Tobin Bell bigraphy, stories - American actor

Tobin Bell : biography

August 7, 1942 -

Tobin Bell (born Joseph Henry Tobin, Jr.; August 7, 1942) is an American film and television character actor, best known for his portrayal of John Kramer/Jigsaw of the Saw film series. After years of work doing stand-ins and background work on films, he got his first major acting job in Mississippi Burning (1988) and went on to star in made-for-television films and guest star in television shows throughout the 1990s.

A life member of The Actors Studio, Bell is best known as the villain John Kramer/Jigsaw of the Saw film series and is one of two actors to appear in all seven films, along with Shawnee Smith. He provided his voice in two video games based on the films, Saw and its sequel, Saw II: Flesh & Blood, in which he also provided his likeness. Bell's portrayal of Jigsaw has earned him five award nominations and two wins.

Early life

Bell was born in Queens, New York and raised in Weymouth, Massachusetts. His English-born mother, Eileen Bell Tobin, is an actress who worked at the Quincy Repertory Company. His father, Joseph H. Tobin (December 19, 1912 - September 2, 1977), built and established the radio station WJDA in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1947 and once ran for mayor of Gloversville, New York. Bell has one sister and one brother. Bell studied liberal arts and journalism in college, with the intention of becoming a writer and entering the broadcasting field. He also has an interest in environmental matters, holding a master's degree in environmental science from Montclair State University as well as having worked for the New York Botanical Garden. He credits hearing a seminar by Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy at Boston University with inspiring him to begin an acting career.

Bell later joined the Actors Studio where he studied with Lee Strasberg and Ellen Burstyn, and joined Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. He played background roles in the late seventies and early eighties in over thirty films, including films by Woody Allen (Manhattan) and Martin Scorsese, while also performing in Broadway. Bell said that other actors at the Actors Studio thought doing stand-in and background work was "stupid or degrading", but he never felt that way.

Career

Early work: 1982–1999

In 1982, Bell had a short uncredited scene in the Sydney Pollack film, Tootsie, playing a waiter at the Russian Tea Room. He told Movieline, "You know, when you’re talking about Tootsie, it’s the tip of the iceberg, because those other twenty-nine films I did aren't even on the IMDb." He worked on The Verdict (1982) for two weeks as a courtroom reporter in the trial. He recollected it being a "great opportunity" watching Sidney Lumet and Paul Newman, while also learning the technical aspect of acting. For every role he plays, starting with the initial reading of the script to the final shot of a production, he keeps a journal of various questions about and motivations for his character. "I write all kinds of stream-of-consciousness things that help me." In 1982, He landed his first speaking role in the last few moments of the drama Sophie's Choice, Starring Meryl Streep In the mid-1980s, Bell said "I was doing off-Broadway plays three nights a week, working on my craft. And a director at the Actors Studio said, 'You know, Tobin you've been doing that for a while. I think you should go to Hollywood and play bad guys'." Bell moved to Los Angeles and was cast in his first feature film, Alan Parker's Mississippi Burning (1988), as a "tough", street smart, FBI agent. Bell played an assassin called "The Nordic Man" in another Pollack film, The Firm (1993). He went on to appear in an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld titled "The Old Man" playing a record store owner. He appeared in two episodes of NYPD Blue playing different characters; he played Donald Selness in a 1993 episode and Jerry the Artist in 1996 episode.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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