Kevin Kline

Kevin Delaney Kline (born October 24, 1947) is an American Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and two time Tony Award-winning stage and film actor.


Early life

Kline was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Margaret "Peggy" Delaney and Robert Joseph Kline, who was a classical music buff and a singer, and owned and operated The Record Bar, the largest toy and record store in St. Louis. "Robert J. Kline, 8; Was Opera Buff, Owner of Record Stores". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved on 2008-06-07. His father's family also owned Kline's Inc., a department store chain. Kline has described his mother as the "dramatic theatrical character in our family. Kline has two younger brothers, Alex and Christopher, and an older sister, Kate. Kline's father was an Agnostic of Jewish descent and his Irish American mother, the daughter of an immigrant from County Louth, was Catholic. Kline was raised as a Catholic and graduated from the Catholic Saint Louis Priory School in 1965. He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he began as an aspiring classical pianist, but after joining the on-campus theater group "Vest Pocket Players" as an undergraduate, he fell in love with the theater and switched to acting, graduating from IU in 1970.


In 1970, Kline was awarded a scholarship to the newly formed Drama Division at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1972, he joined with fellow Juilliard graduates, including Patti Lupone and David Ogden Stiers, and formed the City Center Acting Company (now The Acting Company), under the aegis of famed British actor John Houseman. The Company traveled across the U.S. performing Shakespeare's plays, other classical works, and the musical The Robber Bridegroom, founding a dedication and mission unparalleled in American repertory theatre.

In 1976, Kline left The Acting Company and settled in New York City, doing a brief stint as the character "Woody Reed" in the now-defunct soap opera Search for Tomorrow. He followed this with a return to the stage 1978 in the small role of "Bruce Granit", a matinée idol caricature, in Hal Prince's On The Twentieth Century, for which he won his first Tony Award. In 1981, Kline paired up with rock diva Linda Ronstadt and singer Rex Smith in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of The Pirates of Penzance, winning another Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, for his comically dashing portrayal of the Pirate King. In 1983, he played the role in a film version of the musical, also with Ronstadt and Smith, which had a limited theatrical release.

In the ensuing years, Kline appeared many times in New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Shakespeare, including starring roles in Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, two productions of Hamlet (one of which he also directed) and a Tony-nominated Falstaff in a production that combined the two parts of Shakespeare's Henry IV. Dubbed "the American Olivier" by New York Times theater critic Frank Rich for his stage acting, Kline finally ventured into film in 1982, winning the coveted role of the tormented and mercurial Nathan opposite Meryl Streep in Alan Pakula's Sophie's Choice. Streep won an Academy Award for her performance in the film, and Kline was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for best debut performance.

During the 1980s and early-1990s, Kline made several films with director Lawrence Kasdan, including The Big Chill, Silverado, Grand Canyon, I Love You To Death, and French Kiss. In the mid-1990s, he was supposed to star as Mandrake the Magician in the movie of the same name, but the film never got off the ground. In 1989, Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the British comedy A Fish Called Wanda, in which he played a caricature of a painfully stupid American ex-CIA thug opposite John Cleese's genteel British barrister and Jamie Lee Curtis' femme fatale/con woman. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film twenty-first on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.

Though he has been offered many roles that could have boosted him to box-office stardom, Kline has kept a wary distance from the Hollywood star-making machine and developed a reputation for picking parts with discrimination (such as strong roles in Grand Canyon and Life as a House), leading to the industry nickname "Kevin Decline". Other awards have included Drama Desk Awards, Golden Globe awards, a Gotham Award, a Hasty Pudding Theatricals Man of the Year Award, and a St. Louis International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. He also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Film reviewers have widely praised his talent. Newsday said Kline "has proved himself to be one of the most talented and versatile American actors of his generation. But critics, mostly college-age reviewers, do occasionally appear, like the University of Texas newspaper writer that said his portrayal of a police officer in "Trade" was "half-hearted and horrific", and the young blogger who wrote that Kline's Hamlet was comically overblown.

Most recently, he played the title role in King Lear at the Public Theatre, and has played the lead role in a Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Jennifer Garner. That production was forced to close temporarily after only eleven performances as a result of the Broadway stagehands' strike, but subsequently reopened. Cyrano is reportedly currently being filmed for showing on PBS later in 2008.

On January 27, 2008, Kline won a Screen Actors Guild award for his portrayal of Jaques in Kenneth Branagh's film As You Like It, adapted from Shakespeare's play. The film premiered theatrically in 2006 in Europe, but bypassed theatres and was sent straight to HBO in the U.S., where it was shown on August 21, 2007.

In December 2004 Kline became the 2,272nd recipient of a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.

Personal life

Kline married actress Phoebe Cates, 16 years his junior, in 1989. The couple live in New York City and have two children: Owen Joseph Kline (born 1991), who had a featured role in The Squid and the Whale, and Greta Simone Kline (born 1994). After his son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, Kline became active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In November 2004, he was presented with the JDRF's Humanitarian of the Year award by Meryl Streep for his volunteer efforts on behalf of the organization.

The Kevin Kline Awards honor theater professionals in St. Louis in a wide array of categories, which include best actor and actress, set design, choreography, and original play. The first awards ceremony took place on March 20, 2006.


Year Film Role Other notes
1982 Sophie's Choice Nathan Landau Nominated - BAFTA Award; Nominated - Golden Globe
1983 The Pirates of Penzance The Pirate King
The Big Chill Harold Cooper
1985 Silverado Paden
1986 Violets Are Blue Henry Squires
1987 Cry Freedom Donald Woods
1988 A Fish Called Wanda Otto West Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor; Nominated - BAFTA Award
1989 The January Man Nick Starkey
1990 I Love You to Death Joey Boca
1991 Soapdish Jeffery Anderson/Dr. Rod Randall Nominated - Golden Globe
Grand Canyon Mack
1992 Consenting Adults Richard Parker
Chaplin Douglas Fairbanks
1993 Dave Dave Kovic/President William Harrison Mitchell Nominated - Golden Globe
The Nutcracker Narrator
1994 Princess Caraboo Frixos
1995 French Kiss Luc Teyssier
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Captain Phoebus voice
1997 The Ice Storm Ben Hood
Fierce Creatures Vince McCain/Rod McCain
In & Out Howard Brackett Nominated - Golden Globe
1999 A Midsummer Night's Dream Nick Bottom
Wild Wild West U.S. Marshal Artemus 'Artie' Gordon/President Ulysses S. Grant
2000 The Road to El Dorado Tulio voice
2001 The Anniversary Party Cal Gold
Life as a House George Monroe
2002 Orange County Marcus Skinner uncredited
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Captain Phoebus voice
The Emperor's Club William Hundert
2004 De-Lovely Cole Porter Nominated - Golden Globe
2006 The Pink Panther Chief Inspector Dreyfus
A Prairie Home Companion Guy Noir
As You Like It Jaques winner Screen Actors Guild Award
2007 Trade Ray Sheridan
2008 Definitely, Maybe Hampton Roth
The Tale of Despereaux Andre - voice post-production
Cyrano de Bergerac Cyrano post-production


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