Jeffrey Donovan

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Jeffrey Donovan
Donovan in November 2009
Jeffrey Thomas Donovan

(1968-05-11) May 11, 1968 (age 51)
EducationBridgewater State University
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (BA)
New York University (MFA)
Years active1995–present
Michelle Woods (m. 2012)

Jeffrey Thomas Donovan [1][failed verification] is an American actor. He played Michael Westen in the television series Burn Notice, and starred in films such as Hitch, Believe in Me, Changeling and Come Early Morning. He played Robert F. Kennedy in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar (2011)[2] and his brother John F. Kennedy in Rob Reiner's LBJ. He had a recurring role in the second season of the TV series Fargo (2015).

Early life[edit]

Donovan was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts,[1] and raised along with two brothers, Michael and Sean, by their single mother, Nancy Matthews, who raised her three boys alone.[3] Of his childhood, Donovan recalled:[4]

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.

— speaking to

At Amesbury High School, Donovan was mentored by teacher Patricia Hoyt. She helped him start a drama club[5] and subsequently found him a private scholarship, enabling him to participate in a summer program that helped pave the way for his acting career.[6] He attended Bridgewater State College before transferring to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

While attending university, 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 Master of Fine Arts from New York University's Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts.



Donovan has guest-starred in several television shows, including 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 played the antihero Dr. Sloan. Donovan also played the recurring role of William Ivers in Crossing Jordan. In 2004, he had his first leading role in the American remake of the British television series Touching Evil with Vera Farmiga on the USA Network.

From 2007 to 2013, Donovan starred in Burn Notice, as Michael Westen, a spy who was burned, seemingly by the CIA or Homeland Security, for reasons unknown to him, and marooned in Miami, Florida. The show follows Westen as he attempts to find out why he was burned and regain his job as a covert intelligence agent, in addition to bringing justice to the good people of Miami. Donovan made his directorial debut with the series' episode, "Made Man" which first aired on June 17, 2010. Donovan 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. The series lasted for seven seasons, received positive reviews from both fans and critics, and was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards.

In 2015, Donovan had a recurring role on Fargo as North Dakota mobster Dodd Gerhardt. In 2016, he began starring as Tarot-reading con artist Charlie Haverford in Shut Eye on Hulu. On January 30, 2018, Shut Eye was canceled after two seasons.[7]


Donovan has also performed on stage in various productions, including Hamlet as the eponymous title character, 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. Donovan has also performed in the radio dramas On the Waterfront (as Terry), Frozen, and Grapes of Wrath.

Personal life[edit]

Donovan has over 20 years of martial arts experience. In college, he earned his black belt in Shotokan karate and competed throughout the state. Later, he studied aikido for over six years and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.[8]

On July 3, 2009, Donovan, a Boston Red Sox baseball fan since childhood, threw the ceremonial first pitch at the game between the Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.[9] On July 3, 2010, he once again threw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park, this time at a game between the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.[10]

Donovan married Michelle Woods on August 25, 2012. They had a daughter, Claire, in December of that year. In 2014 Donovan and his wife welcomed their second child, a son named Lucas. They had their third child, a daughter in 2017.[11][12]


In 2009, Donovan returned to Amesbury High School where he took part in a career day mentorship program with other successful professionals and presented the school with a $100,000 arts scholarship program.[13] The first $10,000 award was given out to a senior that June.[14]

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.[15] Donovan was named Grand Marshal of the 22nd annual AIDS Walk Miami held on April 17, 2010.[16]

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.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Homicide: Life on the Street Miles and Newton Dell Episode: "Thrill of the Kill"
1995, 2007 Law & Order Edward Nicodos / Jacob Reese 2 episodes
1997 Millennium Bobby Webber Episode: "The Wild and the Innocent"
1997 Another World Dwayne 'Popper' Collins
1997–98 The Pretender Kyle 3 episodes
1999 Spin City Tom 2 episodes
2000 The Beat Brad Ulrich
2002 Witchblade Daniel Germaine Episode: "Lagrimas"
2002-2007 American Bikers Michael Baldwin (voice) Lead role
2004 Touching Evil Detective Inspector Dave Creegan 12 episodes
2005 CSI: Miami Todd Kendrick 2 episodes
2006 Threshold Dr. Julian Sloan Episode: Vigilante
2006 Monk Steve Wagner Episode: "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut"
2007 Crossing Jordan William Ivers 5 episodes
2007–13 Burn Notice Michael Westen 111 episodes (Main role)
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; also made a cameo
2015 Fargo Dodd Gerhardt Recurring role; 10 episodes
2016–2017 Shut Eye Charlie Haverford 20 episodes (Main role)


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Throwing Down Pete Gulley
1996 Sleepers Henry Addison
1996 Critical Choices Randy
1997 Vegas Vacation Hotel employee
1997 Catherine's Grove Thomas Mason
1998 Witness to the Mob Agent
1998 When Trumpets Fade Bobby
2000 Bait Julio
2000 Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Jeffrey Patterson
2002 Purpose Robert Jennings
2003 Final Draft Pascal
2004 Sam & Joe Eric
2005 Hitch Vance Munson
2006 Come Early Morning Cal Percell
2006 Believe in Me Clay Driscoll
2008 Hindsight Paul
2008 Changeling Captain J.J. Jones
2011 J. Edgar Robert F. Kennedy
2015 Sicario Steve Forsing
2015 Extinction Jack
2016 LBJ John F. Kennedy
2017 Shot Caller Bottles
2018 Sicario: Day of the Soldado Steve Forsing
2019 Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile John O'Connell
2019 Villains George
2019 Lucy in the Sky Jim Hunt
2019 Wonder Woman: Bloodlines Steve Trevor (voice)
2020 Let Him Go Bill Weboy Post-production
TBA Honest Thief Agent Meyers Post-production
TBA Cash Truck Filming

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award/Festival Category Nominated work Result
2003 Method Fest Independent Film Festival Best Supporting Actor
Sam & Joe
2010 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: Action
Burn Notice
2011 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: Action Nominated


  1. ^ a b Buchanan, Jason. "Jeffrey Donovan Biography". The New York Times. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  2. ^ Melena Ryzik (March 9, 2011). "Jeffrey Donovan to Play Robert Kennedy in Eastwood's 'J. Edgar'". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Donovan, Jeffrey.Interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, February 18, 2009.
  5. ^ King, Liz: "Actor's $100,000 pledge aimed at aspiring arts students." May 19, 2009.
  6. ^ Kichuk, Victoria, "Jeffrey Donovan's Burning Desire to Give Back". May 30, 2009
  7. ^
  8. ^ Dan Snierson (June 28, 2009). "Jeffrey Donovan Fact: The 'Burn Notice' star can bring a grown man to his knees. For real". Entertainment Weekly.
  9. ^ D'Angelo, Tom "60 Seconds with actor Jeffrey Donovan". Palm Beach June 7, 2009
  10. ^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (July 5, 2010). "A gown for a Brown". The Boston Globe.
  11. ^ "Burn Notice Star Jeffrey Donovan and Wife Michelle Woods Welcome a Baby Girl".
  12. ^ "Jeffrey Donovan and wife welcome baby girl". Usweekly December 18, 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2016.
  13. ^ King, Liz "Actor's $100,000 pledge aimed at aspiring arts students", The Newburyport Daily News. May 19, 2009
  14. ^ King, Liz "Amesbury High School senior wins first $10K Donovan scholarship", The Newburyport Daily News. June 24, 2009
  15. ^ Night by the Ocean at the Kodak Theater
  16. ^ Grand Marshal of the 22nd annual AIDS Walk Miami held on April 17, 2010
  17. ^ "Chance to Star on Burn Notice with Jeffrey Donovan Goes for $36,000 (and a Kiss)!". People. September 16, 2009.

External links[edit]