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David Schwimmer

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David Schwimmer

David Schwimmer
Schwimmer in 2007
Born David Lawrence Schwimmer
(1966-11-02) November 2, 1966
Flushing, Queens, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Northwestern University
Occupation Actor, producer, director
Years active 1989–present
Television Friends
Spouse(s) Zoë Buckman (m. 2010)
Children 1

David Lawrence Schwimmer (born November 2, 1966)[1] is an American actor, director, producer and comedian. He was born in Flushing, Queens, New York, and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was 2. He began his acting career performing in school plays at Beverly Hills High School. In 1988, he graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater and speech. After graduation, Schwimmer co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company. For much of the late 1980s, he lived in Los Angeles as a struggling, unemployed actor.

He starred in the television movie A Deadly Silence in 1989 and appeared in a number of television roles, including on L.A. Law, The Wonder Years, NYPD Blue, and Monty, in the early 1990s. Schwimmer later gained worldwide recognition for playing Ross Geller in the sitcom Friends. His first leading film role was in The Pallbearer (1996), which was followed by roles in Kissing a Fool (1998), Six Days Seven Nights (1998), Apt Pupil, and Picking Up the Pieces (2000). He was then cast in the miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) as Herbert Sobel. After the series finale of Friends in 2004, Schwimmer was cast as the titular character in the 2005 drama Duane Hopwood. Other film roles include Melman in the computer animated Madagascar films, the dark comedy Big Nothing (2006), and the thriller Nothing But the Truth (2008). Schwimmer made his West End stage debut in the leading role in Some Girl(s) in 2005. In 2006, he made his Broadway debut in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Schwimmer made his feature film directorial debut with the 2007 comedy Run Fatboy Run. The following year he made his Off-Broadway directorial debut in the 2008 production, Fault Lines.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Early work 2.1
    • Acting roles 2.2
    • Later career 2.3
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
  • Awards and nominations 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Schwimmer was born in Flushing, Queens,[2] New York City, to attorneys Arthur and Arlene Coleman-Schwimmer.[3] He has an older sister named Ellie (born 1965).[1] His family subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where Schwimmer had his first experiences of acting at the age of 10 when he was cast as the fairy godmother in a Jewish version of Cinderella.[1] In 1979, Schwimmer went to a Shakespeare workshop given by English actor Ian McKellen in Los Angeles.[4] He recalls that he was riveted by the experience.[4] Schwimmer then entered a contest in the Southern California Shakespeare Festival three years in a row, winning two first prizes.[4][5]

Following his mother's successful career as a divorce lawyer, the family moved to Beverly Hills, where Schwimmer attended Beverly Hills High School.[4][5] Schwimmer admitted to being an outsider during his time at the school, recalling, "When I was there I always felt: 'This is not me, I'm surrounded by people with a different value system. And I just wanted to get out of California.'"[4] He was best at the subjects of science and math and thought he would become a doctor.[4] Schwimmer enrolled in a drama class, where he appeared in stage productions. Encouraged by his school drama teacher to further his acting, he flew to Chicago for an acting workshop. He noted that the experience was both "enlightening and exhilarating".[3] In 1984, Schwimmer graduated from Beverly Hills High and wanted to go straight into acting, but his parents insisted he go to college first so he would have something to fall back on.[4] Schwimmer moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University, where he had attended a summer drama course when he was 16 years old.[4] At the university, he enrolled as a theater major, joining Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and Arts Alliance.[1][3] After graduating in 1988, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and speech, Schwimmer co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company.[3] Subsequently, he returned to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.[1][3]


Early work

After his supporting role debut in the ABC television movie A Deadly Silence (1989),[6] Schwimmer followed this with roles on the legal drama L.A. Law in 1992, and the comedy-drama series The Wonder Years.[4] He made his feature film debut in Flight of the Intruder (1991),[1] had a recurring role as a lawyer-turned-vigilante in NYPD Blue before auditioning, unsuccessfully, for a series pilot called Couples.[1] He landed his first regular series role as the liberal son of a conservative talk show host (Henry Winkler) in the sitcom Monty.[1]

Acting roles

In 1994, Schwimmer was cast as Ross Geller in NBC's situation comedy Friends, a series that revolved around a group of friends who live near each other in Manhattan. He played a hopeless-romantic paleontologist who works at a museum and later becomes a professor at a university. Schwimmer initially turned down the role as Ross, but accepted afterwards.[7] Executive producer Kevin S. Bright said that he had previously worked with Schwimmer,[8] the character of Ross was written with him in mind, and he was the first actor cast.[7] Schwimmer based Ross on Nicolas Cage's role of Charlie from the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married.[9] The show debuted on September 22, 1994, and was watched by almost 22 million American viewers.[10] Friends quickly developed a loyal audience, with the show and Schwimmer receiving strong reviews. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was complimentary of Schwimmer, calling him "terrific".[11] Variety's television reviewer, said: "All six of the principals, especially (Courteney) Cox and Schwimmer, appear resourceful and display sharp sitcom skills".[12] For this performance, he earned an Emmy Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1995.[13]

Schwimmer starred in his first leading film role in the 1996 romantic comedy film, The Pallbearer with Gwyneth Paltrow.[14] In the film, Schwimmer plays a man asked to deliver the eulogy for a high school friend he cannot remember, and begins an affair with the friend's mother. Critics dismissed The Pallbearer as a poor imitation of the 1967 film The Graduate.[15][16] Variety's film reviewer complimented the actor, writing that he had enjoyed his performance, stating that he displayed "a winning, if rather deadpan, personality along with good comic timing".[17] It also concluded that Schwimmer had a "promising bigscreen future".[17] Janet Maslin of The New York Times cited that his first film "relegates him to a drab role".[14] When asked why he decided to accept the role, Schwimmer admitted the decision was to "make an effort to find roles that are as far away from the character of Ross as possible".[4] He was offered a role to star alongside Tommy Lee Jones in the 1997 science-fiction comedy Men in Black, but turned it down in favor of starring in The Pallbearer, explaining, "This is an opportunity to grow rather than go for the quick cash".[18]

His next film roles in 1998 were Kissing a Fool, Six Days Seven Nights, and Apt Pupil. In Kissing a Fool, a romantic comedy, Schwimmer played Max, a dapper, smart-mouthed ladies' man.[19] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Fans of the sitcom Friends may be surprised by David Schwimmer in Kissing a Fool. [...] Take it from someone who has never seen Friends and comes at Schwimmer with no preconceptions: He does just fine. As a TV sports reporter in Kissing a Fool, he oozes the command and self-satisfaction of a young, successful man".[19] The film was critically and financially unsuccessful.[20] In Six Days Seven Nights, he played the boyfriend of Anne Heche's character. In Apt Pupil, adapted from a novella of the same name by Stephen King,[21] he had a supporting role as a school guidance counselor. "I was scared of the part", Schwimmer said, "but I wanted to be part of the movie". At the time, he noted it was a "little frustrating" that people would typecast him due to his role on Friends.[22] He subsequently appeared opposite Woody Allen and Sharon Stone in Alfonso Arau's straight-to-cable comedy Picking Up the Pieces (2000).

In 2001, Schwimmer played Captain Herbert M. Sobel in Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks' HBO World War II miniseries Band of Brothers. The television miniseries is based on the book of the same title written by historian and biographer Stephen Ambrose.[23] Although Band of Brothers was met with largely positive reception,[24] Schwimmer's performance was criticized; the BBC News concluded, "Part of the problem ... may have been the ridiculous fact that Friends favourite David Schwimmer plays the hard and cruel Captain Herbert Sobel. The only thing believable about Schwimmer's acting is when he cowers in the face of true battle. His puppy dog eyes make him appear even more pitiful".[25] Later that year he portrayed Yitzhak Zuckerman in the war drama Uprising, based on the true events of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.[26][27]

In March 2004, Schwimmer appeared as himself on HBO's comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm.[28] During the lengthy run of Friends, Schwimmer directed ten of the show's episodes.[29][30] The show's tenth and final season ended on May 6, 2004.[31]

Later career

After Friends, Schwimmer starred in the 2005 independent drama Duane Hopwood, as the titular character who is an alcoholic whose life is spiraling downward rapidly after a divorce and is looking to turn his life around. The film received ambivalent reviews.[32] Despite the reception, Schwimmer's performance was favored by critics; Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the role was Schwimmer's "career-transforming performance".[33] Duane Hopwood was screened at a special presentation at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.[34] Furthermore in the same year he voiced Melman, a hypochondriac giraffe, in the computer animated film Madagascar (2005).[35] The Washington Post noted that Schwimmer is particularly appealing as Melman.[36] Despite the mixed response from critics,[37] the film was a commercial success, earning US$532 million worldwide,[38] making it one of the biggest hits of 2005.[39]

Schwimmer starred on the London stage in May 2005, with Catherine Tate, Lesley Manville, Sara Powell, and Saffron Burrows, in Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s) at the Gielgud Theatre.[40] In the production, he plays a teacher who is ready to settle down and marry, but decides to visit four ex-girlfriends first.[41] For his performance, Schwimmer received critical reviews. The Independent wrote that Schwimmer "is not called upon to extend his range nearly as far as one might have expected in Some Girl(s). [...] Schwimmer remains bland, competent, and boyish—though not fatally boyish in the manner that appears to have turned these women on".[42] However, Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph praised Schwimmer, reporting he "proves inspired casting. He takes to the stage with ... his endearing gaucheness seems designed to ensure our continued sympathy. Schwimmer mercilessly lays bare his character's opportunism, casual cruelties, and chronic self-deception".[42]

In 2006, he made his Broadway debut in Herman Wouk's two-act play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.[43] Schwimmer played the role of Lieutenant Barney Greenwald in the production, which was directed by Jerry Zaks.[44] In an interview with New York magazine, he revealed that he had wanted to try Broadway, however said "a couple of things came up that just never quite felt right. Either because I liked the play but wasn’t hot on the director, or there was another star attached that I wasn't jazzed about working with".[45] He further added that when showed a copy of Wouk's novel "...I was shocked at how good the writing was".[45] His next film role was in the 2006 black comedy Big Nothing, in which he played a bitter, unemployed scientist.[46]

Schwimmer made his directorial feature debut in the 2007 British comedy film Run Fatboy Run. The film stars Simon Pegg as a man who signs up for a marathon (he is out of shape) to convince his former fiancée and five-year-old son that he has turned his life around.[29] When asked why he decided to direct the film, Schwimmer said: "As a director, I was struck by the challenge that I thought the script presented, which was that it was kind of three films in one. You had some great, big physical comedy, and I thought funny dialogue and characters. And then there was some real emotion to it with the relationship between the father and the son and the romance aspect".[47] Run Fatboy Run garnered mixed reception, with the New York Daily News rating it one-and-a-half out of five stars and writing, "Most disappointing is how Schwimmer—who spent 10 seasons on a sitcom filled with hyperverbal characters—manages to bumble 'Fatboy's' tender moments".[48] USA Today, however, was favorable towards Schwimmer, reporting he possesses filmmaking finesse "having wisely chosen strong comic material for his debut behind the camera".[49] For his directorial work, he was nominated for a British Independent Film Award in the category of Best Debut Director.[50]

On November 8, 2007, Schwimmer made a guest appearance in the second season of the television series 30 Rock, where he played Greenzo, an NBC environmental mascot.[51] The following year, he was part of an ensemble cast that included Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, and Noah Wyle in the thriller Nothing But the Truth (2008).[52] The movie received generally favorable reviews.[53] The success of Madagascar led Schwimmer to return to the role of Melman in the 2008 sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. The film earned US$603 million at the international box office.[54] Schwimmer took part in directing in-studio segments for Little Britain USA, an American spinoff of the British BBC television series Little Britain.[55] In regard to this, he commented that he had "a good time directing episodes" for the show.[56]

In October 2008, Schwimmer made his Off-Broadway directorial debut in Fault Lines at the Chicago Tribune.[59]

On August 2, 2009, Schwimmer played himself in the sixth season of the HBO television series, Entourage. In the episode, Ari Gold's (Jeremy Piven) agency tries to steer his career back to television.[61] Schwimmer directed his second feature, Trust, starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener. The film, a drama, is about a family whose teenage daughter becomes victim of an online sexual predator.[62][63] Trust premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.[64] On January 1, 2011, Schwimmer guest-starred on the British comedy series Come Fly With Me starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams, whom he directed in Little Britain USA.[65]

Schwimmer has been cast as the lead in the ABC comedy pilot Irreversible. He will play "one half of a somewhat eccentric, self-absorbed couple" in his first comedic television role since Friends finished in 2004.[66][67] In December 2014, it was announced that he will play Robert Kardashian in the first season of the FX miniseries American Crime Story.[68]

Personal life

In the early 2000s, Schwimmer dated Australian pop singer Natalie Imbruglia,[69] Israeli actress Mili Avital,[70] and American actress Rochelle Ovitt. In 2007, Schwimmer and British artist Zoë Buckman began a relationship.[71] In March 2010, Schwimmer announced their engagement[72] and married Buckman in a small private ceremony that June.[73][74] On May 8, 2011, the couple had a daughter, Cleo Buckman Schwimmer.[75]

In June 2006, Schwimmer won a US$400,000 defamation lawsuit against Aaron Tonken, a former charity fundraiser. Tonken claimed Schwimmer had demanded Rolex watches in order to appear at his own charity event, a claim that Schwimmer had denied.[76]

Schwimmer is an active director of the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, which specializes in helping victims of date rape and child rape.[5] He has also campaigned for legislation to ban drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB.[5] In November 2011, he gave the Scottish charity Children 1st permission to screen his film Trust to commemorate World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse and Violence against Children.[77]

In 2012 he rebutted two longstanding rumors: one that he appeared as a soldier on a train in Biloxi Blues (1988), saying, "No. I don't know why that's on IMDb, but I never was in that", and the other that he is related to dancer Lacey Schwimmer, saying, "No, not at all. Please set the record straight. I guess it's a natural assumption because we have the same last name, but no. I've never even met her".[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Flight of the Intruder Duty Officer
1992 Crossing the Bridge John Anderson
1993 Twenty Bucks Neil Campbell
1994 Wolf Cop
1996 The Pallbearer Tom Thompson
1997 Breast Men Dr. Kevin Saunders
1998 The Thin Pink Line Kelly Goodish/J.T.
1998 Kissing a Fool Max Abbitt
1998 Six Days Seven Nights Frank Martin
1998 Since You've Been Gone Robert S. Levitt Director
1998 Apt Pupil Edward French
1999 It's the Rage Chris
2000 Love & Sex Jehovah's Witness Uncredited
2000 Picking Up the Pieces Father Leo Jerome
2001 Hotel Jonathan Danderfine
2005 Duane Hopwood Duane Hopwood
2005 Madagascar Melman Voice
2006 Big Nothing Charlie
2007 Run Fatboy Run Director
2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Melman Voice
2008 Nothing But the Truth Ray Armstrong
2010 Trust Director
2012 John Carter Young Thark Warrior
2012 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Melman Voice
2013 Madly Madagascar Melman Voice
2013 The Iceman Josh Rosenthal
Year Title Role Notes
1991–1992 The Wonder Years Michael 4 episodes
1992–1993 L.A. Law Dana Romney 5 episodes
1993 NYPD Blue Josh '4B' Goldstein 4 episodes
1993 Blossom Sonny Catalano 2 episodes
1994 Monty Greg Richardson
1994–2004 Friends Ross Geller 236 episodes, directed 10 episodes
1995 The Single Guy Ross Geller Episode: "Neighbors"
1996 ER Dr. Karubian Uncredited
Voice Only
Episode: "Doctor Carter, I Presume"
1998 Since You've Been Gone Robert S. Levitt ABC television film
2001 Band of Brothers Captain Herbert Sobel HBO Miniseries
3 episodes
2001 Uprising Yitzhak Zuckerman NBC television film
2002–2003 The Jamie Kennedy Experiment Himself 2 episodes
2004 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself 3 episodes
2004–2006 Joey Directed various episodes
2006 Sports Medicine Dr. Brock Roy
2007 30 Rock Greenzo/Jared Episode: "Greenzo"
2008 Little Britain USA Director
2009 Entourage Himself Episode: "Running on E"
2009 Merry Madagascar Melman Voice
2011 Come Fly With Me Himself Episode 2
2012 Web Therapy Newell Miller 4 episodes
2014 Growing Up Fisher Director ("Pilot")
2015 Episodes Himself Season 4 Episode 5
2016 American Crime Story Robert Kardashian

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Series Result
1995 Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
1996 American Comedy Awards Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series Friends Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Won
1999 Blockbuster Entertainment Award Favorite Supporting Actor in a Comedy/Romance Six Days, Seven Nights Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
2000 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
TV Guide Awards Editor's Choice Friends Won
2001 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
2002 Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Band of Brothers Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
2003 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Friends Nominated
2006 TV Land Award Most Memorable Kiss Friends Nominated
2007 British Independent Film Awards Douglas Hickox Award Run Fatboy Run Nominated
TV Land Awards Break Up That Was So Bad It Was Good Friends Nominated

See also


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  2. ^ a b Schwimmer, in
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  74. ^ Jennifer Lipman. "David Schwimmer marries in secret". The Jewish Chronicle. October 12, 2010. "The Jewish actor, star of the hit series Friends, tied the knot with Zoe Buckman in a small private ceremony".
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External links

  • David Schwimmer at the Internet Movie Database
  • Lawrence, Will. "David Schwimmer: From Central Perk to the East End." The Daily Telegraph. August 31, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2009.
  • Greenstreet, Rosanna. "Q&A: David Schwimmer." The Guardian. September 8, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2009.
  • Pratt, Steve. "New direction." The Northern Echo. September 8, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2009.
  • Fanning, Evan. "Everyone wants to be his friend." Irish Independent. September 9, 2007. Accessed June 10, 2009.
  • DiLiberto, Rebecca. "Indirect routes." The Boston Globe. March 23, 2008. Accessed June 10, 2009.
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