John Diehl

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Diehl
John Henry Diehl

(1950-05-01) May 1, 1950 (age 68)
ResidenceNashville, Tennessee
Years active1980–present
Height6 ft (1.83 m)
Spouse(s)Julie Christensen (1992–present)
ChildrenMagnus Jackson Diehl

John Henry Diehl (born May 1, 1950) is an American film, television, and stage actor. Noted for his work in avant-garde theater, Diehl has performed in more than 140 films and television shows, including Land of Plenty, Stripes, Nixon, Jurassic Park III and the TV series Miami Vice and The Shield. He is probably best remembered for playing the Detective Larry (Lawrence) Zito in the wellknown action and crime series, Miami Vice of the 1980s.

Diehl has "largely avoided the typecasting that is an accepted part of most character actors' careers." He has been a member of The Actors Studio since 2004.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Diehl was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1950. His father, John A. Diehl, was a civil engineer, and his mother, Mary, was a social worker. Raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic family, he was educated at parochial schools, and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1968.[3][4]


In 1970, Diehl moved to New York, encouraged by his sister, who had just graduated from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He spent 1971 squatting in Amsterdam and returned to New York in 1972. In 1976, he moved to Los Angeles. He had always been interested in drawing and making things, and intended to pursue a career in the visual arts there. Initially he supported himself in LA by moving furniture and objet d'art.[3]

Although he had no previous experience as an actor, Diehl's interest turned to acting after he arrived in Los Angeles. He took a three-hour scene studies class in Hollywood twice a week, and in 1979 he was cast in Action, a one act play written by Sam Shepard. In 1980, he became an acting member of Murray Mednick's Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, an annual event which brought young playwrights from throughout the United States together to live and work with such playwrights as Mednick, Shepard, Maria Irene Fornes, John O’Keefe, John Steppling, and Robert Glaudini. Diehl worked with all of the playwrights in residence over the course of his several years as an acting member of the festival.[3][5]

Diehl's first significant film role was in the 1980 movie Stripes. In the 25th Anniversary DVD release of Stripes, Laroquette compared the improvisation of Candy and Diehl to the improvisation of Laurel and Hardy. In 1983, Diehl appeared in National Lampoon's Vacation, which Ramis directed.[6]

In 1984, Diehl was cast as Detective Larry Zito in Miami Vice. Diehl found the role unfulfilling, and decided to leave. On January 9, 1987 — the 57th episode of Miami Vice — Zito's last appearance a two part episode , "Down for the Count", was aired and the character killed off.[7]

Diehl moved into a basement apartment in Greenwich Village in New York, and despite a drastic reduction in his income, he declined television roles, and chose instead to continue working in film while pursuing a serious stage career.[citation needed] He subsequently appeared in The Hanoi Hilton (1987), a film about the experiences of American prisoners of war in Hanoi in the 1960s/70s, and Alex Cox's Walker (1987), which was shot in Nicaragua during the Contra War. In late 1988, Diehl relocated to Los Angeles after he was cast in Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind at the Mark Taper Forum.[citation needed]

He continued to work in theater in New York, however, and frequently returned to the stage there, most notably for a Shepherd play at the Public Theater with Shepard in residence at the Signature, and Mednick’s Joe And Betty, which was produced twice on Theater Row in New York.[7][8][9]

In 1997, Diehl reprised his role in Action at the Public Theater, and in 2005 he worked once again with Padua Playwrights, appearing in two plays in Mednick's Gary Trilogy. Among others, his theater credits include Life of Mine, (with Holly Hunter) at the Mark Taper Forum, Samuel Beckett's Endgame and Happy Days, one of three plays which Diehl directed.[10]

He has appeared in more than 140 films, including Joysticks (1983), Angel (1984), City Limits (1984), Madhouse (1990), The Dark Side of the Moon (1990), Kickboxer 2 (1991), Mikey (1992), Mo' Money (1992), Gettsyburg (1993), The Client (1994), Stargate (1994), The New Age (1994), Mind Ripper (1995), A Time to Kill (1996), Pearl Harbor (2001), and Road to Nowhere (2010).

He played G. Gordon Liddy in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995), the mercenary Cooper in Jurassic Park III (2001), and in recurring roles on The Shield, Friday Night Lights, The West Wing and The John Larroquette Show. In 2000, he appeared in Failsafe, which aired live on television. Between 2002-04, he portrayed General Motors' Harley Earl in a series of 11 television commercials for Buick. The commercials were directed by Tony Scott, who had previously directed films including Top Gun and Crimson Tide.[11][12]

In 2004, Wim Wenders cast Diehl as the male lead in Land of Plenty, a film about post 9/11 American life. Shot on digital video in 16 days, the film centered on Diehl's character, Paul, a troubled Vietnam veteran, and his niece, played by Michelle Williams. In a New York Times review of the film, A.O. Scott wrote "Mr. Diehl gives a wry, cunning performance, allowing glimmers of Paul's intelligence and decency to shine through even in his moments of high self-delusion."[13]

A member of the Actors Studio since 2004, Diehl won the Los Angeles Times Warren Award in 2012, and in 2014 won the Southampton Film Festival's Lead Actor Award for his role in the short film Kahea.[1][14]

Personal life[edit]

Diehl and singer Julie Christensen were married in 1992. They live in Nashville, Tennessee, and have one son, Magnus Jackson Diehl.[15]

He boxed as a middleweight in two professional matches (one win and one loss), and participated in several exhibition shows for charity.[16]


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Falling in Love Again Beaver (1940's)
1981 Escape from New York Punk
1981 Stripes Cruiser
1983 Joysticks Arnie
1983 Hysterical Taxi Driver
1983 National Lampoon's Vacation Assistant Mechanic
1983 D.C. Cab Head Kidnapper
1984 Angel The Killer
1984 City Limits Whitey
1990 Madhouse
1990 The Dark Side of the Moon
1991 Kickboxer 2
1992 Mikey
1992 Mo' Money
1993 Gettsyburg
1994 The Client
1994 Stargate
1994 The New Age
1995 Mind Ripper
1996 A Time to Kill
1996 Nixon
2001 Pearl Harbor Senior Doctor
2001 Jurassic Park III Cooper
2010 Road to Nowhere


  1. ^ a b Gaita, Paul. "The Warren Awards: John Diehl". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  2. ^ Johnson, Reed (August 12, 2001). "Getting Ahead...On The L.A. Stage?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Nimershiem, Jack (February 1, 1986). "The Miami Vice Connection". Cincinnati Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  4. ^ "John A. Diehl, Obituary". Hodapp Funeral Home. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
  5. ^ Friedman, E. Lund (May 12, 2003). "MARKETING: Harley Earl TV ad brings fame to veteran actor". Automotive News. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  6. ^ Rabin, Nathan (June 5, 2009). "John Larroquette". AV Club. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Bennets, Leslie (January 9, 1987). "'MIAMI VICE' FREES ACTOR BY KILLING LIEUTENANT ZITO". New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  8. ^ Lawton, Adam (June 2, 2011). "Interview with John Diehl". Media Mikes. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  9. ^ Sullivan, Dan (January 22, 1988). "Stage Review: A Tale of Two Families in 'A Lie of the Mind'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  10. ^ Martinez, Julio (April 10, 2005). "Review: "The Gary Plays: Tirade for Three & Gary's Walk"". Variety. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  11. ^ Hakim, Danny (October 10, 2002). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING; Buick uses a mid-20th-century designer to lure younger buyers, but also brings out the skeptics". New York Times. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  12. ^ "John Diehl credits". IMDb. IMDb. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  13. ^ Scott, AO (October 12, 2005). "A Desire to Heal the Rifts in a Troubled Landscape". New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  14. ^ "Award Winners 2014". Southampton Film Festival. Southampton Film Festival. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  15. ^ Anderson, Skip (February 15, 2016). "Featured artist: Julie Christensen". The East Nashvillian. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  16. ^ "John Diehl". Boxing Record. Retrieved April 8, 2016.

External links[edit]