Kevin Delaney Kline (born October 24, 1947) is an American stage and film actor. An Academy Award winner for his supporting role in the comedy hit A Fish Called Wanda, he also won two Tony Awards and was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards, and an Emmy Award.
Kline was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Margaret and Robert Joseph Kline. His father was a classical music lover and an amateur opera singer who owned and operated The Record Bar, a record store in St. Louis that opened in the early 1940s, and sold toys during the 1960s and 1970s; his father's family also owned Kline's Inc., a department store chain. Kline has described his mother as the "dramatic theatrical character in our family." Kline's father was Jewish, from a family that had emigrated from Germany; Kline's mother was of Irish descent, the daughter of an emigrant from County Louth. Kline was raised in his mother's Catholic religion (his father had become an agnostic). He has three siblings, Alex, Christopher, and Kate.
Kline graduated from the Catholic Saint Louis Priory School in 1965; in 1997, the school named its new auditorium the Kevin Kline Theater, and Kline did a benefit performance of selections from Shakespeare at the dedication. He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he began as an aspiring classical pianist. After joining the on-campus theater group "Vest Pocket Players" as an undergraduate, he fell in love with the theater and switched to acting, graduating from IU in 1970.
In 1970, Kline was awarded a scholarship to the newly formed Drama Division at the Juilliard School in New York. In 1972, he joined with fellow Juilliard graduates, including Patti LuPone and David Ogden Stiers, and formed the City Center Acting Company (now The Acting Company), under the aegis of John Houseman. The Company traveled across the U.S. performing Shakespeare's plays, other classical works, and the musical The Robber Bridegroom, founding one of the most widely praised groups in American repertory theatre.
In 1976, Kline left The Acting Company and settled in New York City, doing a brief stint as the character "Woody Reed" in the now-defunct soap opera Search for Tomorrow. He followed this with a return to the stage in 1977 to play Clym Yeobright opposite Donna Theodore as Eustacia Vye in The Hudson Guild Theater production of Dance on a Country Grave, Kelly Hamilton's musical version of Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native. In 1978 he played the role of Bruce Granit, a matinée idol caricature, in Harold Prince's On the Twentieth Century, for which he won his first Tony Award. In 1981, Kline appeared with rock diva Linda Ronstadt and singer Rex Smith in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of The Pirates of Penzance, winning another Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, for his comically dashing portrayal of the Pirate King. In 1983, he played the role in a film version of the musical, also with Ronstadt, Smith and Angela Lansbury, which had a limited theatrical release.
In the ensuing years, Kline appeared many times in New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Shakespeare, including starring roles in Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, two productions of Hamlet (one of which he also directed) and a Tony-nominated Falstaff in a production that combined the two parts of Henry IV.
Dubbed "the American Olivier" by New York Times theater critic Frank Rich for his stage acting, Kline finally ventured into film in 1982 in Alan J. Pakula's Sophie's Choice. He won the coveted role of the tormented and mercurial Nathan opposite Meryl Streep. Streep won an Academy Award for her performance in the film. Kline was nominated for a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for best debut performance.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Kline made several films with director Lawrence Kasdan, including The Big Chill, Silverado, Grand Canyon, I Love You to Death, and French Kiss. In 1989, Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the British comedy A Fish Called Wanda, in which he played a painfully inept American ex-CIA thug opposite John Cleese's genteel British barrister and Jamie Lee Curtis' femme fatale/con woman. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film twenty-first on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.
Though he has been offered many roles that could have boosted him to box-office stardom, Kline has kept a wary distance from the Hollywood star-making machine. He developed a reputation for picking parts with discrimination (such as strong roles in Grand Canyon and Life as a House), leading to the industry nickname "Kevin Decline". Other awards have included Drama Desk Awards, Golden Globe awards, a Gotham Award, a Hasty Pudding Theatricals Man of the Year Award, and a St. Louis International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. He also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Film reviewers have widely praised his talent. Newsday said Kline "has proved himself to be one of the most talented and versatile American actors of his generation."
He played the title role in King Lear at the Public Theater, and took the lead role in a Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Jennifer Garner. That production was forced to close temporarily after only 11 performances as a result of the Broadway stagehands' strike, but subsequently reopened. Cyrano was filmed in 2008 and aired as part of PBS's Great Performances series in January 2009. In January 2008, Kline won a Screen Actors Guild award for his portrayal of Jaques in Kenneth Branagh's film As You Like It, adapted from Shakespeare's play. The film premiered theatrically in 2006 in Europe. It bypassed theatres and was sent straight to HBO in the U.S. Kline's film The Conspirator premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was described as an "old fashioned historical thriller". It was well received by most critics. Kline also starred in the 2012 comedy Darling Companion alongside Diane Keaton.
In December 2004 Kline became the 2,272nd recipient of a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.
Throughout the 1970s, Kline was involved in a long-term relationship with his Juilliard classmate Patti LuPone. They separated and reconnected many times before finally ending their relationship in 1978. Their relationship is precisely detailed in LuPone's memoir, Patti LuPone: A Memoir.
Kline married actress Phoebe Cates in 1989. The couple live in New York City and they have two children: son Owen Joseph Kline (born October 14, 1991), who had a featured role in The Squid and the Whale, and daughter Greta Simone Kline (born March 21, 1994). After his son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, Kline became active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In November 2004, he was presented with the JDRF's Humanitarian of the Year award by Meryl Streep for his volunteer efforts on behalf of the organization.
The Kevin Kline Awards honor theatre professionals in St. Louis in a wide array of categories, which include best actor and actress, set design, choreography, and original play. The first awards ceremony took place on March 20, 2006.
- Sophie's Choice (1982)- Nathan Landau
- The Pirates of Penzance (1983)- The Pirate King
- The Big Chill (1983)- Harold Cooper
- Silverado (1985)- Paden
- Violets Are Blue (1986)- Henry Squires
- Cry Freedom (1987)- Donald Woods
- A Fish Called Wanda (1988)- Otto West
- The January Man (1989)- Nick Starkey
- I Love You to Death (1990)- Joey Boca
- Soapdish (1991)- Jeffery Anderson and Dr. Rod Randall
- Grand Canyon (1991)- Mack
- Consenting Adults (1992)- Richard Parker
- Chaplin (1992)- Douglas Fairbanks
- Dave (1993)- Dave Kovic, President William Harrison, and Mitchell
- The Nutcracker (1993)- Narrator
- Princess Caraboo (1994)- Frixos
- French Kiss (1995)- Luc Teyssier
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)- Captain Phoebus
- The Ice Storm (1997)- Ben Hood
- Fierce Creatures (1997)- Vince McCain and Rod McCain
- In & Out (1997)- Howard Brackett
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)- Nick Bottom
- Wild Wild West (1999)- U.S. Marshal Artemus 'Artie' Gordon and President Ulysses S. Grant
- The Road to El Dorado (2000)- Tulio
- The Anniversary Party (2001)- Cal Gold
- Life as a House (2001)- George Monroe
- Orange County (2002)- Marcus Skinner
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002)- Captain Phoebus
- The Emperor's Club (2002)- William Hundert
- De-Lovely (2004)- Cole Porter
- The Pink Panther (2006)- Chief Inspector Dreyfus
- A Prairie Home Companion (2006)- Guy Noir
- As You Like It (2006)- Jaques
- Trade (2007)- Ray Sheridan
- Definitely, Maybe (2008)- Hampton Roth
- The Tale of Despereaux (2008)- Andre
- Cyrano de Bergerac (2008)- Cyrano de Bergerac
- Queen to Play (2009)- Docteur Kröger
- The Extra Man (2010)- Henry Harrison
- No Strings Attached (2011)- Alvin
- The Conspirator (2011)- Edwin Stanton
- Last Vegas (2013)- Sam
- The Last of Robin Hood (2013)- Errol Flynn