Date of Birth: September 25, 1963
Most familiar to audiences as cowardly, criminal stockbroker Jimmy Cooper in FOX's hit teen drama series The O.C., Tate Donovan was born and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey.
As he explained to Parade in September 2013, he first entertained the idea of being an actor when he was just four years old. He said his parents — Eileen and John — took him to the Bergen Theater in Tenafly and he was enraptured by what he saw on screen. He shared, "I remember wanting to sit apart from them for some reason. I wanted to be a big boy or whatever. I remember looking up on that screen. It was a movie about medieval knights. All I remember is saying, 'I want to do that. I want to make movies.' I just thought, 'If I could get one line in one great movie, I would die a happy man.' At that point, I would have been like, an extra would have been fine. I didn't really have huge, lofty goals. It seemed so far away from my existence, Hollywood."
But it wasn't all that far away in reality. Tate followed his passion for acting to USC and in 1984, won his first gig. He played Bob in the dramedy No Small Affair, which starred Demi Moore and Jon Cryer. In the same year, he also nabbed a minor role in an episode of the Golden Globe-winning family comedy series Family Ties.
In 1985, Tate appeared in three TV movies: Not My Kid with Stockard Channing and George Segal, Into Thin Air with Ellen Burstyn, and North Beach and Rawhide with William Shatner. The following year, he worked with Tom Selleck on an episode of the Golden Globe-winning series Magnum, P.I. before returning to film in the sci-fi flick SpaceCamp with Kate Capshaw and Kelly Preston.
He then took to the screen in the 1987 drama mini-series Nutcracker: Money, Madness & Murder, which was nominated for nine Emmys. But despite Tate's success on the small screen, he chose to focus primarily on film after Nutcracker, winning parts in the drama Clean and Sober (1988) with Michael Keaton and Morgan Freeman, the BAFTA-nominated war drama Memphis Belle (1990) with Matthew Modine, Little Noises (1992) with Tatum O'Neal, and the comedy Inside Monkey Zetterland (1992), for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards.
He reunited with Matthew Modine in 1992 when the men worked on the mystery drama Equinox, which also starred Lara Flynn Boyle. In the same year, he won a part in the Sandra Bullock romcom Love Potion No. 9. In real life, Tate and Sandra fell for each other and were engaged. However, they split in 1994.
He stayed in film with the 1993 drama Ethan Frome and the 1994 comedy Holy Matrimony, both with Patricia Arquette, before winning the part of Owen on the comedy series Partners. He acted in all 22 episodes of the show, which co-starred Jon Cryer and ran from 1995 to 1996.
Remaining in television, Tate worked on the TV movie America's Dream with Danny Glover and Wesley Snipes in 1996 and The Only Thrill with Diane Keaton, Sam Shepard and Diane Lane in 1997. He later teamed up with both Wesley Snipes and Diane Lane for the crime drama Murder at 1600.
Another 1997 project would become one of Tate's most successful. He lent his voice to the titular character in Disney's Oscar-nominated, animated hit Hercules, which spawned a series of the same name. On TV, he voiced Hercules for 65 episodes between 1998 and 1999.
Some of his other television roles of the late '90s include three episodes of the Golden Globe-winning series Ally McBeal in 1997 and five episodes of the popular, Golden Globe-winning comedy series Friends. In the latter show, he played Joshua, one of Rachel Green's (Jennifer Aniston) love interests.
The love Tate and Jennifer conveyed on screen transferred to a romance off screen. They were together for a period in the late '90s and also worked together in the comedy The Thin Pink Line (1998).
In 2001, Tate scored a minor role in the action film Swordfish alongside John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry before teaming up with another Friends star, Courteney Cox, in the dramedy Get Well Soon (2001). He also worked on the 2002 drama West of Here.
Tate won the part of Jimmy Cooper on The O.C. in 2003, a part for which he would become very well known. He played the father of Mischa Barton's character on the series, which was very popular with viewers and won multiple Teen Choice Awards during its time on air.
Tate worked on a total of 39 episodes between 2003 and 2006. During a 2013 interview with The Vulture, he revealed why he was drawn to the show. He said its director (Doug Liman) was a factor, but added that the multi-layered character he portrayed was enticing as well. He said, "I dug the character, too. I thought it was interesting to show a guy who was not the most savory of characters. He’s lost all of his money. He was the greedy guy who’d been handed everything his whole life and now had lost it."
Late in the show's run, Tate famously spoke out about some of the series' young actors when he said some of them had a "bad attitude."
In 2003, Tate appeared in four episodes of the Emmy-nominated drama series Mister Sterling with Josh Brolin before shifting to film and working with Vin Diesel in the action comedy The Pacifier (2005). Also in 2005, he won a role in George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck., which was nominated for six Oscars. As part of the cast, he earned a SAG Award nomination in 2006.
Tate shared the screen with Anne Heche in the Christmas-centric TV movie Silver Bells in 2005 before working with Connie Britton in the 2006 comedy The Lather Effect. In 2007, he teamed up with Mark Wahlberg for the action drama Shooter and Emma Roberts for the family film Nancy Drew.
Also in 2007, Tate began work on the Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series Damages. He played Tom Shayes opposite Glenn Close for a total of 39 episodes between 2007 and 2010.
Another one of Tate's Oscar-recognized films is Argo (2012). He played Bob Anders in Ben Affleck's drama, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2013 and the SAG Award for Outstanding Cast. In his 2013 interview with Parade, he said the film's screenplay was what attracted him to the project and also shared what he found to be one of the most remarkable aspects of shooting the film in Istanbul.
He said, "Being in a Muslim country, to hear the call to prayer five times a day starting at 5 a.m. is... extraordinary." He added, "It's really exceptional. It's a beautiful experience."
Tate made his return to TV in 2013 with the mystery series Deception and started portraying Brian Sanders on the drama series Hostages as well. He acted in 15 episodes of the latter series between 2013 and 2014. It starred Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. Also in 2014, he played Mark Boudreau in 12 episodes of the Kiefer Sutherland action show 24: Live Another Day. The following year saw him play Graham Pennington in two episodes of the Golden Globe-nominated drama series Masters of Sex with Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.
Tate's latest credits include the historical comedy Elvis & Nixon (2016) with Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon, the Oscar-winning drama Manchester by the Sea (2016) with Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, the Emmy-winning drama series The Man in the High Castle, on which he appeared in six episodes in 2016, and the comedy/drama The Upside (2019) with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart. He also played club owner Doug Weston in the Elton John biopic, Rocketman (2019).
In the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect (2020), he plays John Hammond alongside Jennifer Hudson as Aretha.
Of Irish descent, Tate is good friends with George Clooney, and in addition to Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston, has been romantically linked to Lauren Graham and Corrine Kingsbury. Tate and Corrine, who was a writer on The Newsroom, were married between 2005 and 2008.
Aside from his acting credits, Tate is also an accomplished producer, having won an Emmy in 2014 for 30 for 30 Shorts (2013). He was victorious in the Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Program category.
Tate's hobbies include yoga and playing the violin.
L.A. Times (2017)
3 Generations (2017)
Elvis & Nixon (2016)
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Sun Belt Express (2014)
Below the Beltway (2010)
Wild About Harry (2009)
Neal Cassady (2007)
Nancy Drew (2007)
The Lather Effect (2006)
Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)
The Pacifier (2005)
West of Here (2002)
Get Well Soon (2001)
G-Men from Hell (2000)
Drop Back Ten (2000)
October 22 (1998)
The Thin Pink Line (1998)
The Only Thrill (1997)
Holy Matrimony (1994)
Ethan Frome (1993)
Love Potion No. 9 (1992)
Inside Monkey Zetterland (1992)
Little Noises (1992)
Memphis Belle (1990)
Dead Bang (1989)
Dangerous Curves (1988)
Clean and Sober (1988)
No Small Affair (1984)