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 (present-day Republic of Croatia)
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality Croatian/American
Other names Goran Visnjic
Education Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s) Ivana Višnjić (May 8, 1999–present)
Children 4

Goran Višnjić (/ˈvɪʃnjɪ/ VISH-nyich; Croatian: [ˈʋiʃɲitɕ]; born September 9, 1972) is a Croatian-American actor who has appeared in American and British films and television productions. He is best known in the United States for his role as Dr. Luka Kovač on ER.

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.[1] Visnjic became a U.S. citizen in 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Goran Višnjić was born in Šibenik. He has one sibling, an elder brother, Joško. His father, Željko, was a bus driver, and his mother, Milka, worked in a 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)[citation needed] but left and returned to Šibenik, where he joined the nascent Croatian Ground Army during the Croatian War of Independence. After leaving the army, he moved to Zagreb to study at the Academy of Dramatic Art.[citation needed]


Visnjic was the youngest actor to be chosen for the title role in Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Summer Theatre Festival. 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.[citation needed]

Prior to ER, Visnjic had small speaking roles in films such as The Peacemaker, Committed and Practical Magic. In 1998, he appeared in Madonna's music video "The Power of Goodbye", and had a cameo in the movie Rounders. It was his role as Risto, the Bosnian driver in Welcome to Sarajevo that led then-producer Jack Orman to offer him a role as a doctor to replace the departing George Clooney in the sixth season of ER in late 1999, eventually becoming the show's male lead by season 11. By season 14, he made a limited number of appearances before leaving the show early in season 15.

While starring on ER, he worked on other projects. He starred in the British film Close Your Eyes (2002), alongside Shirley Henderson and Miranda Otto. He co-starred in The Deep End; had a voice role 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 Elektra (2005).

In 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.[citation needed]

In 2008, Visnjic starred in the film Helen, alongside Ashley Judd[3] as Judd's character's husband David in the drama, which made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.[4] He 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.[5] Although the Visnjic/Gugino segment was cut from the theatrical version of the film,[6] 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.[7] He completed a role in Mike Mills' independent film, Beginners.[8] In late 2009, he was cast as "Samson" in the miniseries The Deep, shown on BBC One in 2010.[9]

He appeared as Andrija Hebrang in the historical drama Tito on Croatian television. He later appeared in the unsold 2010 pilot of ABC's Boston's Finest, playing a disgraced cop who works with a female officer (played by Katee Sackhoff) to solve crimes while clearing his name.[10] 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, he played 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.[11] He was also featured on a four-episode arc in the ABC television series, Pan Am, playing a Yugoslavian attache to the United Nations.

Personal life[edit]

Visnjic's wife, Eva (born Ivana Vrdoljak) is an artist and sculptor. She is the daughter of the controversial former head of the Croatian Radiotelevision (1991–95), Antun Vrdoljak. The couple divide their time between Los Angeles and Croatia, where they own a home on the island of Hvar. The couple has three children: Tin (named after Croatian poet Tin Ujević) and Vivien, both adopted[12] and biological son Vigo. He has also acknowledged paternity of a daughter, Lana.[13]


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.[citation needed]



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[14] 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 makes an appearance
2007 Unkle "Burn My Shadow" Appears in the accompanying "making of" video released with the music video[15]

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. "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. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (September 28, 2007). "BBC celebrates Fry's birthday". Variety. 
  4. ^ "2009 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FILMS IN THE PREMIERES, SPECTRUM, NEW FRONTIER AND PARK CITY A | Sundance Festival 2009". Festival.sundance.org. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ Perry, Byron (April 27, 2008). "Carla Gugino, Goran Visnjic". Variety. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Scarlett Suffers Direct Blow". New York Post. May 2, 2009. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Culture". Andrejsala.lv. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (November 8, 2009). "Visnjic added to 'Beginners' cast". Variety. 
  9. ^ BBC Press Office (December 17, 2009). "James Nesbitt, Minnie Driver and Goran Visnjic star in new BBC One drama serial, The Deep", bbc.co.uk; retrieved December 17, 2009.
  10. ^ "Goran Visnjic among latest pilot castings". The Hollywood Reporter. October 13, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Interstitial". Deadline.com. August 23, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Visnjic family could not have surrogate mother in Croatia - Panorama News". Croatiantimes.com. July 14, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  13. ^ "'ER' Star Admits Paternity of Croatian Baby Girl". BuddyTV. November 28, 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Goran Visnjic Joins 'The Counselor'". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  15. ^ Kabi (February 26, 2004). "Unkle – War Stories". Unkle-war-stories.blogspot.com. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 

External links[edit]