Bob Balaban

Birthday: Aug 16, 1945
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Playing a succession of bespectacled, soft-spoken, yet vaguely superior characters, Bob Balaban carved himself a niche as a reliable character actor in the last quarter of the 20th century, while also getting the occasional opportunity to write and direct for the screen. The nephew and cousin of industry personages, Balaban got the acting bug at Colgate University and N.Y.U., inspiring him to study with Uta Hagen and Viola Spolin. After some exposure on and off-Broadway in the late 1960s, Balaban made his film debut in Midnight Cowboy (1969), playing the high school student who meets Jon Voight in the movie theater for a tryst. Working sporadically through the '70s, more in theater and TV than film, Balaban developed a more familiar face with such roles as the cartographer and French translator from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978) and the attorney hired to help Richard Dreyfuss' quadriplegic choose to die in Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981). Balaban's major contribution to the industry in the 1980s was as a director, first of the disappointing Showtime movie The Brass Ring (1983) and then of the macabre weekly TV series Tales of the Darkside (1984) and Amazing Stories (1985). His big-screen directorial debut, the cannibal-themed black comedy Parents (1989), was considered either an objectionable failure by some or a devious cult classic by others; two later forays into directing (My Boyfriend's Back in 1993, The Last Good Time in 1994) were better received.In the 1990s, Balaban returned his focus to acting, especially as he caught on with more regular parts in the latter half of the decade. His most widely seen role was the NBC executive who accepts, then declines, then accepts again the pilot written by George and Jerry on the popular sitcom Seinfeld. His Russell Dalrymple appeared in only six episodes in the 1992-1993 season but was featured prominently in the season finale, lost at sea and presumed dead in his all-consuming quest to win Elaine's affections. It was this Seinfeld gig that netted Balaban the most regular and prominent work of his career in the years that followed. Although often still appearing in serious roles, Balaban indulged his talent for subtle comedy by linking up with actor/director Christopher Guest and appearing in two of his acclaimed faux documentaries, Waiting for Guffman (1996) and Best in Show (2000).Balaban scored a major art-house and critical successes producing and playing one of the main characters in Robert Altman's murder-mystery Gosford Park, and appearing as an ineffective father in Ghost World. That same year he appeared in important supporting roles in such big-budget fare as The Mexican and The Majestic. He maintained his carer in the independent world hooking up again with Christopher Guest for A Mighty Wind, and making a cameo appearance in the Oscar nominated Capote. Balaban appeared in and helped produce the animated Hollywood satire Hopeless Pictures, which ran on IFC in 2005. 2006 proved to be a very busy year for the multi-talented Balaban. In addition to another ollaboration with Guest, For Your Consideration, he played a film critic in M. Nght Shyamalan's The Lady in the Water. He also directed Ralph Finnes and Susan Sarandon in Doris and Bernard.Over the coming years, Balaban would continue to find outlets for his unique screen presence, appearing on the popular comedy series Web Therapy, and narrating the Wes Anderson comedy Moonrise Kingdom.


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet The French Dispatch Actor 2019
No Score Yet Poderia Me Perdoar? Executive Producer 2018
22% An L.A. Minute Shelly 2018
90% Isle of Dogs King 2018
100% Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 40th Anniversary Release David Laughlin $3.1M 2017
79% Eva Hesse Wilhelm Hesse $0.2M 2016
100% Everything Is Copy Actor 2016
49% Mascots Sol Lumpkin 2016
58% I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House Mr. Waxcap 2016
96% Hitchcock/Truffaut Actor $0.4M 2015
55% Fading Gigolo Sol $3.2M 2014
91% The Grand Budapest Hotel M. Martin "The Society of the Crossed Keys" $57M 2014
30% The Monuments Men Preston Savitz $67.3M 2014
22% Girl Most Likely Actor $1.4M 2013
93% Moonrise Kingdom The Narrator $45.6M 2012
69% The Convincer (Thin Ice) Leonard Dahl $0.7M 2012
62% Howl Judge Clayton Horn $0.7M 2010
No Score Yet Georgia O'Keeffe Director 2009
86% The Windmill Movie Actor 2009
29% Rage Mr. White 2009
77% Recount Ben Ginsberg 2008
No Score Yet Bernard and Doris Producer Director Executive Producer 2007
40% Dedication Arthur Planck 2007
42% No Reservations Therapist $43.2M 2007
52% For Your Consideration Philip Koontz $5.5M 2006
28% Trust the Man Actor $1.5M 2006
25% Lady in the Water Harry Farber $42.3M 2006
90% Capote William Shawn $28.4M 2005
No Score Yet The Exonerated Director 2005
No Score Yet Marie and Bruce Roger 2004
87% A Mighty Wind Jonathan Steinbloom $17.5M 2003
No Score Yet Plan B James 2002
21% The Tuxedo CSA Director (uncredited) $50.2M 2002
86% Gosford Park Morris Weissman Producer $41.3M 2001
42% The Majestic Majority Counsel Elvin Clyde 2001
92% Ghost World Enid's Father $4.7M 2001
55% The Mexican Nayman $66.6M 2001
94% Best in Show Dr. Millbank $16.6M 2000
No Score Yet The Monster Hunter Actor 2000
64% Cradle Will Rock Harry Hopkins 1999
28% Three to Tango Decker 1999
29% Jakob the Liar Kowalsky 1999
83% Clockwatchers Milton Lasky 1998
73% Deconstructing Harry Richard 1997
No Score Yet Subway Stories Director 1997
No Score Yet SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground Director 1997
No Score Yet No Money Down Actor 1997
No Score Yet The Late Shift Warren Littlefield 1996
91% Waiting for Guffman Lloyd Miller 1996
No Score Yet Pie in the Sky Paul 1996
89% The Last Good Time Screenwriter Director Producer 1995
18% City Slickers 2 - The Legend of Curly's Gold Radio Shrink 1994
28% Greedy Ed 1994
37% For Love or Money Drinkwater 1993
14% My Boyfriend's Back Director 1993
20% Amos & Andrew Dr. Fink 1993
97% Bob Roberts Producer Michael Janes, `Cutting Edge Live' 1992
73% Little Man Tate Odyssey of the Mind Questioner 1991
No Score Yet Unnatural Pursuits Actor 1991
75% Alice Sid Moscowitz 1990
No Score Yet The Face of Fear Ira Preduski 1990
33% Dead Bang Elliot Webly 1989
50% Parents Director 1989
60% End of the Line Gerber 1987
65% 2010 Dr. R. Chandra 1984
No Score Yet In Our Hands Actor 1984
86% Whose Life Is It Anyway? Carter Hill 1981
83% Absence Of Malice Rosen 1981
91% Prince of the City Santimassino 1981
86% Altered States Arthur Rosenberg 1980
100% Girlfriends Martin 1978
95% Close Encounters of the Third Kind David Laughlin 1977
No Score Yet Report to the Commissioner Joey Egan 1975
No Score Yet Bank Shot Victor Karp 1974
No Score Yet Making It Wilkie 1971
79% Catch-22 Capt. Orr 1970
No Score Yet The Strawberry Statement Elliot 1970
No Score Yet Me, Natalie Morris 1969
91% Midnight Cowboy Young Student 1969


86% Condor
  • 2018
90% Wormwood
Dr. Harold A. Abramson
  • 2017
94% Pitch
Frank Reid
  • 2016
98% Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
96% Show Me a Hero
Leonard Sand
  • 2015
  • 15
89% Girls
Dr. Rice
  • 2014
No Score Yet Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • 2014
No Score Yet Alpha House #DEL
  • 2014
  • 2013
81% Nurse Jackie
  • 2012
  • 2011
96% The Good Wife
Gordon Higgs
  • 2012
  • 2011
No Score Yet Swingtown
  • 2008
66% Entourage
  • 2007
No Score Yet The Twilight Zone
  • 2003
  • 2002
100% Now and Again
  • 2000
75% The West Wing
Ted Marcus
  • 2000
No Score Yet Strangers with Candy
  • 1999
No Score Yet Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist
  • 1999
  • 1998
89% Oz
  • 1998
  • 1997
89% Seinfeld
Russell Dalrimple Dalrymple Russell Dalrymple
  • 1998
  • 1993
  • 1992
  • 1990
100% Eerie, Indiana
  • 1992
  • 1991
No Score Yet Miami Vice
Journalist Stone
  • 1986
  • 1985
No Score Yet Tales From the Darkside
  • 1983
No Score Yet Maude
  • 1977
60% Legend