Jump to content

Jay O. Sanders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jay O. Sanders
Jay Olcutt Sanders

(1953-04-16) April 16, 1953 (age 71)
EducationState University of New York, Purchase (BFA)
Years active1979–present
(m. 1991)

Jay Olcutt Sanders (born April 16, 1953) is an American film, theatre and television actor and playwright. He frequently appears in plays off-Broadway at The Public Theatre.[1] He has received a Drama Desk Award and a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award.[2]

Sanders made his off-Broadway debut in a Shakespeare in the Park production of Henry V in 1976. He originated the role of Bradley in Sam Shepard's Buried Child (1978).[3] He made his Broadway debut in the play Loose Ends (1979). He returned to Broadway in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1983), Saint Joan (1993), Pygmalion (2007), Girl from the North Country (2020), and Purlie Victorious (2023).

He made his feature film debut in the comedy Starting Over (1979). He had notable roles in films such as Cross Creek (1983), Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), Glory (1989), JFK (1991), Hostages (1992), Angels in the Outfield (1993), Music of the Heart (1999), Tumbleweeds (1999), and Revolutionary Road (2008). He took recurring roles in television series such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Good Wife, Person of Interest, Blindspot, and Sneaky Pete. He has served as the narrator for the shows Wide Angle, Nova and Secrets of the Dead.

Early life and education[edit]

Sanders was born on April 16, 1953, in Austin, Texas, to arts organization executive and violinist James Olcutt Sanders (1917-1983) and Phyllis Rae, née Aden. His parents were Quakers.[4][5] He attended the acting conservatory at SUNY Purchase.


Sanders made his off-Broadway debut in a Shakespeare in the Park production of Henry V in 1976.[6] He played Bradley in the first New York production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child in 1978.[7]

Sanders has had a long career in film and television. He is perhaps most recognized for his work in the films The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Green Lantern (2011)[8] and Morgan Freeman Alex Cross films. He has appeared in many other notable films, including Glory (1989), Mr. Destiny (1990), JFK (1991), Angels in the Outfield (1994), The Big Green (1995), Daylight, Tumbleweeds (1999), Music of the Heart (1999), Half Nelson (2006), Cadillac Records (2008) and Revolutionary Road (2008).[9]

On television, Sanders played mob lawyer Steven Kordo in the 1986–88 NBC detective series Crime Story, Norbert "Ziggy" Walsh on two episodes of Roseanne, and recurring characters on shows such as Person of Interest and True Detective.[10] He is the narrator for the PBS series Wide Angle from 2002 to 2009, and has served as narrator for a number of Nova episodes starting in 2007.[11]

On stage, Sanders has appeared on Broadway in Loose Ends (1979),[12] The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1983),[13] Saint Joan (1993),[14] Pygmalion (2007).,[15][16] Girl from the North Country (musical) (2020), and Purlie Victorious (2023)

Off-Broadway, he appeared as George W. Bush in Sir David Hare's Stuff Happens in 2006.[17][18] He then played in a number of Shakespearean plays: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bottom, 2007), Hamlet (Ghost of Hamlet's Father/Player King/Gravedigger, 2008), Twelfth Night (as Sir Toby Belch, 2009), and the title role in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (2011).[19]

Sanders appeared in the Richard Nelson Apple Family Plays, a series of plays that ran off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in 2010 (That Hopey Changey Thing), 2011 (Sweet and Sad), 2012 (Sorry), and 2013 (Regular Singing).[20] Sanders has appeared in more plays at the Delacorte Theatre (Shakespeare in Central Park) than any other actor to date.[21]

Sanders' first play, Unexplored Interior, about the Rwandan genocide, debuted in November 2015 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. Sanders had been working on it for more than a decade.[22]

Acting credits[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Starting Over Larry Credited as Jay Sanders
1982 Hanky Panky Katz
1983 Cross Creek Charles Rawlings
Eddie Macon's Run Rudy Potts
1987 The Misfit Brigade Lance Corporal Wolfgang "Tiny" Creutzfeldt
1988 Tucker: The Man and His Dream Kirby, Tucker's Attorney
The Prince of Pennsylvania Trooper Joe
1989 Glory General George Crockett Strong
A Man Called Hawk Officer Brogan
The Young Riders Longley
1990 Mr. Destiny Jackie Earle "Cement Head" Bumpers
1991 JFK Lou Ivon
Meeting Venus Stephen Taylor
V.I. Warshawski Murray Ryerson
1992 Hostages Terry A. Anderson
1993 My Boyfriend's Back Sheriff McCloud
1994 Angels in the Outfield Ranch Wilder
State of Emergency Dr. Jeffrey Forrest
1995 The Big Green Coach Jay Huffer
Kiss of Death Federal Agent Uncredited
Silver Strand Lucas Hughes
Three Wishes Coach Schramka
1996 Daylight Steven Crighton
1997 For Richer or Poorer Samuel Yoder
The Matchmaker Senator John McGlory
Kiss the Girls FBI Agent Kyle Craig
1998 The Odd Couple II Leroy
1999 Music of the Heart Dan Paxton
The Confession Jack Renoble
Tumbleweeds Dan Miller
2001 Along Came a Spider FBI Agent Kyle Craig
The Familiar Stranger Patrick Hennessy Welsh
Timothy Michael Kingsbury
2003 Abby Singer Kevin's Father
2004 The Day After Tomorrow Frank Harris
Hair High Football Announcer (voice)
2006 Half Nelson Russ Dunne
Wedding Daze Police Officer
2007 Greetings from the Shore Commodore Callaghan
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial The Narrator Documentary film
2008 Revolutionary Road Bart Pollock
Cadillac Records Mr. Feder
Poundcake Cliff
2009 I Hate Valentine's Day Tim, The Delivery Guy
2010 Edge of Darkness Detective Bill Whitehouse
Zenith Doug Oberts
2011 Green Lantern Carl Ferris
The Jewel Mr. Rothman
The Undying Dr. Richard Lassiter
A Novel Romance Walter Evans
2013 Northern Borders Agent Sanders
Bones of the Buddha The Narrator Documentary film
2017 Search for the Super Battery The Narrator Documentary film
2019 The Assistant Boss (voice)
2022 When You Finish Saving the World Roger Katz
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths Ambassador Jones
2023 His Three Daughters


Year Title Role Notes
1980 The Day Christ Died Simon Peter Television film
1983 Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. Story Dick Willey Television film
1983–1984 AfterMASH Dr. Gene Pfeiffer 10 episodes
1985 Miami Vice Detective Tim Duryea Episode: "The Maze"
1986–1988 Crime Story Steven Kordo 12 episodes
1989 Booker Gordon Rudd Episode: "All You Gotta Do Is Do It"
Kate & Allie Tim Mayer Episode: "What's Love Got to Do with It?"
1990 L.A. Law Detective Michael Phillips Episode: "Watts a Matter?"
1990–1991 Roseanne Norbert "Ziggy" Walsh 2 episodes
1993 Northern Exposure Dr. John Summers Episode: "Jaws of Life"
1995 Down Came a Blackbird Jan Talbeck Television film
The Outer Limits Ed Barkley Episode: "The Voyage Home"
1999 Earthly Possessions Jack Emery Television film
A.T.F. Sam Sinclair Television film
The Jack Bull Attorney General Metcalfe Television film
Law & Order Nick Taska / Bill Fallon Episode: "Tabula Rasa"
2000 Picnic Unknown Television film
2001 Boss of Bosses Joseph O'Brien Television film
2002 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Harry Rowan Episode: "Dead"
2002 Widows Detective John Maynard 4 episodes
2002–2009 Wide Angle The Narrator 63 episodes
2003 D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear Douglas Duncan Television film
2006 The Valley of Light Howard Television film
2006–present Nova The Narrator 70 episodes
2010 Hardcover Mysteries The Narrator 8 episodes
2011 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Captain Joseph Hannah Main role; 8 episodes
2011–2012 Pan Am Douglas Vanderway 3 episodes
2011–2016 The Good Wife Judge Hal Ferris 2 episodes
2012 Blue Bloods Jimmy Reagan Episode: "Reagan V. Reagan"
2012–2014 Person of Interest Special Counsel 9 episodes
2012–present Secrets of the Dead The Narrator 24 episodes
2013 Hostages Lynn Shipley Episode: "The Cost of Living"
2014 True Detective Billy Lee Tuttle 2 episodes
2015 Dawn of Humanity The Narrator 1 episode
American Odyssey Alex 8 episodes
2015–2020 Blindspot Bill Weller 11 episodes
2017–2019 Sneaky Pete Sam 15 episodes
2018 The Sinner Chief Tom Lidell 7 episodes
Chicago Med Reverend Cray Episode: "Down by Law"
2020 Manhunt: Deadly Games Jack Bryant 6 episodes


Year Title Role Venue Ref.
1976 Henry V Earl of Westmoreland Shakespeare in the Park [23]
1976 Measure for Measure Barnardine Shakespeare in the Park [24]
1978 Buried Child Bradley Theater for the New City [25]
1979 Loose Ends Doug Circle in the Square Theatre, Broadway [26]
1983 The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Lt. Stephen Maryk Circle in the Square, Broadway [27]
1993 Saint Joan Dunois Lyceum Theatre, Broadway [28]
2007 Pygmalion Alfred Doolittle American Airlines Theatre, Broadway [29]
2020 Girl from the North Country Nick Laine Belasco Theatre, Broadway [30]
2023 Primary Trust Clay Laura Pels Theatre, Off-Broadway [31]
2023 Purlie Victorious Ol' Captain Cotchipee Music Box Theatre, Broadway [32]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2007 Manhunt 2 The Pervs
2010 Red Dead Redemption D.S. MacKenna, Mr. Philmore
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare D.S. MacKenna Uncredited

Awards and honors[edit]

He received the 2018 Joe A. Callaway Award, presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation for "best performance in a professional production of a classic play", for his performance in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.[33] He also received the Drama Desk Award for 2019 for Actor in a Play for Uncle Vanya. In 2024, he received an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Performer in an Off-Broadway Play for his performance in Primary Trust.[34]


  1. ^ Isherwood, Charles (December 13, 2011). "I Wouldn't Touch That Pie, if I Were You". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Jay. O Sanders (Performer)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  3. ^ Buried Child lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016.
  4. ^ Black Theater, City Life: African American Art Institutions and Urban Cultural Ecologies, Macelle Mahala, 2022, p. 221
  5. ^ "Jay Sanders Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2008.
  6. ^ Miller, J. Michael. "J. Michael Miller talks to Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders". Interview. The Actors Center. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  7. ^ Buried Child lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016.
  8. ^ "The Day After Tomorrow". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  9. ^ Revolutionary Road, tcm.com; accessed November 10, 2016
  10. ^ "What The True Detective Season 1 Cast Is Doing Now". CINEMABLEND. November 21, 2020.
  11. ^ "About the series". Wide Angle Credits. May 27, 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  12. ^ "'Loose Ends' Broadway", Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  13. ^ "'The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial' Broadway", Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  14. ^ "'Saint Joan' Broadway", Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  15. ^ 'Pygmalion' on Broadway, Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  16. ^ "Jay O. Sanders at IBDB". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  17. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 14, 2006). "David Hare's 'Stuff Happens': All the President's Men in 'On the Road to Baghdad'". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Stuff Happens, lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016.
  19. ^ Titus Andronicus, lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016
  20. ^ "Sanders Off-Broadway", lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016
  21. ^ "Exploring six degrees of Jay O. Sanders: Unexplored Interior playwright's brilliant career - DC Theatre Scene". November 19, 2015.
  22. ^ Marks, Peter (November 3, 2015). "Mosaic opens its inaugural curtain with 'Unexplored Interior'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  23. ^ Miller, J. Michael. "J. Michael Miller talks to Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders". Interview. The Actors Center. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  24. ^ "Measure for Measure". abouttheartist. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  25. ^ Buried Child lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016.
  26. ^ "Loose Ends (Broadway, 1979)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  27. ^ "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (Broadway, 1983)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  28. ^ "Saint Joan (Broadway, 1993)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  29. ^ "Pygmalion (Broadway, 2007)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  30. ^ "Girl from the North Country (Broadway, 2020)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  31. ^ "Go Inside Opening Night of Primary Trust, Starring The Good Place's William Jackson Harper". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  32. ^ "Purlie Victorious (Broadway, 2023)". Playbill. Retrieved April 27, 2024.
  33. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Alison Fraser and Jay O. Sanders Are Winners of 2018 Joe A. Callaway Awards" Playbill, December 7, 2018
  34. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan (May 13, 2024). "Stereophonic Leads 2024 Outer Critics Circle Awards, Wins Best Play; See the Full List of Winners". Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2024.

External links[edit]