Bill Irwin

Bill Irwin

Highest Rated: 92% The Laramie Project (2002)

Lowest Rated: 23% Just the Ticket (1999)

Birthday: Apr 11, 1950

Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, USA

A rubber-bodied actor/clown who worked in film and TV but was primarily renowned for his vaudeville inspired performance art in which he performed silent comedy in old-fashioned baggy attire, Bill Irwin studied classical acting at Oberlin College and clowning at the famed Ringling Brothers' and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. He also drew inspiration from great silent comics including Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Irwin made his feature debut as Ham Gravy, an old beau of Olive Oyl, in Robert Altman's "Popeye" (1980). In the early 1980s, he received numerous grants including the prestigious MacArthur fellowship, which supported him for five years as he expanded his various talents. This included co-writing, directing and starring in the Broadway show "The Regard of Flight" (1987), a comic showcase; writing, directing and starring in the off-off-Broadway drama "The Court Room"; and appearing alongside Robin Williams, Steve Martin and F. Murray Abraham in the Mike Nichols-directed 1988 revival of Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" as the almost silent Lucky. His feature roles included Eddie Collins, a member of the Chicago "Black" Sox, in John Sayles' "Eight Men Out" (1988), Rick Moranis' FBI partner in "My Blue Heaven" (1990), a mime who taunts Woody Allen in "Scenes From a Mall" and Charlie Sheen's ill-fated father in "Hot Shots!" (both 1991). He received his widest exposure on the series "Northern Exposure" as the mostly silent Flying Man, a circus performer and would-be boyfriend of Marilyn Whirlwind. Irwin returned to the Broadway stage with fellow clown David Shiner in the uproarious silent comedy "Fool Moon" (1993 and 1995 and 1998), for which he won a Tony Award in 1999. Irwin next had a small role in Sam Shepard's mannered western, "Silent Tongue" (1993), then put in appearances in episodes of "Dave's World" (CBS, 1993-1997) and "3rd Rock from the Sun" (NBC, 1995-2001). He spent the remainder of the 1990s doing a variety of theater, including the Public Theater's production of Samuel Beckett's "Texts for Nothing." He also played Trinculo in "The Tempest" starring Patrick Stewart, Galy Gay in Bertolt Brecht's "A Man's a Man" and Medvedenko in Chekhov's "The Seagull." He returned to features with a small role in the period comedy "Illuminata" (1999), then was Tom Snout in a modern take on The Bard's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999). After a small part in the indie romantic comedy "Just the Ticket" (1999), Irwin was the father of darling Cindy Lou Who in Ron Howard's ADD-inducing "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000). Irwin appeared in HBO's "The Laramie Project" (2002), a docudrama focusing on the trial and reaction of the brutal murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard. After appearing in "The Guys" with Sigourney Weaver and "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia" with Sally Field-both in 2002-Irwin appeared as a barking drill instructor who tries to shape up an angry, rebellious seventeen-year-old (Kieran Culkin) in "Igby Goes Down" (2002). In 2003, he wrote and performed "Harlequin Studies" for the Signature Theater Company in New York, a commedia dell'arte featuring Irwin reinventing himself into different clowns by repeatedly re-emerging from an oversized trunk, once again earning the talent artist rave reviews. A small role as a scoutmaster in Jonathan Demme's remake of the classic psychological thriller, "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004) was followed by a Tony Award-winning performance as George-chief foil and favorite punching bag of the drunken, slovenly Martha (Kathleen Turner)-in a Broadway production of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Irwin then costarred in M. Night Shyamalan's much-maligned "Lady in the Water" (2006), playing a bookish shut-in who barely speaks to his fellow apartment tenants as they try to help their superintendent (Paul Giamatti) get a mysterious water nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) back to her world before she's killed by evil creatures out to get her.

Highest rated movies

The Laramie Project
Lust Life Love
Eight Men Out
Rachel Getting Married
Higher Ground
My Blue Heaven
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream




No Score Yet No Score Yet Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies Unknown (Character) - 2022
91% 80% Lust Life Love Richard (Character) - 2021
83% 73% Confirmation John Danforth (Character) - 2016
73% 86% Interstellar TARS (Voice) $188.0M 2014
82% 62% Higher Ground Pastor Bud (Character) $841.2K 2011
84% 62% Rachel Getting Married Paul (Character) $12.8M 2008
40% 40% Dark Matter Hal Silver (Character) $30.0K 2007
53% 82% Across the Universe Uncle Teddy (Character) $24.3M 2007
25% 49% Lady in the Water Mr. Leeds (Character) $42.3M 2006
92% 80% The Laramie Project Harry Woods (Character) - 2002
49% 56% How the Grinch Stole Christmas Lou Lou Who (Character) $260.4M 2000
67% 60% William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream Tom Snout (Character) - 1999
23% 39% Just the Ticket Ray Charles (Character) $427.9K 1999
No Score Yet No Score Yet The Guardian Writer - 1999
44% 67% Illuminata Marco (Character) $836.6K 1998
No Score Yet 61% Subway Stories Self - 1997
38% 47% Silent Tongue Comic (Character) - 1994
32% 25% Scenes From a Mall Mime (Character) $9.2M 1991
No Score Yet 72% Stepping Out Geoffrey (Character) $232.3K 1991
70% 59% My Blue Heaven Kirby (Character) $22.8M 1990
86% 79% Eight Men Out Eddie Collins (Character) $4.3M 1988
58% 39% Popeye Ham Gravy (Character) - 1980


78% 89% Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Dr. Peter Lindstrom (Guest Star) 2013-2016 2020-2022
94% 78% This Is Us Dr. Spencer (Guest Star) 2018 2022
89% 80% The Dropout Channing Robertson (Character) 2022
No Score Yet 55% New Amsterdam Calvin Bennett (Guest Star) 2021
91% 86% Legion Cary (Character) 2017-2019
No Score Yet 100% Julie's Greenroom Unknown (Guest Star) 2017
76% 74% Sleepy Hollow Unknown (Guest Star) 2015-2016
0% 37% South of Hell Enos Abascal (Character) 2015
No Score Yet 88% Blue Bloods Unknown (Guest Star) 2014
95% 89% Elementary Richard Balsille (Guest Star) 2014
52% 50% Monday Mornings Dr. Buck Tierney (Character) 2013
66% 70% A Gifted Man Ron Vinetz (Guest Star) 2011
No Score Yet 80% CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Unknown (Guest Star) 2008-2011
No Score Yet 50% Life on Mars Unknown (Guest Star) 2008
No Score Yet 96% Law & Order Unknown (Guest Star) 2008
No Score Yet 84% Law & Order: Criminal Intent Nate Royce (Guest Star) 2006
No Score Yet 96% Sesame Street Unknown (Character),
Unknown (Guest Star)
1998 2000
No Score Yet 73% 3rd Rock From the Sun Unknown (Guest Star) 1998
No Score Yet No Score Yet Dave's World Unknown (Guest Star) 1996
No Score Yet 54% The Cosby Show Unknown (Guest Star) 1987