James Woods biography
The Virgin Suicides
Date of Birth: April 18, 1947
Intense. That one word pretty much sums up the screen presence of this native of Vernal, Utah. And it's no wonder he comes off as a little intense when he says things such as, "My contract with the audience is that it has an absolute unmitigated right to the barest, naked soul of that character. I think acting is being like an assassin. You must have no reservations about what you do." This intensity has earned him a -- deservedly or not -- reputation for being a little difficult to work with and has probably kept him from landing some of the roles he would like to have taken on. Nonetheless, he's a constantly engaging performer and was once nominated for an Oscar for his work in Salvador.
Woods has often been hired by another Hollywood type who has a reputation for being a little intense -- Oliver Stone. About that director, Woods says, "He's a god. A cinema god, and I have thousands of acres of Beverly Hills to prove it. He's really subtle -- he'll come up and say, "Listen, you're ruining my movie." I say, "Is there something I should do?" He says, "What can you do, really? You've ruined my movie with your overwhelming lack of talent."
A very gifted student, Woods learned to play classical guitar at a young age and was on an honors-student grant program that allowed him to study linear algebra at U.C.L.A. while still in high school. With an I.Q. of 180, he had his sights set on being an eye surgeon before accidentally putting his arm through a glass door resulting in a severed artery that almost ended in the amputation of the limb. Several operations later, Woods regained the use of his arm, but both his surgery career and his ability to play guitar were lost. Boston's M.I.T. school was next, a school that he, of course, attended on a scholarship. But he dropped out just a few months shy of completing a degree in political science to pursue an acting career that began in off-Broadway productions.
His most recent films include Officer Down (2012), White House Down (2013) and Jobs (2013).