Noonan, Tom 1951-

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NOONAN, Tom 1951-

(Richmond Arrley, Ludovico Sorret)

PERSONAL: Born April 12, 1951, in Greenwich, CT; son of a dentist and jazz musician; married Karen Young (an actress), c. 1988 (divorced); children: Wanda, one son. Education: Attended Yale University.

ADDRESSES: Office—Paradise Theatre Company, Genre Pictures, 64 East 4th St., New York, NY 10003-8903. Agent—HWA Talent Representatives, 220 East 3rd St., Suite 400, New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: Actor, director, producer, music composer, film editor, and writer. Columbia University, New York, NY, faculty of graduate film department, 2001-02. Paradise Theatre, New York, NY, executive director and instructor in acting, writing, and directing.

Actor in stage productions, including Michael Weller's Split (off-Broadway production), 1977; (as Tilden) Sam Shephard's Buried Child, Theatre for a New City, Theatre De Lys (now Lucille Lortel Theatre), 1978-79, Circle Repertory Theatre, New York, NY, 1979; (as Sepp) F. X. Kroetz's Farmyard, Theatre for a New City, New York, NY, 1981; (as Rube Januk) Harvey Fierstein's Spookhouse, Playhouse 91, New York, NY, 1984; (as Michael) What Happened Was …, Paradise Theatre, New York, NY, 1992; (as Mickey Houn-sell) Wang Dang, Paradise Theatre, 1999; and (as man in video) Intrigue with Faye, Acorn Theatre, New York, NY, 2003. Also appeared in the stage productions (as Jack) Wifey (also known as The Wife), The Breakers, Len Jenkins's Five of Us, The Invitational, and Marathon '88, all produced in New York, NY, and Lanford Wilson's A Poster of the Cosmos. Actor in motion pictures, including (as gangster and second man) Gloria, Columbia, 1980; (as Jake) Heaven's Gate (also known as Johnson County Wars), United Artists, 1980; Rage (made for television), 1980; (as man in park) Willie and Phil, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1980; (as Ferguson) Wolfen, Warner Bros., 1981; (as Paddy) Easy Money, Orion, 1983; (as Daryl Potts) EddieMacon's Run, Universal, 1983; (as Frank Holtzman) Best Defense, Paramount, 1984; (as Varrick) F/X (also known as F/X—Murder by Illusion and Murder by Illusion), Orion, 1986; (as Reese) The Man with One Red Shoe, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1985; (as Francis Dollarhyde) Manhunter (also known as Red Dragon: The Pursuit of Hannibal Lecter), De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, 1986; Tom Goes to the Bar (short film), Cinecom International, 1986; (as Frankenstein) The Monster Squad, TriStar, 1987; (as Scully) Collison Course (also known as East/West Cop), Recording Releasing/Rich International, 1989; (as man in diner) "A Ghost," Mystery Train, Orion Classics, 1989; (as Cain) Robocop 2, Orion, 1990; BoneDaddy, Sundance workshop, 1991; (as Ripper and himself) The Last Action Hero, Columbia, 1993; (as Michael) What Happened Was …, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1994; (as Jack) The Wife, Artistic License, 1995; (as Kelson; some sources cite Kelso) Heat, Warner Bros., 1996; (as Chicago) Phoenix, Trimark Pictures, 1998; (as Mickey Hounsell) Wang Dang, 1999; (as Jackson McLaren) The Astronaut's Wife, New Line Cinema, 1999; (as Mort Stein) The Opportunists, First Look Pictures Releasing, 2000; (as Butler) The Photographer, HBO, 2000; (as Gary Jackson) The Pledge, Warner Bros., 2001; (as Anders) A Bullet in the Brain (short film), 2001; (as Sheriff Decker) Knockaround Guys, New Line Cinema, 2001; (as himself) A Constant Forge: The Life and Art of John Cassavetes, 2001; (uncredited; as Joshua Taft) Eight-Legged Freaks, Warner Bros., 2002; (as Byron Bradley) The Egoists, April Films, 2003; and (as Frank Donovan) Madness and Genius, 2003. Also appeared in the independent short film Doris and Inez (also known as Doris and Inez Speak the Truth). Voice appears in the motion picture High Hair, 2004.

Actor in television movies, including (as Bo) Rage!, NBC, 1980; (as Mr. Y) The 10 Million-Dollar Getaway, USA Network, 1991; and (as Chicago) Phoenix, HBO, 1998.

Actor in episodes of television programs, including (as Lacey) "The Odds," Tales from the Darkside, Laurel, 1984; (as Brandon Thornton) "The Making of a Martyr," The Equalizer, CBS, 1989; "The Moving Finger," Monsters, Laurel, 1991; (as John Lee Roche) "Paper Hearts," The X-Files, Fox, 1996; (as Frank Price) Early Edition (pilot), CBS, 1996; (as Howard Schmidt) "The Beat Goes On," The Beat, UPN, 2000; (as Zephyr Dillinger) "Abra Cadaver," C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 2002; and (as Malcolm Bruce) "Graansha," Law and Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, 2003. Also appeared in Midtown (Metro Media). Also actor in the television miniseries (as Willard Fenway) John Jakes' Heaven and Hell: North and South, Book III (also known as John Jakes' Heaven and Hell: North and South, Book III and North and South III), ABC, 1994.

Director of stage productions, including (and producer) What Happened Was …, Paradise Theatre, New York, NY, 1992; (and producer) Wifey, Paradise Theatre, 1994; Wang Dang, Paradise Theatre, 1999; and What the Hell's Your Problem? An Evening with "Dr. Bob" Nathelson, Paradise Theatre, 2002. Also producer of Hitting Town, Hoover, Queer and Alone, Two by Bose, and X-mas Concert '92, all Paradise Theatre. Director of motion pictures, including BoneDaddy, Sundance Workshop, 1991; What Happened Was …, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1994; (and sound designer) The Wife, Artistic License, 1996; and Wang Dang, 1999. Director of television episodes, including "The Bargain" and "Malcolm," both Monsters, 1990. Also director and producer of the television episode "The Eternal Sideman."

Producer of television movie Red Wind, USA Network, 1991. Producer of motion pictures, including Wang Dang, The Wife, The Pesky Suitor, and What Happened Was ….

Editor, under pseudonym Richmond Arrley, of motion pictures, including BoneDaddy, Sundance Workshop, 1991; What Happened Was …, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1994; The Pesky Suitor, 1995; The Wife, Artistic License, 1996; Wang Dang, 1999; and The Eternal Sideman. Editor of television episodes, including "Malcolm" and "The Bargain," both Monsters, and "The Eternal Sideman."

AWARDS, HONORS: OBIE Award for play Wifey, 1994; Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, and Waldo Salt Award/Screenwriting Prize, Sundance Film Festival, both 1994, for What Happened Was … ; Silver Hugo, Chicago International Film Festival, 1994, for What Happened Was … ; National Endowment for the Arts Media Award, 1994, 1995; New York Foundation for the Arts screenwriting/playwriting fellow, 1998. Guggenheim fellowship for film making, 1998. What Happened Was … was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards.



(And director) What Happened Was …, produced at the Paradise Theater in New York, NY, 1992.

(And director) Wifey (also known as The Wife), produced at the Paradise Theater in New York, NY, 1993.

What the Hell's Your Problem?: An Evening with "Dr. Bob" Nathelson, produced at the Paradise Theater in New York, NY, 2002.

Wang Dang, 1999.

What Happened Was … was published in Scenario magazine.


(And editor) BoneDaddy, Sundance Workshop, 1991.

(And producer and editor) Red Wind (teleplay), USA Network, 1991.

(And director and editor) What Happened Was …, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1994.

(And director and editor) The Wife, Artistic License Films, 1996.

Wang Dang, 1999.

Also author of the unpublished novel Must Have and the short-story collection Agog and Amygdala.

Author of plays, including Weekend at Bob's, 1998; Wunderkinder, 1999; When We Fall, 1999; Wake Up and Go to Sleep, 2000; Waiting, 2001; Waltz, 2002; and Whoopee, 2002. Also author of plays Starring Beck Falcone and Swallow. Author of unproduced screenplays, including Zing!, Dam, Deaf and Dumb, The Psychic Dentist, The Dark, P.A.N.I.C., Bagdad, and Fast and Loose.

Author of the television episodes "The Bargain" and "Malcom," both Monsters, 1990, and "The Eternal Sideman." Also music composer under own name, for television miniseries, Heaven and Hell. Also author of several unproduced works for television, including "First Fly of Spring," "Baby's Driving Me Crazy," "Elevator Man," "Anybody Out There?," "Narcissus," "Dr. Flowerw," "Obscura," "What's Got into You?," "Troll," "Tattoo," "Black and White," "Incredibly Moving," and "Not Fade Away." Author, under pseudonym Ludovico Sorret, of television episodes, including "The Odds," Tales from the Dark Side, 1984; "The Bargain," Monsters, 1990; and "Malcolm," Monsters, 1990.

Music composer, under pseudonym Ludovico Sorret, for motion pictures, including BoneDaddy, Sundance Workshop, 1991; What Happened Was …, Samuel Goldwyn Company, 1994; The Wife, Artistic License, 1996; and Wang Dang, 1999. Also music composer, under pseudonym Ludovico Sorret, for stage scores, including those for What Happened Was …, Paradise Theatre, New York, NY, 1992; Wifey, Paradise Theatre, 1994; and Wang Dang, 1999. Also music composer, under pseudonymn Ludovico Sorret, for the plays The Breakers, produced in New York, NY, Flow My Tears, Good-bye and Keep Cold, and My Hollywood Uncle. Also music composer, under pseudonym Ludovico Sorret, for the television miniseries John Jakes' Heaven and Hell: North and South: Book III, ABC, 1994. Also music composer, under own name, for motion picture Romance.

SIDELIGHTS: Tom Noonan is a multitalented artist who has won particular recognition as an actor, playwright, and filmmaker. Noonan has appeared as a supporting player in numerous motion pictures, including Michael Cimino's maligned western Heaven's Gate, the freewheeling Rodney Dangerfield comedy Easy Money, John Cassavetes's feminist gangster work Gloria, and the extravagant Arnold Schwarzenegger action film The Last Action Hero. He also received much attention for his portrayal of psychopathic killer Francis Dollarhyde in Michael Mann's 1986 Hannibal Lecter film Manhunter—one of a number of noted sinister roles in his career—a character whom Entertainment Weekly contributor Ty Burr described as "one of the freakiest madmen Hollywood has ever given us." In recent years, Noonan has stepped into more prominent movie roles. In addition to his many cinema roles, Noonan has graced the television screen numerous times throughout his career, with guest appearances on television shows, including The X-Files, C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Noonan has written three major stage plays, which he then adapted and produced as films, also occupying the lead roles: What Happened Was …, The Wife, and Wang Dang.

Noonan applied the profits from his acting into the funding of What Happened Was …, his own venture into writing and directing. This film, which was derived from Noonan's stage production of the same title, chronicles—in painstaking detail—an awkward first date between coworkers at a law office. The film couple, secretary Jackie and paralegal Michael, meet at the latter's apartment and share an unsettling evening. Newsweek reviewer David Ansen remarked on the "painful comedy" captured in the film and reported that the work "acknowledges the terror behind the phrase 'getting acquainted.'" A Rolling Stone reviewer described Noonan's work as having "an edgy hothouse quality." Since the piece is filmed in real-time, the critic noted, the film depicts "the agony of getting to know someone … in every awkward gesture and excruciating pause." An Entertainment Weekly contributor termed What Happened Was … "an unsettling glimpse into the feelings that all our faces hide." Noonan, in addition to writing and directing What Happened Was …, also directed, edited, and produced the film. He also occupied the role of Michael in both the stage and film productions.

After the critical success of What Happened Was … in 1994, Noonan wrote and directed his second film, The Wife, which he adapted from his 1993 play Wifey, also known as The Wife. In the movie, husband and wife, Cosmo and Arlie, unexpectedly drop by the home of another married couple, Jack and Rita, both of whom are therapists. Cosmo is Jack and Rita's patient, and hopes to convince his therapists that he hasn't fabricated the things he's said about his wife. As the awkward evening progresses, Cosmo grows increasingly uncomfortable as Arlie's behavior becomes more flamboyant. A Variety reviewer described The Wife as "a bizarre, often provocative seriocomic dissection of marriage as a fragile yet almost universal institution." Noonan played Jack in the stage production and the motion picture, which he also directed and edited.

In 1999, Noonan again adapted an original stage work for film. Wang Dang introduces audiences to Mickey Hounsell, a has-been movie director who visits a college campus to give a lecture on filmmaking. It becomes clear, however, that he has a different agenda when film student Deana Icksty comes to his off-campus motel room. Deana is awed by the movie director, who has agreed to view a film project she is working on, and the two appear to be in for a cozy night when another student, Kim Procthkow, arrives at the door. Kim, however, is more interested in Deana than she is Mickey. The audience watches with gritted teeth as the awkward, taciturn, and sleazy Mickey, played by Noonan, tries to seduce the two young women.

"The character Noonan has supplied for himself is richly woven," wrote Les Gutman in a review of Wang Dang for Curtain Up. "Nervous, uncomfortable, lonesome, goofy, defeated…. Every nuance resonates in his portrayal." New York Times contributor Peter Marks wrote of the character's "anti-charm," stating, "Mickey may not be the type of guy you'd want to be stuck with in an empty room. But Noonan, in his intimate style of theater, makes him seem so real that you can almost feel his unpleasant breath on your neck." Gutman also commended Noonan's style, referring to the play's authentic, sordid motel room set, lack of stage lighting or music, and real-time atmosphere. "Also distinctive is Noonan's dialogue, which is sometimes jarringly real," Gutman maintained. "Speech is tentative—there are no glib, well-considered statements…. This is a mixed blessing: as effective and intriguing as it can be, it can also be tedious. Such is reality." Marks wrote of the play that "watching it is an almost clinical experience," dubbing Wang Dang a "discursive drama played as if a documentary camera had been left running." Marks went on to reflect that the play is "enjoyable in the way that experimental theater makes you aware of new applications for old formulas." In 1999, Noonan began filming the play for the screen—in Liberty, New York, near his home in the Catskill Mountains—with the assistance of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Although Noonan's films have been financed on modest budgets, especially in comparison to those films in which he has acted, he scarcely sees this limited funding as a disadvantage. "That's the great thing about no-budget moviemaking," he told Entertainment Weekly. "You have no money, but you have all the time in the world."

Since the production of Wang Dang, Noonan has written numerous unpublished plays. In 2001 he put playwriting on hold to take a lead role in the film Knockaround Guys, written, directed, and produced by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, and starring Barry Pepper, Dennis Hopper, John Malkovich, Vin Diesel, and Seth Green. In Knockaround Guys, young Brooklyn mobster Matty (Barry Pepper) wants to prove his talent for illicit activities to his big-time boss father (Dennis Hopper). While the movie itself received mixed reactions from critics, even the most jaded had positive comments to make about Noonan's acting. "Tom Noonan, as Andy Griffith with a big stick and attitude, carries his scenes smoothly, and really makes you believe that he hasn't had a facial expression in twenty odd years," commented Marc Eastman on the Movie Gurus Web site. In a review for Film Freak Central, contributor Walter Chaw stated that "Knockaround Guys demonstrates what it could be when Noonan struts on the screen with his careful reptilian gait." Chaw went on to say that "the real failures of this film are … its uncontrollable glee with its veteran cast, too much faith in its freshman players … and not enough time spent in the company of Noonan."

Noonan returned to the screen the following year with the movie Eight-Legged Freaks, written by Jesse Alexander and Ellory Elkayem, and starring David Arquette and Kari Wuhrer. Noonan plays Joshua Taft, a recluse and owner of an exotic spider farm who collects bugs for his spiders from an area undisclosed as a nuclear waste spill site. Joshua's spiders grow to astronomical sizes and begin eating the citizens of the desert town. Eight-Legged Freaks was a hit with movie fans who enjoy the classically cheesy thrills of the 1950s monster movies. In a review for Reel Movie Critic, reviewer Brenda Sexton praised Noonan for his "fabulously played role" as Joshua. The next year, Noonan played the lead role in Madness and Genius.

"I've realized that the experience of the moment on a film set that was of value—not the deal, not the press, not the power," revealed Noonan in an article on his Web site titled "Why I Make Movies." "Making a movie with that kind of understanding has made me a better person. That's why I make movies. I feel lucky that I found a way to be alive, if only for those brief moments. It's like they turn the lights on for a minute and I can see the world. And that's enough for me. Life's become that simple, and I pray to God it stays that simple."



Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 53, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.


Entertainment Weekly, September 23, 1994, p. 46; April 19, 1996, Melissa Pierson, movie review of What Happened Was …, p. 86; June 21, 1996, Ty Burr, movie review of Manhunter, p. 73.

Film Comment, November-December, 1995, Dan Gribbin, movie review of Mystery Train, pp. 80-83.

Newsweek, September 12, 1994, pp. 59-60.

New York Times, August 11, 1996, p. B12; August 16, 1996, p. C5.

People, March 20, 2000, "Tube," television review of The Beat, p. 27.

Quadrant, April, 2001, Neil MacDonald, "Dr. Lecter, I Presume," movie review of Manhunter, p. 59.

Rolling Stone, September 22, 1994, p. 106.

Variety, January 30, 1995, p. 48.


Curtain Up Web site, (February 18, 2004), Les Gutman, "A Curtain Up Review: Wang Dang."

Film Bug Web site, (May 30, 2003), "Tom Noonan."

Film Freak Central Web site, (February 18, 2004), Walter Chaw, review of Knockaround Guys.

Filmmaker Magazine Web site, (February 18, 2004), "Production Update: Wang Dang."

IndieWire Web site, (February 18, 2004), Eugene Hernandez, "Festival Discovery: Introducing Ryan Eslinger."

Internet Movie Database Web site, (February 17, 2004), "Tom Noonan."

Microsoft Network Entertainment Web site, (May 30, 2003), "Tom Noonan: Biography."

Movie Gurus Web site, (February 18, 2004), Marc Eastman, review of Knockaround Guys.

Reel Movie Critic Web site, (February 18, 2004), Brenda Sexton, review of Eight-Legged Freaks.

Slam Dance Film Festival Web site, (February 18, 2004), description of Madness and Genius.

Tom Noonan Web site, (February 17, 2004), author biography and resume; Peter Marks, "Wang Dang: A Seducer with a Whiff of Genius (or Pizza)."

TV Guide Web site, (February 18, 2004), Maitland McDonagh, review of Eight-Legged Freaks.*