Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Bruce Dern

Go To

"There's no time in life to do all the roles I'd like to play."

Bruce MacLeish Dern (born June 4, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American actor who is probably best known for playing characters who are psychopaths or Schmuck Bait.

Laura Dern is his daughter, whom he had with his second wife Diane Ladd.


  • His early film roles include Marnie (where he's fatally assaulted with a fireplace poker) and Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, (where he's chopped up with an axe).
  • He's probably most famous for his role in the adaptation of Black Sunday, playing Michael Lander, the Vietnam Vet who becomes a terrorist and plans to blow up the Super Bowl.
  • He also kills people to keep his space ship from being taken from forestry service in the movie Silent Running.
  • He's Tom Hanks' paranoid ex-military neighbor in The 'Burbs.
  • If you watched The Great Gatsby in high school, there's a good chance it was the 1974 version with Dern as Tom Buchanan.
  • He also plays a cuckolded husband to Jane Fonda who has an affair with a crippled veteran in the movie Coming Home.
  • In 1972's The Cowboys, he's one of the few people to kill a John Wayne character.
  • In 1975's Smile, he plays Big Bob Freelander, used car dealer and beauty pageant judge.
  • In Posse (1975), he is the charismatic train robber who opposes Kirk Douglas' politically ambitious U.S. Marshal.
  • In 1982, Dern starred in the historical film Harry Tracy as the title character.
  • In the movie Middle Age Crazy he plays a taco stand construction company owner who has fantasies of breaking out of his hum-drum life - including having sex with a wife who yells 'Bingo!' every time she climaxes - until he does, leasing an expensive sportscar and engaging in various flings.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot, he's legman to a Phony Psychic as they tangle with a kidnapper.
  • He plays Uncle Bob in neo-Film Noir After Dark, My Sweet, which is on the Roger Ebert Great Movies List.
  • In The Driver, he's the cop out to catch the titular Driver.
  • He's the voice of Yoshio Onodera in the English dub of From Up on Poppy Hill.
  • He featured in all five series of Big Love as Bill Henrickson's abusive father, Frank.
  • In 2013, at the age of 77, he starred in the Alexander Payne film Nebraska!. His performance was highly praised and earned him an Oscar nomination, as well as the Best Actor award at Cannes.
  • At the age of 79, he played Stanford Smithers in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight.
  • He teamed up with Tarantino again in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as George Spahn, a rancher who rented his property out to numerous western films, and then agreed to house the notorious Manson Family. He replaced Burt Reynolds, who passed away shortly before filming started.
  • In Freaks (2018), he plays Alan, aka Mr. Snowcone, as Chloe's grandfather who introduces her to the Abnormal war