Goran Višnjić

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Goran Višnjić
Višnjić in January 2012
Born (1972-09-09) September 9, 1972 (age 42)
Šibenik, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Residence Los Angeles, California, USA
Ethnicity Croat
Education Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s) Ivana Višnjić (May 8, 1999–present)
Awards Screen Actors Guild Awards 2 nominations

Goran Višnjić (/ˈvɪʃnjɪ/ VISH-nyich; Croatian: [ˈʋiʃɲitɕ]; born September 9, 1972) is a Croatian actor who has appeared in American and British films and television productions. He is best known for his role as Dr. Luka Kovač in the television series ER. Now credited as Goran Visnjic in his English-language work, he adopted the simplified spelling of his name when he came to the United States in the late 1990s, believing it would be more accessible to American audiences.[1] Visnjic became a U.S. citizen in 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Visnjic was born in the Dalmatian coastal city of Šibenik, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia. He has one older brother, Joško. His father, Željko Višnjić, was a bus driver, and his mother, Milka, worked in a food market. He appeared in plays throughout his childhood and made his screen debut at age 16 in the controversial Yugoslav film Braća po materi (1988), playing a young Ustaša.

As Yugoslavia began to dissolve, Višnjić was serving a year-long tour of duty with the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). He left the JNA and returned to Šibenik, where he joined the nascent Croatian Army in defending his hometown against the Army of the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

After leaving the Croatian Army, he moved to Zagreb to study at the Academy of Dramatic Art.


Visnjic was the youngest actor to be chosen for the title role in Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Summer Theatre Festival in Croatia. Originally cast as Laertes and understudy to Hamlet, he took over the role when the star dropped out of the production shortly before the first performance. He portrayed the doomed prince for seven years from 1994 to 2000, winning several Orlando Awards (the equivalent of the Tony Award). During an episode of ER, he demonstrated his expertise in the part of Hamlet, by reciting an excerpt from the "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Croatian. In the same episode, he demonstrated his skill in another Shakespeare-related hobby by fencing with Noah Wyle's character, Dr. John Carter.

Prior to ER, Visnjic had small speaking roles in films such as The Peacemaker, Committed and Practical Magic. In 1998 he also appeared in Madonna's music video "The Power of Goodbye", and had a cameo in the movie Rounders. But it was Visnjic's break-out role as Risto, the Bosnian driver in Welcome to Sarajevo that led then-producer Jack Orman to offer him the role of the then unnamed doctor who would replace the departing George Clooney on ER. Visnjic joined ER in the sixth season in late 1999, eventually becoming the show's male lead in mid-season 11. Visnjic made a series of appearances in season 14 before leaving the show early in season 15, ending his 9 year run on the medical drama.[3]

While starring on ER, Visnjic also worked on other projects. He starred in the British film Close Your Eyes (2002) along with Shirley Henderson and Miranda Otto. He co-starred in the movie The Deep End, voice-acted in Ice Age, and starred in Posljednja volja and Doctor Sleep. In 2004, he starred in the television miniseries Spartacus and the Croatian movie and television series Duga mračna noć. He appeared with Jennifer Garner in the 2005 movie Elektra. During the summer of 2005, Visnjic was one of four finalists for the role of James Bond, eventually losing out to British actor Daniel Craig, with whom he would appear in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Visnjic appeared in UNKLE's music video for the song "Burn My Shadow", released in May 2007. In 2008, Visnjic starred in the film Helen alongside Ashley Judd[4] as Judd's character's husband David in the drama, which made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[5] Visnjic also appeared alongside Carla Gugino in a segment of the 2009 film New York, I Love You, an anthology set in New York. Visnjic's segment was directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev.[6] Although the Visnjic/Gugino segment was cut from the theatrical version of the film,[7] it was included in the DVD version.

Visnjic appeared in the historical drama The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, about a young Polish woman responsible for the rescue of Jewish children in wartime Warsaw, filmed in Riga, Latvia. Produced for Hallmark Hall of Fame, the film aired on CBS on April 19, 2009.[8] Visnjic recently completed a role in the Mike Mills independent film Beginners alongside Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor.[9] At the end of 2009, he was cast in the role of Samson in the Tiger Aspect television miniseries The Deep, shown on BBC One in 2010.[10] He appeared as Andrija Hebrang in the historical drama Tito on Croatian television. Visnjic appeared in the unsold 2010 pilot of ABC Studios' Boston's Finest in which he played a disgraced cop who works with a female officer (played by Katee Sackhoff) to solve crimes while clearing his name.[11] He recently appeared in the two-episode season three finale of the television series Leverage, as international crime financier Damien Moreau, his first guest appearance on an English-language television program.

In 2011, Visnjic played the role of Dragan Armansky, the head of a security agency, in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and he has signed on to play this role for the entire film trilogy produced and distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment.[12] He also featured in a four-episode arc in the ABC television series Pan Am, playing a Yugoslavian attache to the United Nations.

Personal life[edit]

Visnjic is married to Croatian sculptor Eva Visnjic (born Ivana Vrdoljak), the daughter of filmmaker Antun Vrdoljak. They reside in Los Angeles, and maintain a home and a boat on the Croatian island of Hvar. The couple has three children: Tin, adopted in 2007 and named after Croatian poet Tin Ujević, Vivien, born in 2009 and adopted in 2013,[13] and biological son Vigo, born in 2011. Visnjic has acknowledged paternity of a daughter, Lana, born in 2007.[14]

Visnjic has been active in the American and European animal rights movements, and appeared in photographs alongside his dog Bugsy in PETA's first Eastern European anti-fur campaign. He is currently a representative for both the International Fund for Animal Welfare and an Animal Friends Croatia, as well as providing assistance to a number of small animal-rescue organizations in southern California. He has also supported a number of medical institutions in Croatia through the donation of money or equipment. Visnjic recently appeared on the nationally broadcast American benefit program Stand Up to Cancer. He also served as one of the faces of ER on NBC's long-running The More You Know campaign, appearing in public service announcements discussing topics such as family time and tolerance.


Visnjic was named People magazine's Sexiest Import in 1999 and "One of TV's Sexiest Men" in the June 5–11, 2005 TV Guide. He was ranked #18 in Croatian-based monthly film magazine Hollywood in Best Croatian Male Movie Stars of All Time list in November 2005. He was also named as the Best Croatian actor in 2004 according to the votes of the visitors of internet magazines, for his role in the movie Duga mračna noć, according to the votes of Croatian newspaper Večernji list.



Year Title Role
1988 Braća po materi Ustasa terrorist
1993 Paranoja
1995 See You Maks
1997 Puška za uspavljivanje Devetka - '9'
Welcome to Sarajevo Risto Bavic
The Peacemaker Bazta Sergeant
1998 Rounders Maurice
Practical Magic Jimmy Angelov
2000 Committed Neil
2001 The Deep End Alek 'Al' Spera
The Last Will Bepo Stambuk
2002 Ice Age Soto (voice)
Doctor Sleep Michael Strother
2005 Elektra Mark Miller
2009 New York, I Love You Man
Helen David Leonard
2011 Beginners Andy
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Dragan Armansky
2012 Execution Style The Chemist
Dark Hearts Armand
K-11 Raymond Saxx Jr.
2013 95 Decibels (short) Dr. Corry
2013 The Counselor[15] Michael
2014 Asthma Ragen
2014 Midnight Sun Mutuk
2015 You Were Never Here (post-production) S


Year Title Role Notes
1994 Michele va alla guerra Soldier
1995 Night Watch U.N. Security Officer Television film
1998 Teško je reći zbogom Davor
1999-2009 ER Dr. Luka Kovač
2003 American Masters: Robert Capa: In Love and War Robert Capa Voice of Robert Capa
2004 Spartacus Spartacus
2005 Long Dark Night Ivan Kolar
2006 Naša mala klinika Man on the telephone Episode: "Bijeli misevi"
2009 The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Stefan Zgrzembski
2010 Boston's Finest Angus Martin Unsold pilot for ABC
Tito Andrija Hebrang
The Deep Samson Mini-series for the BBC
Leverage Damien Moreau Episodes: "The Big Bang Job"
"The San Lorenzo Job"
2011-2012 Pan Am Niko Lonza Episodes: "One Coin in a Fountain"
"The Genuine Article"
"Romance Languages"
"Truth or Dare"
2013 Red Widow Nicholae Schiller
2014 Extant John Woods Main, season 1; recurring, season 2
2015 Crossing Lines Marco

Music videos[edit]

Music Videos
Year Artist Title Notes
1996 Tony Cetinski "Život" ("Life") Croatian music video
1998 Madonna "The Power of Goodbye" Visnjic appears with his naturally grey hair in the video, despite being only 25 at the time.
2007 Unkle "Burn My Shadow" Also appears in the accompanying "making of" video released with the music video[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Film/TV Show Result
2000 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series ER Nominated
2001 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series ER Nominated
2002 Golden Satellite Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Drama The Deep End Nominated
2004 Pula Film Festival Best Actor Long Dark Night Won
Paris Film Festival Award Best Actor Doctor Sleep Won
2011 Gotham Award Best Ensemble Cast Beginners Won


  1. ^ Allen, Ted (2001.) Who Is Goran Visnjic and What Does He Want? Esquire Magazine: March, 2001.
  2. ^ "Croatia’s Most Famous Hollywood Export Gets U.S Citizenship". Croatia Week. April 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (September 28, 2007). "BBC celebrates Fry's birthday". Variety. 
  5. ^ "2009 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FILMS IN THE PREMIERES, SPECTRUM, NEW FRONTIER AND PARK CITY A | Sundance Festival 2009". Festival.sundance.org. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  6. ^ Perry, Byron (April 27, 2008). "Carla Gugino, Goran Visnjic". Variety. 
  7. ^ "Scarlett Suffers Direct Blow". New York Post. May 2, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Culture". Andrejsala.lv. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  9. ^ McNary, Dave (November 8, 2009). "Visnjic added to 'Beginners' cast". Variety. 
  10. ^ BBC Press Office (17 December 2009). "James Nesbitt, Minnie Driver and Goran Visnjic star in new BBC One drama serial, The Deep". Press release. Retrieved on 17 December 2009.
  11. ^ "Goran Visnjic among latest pilot castings". The Hollywood Reporter. 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  12. ^ "» interstitial". Deadline.com. 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  13. ^ "Visnjic family could not have surrogate mother in Croatia - Panorama News - Croatian Times Online News - English Newspaper". Croatiantimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  14. ^ "'ER' Star Admits Paternity of Croatian Baby Girl". BuddyTV. November 28, 2007. Retrieved June 10, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Goran Visnjic Joins 'The Counselor'; Winona Ryder Goes To The 'Homefront' & 'Breacher' Adds Two More | The Playlist". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved 2013-01-21. 
  16. ^ Kabi (2004-02-26). "Unkle – War Stories". Unkle-war-stories.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 

External links[edit]