and co-star Burt Reynolds received great critical acclaim and were popular with audiences. The film even spawned a radio hit, when "Dueling Banjos" became a Top-40 staple.
On 12 December 1971 Voight married model and actress Marcheline Bertrand. Their son James Haven was born in 1973, followed by daughter Angelina Jolie in 1975. Both children would go on to enter the film business, James as an actor and assistant director, and Angelina as a major Oscar-winning movie star in her own right. Angelina has credited her mother with inspiring her interest in acting.
Voight played a directionless young boxer in 1973's The All American Boy, then appeared in the 1974 film, Conrack, directed by Martin Ritt. Based on Pat Conroy's autobiographical novel The Water Is Wide, Voight acted out the title character, an idealistic young schoolteacher sent to teach underprivileged black children on a remote South Carolina island. The same year he appeared in The Odessa File, based on Frederick Forsyth's thriller, acting out a young German journalist who discovers a conspiracy to protect former Nazis, still operating within Germany. This film first teamed him with the actor-director Maximilian Schell, for whom Voight would appear in 1976's End of the Game, a psychological thriller based on a story by the famed Swiss novelist and playwright, Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
In 1978, Voight assumed a role that would earn him a second major triumph, that of the paraplegic Vietnam vet Luke Martin in the Hal Ashby-directed film Coming Home. The film marked the beginning of the post-Vietnam War era and reflected a coming-to-terms with the emotional costs of both the war and the anti-war movement. The presence of Jane Fonda in the female lead assured some controversy, given her outspoken views during the war, but her portrayal of a military wife who volunteers her services to help disabled vets was well-received. Voight, who was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, played an embittered paraplegic, reportedly based on real-life Vietnam veteran-turned-anti-war activist Ron Kovic, with whom Fonda falls in love. The film included a much-talked-about love scene between the two. The film was major winner at the Oscars that year with Jane Fonda winning her second Best Actress statuette and presenter Diana Ross calling Voight to the podium, where she presented him with his first Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Voight's marriage to Marcheline Bertrand failed in 1978. The following year, Voight once again put on boxing gloves, starring in 1979's remake of the 1931 Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper vehicle, The Champ, with Voight playing the part of an alcoholic ex-heavyweight and a young Rick Schroder playing the role of his adoring son. Unfortunately, what had worked in 1931 proved not to work in 1979, and the film's sentimental treatment of the material failed to find an audience.
He next re-teamed with director Ashby in 1982's Lookin' to Get Out, in which he played Alex Kovac, a con man who has run into debt with New York mobsters and hopes to win enough in Las Vegas to pay them off. Voight both co-wrote the script and also co-produced, but it did not prove to be one of his finer efforts. He also produced and acted in 1983's Table for Five, in which he played a widower bringing up his children by himself.
It appeared that Voight's career had lost some momentum, with a shortage of good roles available. In 1985, however, he hooked up with Russian writer and director Andrei Konchalovsky to play the role of escaped con Manny Manheim in the existential action film Runaway Train. The script was based on a story by Akira Kurosawa, and paired Voight with Eric Roberts as a fellow escapee. For his ferocious, somewhat over-the-top performance, Voight received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and won the Golden Globe's award for Best Actor. Roberts was also honored for his performance, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. While it was critically acclaimed, the film failed to attract a large audience.
Voight followed up this and other performances with a role in the 1986 film, Desert Bloom, and reportedly experienced a "spiritual awakening" toward the end of the decade. In 1989 Voight starred in and helped write Eternity, which dealt with a television reporter's efforts to uncover corruption.
Voight next appeared in 1996's blockbuster Mission: Impossible, based on the popular television series from the 1960s, directed by Brian DePalma and starring Tom Cruise. Voight played the role of spymaster James Phelps, a role originated by Peter Graves in the television series. Fans and stars of TV series were outraged at the depiction of Phelps being a traitor.
The year 1997 was a busy time for Voight in which he appeared in six films, beginning with Rosewood, directed by Boyz N the Hood director John Singleton. Voight joined a cast that included Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, and Michael Rooker in the true tale of the 1923 destruction of the primarily black town of Rosewood, Florida, by the white residents of nearby Sumner. Voight played John Wright, a white Rosewood storeowner who follows his conscience and protects his black customers from the white rage. Voight next appeared in the exotic action film Anaconda, alongside Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, and Eric Stoltz. Set in the Amazon, Voight played Paul Sarone, a snake hunter obsessed with a fabled giant anaconda, who hijacks an unwitting National Geographic film crew looking for a remote Indian tribe. Voight next appeared in Oliver Stone's U Turn. He made a cameo appearance as a blind man in this eccentric neo-noir starring Sean Penn and Lopez. Voight took a supporting role in The Rainmaker, adopted from the John Grisham novel and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He played an unscrupulous lawyer representing an insurance company, facing off with a neophyte lawyer played by Matt Damon. His last film of 1997 was Boys Will Be Boys, a family comedy directed by Dom DeLuise.
The following year, Voight had the lead role in the television movie The Fixer, in which he played Jack Killoran, a lawyer who crosses ethical lines in order to "fix" things for his wealthy clients. A near-fatal accident awakens his dormant conscience and Killoran soon runs afoul of his former clients. He also took a substantial role in Tony Scott's 1997 political thriller, Enemy of the State, in which Voight played the heavy opposite Will Smith's heroic lawyer.
Voight was reunited with director Boorman in 1998's The General. Set in Dublin, Ireland, the film tells the true-life story of the charismatic leader of a gang of thieves, Martin Cahill, at odds with both the police and the IRA. Voight gives a convincing performance as Inspector Ned Kenny, determined to bring Cahill to justice. Boorman shot the film on location, in black and white, and largely financed it himself. The freedom to work without interference from the studios allowed him to make what felt like a personal film and both Brendan Gleeson in the lead, and Voight in the main supporting role, gave memorable performances.
Voight next appeared in 1999's Varsity Blues, starring Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek. Voight played a blunt, autocratic football coach, pitted in a test of wills against his star player, portrayed by Van Der Beek. Produced by fledgling MTV Pictures, the film became a surprise hit and helped connect Voight with a younger audience.
Voight played Noah in the 1999 television production Noah's Ark, and appeared in Second String, also for TV. He also appeared in the feature A Dog of Flanders, a remake of a popular film set in Belgium. The following year Voight would watch from the audience as his daughter received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in 1999's Girl, Interrupted.
That year, he also appeared in Zoolander, directed by Ben Stiller who starred as the title character, a vapid supermodel with humble roots. Voight appeared as Zoolander's coal-miner father. The film extracted both pathos and cruel humor from the scenes of Zoolander's return home, when he entered the mines alongside his father and brothers and Voight's character expressed his unspoken disgust at his son's chosen profession.
Also in 2001, Voight joined Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria, and David Schwimmer in the made-for-television movie Uprising, which was based on the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. Voight played Major-General Juergen Stroop, the officer responsible for the destruction of the Jewish resistance.
Director Michael Mann tagged Voight for a small, but crucial role in the 2001 biopic Ali, which starred Will Smith as the controversial former heavyweight champ, Muhammad Ali. Voight was almost unrecognizable under his make-up and toupee, as he impersonated the sports broadcaster Howard Cosell. As Ella Taylor, in LA Weekly, wrote, "Ali boasts a whole tribe of outstanding secondary performances, of which Jon Voight's Cosell, in an outrageous rug and several tons of pasty-face makeup, is easily the funniest." Voight received his fourth Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for his performance, extending his reign as a talented actor.
In the critically-acclaimed CBS miniseries Pope John Paul II, released in December 2005, Voight portrayed the pontiff from the time of his election until his death, garnering an Emmy nomination for the part.
In 2003 he played the role of Mr. Sir in the movie Holes
Also in 2007, Voight reprised his role as Patrick Gates, the father of Ben Gates, in the sequel to National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
In 2008, Voight will play Jonas Hodges, the villain, in the hit FOX drama "24" in the upcoming seventh season, marking his first appearance in a television series since Gunsmoke. Voight will make his first appearance in the two-hour prequel episode, 24: Redemption, scheduled to air on November 23.
Voight appeared on Fox & Friends to endorse former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 Republican Party nomination. He attended a Giuliani campaign event and said New York City was transformed into a much safer, cleaner and more livable city. He said "God sent an angel, his name was Rudy Giuliani. In another interview in Miami with AventuraUSA.com, Voight said he first met Giuliani "years ago" at a movie premiere in New York City and the main reason for his support was Giuliani's public poise in the wake of the September 11 attacks. In the interview, Voight revealed he and then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton "are friends."
In May 2008 Voight paid a solidarity visit to Israel in honor of its 60th birthday. "I’m coming to salute, encourage and strengthen the people of Israel on this joyous 60th birthday," said Voight. “This week is about highlighting Israel as a moral beacon. At a time when its enemies threaten nuclear destruction, Israel heals. Voight visited Israeli victims of Palestinian rocket attacks in Sderot. Voight said his experiences led him to believe that Israel should not negotiate with Palestinian militants for a truce. "They are barbarians," Voight said, referring to the Gaza militants. "They are relentless, looking to destroy (Israel). If somebody breaks your leg, don't give another. Don't play this game.
In September 2008, Voight appeared in a video available on YouTube from the Republican National Convention admonishing viewers to support the American troops. Voight also provided the narration for a video biography of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, that appeared on John McCain's campaign website. He was a guest at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Voight also starred with fellow Republican actors Kelsey Grammer, Dennis Hopper, and James Woods in the conservative-leaning comedy film An American Carol, which opened on October 3, 2008.
|1969||Midnight Cowboy||Joe Buck|| Academy Award Nomination - Best Actor|
BAFTA Award - Best Actor
|1970||Catch-22||1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder|
|1974||The ODESSA File||Peter Miller|
|1975||Der Richter und sein Henker||Walter Tschanz|
|1978||Coming Home||Luke Martin||Academy Award - Best Actor|
|1982||Lookin' to Get Out||Alex Kovac||Co-writer|
|1983||Table For Five||J.P. Tannen|
|1985||Runaway Train||Oscar "Manny" Manheim||Academy Award Nomination - Best Actor|
|1986||Desert Bloom||Jack Chismore|
|1991||Chernobyl: The Final Warning||Dr. Robert Peter Gale||(TV)|
|1992||The Last of His Tribe||Professor Alfred Kroeber|
|The Rainbow Warrior (film)||Peter Willcox|
|1996||Mission: Impossible||James Phelps|
|1997||The Rainmaker||Leo F. Drummond|
|U Turn||Blind Man|
|Most Wanted||Gen. Adam Woodward, alias Lt. Col. Grant Casey|
|1998||Enemy of the State||Thomas Brian Reynolds|
|The General||Ned Kenny|
|1999||Varsity Blues||Coach Bud Kilmer|
|2000||Noah's Ark (film)||Noah|
|Lara Croft: Tomb Raider||Lord Richard Croft|
|Pearl Harbor||Franklin Delano Roosevelt|
|Ali||Howard Cosell|| Academy Award Nomination - Supporting Actor|
Golden Globe Nomination - Supporting Actor
|Uprising||Maj. Gen. Jürgen Stroop||(TV) - Primetime Emmy Award Nomination - Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|2004||The Five People You Meet in Heaven||Eddie||(TV)|
|National Treasure||Patrick Gates|
|SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2||Bill Biscane/Kane|
|The Manchurian Candidate||Senator Thomas Jordan|
|The Karate Dog||Hamilton Cage||Executive Producer|
|2005||Pope John Paul II||John Paul II||(TV) - Primetime Emmy Award Nomination - Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|2006||The Legend of Simon Conjurer||Dr. Crazx|
|Glory Road||Adolph Rupp|
|2007||Transformers||Secretary of Defense John Keller|
|September Dawn||Jacob Samuelson|
|National Treasure: Book of Secrets||Patrick Gates|
|2008||Pride and Glory||Francis Tierney Sr.|
|An American Carol||George Washington|
|Four Christmases||Kate's Dad|