Born              December 17, 1953
Married        Tamara Hurwitz   January 3, 1987
Children      Maesa  -   Jack   -   Lewis

by  Mary Cochrane-McIvor

William Pullman was born on December 17, 1953  in Hornell, New York, USA . His father James was a physician and his mother Johanna (Blaas) a nurse. He was the youngest boy in a family of 4 brothers and 3 sisters.

The Pullman family lived in a red brick Victorian house on Main Street in Hornell, New York. Summers were spent in the country at a tree farm nearby that the Pullmans bought the year Bill was born.  Bill worked summers for a local dairy farmer.  He planted his first orchard at 13. In high school he was on the football, wrestling, and track teams as well as playing the trombone in the band. He graduated from Hornell High School in 1971.

When he started college at SUNY-Delhi, Pullman planned to major in building construction in part because he loved the barns in the countryside of western New York . One night he ended up at auditions for "The Bald Soprano", and an interest in theater was awakened. Later, at the suggestion of the Delhi director, Bill Campbell, he became a theater major with the intention of working as a director. He graduated from SUNY-Oneonta with a degree in Theater Arts.

Pullman went on to study at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Directing in 1980. While studying at Amherst, he met Tamara Hurwitz when they were cast as husband and wife in Moliere’s “Impromptu at Versailles ”. When he directed “The Changeling” later, she was the Choreographer.

After graduation, Pullman was offered a teaching position at Montana State University, Bozeman . He accepted the job in part because he had come to love Montana while doing summer theater there with a group called "Montana Shakespeare in the Parks" . He played both romantic leads and comic parts and directed for the company.  While teaching at Montana State, he became co-chairman of the Theater department. Director John Dahl (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West) was one of Pullman's students. Pullman's connection to Montana continues to this day: he co-owns a cattle ranch there with his brother.

In 1981 Pullman decided to take a shot at professional acting and directing. He moved to New York 's East Village and between auditions was a proof-reader, liquor store clerk, and bank teller. His New York appearances include a critically acclaimed performance as Wesley in a revival of "The Curse of the Starving Class" with Kathy Bates.

In 1985 he was offered a part in "Nanataiwai"  for a 3-month run on Los Angeles . While there, he decided to go on a few film auditions. Pullman arrived at his first movie audition on a bike. He was reading for the part of the serial killer in Ruthless People. He had just played a Russian tank commander on stage and his hair was dyed blond. Pullman went on to win the part of Earl, "the stupidest person on Earth" and the blond dye job was incorporated into the part.  Ruthless People  was Pullman 's film debut. It was followed closely by Spaceballs  for Mel Brooks, who chose Pullman to play Lone Star because he wanted  "a leading man with comic timing".

On January 3, 1987 Bill Pullman married Tamara Hurwitz.

In his early films, Pullman is most often the handsome guy with an edge: The Serpent and the Rainbow , The Accidental Touris t, (Academy Award nomination, Best Picture, 1988) and Rocket Gibraltar. In the theater, Pullman had a reputation for doing serious drama, but Hollywood soon discovered his knack for comedy and that talent, along with his acting range, allowed him to play the wacky guy in comedies like Cold Feet and Sibling Rivalry, as well as a geeky academic in Brain Dead. He also continued to do excellent work in dramas like: Home Fires Burning, Liebestraum, A League of Their Own, and Crazy in Love.

While making movies, Pullman continued working in the theater in Los Angeles . Much of his work was done with the Los Angeles Theater Company. His credits include: "Barabbas", "All My Sons", "Demon Wine", and Beth Henley’s "Control Freaks".

Bill and Tamara Pullman settled in Los Angeles . They have three children: Maesa, Jack, and Lewis. Pullman loves trees and has an extensive orchard behind his house.

A belief in the importance of strong communities has inspired Bill Pullman to give his time and resources to strengthen communities he has a connection with. In his hometown, Hornell, New York, he was a contributor to renovations at St. James Mercy Hospital that resulted in the new Pullman Women’s Health and Birthing Center, named to honor his parents, James and Johanna.  The new Hornell YMCA was also the recipient of a significant contribution from Pullman, honored with naming rights for the arts classroom.

At Alfred University in his home state of New York, he has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2007 and his given lectures and classes at the university.

In Los Angeles, he served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Cornerstone Theater for seven years. He has been an Ambassador for the MS Society since 1998.
Pullman is a supporter of “Concerned Citizens Montana” a group working to mitigate the construction of a power transmission line they believe will be harmful to their community.

By the early 1990s Pullman was a sought-after supporting player in films. With Sommersby, Sleepless in Seattle, and Malice in 1993, Pullman 's career reached a turning point. He had three showy lead roles in major studio releases in one year. A role in a little movie called The Last Seduction, directed by Pullman 's former student, John Dahl, further enhanced his reputation. In 1995 he starred in While You Were Sleeping and Casper , both box office hits, and in 1996 he starred as the President in the blockbuster Independence Day.

Bill Pullman is a critically acclaimed leading man for whom directors often write parts. Zero Effect was written with Pullman in mind to play the role he later created on screen.

An experienced stage director, Pullman made his film directing debut and played the title role in a critically acclaimed new version of the classic western The Virginian (Wrangler Award - Best Picture 2000).

In 2002 Pullman starred in Edward Albee's "The Goat or Who is Sylvia?" on Broadway. He created the role of Martin. His performance was widely praised by critics. He was nominated for the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor but his performance was passed over in the Tony nominations for Best Actor. This snub has become the stuff of theater legend. "The Goat" won the 2002 Tony Award, New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play.

In Igby Goes Down (2002) Pullman was on screen less than fifteen minutes but his performance was singled out and highly praised.

Pullman 's amazing range as an actor coupled with his uncanny ability to create richly textured distinct characters combine to make him an unusually talented and creative actor. His work is invariably fascinating to watch.

In January 2004, Pullman conceived and directed "Expedition 6" , a multimedia performance piece created with students of the Denver Center 's National Theater Conservatory. The play was performed at New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater in June 2004.
In January 2006 Pullman starred in "The Subject Was Roses" at the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C. He was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award as Outstanding Lead Actor for his role as John Cleary.

"Expedition 6"  took part in an ACTF Playwrights' workshop in Washington D.C. in July 2006. Pullman directed the play. Theatre Project of Baltimore produced two open rehearsals of "Expedition 6"  on July 28-29 with Pullman directing his play.  In September 2007, "Expedition 6" had its world premiere at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco with Pullman directing.

From October-December 2007 Pullman starred as Peter in the hugely successful, critically acclaimed production of Edward Albee's "Peter and Jerry"   (At Home at the Zoo) at the Second Stage Theatre in New York . Pullman is now being described as one of the greatest living interpreters of Albee's work.

Pullman’s graduate alma mater, University of Massachusetts , Amherst conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree on him on May 24, 2008 . On November 23, 2008 he was presented with the prestigious John Cassavetes Award at the Starz Denver Film Festival.  This award is given annually to "an individual who has made a significant contribution to the world of filmmaking and whose work reflects the spirit of the late John Cassavetes." In 2008, he was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Riverrun Film Festival and Best Actor Award for his performance in Your Name Here at the Cinevegas Film Festival.

In the summer of 2009, he starred in the hugely successful Los Angeles production of David Mamet's "Oleanna" directed by Doug Hughes. The Broadway debut of "Oleanna" followed in October 2009 with Pullman playing the role of John once again.

On January 14, 2010 Pullman gave the keynote address at the Region II American College Theater Festival held at Indiana University, Indiana, Pennsylvania . With passion, humor and a little whimsy, Pullman told the story of his own journey from theater student to working professional.  (Bill Pullman's Journey from Theater Student to Working Actor --- Complete with Reno Dress)

In 2011 Pullman joined the cast of Torchwood as a lead for the joint STARZ-BBC production: Torchwood: Miracle Day.  Pullman was nominated for a Saturn award, Best Supporting Actor on Television, for his performance as Oswald Danes.

On May 14 Pullman gave the Commencement Speech at Alfred University and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree

With his participation in the making of the documentary “The Fruit Hunters”, Pullman has found the perfect connection between his love for the cultivation of fruit and his skills in front of the camera. The film explores the passion people can have for exotic fruit and the lengths to which they will go to obtain and taste rare fruits.

In 2011 Bill and Tamara Pullman founded Hollywood Orchard, a group that "engages community in growing and using locally harvested fruit . . . some of the fruit is processed and preserved . . .as food items for fundraisers . . .the remaining fruit is donated to local charity organizations." Visit  www.hollywoodorchard.org  for more about the unique mission of this "virtual" community orchard.

In February 2012, “The Jacksonian" a new play by Beth Henley, had its world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Pullman and cast members Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, and Glenne Headley already had a history with this play. They are part of a group who meet with Beth Henley to do readings of her latest works.

Pullman was cast again as the President around this time playing President Dale Gilchrist in the television series "1600 Penn". He jokingly referred to his "second term" when he won the part. Read Bill Pullman: open to playful, sinister or presidential---a nice blending of worlds by Mary Cochrane-McIvor March 1, 2012 \billpullman_Intv12-12-12_1600Penn01.html
In February 2013, Pullman was on Broadway again in the Tony-nominated play "The Other Place" , taking over the part of Ian when the run was extended and the male lead had a commitment that kept him from finishing the run. Pullman had barely a week to prepare, and only one run-through before jumping into the part. For a look at him in character and a review: \billpullman_thothrplc_nyc2013.html

"The Jacksonian"  made its New York debut in a production by the New Group in the Fall of 2013. Pullman reprised his role as the sleazy bartender Fred Weber. He was nominated for a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Featured Actor, a nomination Pullman was plesantly surprized by since Fred is a challenging character, not exactly hero material.

Bill Pullman and Tamara Hurwitz Pullman worked together in a production for the first time since they were in college as company members in Liz Lerman's multimedia production "Healing Wars"   at the Arena Stage, Washington D.C., June 6 - 29, 2014. "Healing Wars" received multiple 'Helen Hayes Award' nominations for the company and production. Bill Pullman was also nominated for his work as a Writer for "Healing Wars".

The New Group, New York produced the first major revival of "Sticks and Bones"   October- December 2014. Pullman earned a Drama Desk nomination as Outstanding Lead Actor and a Best Lead Actor nomination from the Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway Awards for his performance as Ozzie.

While still appearing in "Sticks and Bones", Pullman began work on his next theater role: Othello. Acclaimed Norwegian director Stein Winge came to New York and he and Pullman began work on their concept of "Othello". The two had worked together before when Winge directed Pullman in "Barrabas" at the Los Angeles Theater Center in 1986.
In December 2014, Pullman left for Norway to begin rehearsals for "Othello" at Den Nationale Scene, Bergen, Norway.

To Pullman and many others, the mere idea of him playing Othello was controversial.  Othello is a black man. However, in Norway and Europe Othello is sometimes played by a white man. At its core, Othello's story is about an outsider, brought in by the Venetians to get a job done. Norwegian and English were used in this production underscoring Othello's outsider status.
Pullman's portrayal of Othello was a huge success, well-received by Norwegian theater critics who had no idea he was a trained, experienced, accomplished theater actor as well as a movie star.   Pullman describes his experience playing Othello as “provocative, visceral and rejuvenating”.  (INTERVIEW  'Bill Pullman: provocatively pursuing excellence in 'OTHELLO' and 'INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE', October 2015 )

On his return to the US in Spring 2015,  Pullman was soon back in front of the camera reprising his iconic role as President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel to ID4.  Bruce Steele (“Independence Day: Resurgence: In defense of B movies”) had this to say of about Pullman's performance: “. . .mentally decrepit ex-President Bill Pullman gets the only well-developed character arc. (Remarkably, Pullman gives a genuine and nuanced performance.)”

After IDR wrapped, Pullman took on the role of Senator Ralph Yarborough in the biopic LBJ , a role he had researched by reading a biography of President Lyndon Johnson during the filming of IDR.  Senator Yarborough was: “the only southern senator to vote for all civil rights bills from 1957 to 1970, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965." ---- Inquirer.net

In January 2016 Pullman was in the theater again, this time as playwright and director. Something he saw as a winter solstice entertainment for his family became a work with themes so compelling that “The Wild Hunt”, described by Pullman as “a play with songs”, was born.  Pullman is collaborating  closely with “The Wild Hunt” cast and crew honoring and incorporating their insights and input in this multimedia play.  His daughter Maesa is Lead Musician, Composition Collaborator and plays the role of Lussi. His son Jack is the Lead Figure Technician and Puppet Designer. Tamara Hurwitz Pullman, Bill's wife, is the Movement Leader.  After a week long workshop, “The Wild Hunt” was performed in Denver in January 2016. (Denver Art Scene 'The Wild Hunt'. Photos http://www.chowenphotography.com/denver-art-scene-bill-pullman-the-wild-hunt/  )

In July 2016 “The Wild Hunt”  was given a staged reading of Act I at the New York Stage & Film Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College. “The Wild Hunt is a work in progress.  Act II of the two-act play has been written and work on the production continues.

Lewis Pullman , Bill's son, has become an actor.  Lewis made his feature film debut in “Aftermath” and has just finished shooting “The Strangers 2”, his first film lead.  Father and son are in “Battle of the Sexes” and Lewis has a role in “The Ballad of Lefty Brown”.

For a year, Bill Pullman worked with screenwriter-director Jared Moshe developing his film
“The Ballad of Lefty Brown” . The role of Lefty Brown was written with Pullman in mind to play the part. The western was shot, entirely in Montana, in September 2016. Pullman's wife Tamara and children Maesa, Jack and Lewis all appear in the film.  Friends and neighbors of the Pullmans in  Montana are extras in the film, among them Joel Jahnke, longtime Artistic Director of Montana  Shakespeare in the Parks, now retired.   Pullman described the experience of making the film as incomparable to anything he's ever done in making movies. While filming, he was “looking out at my own community and family”.   http://mtstandard.com/entertainment/a-family-affair-behind-the-scenes-with-bill-pullman/article_d051402b-c767-5d90-91d4-e6e4bbe3657b.html

Shortly after “The Ballad of Lefty Brown” wrapped, Pullman signed on to play Detective Harry Ambrose in 'The Sinner', ('The Sinner' page)  a limited run series on the USA network. The pilot episode of 'The Sinner' premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25, 2017.

On May 20, 2017 Bill Pullman gave the Commencement Address at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.  His sons Jack (2012) and Lewis (2015)  graduated from the college.

On June 8  Bill Pullman and Tamara Hurwitz Pullman were honored at the Cornerstone Theater's 30th Anniversary Bridge Awards as "longtime advocates of engaging communities in theater making." (LA Daily News) http://www.dailynews.com/arts-and-entertainment/20170604/cornerstone-theater-honors-tamara-and-bill-pullman-for-community-involvement   The Pullmans have been instrumental in going into Los Angeles communities to make collaborative plays; at their home in Montana they created a musical about the historical impact of drought and flood on ranching; they collaborated with Liz Lerman on "HEALING WARS" in 2014 and together they founded Hollywood Orchard.   

“The Sinner” premiered on the USA network on August 2 to critical acclaim and is the number one cable series in ratings for 2017.  Pullman plays Det. Harry Ambrose in the eight episode limited run series.   He found the series format an engaging opportunity to explore his character. (Interview link: “Bill Pullman . . .Acting . .It's Never a Done Deal”) .

On October 14, 2017  Bill Pullman  was given the “Excellence in Acting” award at the Woodstock Film Festival for his performance in the title role in “The Ballad of Lefty Brown”.

                                                                                    Bill Pullman. Photo: Woodstock Film Festival.

In January 2018  Bill Pullman took “The Ballad of Lefty Brown” on a road tour of benefit premieres, one for a scholarship fund in his hometown of Hornell, New York.  In Montana, Pullman and Jared Moshe, Writer-Director of “The Ballad of Lefty Brown”, hosted premieres across Montana at Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, and a showing in Whitehall, Montana, that benefited the Jefferson Valley Museum which “depicts the history and heritage of the Jefferson Valley”.

In March 2018, Bill Pullman was asked to take over the lead in “The Coldest Game” a spy thriller being shot on location in Warsaw, Poland.  He had 48 hours to decide.  Pullman took on the role of Joshua Mansky, an American chess master and mathematician, whisked off to Warsaw to square off against a Russian champion during the Cuban missile crisis.   Read more about his experience making the film and getting to know Warsaw on 'The Coldest Game" page linked above.

As a spokesperson and advisory board member for ARMADA, a group working to catalogue bacterial strains resisitant to antibiotics, Bill Pullman continues to be a committed volunteer for this effort.

In March 2018, 'The Sinner' was renewed for a second season with the first episode of an entirely new story arriving on August 1, 2018.  Season 2 of  'The Sinner' was a critical and popular success as Det. Ambrose (Pullman) returns to his hometown of Keller, New York to investigate a shocking murder.  He finds himself haunted by and dealing with traumatic events from his own past growing up there.   (Interview: Bill Pullman, July 2018:    BP_Intv7-28Snnr2   )  Bill Pullman was nominated for a 2019 SAG Award as Outstanding Male Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie  for 'The Sinner' as well as receiving a Saturn Award nomination for Best Lead Actor in an Action-Thriller Television Series.

In April 2019 Bill Pullman made his London debut on stage in “All My Sons”  as Joe Keller at the Old Vic.  His debut received critical acclaim:

“Pullman, playing the beneficent alpha male in the first act unravels spectacularly in the second. It’s easy to see Joe as callous and catastrophically selfish but Pullman’s fevered explanation of his actions – 'It’s dollars and cents, nickels and dimes' – brings out the vulnerability and desperation too.”
“Bill Pullman and Sally Field grab the audience by the jugular in this brilliant Arthur Miller revival”
“these two immensely empathetic actors [Pullman and Field] bring us in almost unbearably close to their pain.”
“ . . . it is nonetheless Field and Pullman, bringing the wisdom of age to the characters with the deepest flaws, who deliver the tragedy.”
                                                              ---The Telegraph   Serena Davis

“Pullman, soft-spoken and affable, is subtly expert in the role: his Joe is a man who has convinced himself he did nothing wrong, yet there’s a tightness beneath all his easy camaraderie. As he tries, desperately, to explain his actions to his horrified son, we see a man trapped by his own duplicity . . .A little underpowered at the outset, it’s a staging that gathers in force to a tremendous climax . .”
                                                                 –-The Financial Times    Sarah Hemming

“With Pullman, it would be impossible not to see the fault lines in Joe Keller's successful, affable façade from the get-go. There's an innate interiority to this actor's style, recently seen to excellent effect onscreen in The Sinner, the suggestion in otherwise decent characters of secrets you really don’t want to know; perhaps surprisingly, the minimalism works equally well onstage.”

“All the while, Pullman's Joe has squirmed marvelously this way and that — lying, excusing, justifying, never apologizing.”
                                                                   –-The Hollywood Reporter    Demetrios Matheou

As a college student, Pullman spent a semester in London.  He talks about his time as a student there in the London Times interview linked.    Bill Pullman interview: The Independence Day president on doing Arthur Milller in London

Season 3  of 'The Sinner' was announced on March 6, 2019.   Det. Ambrose will face “the most disturbing and dangerous case of his career” in the new story for Season 3.  Shot entirely on location in New York state, 'The Sinner' Season 3    arrives on  February 6, 2020  on the USA network.

© 2017-2020   Mary Cochrane-McIvor.  All rights reserved.

James and Johanna Pullman, Bill's parents

Pullman House.   Main Street,  Hornell, New York

Montana Shakespeare in the Parks

Teaching an acting class

Ruthless People

The Accidental Tourist

Bill and Tamara Pullman

Zero Effect

The Virginian

The Subject Was Roses

Independence Day

Independence Day: Resurgence

The Jacksonian

Sticks and Bones


Rehearsing a workshop of "The Wild Hunt".




The Sinner  Season 2


The Sinner  Season 3