Chris Messina

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Chris Messina
Messina in 2014
Christopher Messina

(1974-08-11) August 11, 1974 (age 49)
  • Actor
  • director
  • writer
  • producer
Years active1995–present
(m. 1995; div. 2006)

Christopher Messina (born August 11, 1974)[1] is an American actor, director, writer, and producer. He is best known for starring as Danny Castellano in the series The Mindy Project (2012–2017), which earned him two nominations for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.

He has appeared in films such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Julie & Julia (2009), Devil (2010), Argo (2012), Ruby Sparks (2012), Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012), Cake (2014), Birds of Prey (2020), I Care a Lot (2020), Call Jane (2022), Air (2023) and The Boogeyman (2023). Messina wrote, executive produced, and starred in the comedy film Fairhaven (2012). He also directed and starred in the drama film Alex of Venice (2014).

On television, Messina appeared as Ted Fairwell in the HBO drama series Six Feet Under (2005), Chris Sanchez in the Audience Network legal thriller series Damages (2011–2012), Reese Lansing in the HBO political drama series The Newsroom (2012–2014), Richard Willis in the HBO miniseries Sharp Objects (2018), Nick Haas in the USA Network crime drama series The Sinner (2020), Angelo Lano in the Starz political miniseries Gaslit (2022), and as Nathan Bartlett in the Peacock comedy thriller Based on a True Story (2023).

Early life and education[edit]

Messina was raised in Northport, New York, on Long Island, where he studied theater in high school.[1] He attended Marymount Manhattan College, but dropped out after one semester.[2]


He studied acting privately with teachers around Manhattan, and started his career as an off-Broadway actor. He has appeared in episodes of the television series Law & Order, Third Watch, and Medium. He had a recurring role in the fifth and final season of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under as Ted Fairwell. His film credits include Rounders, The Siege, You've Got Mail, and Towelhead. [citation needed]

He starred in an HBO pilot Anatomy of Hope, directed by J. J. Abrams. Simon Callow also starred, but the pilot was not picked up to series. In October 2007, Daily Variety named him as one of ten actors to watch.[3] He starred in Devil, under the direction of John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, for producer M. Night Shyamalan and Universal Pictures.[4] In April 2010, Monogamy, directed by Dana Adam Shapiro and starring Messina and Rashida Jones, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, where the film won the jury prize for Best New York Narrative.[5]

Messina joined the cast of Damages for its fourth and fifth seasons.[6] He played a recurring character on HBO's The Newsroom.[7] Messina was a series regular on the Fox/Hulu sitcom The Mindy Project, playing Dr. Danny Castellano, until his character was eventually phased out in seasons 4 and 5. He made his return in three episodes, including the season and series finale, in season 6.

In 2014, Messina played the role of a cheating spouse in the music video for Sam Smith's "I'm Not the Only One". That same year, he directed the independent drama, Alex of Venice, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Don Johnson and Matthew Del Negro. He co-starred in Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night, which was released in December 2016. In 2018, Messina starred in a leading role alongside Amy Adams in the HBO series Sharp Objects.

In 2020, Chris Messina starred as mob killer Victor Zsasz in Birds of Prey. When asked how he felt about playing a twisted character, Messina replied, "I've played too many nice guys in my career. So it was like just really a lot of fun to let loose."[8]

In 2021, Messina portrayed attorney Dean Ericson in the black comedy thriller I Care a Lot.[9]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to actress Rosemarie DeWitt for 12 years, divorcing in 2006.

Messina and his second wife Jennifer Todd have two sons, Milo and Giovanni, born in 2008 and in 2009.[10][11][12][13]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 When Dating Turns Dangerous Zach Educational film
1998 Rounders Higgins
The Siege Corporal
You've Got Mail Fox Salesperson
2000 Turn It Up Baz
2001 Ordinary Sinner Silvio
2005 Road Larry
Bittersweet Place Seymour
The Crooked Corner Nephew
2006 Ira & Abby Ira Black
2007 Security Zelly Short film
Towelhead Barry
2008 Humboldt County Max
Made of Honor Dennis
Vicky Cristina Barcelona Doug
2009 Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Subject #19
Away We Go Tom Garnett
Julie & Julia Eric Powell
2010 Greenberg Philip Greenberg
Monogamy Theo
Devil Detective Bowden
An Invisible Sign Ben Smith
2011 Like Crazy Mike Appletree
The Trouble with Bliss NJ
2012 Celeste and Jesse Forever Paul
28 Hotel Rooms Man Also executive producer
The Giant Mechanical Man Tim
Fairhaven Dave Also writer and executive producer
Denise Brad Short film
Ruby Sparks Harry Weir-Fields
Argo Malinov
2013 Palo Alto Mitch
2014 The Oven Narrator Short film
Showing Up Himself Documentary
Alex of Venice George Also director
Manglehorn Jacob
Cake Jason
2015 Digging for Fire Billy T
2016 Ordinary World Jake
Live by Night Dion Bartolo
The Sweet Life Kenny
2017 Blame Jeremy Woods
2019 The True Adventures of Wolfboy Denny
2020 Birds of Prey Victor Zsasz
She Dies Tomorrow Jason
Love Is Love Is Love Jack
I Care A Lot Dean Ericson
The Secrets We Keep Lewis Reid
2022 Call Jane Will
The Aviary Seth
Dreamin' Wild Matt Sullivan
2023 Air David Falk
The Boogeyman Will Harper
I.S.S. Gordon Barrett
TBA Juror No. 2 Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Law & Order Tommy Bell Episode: "Rebels"
1996 Law & Order Kevin Turner Episode: "Homesick"
2000 Third Watch Charlie Episode: "History"
2001 Big Apple Ricky Episode: "A Ministering Angel"
2003 Law & Order Don Cushman Episode: "Suicide Box"
2005 Six Feet Under Ted Fairwell 6 episodes
2007 Medium Casey Edward Frank Episode: "The Whole Truth"
2011–2012 Damages Chris Sanchez 16 episodes
2012–2014 The Newsroom Reese Lansing 12 episodes
2012–2017 The Mindy Project Dr. Daniel Castellano Main role (season 1–4)
Recurring (season 5–6): 89 episodes
2018 Sharp Objects Detective Richard Willis Main role: 8 episodes
2019 Robot Chicken Various voices Episode: "Boogie Bardstown in: No Need, I Have Coupons"
2020 The Sinner Nick Haas Main role (season 3): 5 episodes
2022 Gaslit Agent Angelo Lano Recurring role: 4 episodes
2023 Based on a True Story Nathan Bartlett Main role


Year Title Role Run Theater and production Notes
1997 The American Clock Sidney Margolies/
October 19, 1997 –
Signature Theatre Company at
The Peter Norton Space
1999 The Group Director August 9–20, 1999 All Seasons Theatre Group at
The Ensemble Studio Theatre
1999 Refuge Nat November 18 – December 12, 1999 Playwright's Horizon Studio Theater [19]
2000 The Hologram Theory Joe Buck March 27 – April 9, 2000 McGinn/Cazale Theater [20][21][22]
2000 The Light Outside Frankie November 5 – December 16, 2000 The Flea Theater [23][24]
2001 Tamicanfly C.J. January 17 – February 4, 2001 McGinn/Cazale Theater [25]
2001 Blur Joey D'Amico May 17 – June 24, 2001 Manhattan Theater Club at
New York City Center Stage II
2001–02 Good Thing Bobby December 16, 2001 – January 6, 2002 The New Group at
The Theater at St. Clements Church
2002 This Thing of Darkness Abbey/Reef May 30 – June 16, 2002 Atlantic Theater Company at
Linda Gross Theater
2002 Faster Skram September 8 – October 13, 2002 Rattlestick Theater [32][33]
2002–03 Far Away Todd November 11, 2002 –
January 18, 2003
New York Theatre Workshop [34]
2003 Salome by Oscar Wilde:
The Reading
The Young Syrian
(Captain of the
April 30 – June 12, 2003 Ethel Barrymore Theater Broadway debut
for Messina[35][36]
2003 St. Scarlet Director June 13 – July 12, 2003 Ontological Theater at
St. Mark's Church
2004 Motel Blues: Management Mike March 25 – April 11, 2004 Apartment 929 at
Greenwich Street Theatre
2004 The Seagull Treplev May 24–29, 2004 White Heron Theater company at
Second Stage Theatre
2004 The Cherry Orchard Trofimov August 11–22, 2004 Williamstown Theatre Festival at
Adams Memorial Theater
2004 Late Night, Early Morning October 21–31, 2004 2004 Tribeca Theatre Festival [45]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2011 CinEuphoria Award Best Supporting Actor - International Competition Away We Go Won
2012 Awards Circuit Community Award Best Cast Ensemble Argo Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Award Best Ensemble Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Award Best Ensemble Performance Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Ensemble Acting Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award Best Ensemble[46] Nominated
2013 Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award Best Ensemble Nominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival Best Ensemble Won
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
2014 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actor in a Comedy Series The Mindy Project Nominated
Seattle International Film Festival New American Cinema Award Alex of Venice Nominated
2015 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Actor in a Comedy Series The Mindy Project Nominated


  1. ^ a b Hochberg, Mina. "Chris Messina stars in 'Ruby Sparks'". Newsday (Long Island, New York). August 8, 2012: "...the actor, who turns 38 Saturday [August 11, 2012]. After graduating from Northport [New York] High School, he enrolled in Marymount Manhattan College on a theater scholarship. Seized by doubts about acting, he dropped out….
  2. ^ Chang, Kee (January 23, 2012). "Sundance '12: Q&A with Chris Messina". Anthem. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  3. ^ Champagne, Christine (October 19, 2007). "10 Actors To Watch: Chris Messina : 'Six Feet Under' Actor Emerges With Full Slate". Variety. Retrieved February 13, 2023.
  4. ^ Messina goes to the DEVIL for Shyamalan and the Dowdles Archived October 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Duboff, Josh (April 29, 2010). "When We Leave Scores Top Honors At Tribeca Film Festival". Vulture. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  6. ^ "Chris Messina Joins Damages". Retrieved February 2, 2011.
  7. ^ "Chris Messina on Starring in What Seems Like Everything". Vulture. July 25, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  8. ^ "Margot Robbie, Chris Messina Talk 'Birds of Prey'". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  9. ^ Menta, Anna (February 22, 2021). "I Care A Lot: Chris Messina Is Having a Blast Playing Bad Guys". Decider. Retrieved June 15, 2021.
  10. ^ Rosen, Christopher (August 3, 2012). "Chris Messina, 'Celeste And Jesse Forever' Star, On His Crazy Year". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  11. ^ Callegari, Caitlyn (September 9, 2014). "Who Is Jennifer Todd? 'Mindy Project' Star Chris Messina Has a Highly Successful Partner". Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  12. ^ "Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #33: Chris Messina on How He Completed 'Alex of Venice' While Shooting 'The Mindy Project'". April 15, 2014.
  13. ^ "Chris Messina Loves Women". Forbes.
  14. ^ "Lortel Archives: Internet Off-Broadway Database listing for "The American Clock"". Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  15. ^ "The American Clock". The Commonwealth Foundation. Retrieved February 11, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Sommer, Elyse. "A CurtainUp Review: The American Clock". Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  17. ^ Daniels, Robert L. (October 25, 1997). "Legit Reviews: The American Clock". Variety.
  18. ^ McGrath, Sean. "All Seasons Group at NYC's E.S.T., Aug. 9-20". The Group. Playbill. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  19. ^ Goldberg, Jessica (2000). Refuge. Dramatists Play Service Inc. p. 3. ISBN 9780822217770.
  20. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 28, 2000). "Theater Review: Those Credible Aliens, Not Quite Adult and Well Beyond Reason". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  21. ^ "PHOTO CALL: Colors Come Out At Hologram Theory Opening March 27". Hologram Theory. Playbill. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  22. ^ Finkle, David. "Review: The Hologram Theory".
  23. ^ Bacalzo, Dan. "Review: The Light Outside".
  24. ^ "The Light Outside: Ticket information". Archived from the original on March 21, 2016. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  25. ^ VanGelder, Lawrence (January 20, 2001). "THEATER REVIEW; Got the Horse Right Here, Its Name Is Tamicanfly". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  26. ^ "Lortel Archives: Internet off-Broadway Database listing for "Blur"". Archived from the original on April 4, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  27. ^ Weber, Bruce (May 18, 2001). "Theater Review: Through the Eyes of the Beholder". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  28. ^ "Lortel Archives: Internet Off-Broadway Database listing for "Good Thing"". Archived from the original on October 23, 2012. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  29. ^ Weber, Bruce (December 18, 2001). "Theater Review: A Competition in Squalor From Adjoining Kitchens". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  30. ^ Finkle, David. "Review: Good Thing".
  31. ^ "Lortel Archives: Internet Off-Broadway Database listing for "This Thing of Darkness"". Archived from the original on August 25, 2004. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  32. ^ "Lortel Archives: Internet Off-Broadway Database listing for "Faster"". Archived from the original on January 19, 2005. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  33. ^ Isherwood, Charles (September 12, 2002). "Legit Reviews: Faster". Variety. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  34. ^ "Lortel Archives: Internet Off Broadway Database listing for "Far Away"". Archived from the original on September 1, 2004. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  35. ^ "IBDB listing for "Salome"".
  36. ^ "Who's Who in the Cast: Salome". Playbill. Archived from the original on July 30, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  37. ^ "OffOffOff Theater Review of "St. Scarlet"". Archived from the original on January 5, 2004.
  38. ^ Weber, Bruce (June 30, 2003). "Theater Review: Siblings at Odds, A Stranger Uninvited". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  39. ^ "Motel Blues: Show information". Archived from the original on July 10, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  40. ^ "CurtainUp Review of "Motel Blues"".
  41. ^ Isaac, Dan. "Review: The Seagull".
  42. ^ Brantley, Ben (August 17, 2004). "THEATER REVIEW; Conflicting Impulses Of Chekhov's Last Play". New York Times.
  43. ^ Rizzo, Frank (August 17, 2004). "Legit Reviews: The Cherry Orchard". Variety. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  44. ^ "Williamstown Theatre Festival webpage". Archived from the original on June 3, 2013.
  45. ^ Willis, John; Hodges, Ben (March 2007). Theatre World, Vol 61, 2004-2005. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 231. ISBN 9781557837035.
  46. ^ "Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards list (2012)". Retrieved February 12, 2013.

External links[edit]