"Oh great, this is going to be like shooting baskets with Magic Johnson watching." Bill Pullman (on watching Independence Day with former President Clinton)
The portrayal of President Thomas J. Whitmore in Roland Emmerich’s huge hit, sci-fi thriller Independence Day (1996, a.k.a. ID4, with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum), tossed Bill Pullman toward the limelight. First noticed while playing roles in Ruthless People (1986) and Spaceballs (1987), Pullman later gained more recognition while acting in films like 1992's A League of Their Own, 1993's Sommersby and Sleepless in Seattle, 1995's Casper, While You Were Sleeping and The Last Seduction, 1996’s Mr. Wrong, as well as 2000's The Virginian (TV), Lucky Numbers and Titan A.E. (voice).
More recent, Pullman played lead roles in the films Rick, The Grudge, Dear Wendy and the mini series "Revelations." The 5'9" tall actor, who starred in the 2002 Broadway production of "The Goat, or, Who Is Sylvia?" will soon appear in the upcoming movie Alien Autopsy.
Childhood and Family:
“I love a good hardware store.” Bill Pullman
In Hornell, New York, William Pullman was born on December 17, 1954, to parents James (physician, died in 1992) and Johanna (nurse, died in 1992). The youngest child of seven, Bill has three sisters and brothers, one of whom is Jim (English Teacher at Ithaca High School). Bill once worked for local dairy farmers and was on the football, wrestling, and track teams, as well as played the trombone in the high school band.
Bill Pullman originally intended to study his hobby, construction, but after joining auditions for "The Bald Soprano," he later chose to study Theater Arts at the State University of New York (earned a B.A). He also majored in Directing at the University of Massachusetts (received a M.F.A.). For two years, Bill Pullman taught theater at Montana State University (director John Dahl was once his student) and became the chairman of the Theater department. He also did summer theater with a group called "Shakespeare in the Parks."
While performing in a Massachusetts University production, Bill Pullman met dancer Tamara Hurwitz and they tied the knot in 1987. The couple now lives in a California home with their three children: sons Louis Pullman (born in January 1993) and Jack Pullman (born in 1989), and daughter Maesa Pullman (born in 1988). Bill Pullman, who lost his sense of smell after a head injury and a two-day coma, currently co-owns a ranch in Montana with his brother and grows exotic fruit trees from around the world in his backyard.
While You Were Sleeping
Feeling accomplished with his studies in Theater and Directing as well as his experience in teaching theater, Bill Pullman decided to pursue a professional acting career by moving to New York in the early 1980s. In the Big Apple, he received his first jobs as a proofreader, liquor store clerk and bank teller. At the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC, Pullman made his stage debut in the play "The Rover" (1981) and then starred in Sam Shepard's off-Broadway production of "Curse of the Starving Class" (1985).
Pullman eventually landed on the wide screen in Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers' crime comedy Ruthless People (1986, starring Danny DeVito and Bette Midler), playing the small part of Earl Mott, the stupidest person on earth. He followed it up with a guest appearance in an episode of "Cagney & Lacey." The next year, Pullman won his first lead in a feature as space-bum-for-hire Lone Starr in actor-director Mel Brooks' sci-fi comedy Spaceballs (also with Rick Moranis and Daphne Zuniga).
In the rest of the 1980s, Pullman starred as Harvard anthropologist Dennis Alan in Wes Craven's adaptation of Wade Davis' book, the horror The Serpent and the Rainbow. He then costarred with Burt Lancaster and Kevin Spacey in Daniel Petrie's Rocket Gibraltar and with William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis in Lawrence Kasdan's Oscar nominated romantic drama The Accidental Tourist (based on Anne Tyler's book). He also debuted on TV movies in Home Fires Burning and played a role in Robert Dornhelm's comedy Cold Feet (both in 1989).
After starring as the captain of the USS Sub Standard in Mark W. Travis' comedy Going Under (1990), Pullman was cast in such films as Brain Dead, Sibling Rivalry, Bright Angel, Liebestraum, Nervous Ticks and Newsies. Subsequently, Pullman played Geena Davis’ husband in Penny Marshall's comedy A League of Their Own (starring Tom Hanks) and became Holly Hunter's husband in the TV movie version of Luanne Rice's novel, Crazy in Love (both in 1992). He also appeared in Cameron Crowe's Singles (starring Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon), costarred with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster in Jon Amiel's Sommersby and played Meg Ryan’s fiancé in Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (also starring Tom Hanks).
Malice (1993), The Favor (1994) and Wyatt Earp (1994) were Pullman’s film works before he portrayed Linda Fiorentino's husband in John Dahl's crime thriller The Last Seduction (1994). Afterward, he nabbed his breakthrough role as the romantic lead Jack Callaghan, Sandra Bullock's love admiration and Peter Gallagher's kind brother, in Jon Turteltaub's romantic comedy While You Were Sleeping (1995). He followed it up with the lead role of a self-styled ghost therapist and Christina Ricci's eccentric father in Brad Silberling's fantasy family comedy Casper (1995) and as a handsome stranger whom Ellen DeGeneres' character falls madly in love with in Nick Castle's comedy Mr. Wrong (1996). Pullman also hosted the "Saturday Night Live" show and formed the production company Big Town with a development deal at Castle Rock.
Filmmaker Roland Emmerich cast Pullman to play President Thomas J. Whitmore in his runaway success sci-fi thriller Independence Day (1996, alongside Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum). His portrayal was widely noticed and Pullman continued to grace the screen in films like Mistrial (1996, TV), Lost Highway (1997), The End of Violence (1997), Zero Effect (1998) and 1999’s Lake Placid, Brokedown Palace and History Is Made at Night.
The new millennium saw Pullman make his directional debut with the TNT remake of Owen Wister’s novel, the Western movie The Virginian (also costarred with Diane Lane). Back to the silver screen, Pullman played high-profile lawyer Callum Crane in Anthony Waller's adaptation of Simon Burke's novel, the crime thriller The Guilty, lent his voice to Capt. Joseph Korso in the animated Titan A.E. and reunited with Nora Ephron, playing apathetic Detective Lakewood, in her crime comedy Lucky Numbers (starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow).
More roles followed. Pullman was seen as a former Marine Corps helicopter pilot in Yves Simoneau's Ignition (2001, opposite Lena Olin), a schizophrenic father in Burr Steers' drama comedy Igby Goes Down (2002, starring Kieran Culkin) and in the title role of a brown-nosing employee in Curtiss Clayton's Rick (2003). In 2004, he costarred with Sarah Michelle Gellar in Takashi Shimizu's horror movie The Grudge and with Hayden Panettiere in the family TV movie Tiger Cruise. He also returned to stage starring opposite Mercedes Ruehl in the Broadway production of Edward Albee's Tony winning "The Goat, or, Who Is Sylvia?"
Recently, in 2005, Pullman teamed with Jamie Bell in Thomas Vinterberg's drama film Dear Wendy and starred as a Harvard professor, whose daughter is murdered by Satanists, in the David Seltzer-written miniseries "Revelations." He is now on set of Jonny Campbell's upcoming sci-fi comedy film, Alien Autopsy, starring Declan Donnelly.