Jeffrey Donovan

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Jeffrey Donovan
Donovan in November 2009
Born (1968-05-11) May 11, 1968 (age 47)
Amesbury, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Amherst (B.A.)
New York University (MFA)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1995–present
Spouse(s) Michelle Woods (m. 2012)
Children 1

Jeffrey Donovan (born May 11, 1968)[1] is an American television, film and stage actor. He played the lead character Michael Westen on the American cable television series Burn Notice. Notable starring roles in film include: Hitch, Believe in Me, Changeling, and Come Early Morning. He portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar (2011),[2] and has a recurring role on the second season of the TV miniseries Fargo.

Early life[edit]

Donovan was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts,[1] and raised, along with two brothers, Michael and Sean, by their mother. Of his childhood, Donovan recalled:

I grew up really poor. We grew up on welfare – a single mom with three boys. We didn't have anything. Christmas would come around, she’d rewrap gifts she’d given us before. We moved about 10 times in my childhood. When you come home from school and the lights don’t go on, you think: We're moving! You can't pay electric bills on welfare. We became very frugal.[3]

At Amesbury High School, he was mentored by teacher Patricia Hoyt. She aided him in starting a drama club[4] and then found him a private scholarship, enabling him "to participate in a summer program that helped pave the way for his acting career."[5] He attended Bridgewater State University before transferring to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated with a BA in drama. While attending UMass, Donovan was a commercial bus driver at UMass Transit Service, where he operated passenger buses as part of the PVTA.[citation needed] He went on to earn his MFA from New York University's Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts.



Donovan has appeared in CSI: Miami, Spin City, Monk, Millennium, Witchblade, The Pretender, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Law & Order. In the short-lived TV series Threshold, Donovan portrayed the antihero Dr. Sloan. In Crossing Jordan he was cast in the recurring role of William Ivers .

In 2004, he received his first leading role in the American remake of the British television series Touching Evil opposite Vera Farmiga on the USA Network. Starting in 2007, he starred in Burn Notice, as the lead Michael Westen, a spy who was cast off for unknown reasons and attempted to regain his career. Donovan made his directorial debut, directing the Burn Notice episode, "Made Man", which first aired on June 17, 2010. He also directed a prequel film starring co-star Bruce Campbell, titled Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, which first aired on USA Network on April 17, 2011. Burn Notice ended its last season in September 2013.


Donovan has also performed on the stage including in the eponymous role Hamlet, A View from the Bridge as Marco, An Inspector Calls and Off-Broadway in Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight as Gene, The Glory of Living as Clint, regionally in Toys in the Attic as Julian Berniers, On the Waterfront as Terry, Oedipus as Teiresias and Freedomland as Seth. From October 2008 until spring 2009, Jeffrey starred in the comedy farce Don't Dress for Dinner in Chicago. Also performances on the radio: On the Waterfront as Terry, Frozen and Grapes of Wrath.

Personal life[edit]

Jeffrey Donovan has over twenty years of martial arts experience. In college the actor earned his black belt in karate and competed throughout the state. Since then he has also studied aikido for over six years and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.[6]

On July 3, 2009, Donovan, a Red Sox fan who first visited Fenway as a child, threw the ceremonial first pitch at the baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.[7] On July 3, 2010, Donovan once again threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park, this time between the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.[8]

On July 12, 2009 he was arrested in Miami for allegedly driving under the influence; charges were reduced to reckless driving.[9]


In 2009 Donovan returned to Amesbury High School where he took part in a career day mentorship program with other successful professionals and then presented the school with a $100,000 arts scholarship program.[10] The first $10,000 award was given out to a senior that June.[11]

For many years, Donovan has actively supported Life Rolls On (LRO), a foundation empowering people with spinal cord injuries. On October 4, 2009 he served as one of the chairmen for the 6th Annual LRO annual fundraiser called Night by the Ocean at the Kodak Theater.[12] Donovan was named Grand Marshal of the 22nd annual AIDS Walk Miami held on April 17, 2010.[13]

Donovan also supports his friends' charity events. In September 2009, while helping Michael Bolton at the 17th Annual Benefit Concert for Women and Children at Risk in Stamford, Connecticut, Donovan auctioned off a "Burn Notice walk-on-part" plus a kiss. Walk on parts usually raise $2,000–$5,000. With the added kiss, he raised $36,000.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Homicide: Life on the Street Miles Dell
Newton Dell
Law & Order Edward Nicodos
1997 Millennium Bobby Webber Episode: "The Wild and the Innocent"
Another World Dwayne 'Popper' Collins
The Pretender Kyle Episodes: "Dragon House" (Parts 1 and 2), "Red Rock Jarod"
1999 Spin City Tom Episodes: "The Mayor May Not" and "These Shoes Were Made for Cheatin'"
2000 The Beat Brad Ulrich
2002 Witchblade Daniel Germaine
2004 Touching Evil Detective Inspector Dave Creegan 12 episodes
2005 CSI: Miami Todd Kendrick 2 episodes
2006 Enemies
Threshold Dr. Julian Sloan
Monk Steve Wagner "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut"
2007 Crossing Jordan William Ivers
2007 Law & Order Jacob Reese
2007–2013 Burn Notice Michael Westen Main cast; directed Season 4 episode "Made Man", Season 6 episode "Mixed Message", and season 7 episode "Forget Me Not"
2011 Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe Michael Westen Director and executive producer
2015–present Fargo Dodd Season 2


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Throwing Down Pete Gulley
1996 Sleepers Henry Addison
Critical Choices Randy
1997 Vegas Vacation Hotel employee
Catherine's Grove Thomas Mason
1998 Witness to the Mob Agent
When Trumpets Fade Bobby
2000 Bait Julio
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Jeffrey Patterson Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple (with any two actors)
2002 Purpose Robert Jennings
2003 Final Draft Pascal
Sam & Joe Eric
2005 Hitch Vance Munson
2006 Come Early Morning Cal Percell
Believe in Me Clay Driscoll
2007 Hindsight Paul
2008 Changeling Captain J.J. Jones
2011 J. Edgar Robert F. Kennedy
2015 Extinction Jack
Sicario Steve Forsing
2016 Shot Caller Filming


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