Bruce Dern is an American actor best known to television audiences for his recurring role as Frank Harlow in the polygamy drama television series Big Love, from 2006-2011.
Born into Illinois aristocracy, Dern was expected to follow family tradition and become a lawyer. He was, however, inspired by the effect James Dean had on a theatre audience.
He studied at Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in New York, and soon began winning roles on Broadway. In 1960, he landed a movie role under Elia Kazan's direction in Wild River.
Dern made his way out to Hollywood, where he created over 100 television and movie character portraits. Knowing that he had what it took to be a leading man, Dern decided not to take any more featured performer roles.
Although he didn't work for 10 months, Dern's determination paid off. He was cast in Jack Nicholson's Drive, He Said, and received the award for Best Supporting Actor from the National Film Critics Association.
He has since won numerous honours, including an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Coming Home, Genie Award nominations for his work in Middle Age Crazy and Harry Tracy, Desperado, and the Best Actor Award at the Berlin Film Festival for That Championship Season.
Dern's starring credits reveal uncommon versatility. He has performed leading roles in such films as The Great Gatsby, Family Plot, Black Sunday, Smile, The Driver, The King of Marvin Gardens, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Tattoo, Space and Toughlove.
He was also seen in Down Periscope, Mulholland Falls, Last Man Standing, The Haunting, All the Pretty Horses and The Glass House.
Dern received rave reviews for his performances in Showtime's Mrs. Munck with Diane Ladd, and TNT's Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight. He also costarred with Linda Hamilton in USA Network's A Mother's Prayer and Burt Reynolds in TNT's The Premonition.
Bruce starred in The Astronaut Farmer, opposite Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton; Believe in Me; Down in the Valley, opposite Edward Norton and Evan Rachel Wood; The Hard Easy and Walker. Other recent independent film credits include Monster, Masked and Anonymous, Madison and Milwaukee, Minnesota.
He is the father of actress Laura Dern and was once married to Diane Ladd.