Thomas Haden Church filmography and biography
Date of birth: 17 June 1960, El Paso, Texas, USA
Thomas Haden Church biography
Born in Texas, Church began his show business career in front of a microphone instead of a camera, first as a radio deejay and then as a voice-over announcer. After landing a role in the independent film, Stolen Moments, Church moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.
Thomas Haden Church trivia
- Says he had pretty much retired from acting and was spending most of his time on his ranch in Texas when Alexander Payne (I) asked him to star in Sideways.
- Invited to join AMPAS in 2005.
- Graduated from high school in 1979 in Harlingen, Texas, and worked at KBFM, a local radio station, for a time.
- At director Sam Raimi's request, Church worked out in a gym for more than thirteen months and put on more than twenty pounds of muscle to play the lead villain Flint Marko/Sandman in Spider-Man 3.
- His breakthrough was Sideways, which led to a role in Spider-Man 3.
- In the last episode of Ned and Stacey, he said that he intended to spend the next time on a farm in Texas -- which he did in real life.
- Engaged to actress Mia Zottoli. They have a daughter, Cody (b. 2004).
- Turned down the role, which eventually went to Greg Kinnear, in Little Miss Sunshine, a decision he later regretted.
- Director Sam Raimi thanked him for doing Spider-Man 3 by giving him a copy of Amazing Spiderman #4, the comic book issue that featured the first appearance of his Sandman character.
- Began working on a cattle ranch at age 13.
- Raised in Laredo, Texas, he graduated from Harlingen High School, Harlingen, Texas in 1979 and attended the University of North Texas.
- Was born Thomas McMillen, the third of six children, in El Paso, Texas to an Army officer/health care worker father and homemaker mother. He was raised, however, under his stepfather's surname, "Quesada", and later changed his surname to "Haden Church," both names of which he states are in his family tree.
Thomas Haden Church quotes
- Generally, when I meet prospective employers, I tiptoe into that. You don't want to shove your way through the door. But, if at all possible, you want to exact an invitation to collaborate.
- "For a while, I was through with acting, and then Alexander Payne (I) called me up and said 'Hey, Thomas! I have a script I want you to read! It'll be great; you get to sleep with my wife!'" -referring to Sideways and his sex scenes with Sandra Oh.
- I am always wondering, 'Am I doing as much as I can do?' But then my wife reminds me I run four cattle ranches, a commercial beef operation, and I have an acting career. I think I have made the effort, and it has paid off. I mean, I think I have made the effort. And that effort has paid off...to some extent.
- (On Gypsy Angels) I did that movie in 1989. I met a casting director, I was living in Dallas, going to school in 1988. My best friend was an actor. I went to this cold-read audition seminar, just on a lark, just because he invited me. It was like, a hundred people. But it was an L.A. casting director, and for whatever reason, he thought I was interesting. He was like, "I'm gonna be back casting a picture that's going to shoot in Kansas, and we're gonna read some actors in Dallas," and I ended up getting a role in it. But the movie, it was a real weird, small independent, financed by a guy-he was like a Pizza Hut franchise king or something. He wanted to star in a movie that he self-financed. I went up to Kansas and shot on it for like, three weeks. But what was great about it is that this L.A. casting director then got me connected to an agent in L.A., William Morris, and I took a shot at L.A. shortly thereafter in the spring of '89, got signed away to Morris, started working. When I landed in L.A. in early '89, William Morris decided to take me on to see if I could get any jobs. I was cast in a TV movie called Protected Surf, and made $30,000 in four weeks, and I decided I needed to take acting seriously, because I had never made that much money in a year, much less four weeks. That's when I decided I thought I could make a career out of it.
- (On his guest role in 21 Jump Street) That was great. Johnny [Depp] was sort of a mentor. I got to know him pretty well when I worked on it, just over the course of a week. We had similar comedic sensibilities. I remember we flew back from Vancouver to L.A. together when I wrapped the episode. His advice to me was to never do a series, to hold out and try to just get movie roles. And I was immediately cast in China Beach, fired, and then immediately cast in Cheers, and then cast in Wings-which then went on for the next six years of my life-and then cast in Ned And Stacey. So I didn't necessarily dismiss his advice, I just didn't apply it for the next decade.
- (On Tombstone) That was my first REAL movie. It was terrific, because it was just a bunch of dudes in the desert. I was young. We shot the whole movie in Tucson and outside of Tucson. And it was just great to go on location for a whole summer. I was on hiatus from Wings, and the movie just fell in perfectly. And I literally was in Arizona the whole summer-June, July, August, even into September. We actually started shooting in May. It took the better part of four months to shoot that movie. I was still such a neophyte. But I felt like I had enough experience moving around the camera, and moving around sets and in rehearsal, knowing professionally what was expected of me. Wings was a filmed show, and I had been on single-camera film projects. But you know, I was a little intimidated. Powers Boothe and Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell. I was fairly intimidated by the environment the first week or so. Because everything was big and fast-moving. And the director got fired. He was the screenwriter. I was there for, like, two weeks, and he got fired and they brought in George Cosmatos. That was a little intimidating also.
- Wings was exactly what every actor hopes will happen when you have zero skill sets, zero experience, and you absolutely cannot find your ass with a fork and a knife. I just had no idea what I was getting myself into. I moved to L.A. full time in March of '89, and I was cast in Cheers in September, and that led to Wings. So six months into my "professional acting career," I was cast in a pilot that was already picked up for several episodes. And I was convinced that I was going to be found out as an impostor. I was convinced of it. I didn't know why these people were laughing when I said my dialogue, because I was clueless as to the mechanics of it. I just tried to play it as real as I could. But if you look back at early episodes of Wings, the clumsiness comes through.
- I left Wings a couple years before it ended, and went on to do Ned And Stacey at Fox. I thought I was very accomplished at that point, and I immensely enjoyed doing that show. But I also became megalomaniacal for those two years, and I think I probably hastened the departure of the show. I was holding on very tightly to what the stories were, and who was cast, and what the other actors were doing. And I was gonna direct, and I was already doing a lot of impromptu writing. And I was probably too immersed in it. I don't think it was for the good of the show that I was so immersed in it. And I can say that now, 11 years after the show ended. It's taken me a long time to be able to admit that.
- (On working with Mike Figgis on One Night Stand) He has a very cerebral approach to his writing, which is to say, he writes a schematic of what he wants to do. But he was the first director-of course, my film credits were few at that point-but he was the first director, television or film or theater, for that matter, who openly encouraged us to go off the page. To just kind of freestyle, and be footloose, and know what the intent of the character is in the scene. As long as we weren't fouling the other characters, and what they were doing in the scene, then we were welcome-and I think it's because foremost, he's a very accomplished jazz musician. So I think he has a real artistic, musician's appreciation for that free form, "Let's just all just become spontaneous and see what comes out of it." He's also a very accomplished photographer. Really likes these composite shots that are sort of posed, but not really. Very interesting guy.
- (On Free Money) At the exact same time I was offered the lead in Free Money with Charlie Sheen and Marlon Brando, I was offered a role in Saving Private Ryan. And I chose to march off to Canada to work with Marlon Brando. And I ran into Steven Spielberg many years later, and we discussed it, and he said, "You know what, if I had a choice between me and him, I would choose him." I was like, "Thank you for your blessing, my liege." I had a manager at the time-we were soon parted-but he was like, "You're gonna go do a movie with Marlon Brando that more than likely no one will see, vs. a really nice role in a movie that's probably going to win Best Picture next year?" And he was right! But the experience working with Marlon in his penultimate performance was irreplaceable. And I spent 10, 12 weeks with him in Quebec, and it was a remarkable experience, and I wouldn't trade it for any credit on my resume. He really wanted to kind of nurture Charlie and me. He was in poor health. He had a respiratory infection that I'm not convinced he ever, ever recovered from. Even though he died-I think it was about six and a half years after I worked with him. But he had a respiratory infection that he could not get over. And I knew that he'd been sick for a while before we started shooting. And I know that the bonding company had some problems clearing him for the medical. But other than that... He was wonderfully inventive and improvisational, and seemed wholly disinclined to say the same line twice. He always wanted to change things a little bit, just to keep it fresh and spontaneous.
- (On Rolling Kansas) The hardest thing I've ever done, and by far the most rewarding. To write something, and then somebody says, "Hey, here's $3 million. Go make it wherever you want to make it." I chose Texas, which is very close to where I live. I have a ranch in Texas. It just was so involving, and so complete. It's the most complete experience. Because at the end of the day, I was responsible for all the decisions. And that was what was most rewarding about it. And I would step into that breach again, if somebody would give me the chance.