An accomplished playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor, former classics major Tim Blake Nelson is perhaps most familiar to the movie audience as the hilariously dim Delmar in Joel and Ethan Coen's goofy Oscar-nominated comedy O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).
Born in Oklahoma, Nelson attended college at Brown University where he became a Latinist in the classics department. Opting for the arts over academia, Nelson headed to New York after college, studying acting at Juilliard and embarking on an Obie Award-winning career as a stage writer. After making his film debut in Nora Ephron's freshman directorial effort This Is My Life (1992), Nelson occasionally appeared in films throughout the 1990s, playing small roles in Hal Hartley's Amateur (1994), the Al Pacino/Johnny Depp mob drama Donnie Brasco (1997), and Terrence Malick's radiant anti-war anti-epic The Thin Red Line (1998). Along with film acting, Nelson turned to filmmaking with the screen adaptation of his play Eye of God (1997), a somber rural drama about a woman's marriage to a pious ex-con with a violent past, which earned positive notice at the Sundance Film Festival. Because of his ability to handle difficult questions of violence and create an ominous mood out of the everyday, Nelson was asked to helm the modernized, teen version of Shakespeare's Othello, retitled O (2001). Shot in 1999, O languished on the shelf in the wake of a series of high school shootings, deemed an inappropriate release because of its violent denouement.