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Steven Culp - Biography



By AD, Stephanie and Me - thank you, AD and Stephanie! :-)

Steven Culp is a seasoned dramatic actor who brings an extensive theater background to his work in film and television. Born on December 3, 1955 (in La Jolla, California), Culp grew up with his two sisters in Virginia Beach, VA. Both his father and stepfather were naval officers, but Culp chose not to follow their lead. Instead, he pursued a long-time interest in literary arts and music.


With the aspiration of becoming either a writer or a rock star, Culp majored in English Literature at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. On the advice of his professor he participated in a student exchange program in his junior year that took him to the University of Exeter in Exeter, England. At Exeter, Culp became acquainted with a group of student actors and quickly developed an interest in theater. Upon his return to the United States, Culp graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1978 and entered Brandeis University, where he earned an MFA in Theater Arts and Acting in 1981.


Soon after graduating from Brandeis, Culp began working in off-Broadway and regional theater. He was first seen by a national television audience while portraying a psychotic babysnatcher on the soap opera Another World in 1982. Jobs in the New York theatre were plentiful, but it was roles like Danny Wolek (1983-1984) on the daytime drama One Life To Live that paid the bills. In 1984, Culp moved on to other projects, honing his craft as a stage actor. In the late 1980's, he relocated to California and began working regularly in television, while still working in theater as often as his schedule would allow.


Culp made his TV movie debut in 1988 with the role of John Hay in the Emmy-winning production of Gore Vidal's Lincoln (starring Sam Waterston & Mary Tyler Moore). His big screen debut came a year later with the movie Gross Anatomy. Several film and television roles soon followed, such as Dead Again, Friday 13th - Part IX - Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, and A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, which gained Culp modest success. In 1990, Culp played the leading role of the photographer Richard Stewart in the English as a Second Language educational video series Family Album, U.S.A. In 1997, Culp was cast in the break-out role of CIA Special Agent Clayton Webb in the CBS television series JAG. Webb became a recurring character, with the actor developing a loyal fan base among the show's viewers. During its ten-year run, JAG's CIA operative developed into a strong fan favorite, due in no small part to Culp's multi-layered performances.


In 1997, the same year the JAG series debuted on CBS, Culp was cast as Robert F. Kennedy in Norma Jean and Marilyn, a drama produced for HBO about the life and career of Marilyn Monroe. Culp's strong performance as Kennedy (complemented by his chiseled good looks) impressed viewers. Culp nailed the Bostonian mannerisms of the one-time presidential candidate and rumored lover of the doomed actress. It would not be the last time Culp would be called upon to play JFK's younger brother.


In 1999, Culp was cast as RFK again. The Cuban Missile Crisis-inspired dramatic feature film, Thirteen Days, starring and produced by Kevin Costner, offered a much more complex study of the former Attorney General. The film retraced 13 days in October, 1962, when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear Armageddon and the fate of the world rested on the shoulders of the two brothers, arguably the most powerful men in the world at that time. Cast opposite Bruce Greenwood as JFK, Culp watched endless documentaries and read numerous books on the Kennedy family in preparation for his difficult role. Culp and Greenwood spent great deal of time together, usually in character, bonding off screen in order to essay the brotherly bond onscreen. Culp's eerily accurate portrayal of Kennedy is considered one of the best in cinematic circles. Entertainment Weekly and Variety even proclaimed Culp and Greenwood Oscar nominee shoe-ins as the tough, smart but ultimately tragic brothers. Unfortunately, neither were nominated.


By 2001, Culp headlined the Cinemax film How To Make A Monster before landing a pivotal role in Kevin Kline's critically acclaimed adaptation of "The Palace Thief". Released as The Emperor's Club (2002), Culp delivered a subtle but affecting performance as the once-wronged Martin Blythe. In 2004, between multiple television roles, Culp managed to deliver supporting roles in David Mamet's thriller, Spartan and in an updated film version of Anton Chekhov's classic, The Sisters.


During the 2003-04 television season, the hardworking Culp managed to juggle recurring roles on an unheard of four series at one time: on CBS's JAG (as CIA Agent Clayton Webb), NBC's The West Wing (as GOP Speaker of the House Jeff Haffley), NBC's long-running hospital drama ER (as schoolteacher Dave Spencer), and on UPN's futuristic series Star Trek: Enterprise (as MACO commander Major Hayes). He also managed to squeeze in guest spots on The Lyons Den and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. At the end of that season, Culp had the unusual misfortune to have two of his characters (Webb on JAG and on Hayes Star Trek: Enterprise) killed off in the same week, in the shows' season finales (though Webb turned up very much alive in the subsequent season premiere of JAG).


The 2004-05 television season saw Culp enjoying the ensemble success on ABC's enormously popular dramedy, Desperate Housewives as cast regular, Rex Van de Kamp. Obviously a "woman's show," Culp nonetheless shown brightly as hen-pecked husband, opposite on-screen wife Marcia Cross. Bree and Rex's dysfunctional relationship reached its apex when Rex admitted his fondness for S&M sex to his prudish wife. At the insistence of show creator Marc Cherry, Culp himself came up with Rex's secret storyline. Although a fan favorite, Culp knew someone would be getting the ax at the end of season one during May sweeps. Unfortunately for Culp, it ended up Rex being poisoned by Bree's jealous pharmacist suitor. According to Nielsen ratings, that episode drew in over 30 million viewers upon its initial broadcasting in the United States, becoming the most-watched program of the night across all networks, as well as the highest-rated episode ever of Desperate Housewives.


In 2005, after his Desperate Housewives' character was killed off, Culp remained busy by filming the Lifetime TV holiday movie Deck the Halls and participating in the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of The Sisters together with his co-stars Eric McCormack, Maria Bello, and Erika Christensen. Culp also won the Celebrity Poker Showdown 7th Season Championship game. That tournament premiered on October 13, 2005, with a themed show featuring the male stars from Desperate Housewives and a $1 million (US) prize pool, with $500,000 going to Culp's charity: We Spark Cancer Support Center. Culp finished filming Firehouse Dog (2007), a Todd Holland project that reunites Culp with his Thirteen Days' co-star, Bruce Greenwood. Josh Hutcherson, Dash Mihok, and Bree Turner also star in this family comedy.


Culp gave a stunning performance in Kevin Sheridan's low budget movie Leaving Barstow (2008) as the main character's mentor, Mr. Johns, who attempts to convince his pupil to leave Barstow and attend college. In From Within (2008), which was written by Brad Keene and directed by the gifted cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, Culp portrays the local pastor Joe of the small, serene community of Grovetown where a rash of suicides spread fear and panic among local residents. Rumer Willis, Thomas Dekker, and Adam Goldberg also star in the movie.


In 2008, Culp filmed the two-part miniseries Impact (2009). In the internationally produced sci-fi adventure Culp played the US President alongside David James Elliott with whom Culp had co-starred on JAG. Natasha Henstridge, and Oscar and Emmy nominated James Cromwell also star in this disaster epic.


In 2009, Culp's love of Twilight Zone type pieces influenced him to take the part of Roger Dean in David Orr's short movie Refresh. The short film centers on a wealthy businessman, Roger Dean, who is seeking a cure from his chronic depression. Dean's quest leads him to a mysterious medical clinic that promises a highly effective-but irrevocable-solution.


Culp was asked by producer Ricardo Uhagón Vivas to be part of his short movie Dark Matters (2011). They met for coffee to discuss the project. They hit it off right away. Culp had very interesting suggestions about the character and was really interested in the detail and back-story. The story revolves around an only child, Jeremy, and his belief in otherworldly beings and their relationship with his parents. Jeremy believes his recently absent mother has made contact with otherworldly beings. While searching for answers, he will uncover a dark secret about his past and family that will change him forever. Culp plays Michael Cleary, Jeremy's dad.


Culp's movie The Chicago 8 (2011) is a courtroom drama based on actual court transcripts from the trial that resulted when seven young leaders of the Vietnam anti-war movement were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot. The drama was filmed in the fall of 2009 with its West Coast premiere at the Beverly Hills Film Festival in April 2011. The movie was released to the world in September 2012.


In September 2012, Culp joined the cast of the medical drama Grey's Anatomy to recur as the new "top dog" physician, Dr. Parker, the head of cardio at the The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.


Culp's lastest movie Collusions (2013) is a cerebral character driven crime mystery that follows four people, intertwined in the legal and law enforcement world of LA, as the story of a beaten woman, her missing tooth and their motives are revealed. The movie is currently in post-production.


In October 2013, Culp joined the cast of the post-apocalyptic drama Revolution to recur as the clean-cut Edward Truman, a dignified authority figure.


When not busy with film and television commitments, Culp still performs in live theater. His last five most memorable performances were in Blackbird (2007) and in The Quality of Life (2008) at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA, in Dr. Cerberus (2010) at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, and in Old Times (2011) at the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, D.C. In 2013, Culp returned to Costa Mesa to star in The Parisian Woman alongside Dana Delany at the South Coast Repertory.


Culp has also worked with L.A. Theatre Works on several occasions, participating in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed radio theatre series, "The Play's The Thing," where "live-in-performances" are recorded in the state-of-the-art sound, complemented by intricate sound designs and on-stage effects. Performed in front of live audiences with the use of microphones with scripts in hand, the actors' performances are recorded for later broadcast on public radio stations across the US. Culp's debut performance was in Richard Nelson's The General From America (1989). Years later, he returned to L.A. Theatre Works for Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's play Dr. Cerberus (2010). Arthur Miller's Death of a Saleman (2011) put him on stage alongside Stacy Keach and Jane Kaczmarek. His most recent recording was of Michael Hollinger's Opus (2012).


Steven Culp is married to costume designer Barbara Ayers with whom he has two children, Katie and Joe (fraternal twins), born in October 2001. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, spending time at the beach, also loves to ride bikes, hike, play guitar, read, and write fiction.

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