James Woods

James Woods
Associated Press


James Woods
Film: North side of the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born April 18, 1947 in Vernal, UT

James Woods has spent much of his on-screen career playing versions of himself, even spoofing that persona on HBO's "Entourage" in 2006, when he guest-starred opposite his real-life 20-year-old then-girlfriend, Ashley Madison.

Woods has been known to have fierce creative battles with some directors. He and Oliver Stone had protracted screaming matches on "Salvador." Stone later told GQ that Woods is a "lunatic" but well worth the price, and the two are friends and mutual admirers today.

Much of what has been written about him, Woods said in 1992, is "almost invariably stupid, and very often outright — actually, it seems to me, almost premeditated — lies."

"You get this sort of momentum, this kind of sleazy press momentum about people, that's really unfair," he continued. "Nick Nolte is a hero this year. For 20 years, they portrayed him as a wild man, drunk, crazy, all this stuff. Why don't we just look at his body of work and say, 'Do you think it's really true?' "

Woods, who said he wouldn't trade his career with any other actor, was particularly dismayed at the media's lack of interest in the acting process. And he resented being unable to shake being typecast as "perhaps America's most hostile actor."

Pauline Kael branded him with that title after he had won critical acclaim for the scummy murderers and creepy misfits he played in his earlier movies: "The Onion Field," "Videodrome" and "Against All Odds."

Woods said the hostile tag is just not true. " 'The Onion Field' got people thinking a certain way about me that really is not a reflection of who I am," he said. "I'd have been better off as one of the cops who got shot.

"I always say to people, 'Gee, in the same year I made "Holocaust," where I played this artist who's beaten to death and dies in Auschwitz, and who was one of the most fragile people who ever lived. If you put those two people together, maybe you'll see that it was, like, just some good old hard work and acting.'

"Maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm not intense. Just maybe it's possible. If anyone bothered to go beyond the cheap thrills of selling papers and tabloids, it'd be wonderful to find out this inside secret."

Among Woods' films are "Once Upon a Time in America," "Ghosts of Mississippi" and "Casino." He voiced Hades in Disney's 1997 animated "Hercules" and also starred for two season on the CBS legal drama "Shark."

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1986 Best Actor Salvador Nomination
    1996 Best Supporting Actor Ghosts of Mississippi Nomination

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