Austin Nichols

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For the basketball player, see Austin Nichols (basketball).
Austin Nichols
Born (1980-04-24) April 24, 1980 (age 36)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1999–present
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)

Austin Nichols (born April 24, 1980) is an American film, television actor and director who is perhaps best known for his role as Julian Baker in The CW drama series One Tree Hill. He is also known for his roles in films such as The Day After Tomorrow and Wimbledon. He starred as the title character in the HBO series John from Cincinnati. Nichols is currently portraying Spencer Monroe in AMC's The Walking Dead.

Early life[edit]

Austin Nichols was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moved to Austin, Texas before he was a year old.[1] He was named after the Austin, Nichols distilling company, producers of Wild Turkey Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.[2] His father, David Nichols, is a radiologist, and his mother, Kay (Vermeulen) Nichols, was a professional trick water skier.[3] Kay was a national champion ten times and an international champion once.[when?][4] He has one older sister, Ashley.[4]

Nichols was raised on Lake Austin and attended Casis Elementary School.[1] Nichols began competitive water skiing from the age of two.[5] He represented the US Junior Water Ski Team in the Pan-American Championships in 1997, and was also on the Junior US Olympic Water Skiing team.[when?][6] At age thirteen, he was ranked third in the world.[7] Nichols had intended to become a professional water skier until he injured his shoulder in Florida, and was forced to give up the sport.[2] While at McCallum High School in central Austin,[1] he played basketball but was "absolutely awful".[8] Nichols' interest in acting was sparked when he was fifteen years old and he began to take acting lessons.[9] He moved to Los Angeles after high school, where he currently[when?] lives.[2]

Acting career[edit]


His acting career began when he gate-crashed a party at the Sundance Film Festival and was signed by a manager.[clarification needed who was this manager, and why did s/he sign him just because he "crashed" a party?][10] Nichols initially wished to attend the University of Texas, but moved to Los Angeles after his signing and enrolled instead at the University of Southern California, graduating in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.[8] Although Nichols had guest appearances in Sliders, Odd Man Out, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Family Law, Watching Ellie, and Wolf Lake before his graduation, his big break came in 2002 when he appeared as Brenda Chenowith's lover in two episodes of Six Feet Under.[10] He had previously appeared in two films, Durango Kids in 1999 and Holiday in the Sun in 2001.

In his first critically successful film role, Nichols starred as a stereotypical, basketball-playing "frat boy" in The Utopian Society, a 2003 independent film directed by John P. Aguirre, which won several awards and some critical acclaim.[11] One critic wrote that Nichols "transforms himself from a cardboard jock and frat boy caricature to a likeable vulnerable human being with surprising sensibilities."[12] Aguirre commended Nichols as a "stellar talent" able to play his character "with total abandon to self ego".[13] Following another guest spot in She Spies, Nichols then simultaneously co-starred in two box office successes, The Day After Tomorrow and Wimbledon.[citation needed]

Box office and critical success[edit]

In 2004, Nichols was cast as J.D., an intelligent rich kid and romantic rival to Jake Gyllenhaal's main character in the environmental blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow. The science and script were generally panned by critics, and cast performances criticized.[14][15] Also in 2004, he appeared in Wimbledon, opposite Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. The film was well received by critics, though it only did reasonably well at the US box office.[16][17] Nichols' acting as Jake Hammond, an arrogant tennis pro, was described as "effectively unlikeable".[18] For the role, Nichols had to learn tennis from scratch; he was trained to look professional by Pat Cash, who was taken aback by Nichols' skill. Cash also observed: "It’s absolutely as good as anybody’s on the circuit. I swear to God. He hits it like a bullet. He’s our star pupil."[19] By the end of their training, Nichols and Bettany were able to have rallies and play points, although some of their more intricate exchanges were computer generated.[20]

After this success, Nichols co-starred in a pilot for 1/4 life, a TV series about 20 somethings living in New York which was not developed by a television network. He then had a minor role in an obscure and panned 2005 film, Thanks to Gravity.[21] Nichols followed this with short guest spots on episodes of Pasadena and Surface, before being cast in a successful 2006 film, Glory Road.[citation needed]

Glory Road, directed by James Gartner and starring Josh Lucas, is a film based on the true story of the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, in which Coach Don Haskins led a team with an all-black starting lineup, a first in NCAA history. Nichols played one of the few white players on the team; he trained heavily for the role and had to master basketball as it was played in the 1960s, saying "I'd never been so sore in my life".[6] The film was not a box office hit; it made $46,000,000[citation needed] and received mixed reviews.[22]

After Glory Road, Nichols appeared in an episode of CSI: Miami and starred in Lenexa, 1 mile, a film about the disturbing secrets of five childhood friends, set during their last summer together before college. As of 2007,[needs update] the creators have not announced plans to release the film.[citation needed]

The House of Usher and Beyond[edit]

Nichols' next film was a 2006 thriller, The House of Usher, directed by Hayley Cloake and based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe. He plays the disturbed Roderick Usher, who has been described by Nichols as a "twisted, terminally ill, fucked-up guy".[2] The House of Usher was released in September 2007. Nichols also portrayed Neal Cassady, with Will Estes as Jack Kerouac, in the short film Luz Del Mundo.[citation needed]

In April 2006, Nichols guest starred in Deadwood, an HBO Western series. Shortly afterward, Nichols signed a rare[citation needed] holding deal with the HBO Network.[23] In August of that year, Nichols was cast as the lead in a new series, John From Cincinnati, a surfing drama created by David Milch, who also produced Deadwood. The series began airing in June 2007, but was cancelled after one season due to poor ratings and mixed critical reviews. Nichols played John Monad, a stranger who suddenly appears in a quiet surfing town. Nichols took up surfing and practiced every day for three months for this role.[24]

In 2007, Nichols appeared as a teacher for a few episodes of Friday Night Lights, before being cast in a recurring role on The CW's One Tree Hill. He was upgraded to series regular for the seventh season.[25] He directed two episodes of the series including the seventh episode of the ninth and last season.[26]

In 2013, Austin landed the role of Tommy Wheeler, action superstar, in the Showtime TV series Ray Donovan. Nichols has a recurring role on The Walking Dead as Spencer Monroe.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Alongside his acting career, Nichols maintains a strong interest in cinema. He keeps a log of every film he sees: "I take it to the movies and write down who does the music, edits, directs, and how long the film is."[28] Claire Oswalt, an ex-girlfriend, said in a 2003 interview that Nichols watches an average of 20 movies a week.[29] Nichols himself has stated: "If I'm not working, I spend almost half my day at theaters or watching DVDs at my house."[this quote needs a citation] He especially admires Hal Ashby, Sam Fuller, and John Ford.[30] In addition to his interest in film, Nichols enjoys waterskiing (in which he competed at the national level as a child), golf, tennis, and horseback riding.[30] Since beginning filming John from Cincinnati, he has also taken up surfing, which he finds "very therapeutic and healing".[31] Q&A

He was in a relationship with One Tree Hill Co-Star Sophia Bush. He took the role to be closer to her.

He mentioned in an interview he was living out of his car and sleeping on friends' couches.[8] Nichols has been friends with fellow actor Jake Gyllenhaal since the two met on the set of The Day After Tomorrow in 2004. Nichols said in one interview, "I've learned a ton from Jake. He's a really sharp guy. He told me everything about acting, the business, girls, life."[2] His sister, Ashley, is married to director Rowdy Stovall, making him Nichols' brother-in-law.[citation needed]

Shortly after John from Cincinnati was cancelled, Nichols was pulled over at 3 A.M. on August 24, 2007 in Jackson, Michigan after driving the wrong way down a one-way street in his silver Mercury Mountaineer. His blood alcohol level was a reported .10 and he was arrested for driving while intoxicated.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Durango Kids Sammy
2001 Holiday in the Sun Griffen Grayson
2003 The Utopian Society Justin Mathers
2004 The Day After Tomorrow J.D.
Wimbledon Jake Hammond
2005 Thanks to Gravity Alex Ford
2006 Glory Road Jerry Armstrong
Lenexa, 1 Mile Shane Bolin
The House of Usher Roderick Usher
Love & Debate Alex
2007 Luz del mundo Neal Cassady Short film
2008 The Informers Martin
2010 Beautiful Boy Cooper Stearns
Unthinkable Bomb Disposal Expert
2012 LOL Mr. Ross
2013 Parkland Emory Roberts
2015 Nostradamus Harry Fisher Short film
2016 Lawless Range Tommy Donnelly


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Sliders Seth Season 5; episode 4
Odd Man Out Lyle Season 1; 10
2001 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Adam Walkey Season 1; episode 20
Family Law James Perliss Season 3; episode 6
Watching Ellie Joe Season 1; episode 11
2002 Wolf Lake Scott Nichols Season 1; episode 9
Six Feet Under Kyle/Tall Stoner Season 2; episodes 11 & 12
2003 She Spies Fake College Guy Season 1; episode 19
2005 1/4life Charlie TV Movie
Pasadena Charlie Darwell
Surface Jackson Season 1; four episodes
2006 CSI: Miami Patrick Wilder Season 4; episode 14
Deadwood Morgan Earp Season 3; episodes 8 & 9
2007 John from Cincinnati John Monad 10 episodes
Friday Night Lights Noah Barnett Season 2; episodes 7 & 8
2008–2012 One Tree Hill Julian Baker Recurring (Season 6)
Main Cast (Season 7–9): 71 episodes
2009 Prayers for Bobby Edward "Ed" Griffith TV Movie
2011 Five Edward TV Movie
2013 The Mob Doctor Luke Harris Season 1; episodes 11 - 13[33][34]
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Miles Season 1; episode 5
2013–present Ray Donovan Tommy Wheeler Recurring role
2015–present The Walking Dead Spencer Monroe Recurring (Season 5)
Series regular (Season 6–present)


  1. ^ a b c Holloway, Diane (June 16, 2007) 'John from Cincinnati' role shows off skiing champ's acting prowess, The Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved June 22, 2007.[dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e Davis, Peter, (April 4, 2006) "Beautiful People 2006: Austin Nichols", Papermag. Retrieved on April 7, 2006.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Leblanc, Pam, (August 14, 2006) No one-trick skier, Retrieved October 16, 2006. Archived August 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Ingrassia, Lisa (June 11, 2007), Q&A:Austin Nichols, People Magazine[page needed]
  6. ^ a b Johnson, Noah, (February 2006), Austin's power, Men's Fitness. Retrieved October 16, 2006.
  7. ^ Rainey, Candice (October 4, 2003) "Man of the Moment - Austin Nichols, Actor", GQ. Retrieved October 30, 2006. Archived December 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b c Berkshire, Geoff, "Bound for Glory" Hollywood Life, Jan./Feb. 2006, pg. 24
  9. ^ (July 1, 2007), Exclusive Interview: Austin Nichols, of 'John from Cincinnati'. Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Haight, Sarah, (September 2004), Vogue. [title missing]
  11. ^ Recent press. The Utopian Society. Retrieved August 3, 2007. Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Nesbit, John, (July 9, 2003) Utopian Society, The, Retrieved October 30, 2006. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Austin Nichols from "Glory Road" and Makin Akerman from HBO's "The Comeback" Star in New DVD Released Indie Film, "The Utopian Society"" (Press release). PRWeb. April 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  14. ^ Swietek, Frank. Day After Tomorrow, The. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  15. ^ "The Day After Tomorrow". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  16. ^ 61% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 30, 2006
  17. ^ "Wimbledon". Box Office Mojo, LLC. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  18. ^ Anderson, Matt, Review of Wimbledon, Retrieved July 31, 2007.
  19. ^ Osborn, Richard (October 2004). "Centre Court Becomes Centre Stage". Inside Tennis. Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  20. ^ "Q&A: Pat Cash". BBC. October 11, 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-10. 
  21. ^ Miller, Scott (June 13, 1006). Thanks to Gravity. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  22. ^ Rotten Tomatoes data gives critics and positive rating of 58%. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  23. ^ Andreeva, Nellie, (April 20, 2006),Actor Nichols Nabs Rare Holding Deal with HBO, Backstage. Retrieved November 5, 2006.
  24. ^ Knutzen, Eirek (August 17, 2007). "TV Close-Up: Austin Nichols". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007. 
  25. ^ Dos Santos, Kristin (Jun 29, 2009). "Spoiler Chat: Will Brooke and Julian Make It on One Tree Hill?". E! Online. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  26. ^ Carina Adly MacKenzie (February 22, 2012). "'One Tree Hill': Austin Nichols takes to the director's chair, reflects on final week of filming". Zap2it. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  27. ^ "The Walking Dead: Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, and Austin Nichols Q&A - THE HORROR ENTERTAINMENT MAGAZINE". 1 October 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2016. 
  28. ^ Adams, Patty (2004),On the Set, Retrieved November 5, 2006. Archived September 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ Diagrammatics. The Morning News (December 8, 2003). Retrieved October 30, 2006.
  30. ^ a b "The characters". Wimbledon: The Movie. Universal Studios. 2004. Archived from the original (Flash) on October 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-06. 
  31. ^ Sachs, Mark (July 5, 2007), Malibu surf, Hollywood turf, LA Times. Retrieved July 31, 2007.[dead link]
  32. ^ (August 24, 2007), Police: Actor Austin Nichols Arrested. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
  33. ^
  34. ^

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