One of Hollywood's most intense supporting and leading actors, James Woods has built a distinguished career on stage, screen, and television. Early in his career, Woods, with his lean body, close-set eyes, and narrow, acne-scarred face, specialized in playing sociopaths, psychopaths, and other crazed villains, but in the 1990s, he added a sizable number of good guys to his resumé.
The son of a military man, Woods was born in Vermal, UT, on April 14, 1947. Thanks to his father's job, he had a peripatetic childhood, living in four states and on the island of Guam. As a young man, he earned a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; after obtaining a degree in political science, he set out to become a professional actor in New York. While in school he had appeared in numerous plays at M.I.T., Harvard, and with the Theater Company of Boston, as well as at the Provincetown Playhouse on Rhode Island. After working off-Broadway, Woods debuted on Broadway in 1970, appearing in Borstal Boy. Off-Broadway, he earned an Obie for his work in Saved.