Michael Higgins - Rotten Tomatoes

Michael Higgins

Highest Rated:   100% The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)
Lowest Rated:   14% Swimfan (2002)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Brooklyn, New York, New York, USA
Primarily a New York-based actor since the '40s, Michael Higgins' film appearances were relatively limited until the late '70s -- but that didn't stop him from doing some exceptional and memorable work on the big and small screens. Born in Brooklyn, he attended St. Michael's High School in the middle and late '30s, which was where he was first bitten by the acting bug -- while in his teens, he ended up joining the Shakespeare Fellowship of America, a semi-professional performing group that performed the Bard's plays in high schools. His theatrical aspirations were interrupted by the Second World War, during which Higgins served with the 337th Infantry in Italy, where he was wounded in combat and achieved the rank of lieutenant, and earned a Bronze Star as well as the Purple Heart. After the war, he resumed his career and made his Broadway debut with Katharine Cornell in Candida in 1946. His subsequent Broadway credits included Antigone, The Lark, and Romeo and Juliet, and he also became a familiar figure on the off-Broadway stage, in productions of Doctor Faustus, White Devil, The First Year, and The Crucible, the latter in the role of John Proctor opposite Barbara Barrie as Elizabeth Proctor. His other theatrical credits included J.B., which he did on tour with Basil Rathbone in 1959 and 1960. Apart from a few isolated instances -- an early appearance in Joseph Henaberry's 1948 documentary Shades of Gray, and a lead performance in Irving Lerner's independently produced crime drama Edge of Fury (1958) -- Higgins didn't start working in movies until he had 25 years under his belt in theater. He did do lots of television, however, including some exceptional performances on anthology shows such as Omnibus, Playhouse 90, Studio One, One Step Beyond, and The Outer Limits ("The Mice," playing the too-trusting lead scientist), and even managed one major sitcom appearance, on The Andy Griffith Show (in "Barney Hosts a Summit Meeting," a much-watched episode that featured a return appearance by co-star Don Knotts). Generally, however, he was associated with more serious vehicles -- John Crosby of the New York Herald Tribune, writing of his portrayal of Hector in The Iliad, in the 1955 season opener of Omnibus, called Higgins "easily the best actor on the premises." He racked up exceptional reviews on the stage throughout the '50s and '60s, including a memorable turn as Macbeth at the 1962 New York Shakespeare Festival. From 1969 onward, starting with Elia Kazan's The Arrangement, Higgins began appearing regularly on the big screen, in important supporting roles and the occasional lead, such as in Barbara Loden's Wanda (1970), working with such diverse talents as Francis Ford Coppola in The Conversation (1974), Bryan Forbes in The Stepford Wives (1975), and Woody Allen in New York Stories (1989), and in cult favorites such as King of the Gypsies (1978) as well as mega-hits like The Black Stallion (1979). All of this was interspersed with occasional returns to television in vehicles such as James Goldstone's Kent State (1981). Indeed, television audiences of the 21st century may know Higgins best for his award-caliber guest performances in two episodes of the series Law & Order, in "In Memory Of," in which he played a man hiding an unspeakably brutal, decades-old crime that he committed against a 10-year-old boy, who is willing to sacrifice even his own daughter's mental health to protect himself; and "Ramparts," playing a retired campus security guard implicated in a 35-year-old shooting who discovers that he was himself an unintended victim of a subterfuge by the very forces of law-and-order that he thought he was protecting. Michael Higgins made both episodes memorable by his presence and performances, in roles evoking widely divergent levels of sympathy.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
50% Maleficent
  • Young Stefan
$190.9M 2014
69% Synecdoche, New York
  • Actor
$3M 2008
39% The Favor
  • Mr. Ritter
2008
89% The Savages
  • Resident No. 1
$6.5M 2007
21% Fred Claus
  • Actor
$72M 2007
65% Off the Black
  • Al Cook
2006
63% Clerks II
  • Dancer
$24M 2006
14% Swimfan
  • Mr. Tillman
$28.4M 2002
54% Austin Powers in Goldmember
  • Dancer
$213.1M 2002
86% State and Main
  • Doc Wilson
$5.8M 2000
No Score Yet Annie
  • Dancer
1999
85% The Sixth Sense
  • Actor
1999
62% The Impostors
  • Older Man
1999
18% Just the Ticket
  • Confessional Priest
1999
No Score Yet Calm at Sunset
  • Grandpa
1996
No Score Yet Spellbreaker: Secret of the Leprechauns (Leapin' Leprechauns! 2)
  • Casey
1996
68% School Ties
  • Mr. Gierasch
1992
50% Death Becomes Her
  • Dancer
1992
55% Wind
  • Artemus
1992
No Score Yet An Empty Bed
  • Man in 50's Restaurant
1990
33% Dead Bang
  • Rev. Gebhardt
1989
73% New York Stories
  • Robber
$10.8M 1989
67% Crusoe
  • Dr. Martin
1988
No Score Yet Courtship
  • Mr. Vaughn
1987
79% Angel Heart
  • Dr. Albert Fowler
1987
No Score Yet Barnum
  • Phineas Taylor
1986
No Score Yet On Valentine's Day
  • Henry Vaughn
1986
No Score Yet Nobody's Child
  • Dr. Walker
1986
No Score Yet 1918
  • Mr. Vaughn
1985
38% Girls Just Want to Have Fun
  • Featured Dancer
1985
No Score Yet Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter
  • William Spear
1984
71% Rumble Fish
  • Harrigan
1983
74% A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy
  • Reynolds
1982
No Score Yet Kent State
  • Actor
1981
83% Fort Apache, the Bronx
  • Hefferman
1981
No Score Yet A Time for Miracles
  • Actor
1980
No Score Yet Paul's Case
  • Actor
1980
88% The Black Stallion
  • Neville
1979
100% The Seduction of Joe Tynan
  • Sen. Pardew
1979
80% King of the Gypsies
  • Judge
1978
No Score Yet An Enemy of the People
  • Billing
1978
69% The Stepford Wives
  • Mr. Cornell
1975
98% The Conversation
  • Paul
1974
No Score Yet Desperate Characters
  • Francis Early
1971
94% Wanda
  • Norman Dennis
1971
14% The Arrangement
  • Michael
1969
No Score Yet Edge of Fury
  • Actor
1958

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
7% I Hate My Teenage Daughter
2011-2012
  • Dancer No. 3
  • 2011
No Score Yet Law & Order
1990-2010
  • Thad Messimer Darryl Grady Grady Messimer
  • 1999
  • 1991

Quotes from Michael Higgins' Characters

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