Jump to content

Kevin Kline

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kevin Kline
Kline in 1989
Kevin Delaney Kline

(1947-10-24) October 24, 1947 (age 76)
Years active1970–present
Notable workPerformances
(m. 1989)
ChildrenOwen Kline
Greta Kline
AwardsFull list

Kevin Delaney Kline (born October 24, 1947) is an American actor. Kline is known for his over five decade career as a leading man on stage and screen. He is the recipient of an Academy Award and three Tony Awards, and has been nominated for two British Academy Film Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and five Golden Globe Awards.[1] In 2003, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Kline began his career on stage in 1972 with The Acting Company and gained prominence for his numerous performances with The Public Theatre and in New York Shakespeare Festival. He has gone on to win three Tony Awards for his work on Broadway, winning Best Featured Actor in a Musical for the 1978 original production of On the Twentieth Century, and Best Actor in a Musical for the 1981 revival of The Pirates of Penzance. In 2003, he starred as Falstaff in the Broadway production of Henry IV, for which he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play. In 2017, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for the revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter.[2]

He made his film debut in psychological drama Sophie's Choice (1982). For his role in the comedy A Fish Called Wanda (1988), he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. His other films include The Pirates of Penzance (1983), Silverado (1985), Cry Freedom (1987), The January Man (1989), Chaplin (1992), Princess Caraboo (1994), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), Wild Wild West (1999), The Anniversary Party (2001), The Emperor's Club (2002), The Pink Panther (2006), Last Vegas (2013), My Old Lady (2014), and The Good House (2021). He has also voiced characters in the films The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), The Road to El Dorado (2000), The Tale of Despereaux (2008) and the animated comedy series Bob's Burgers (2011–present).

Early life and education[edit]

Kline was born on October 24, 1947, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Margaret Agnes Kirk and Robert Joseph Kline (1909–1996).[3][4] His father was a classical music lover and amateur opera singer who owned The Record Bar, a record store in St. Louis that opened in 1942.[5] He also sold toys during the 1960s and 1970s;[3] his father's family owned Kline's Inc., a department store chain.[6] Kevin Kline described his mother as the "dramatic theatrical character in our family".[7] His father was Jewish and his mother Catholic; Kline was raised in his mother's faith.[8] He has an older sister, Kate, and two younger brothers, Alexander and Christopher.[4]

He graduated from the Saint Louis Priory School in 1965.[9] In 1997, the school named its new auditorium the Kevin Kline Theater. At its dedication, he performed selections from Shakespeare as a benefit. He attended Indiana University, Bloomington, where he was a classmate of actor Jonathan Banks. He began studying composing and conducting music, but switched to a theater and speech major for his last two years, and graduated in 1970. He said: "When I switched to the Theater Department, all I did was theater... I could barely make it to class because this was my passion."[10] While an undergraduate, he was a co-founder of the Vest Pocket Players, an off-campus theatrical troupe.[11]

Acting career[edit]

1970–1981: Rise to prominence[edit]

In 1970, Kline won a scholarship to the newly formed drama division of the Juilliard School in New York. In 1972, he joined fellow Juilliard graduates, including Patti LuPone and David Ogden Stiers, and formed the City Center Acting Company (now The Acting Company), under the aegis of John Houseman.[12][citation needed] The Company traveled across the U.S. performing Shakespeare's plays, other classical works, and the musical The Robber Bridegroom, founding one of the most widely praised groups in American repertory theatre. At Juilliard, he studied singing with Beverley Peck Johnson.[13]

In 1976, Kline left The Acting Company and settled in New York City, doing a brief appearance as Woody Reed in the now-defunct soap opera Search for Tomorrow. He returned to the stage in 1977 to play Clym Yeobright opposite Donna Theodore as Eustacia Vye in The Hudson Guild Theater production of Dance on a Country Grave, Kelly Hamilton's musical version of Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native.[2] In 1978, he played Bruce Granit, a matinée idol caricature, in Harold Prince's On the Twentieth Century, for which he won his first Tony Award.

In 1981, he appeared with multi-genre renowned singer Linda Ronstadt and singer Rex Smith in the New York Shakespeare Festival's Central Park production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, which moved to Broadway and won Kline another Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his comically dashing portrayal of the Pirate King.[2] In 1983 he played the role in a film version of the musical, also with Ronstadt, Smith and Angela Lansbury, which had a limited theatrical release.[14]

In the ensuing years, Kline appeared many times in New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Shakespeare plays, including starring roles in Richard III (1983),[15] Much Ado About Nothing (1988),[16] Henry V (1984),[17] and two productions of Hamlet, in 1986[18] and 1990 (which he also directed).[19] A videotape of the 1990 production has aired on PBS. Kline was dubbed "the American Olivier" by New York Times theater critic Frank Rich for his stage acting.[20]

1982–1999: Breakthrough and stardom[edit]

Kline and his wife Phoebe Cates at the Academy Awards (1989)

Kline finally ventured into film in 1982 in Sophie's Choice. He won the coveted role of the tormented and moody Nathan opposite Meryl Streep. The New York Times film critic Janet Maslin wrote of Kline's performance, "Mr. Kline, whose Nathan convincingly demonstrates the greatest of tenderness toward Sophie, is also called upon to rail at her mercilessly. In the tender scenes Mr. Kline makes himself very appealing; in the cruel ones, he does the best he can to affect a viciousness that, even on the page, seemed less than fully convincing."[21] Streep won an Academy Award for her performance, and Kline was nominated for a 1983 Golden Globe award (New Star of the Year)[22] and BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer To Film.[23]

During the 1980s and early to mid-1990s, Kline made several films with director Lawrence Kasdan starting with The Big Chill (1983). The film revolves around friends from college reuniting after a death of a friend. Kline co-stars alongside Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, and William Hurt. The film was a critical and commercial success. He reunited with Kasdan with the western film Silverado (1985) where he starred with Kevin Costner, Rosanna Arquette, and John Cleese. He then portrayed Donald Woods in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom (1987) opposite Denzel Washington about the friendship between activist Stephen Biko and editor Donald Woods.

Newsday critic Lynn Darling wrote on July 13, 1988, that Kline "has proved himself to be one of the most talented and versatile American actors of his generation." In 1989, Kline won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the British comedy A Fish Called Wanda, where he played a painfully inept American ex-CIA thug opposite John Cleese's genteel British barrister and Jamie Lee Curtis' femme fatale/con woman. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film 21st on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.[24] Kline continued to take comedic roles in I Love You to Death (1990), Soapdish (1991), Grand Canyon (1991), and French Kiss (1995).

In 1993, Kline had his first voice-acting role in The Nutcracker, and starred in Dave, a political comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and co-starring Charles Grodin, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. In 1996, he played the voice role of Captain Phoebus in the 1996 Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He portrayed an acting teacher who is publicly outed when his student thanks him in his Academy Award acceptance speech in the Frank Oz comedy In & Out (1997). The film was inspired by Tom Hanks' acceptance speech for Philadelphia (1993). Kline was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance. In 1998, he received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[25]

In 1999, Kline played opposite Will Smith in the Steampunk Western film Wild Wild West. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 38 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". The film ended its theatrical run on October 10, 1999 after five months, having grossed $113,804,681 domestically and $108,300,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $222,104,681 against a production budget of $170 million.

2000–2016: Established actor[edit]

Kline at the film premiere of No Strings Attached in January 2011

Kline voiced Tulio in the DreamWorks animated film The Road to El Dorado (2000) opposite Kenneth Branagh's Miguel. The film is an adventure comedy featuring original songs with by Elton John. The film received mixed reviews but has since become a cult classic. The following year he starred in the Irwin Winkler drama Life as a House (2001) starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Hayden Christensen, and Mary Steenburgen. He reprised his role as Captain Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II (2002). That same year he portrayed a prep school teacher in The Emperor's Club (2002). The film was compared to that of Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934) and Dead Poets Society (1989). He then portrayed Cole Porter in the musical biopic De-Lovely (2004) for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

During this period Kline appeared in numerous comedy films such as The Pink Panther (2006) opposite Steve Martin as well as the romantic comedy films Definitely, Maybe starring Ryan Reynolds and No Strings Attached (2011) with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. He also played Guy Noir in Robert Altman's final film A Prairie Home Companion (2006). Kline starred alongside Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Woody Harrelson.

He was inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2003.[26] He also appeared in a Lincoln Center production that combined the two parts of Henry IV on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in 2003 as Falstaff, and was nominated for the 2004 Tony Award for Actor in a Play.[27][28] In December 2004, Kline became the 2,272nd recipient of a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame,[29] for his contributions to the motion picture industry, located at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.[30]

Kline played the title role in King Lear at the Public Theater and took the lead role in a Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac opposite Jennifer Garner. It was forced to temporarily close after only 11 performances as a result of the Broadway stagehands' strike,[31] but subsequently reopened. Cyrano was filmed in 2008 and aired as part of PBS's Great Performances series. In January 2008, Kline won a Screen Actors Guild award for his portrayal of Jaques in Kenneth Branagh's film As You Like It, adapted from Shakespeare's play. It premiered theatrically in 2006 in Europe, and was sent straight to HBO in the United States. Kline's film The Conspirator premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was described as an "old-fashioned historical thriller". It was well-received by most critics. Kline starred in the 2012 comedy Darling Companion with Diane Keaton.


In 2017, Kline returned to Broadway in a revival of the play Present Laughter. He received rave reviews with Marilyn Stasio writing, "Whatever would we do without Kevin Kline? In an age of lesser stars, he’s a bona fide matinee idol of the ideal age and with the urbane sensibility to do justice to sophisticated scribes like Noël Coward."[32] He received his third Tony Award, this time for Best Actor in a Play.

That year, he also played Maurice in the musical live-action adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, directed by Bill Condon and co-starring with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.[33] The film received positive reviews and grossed $1.2 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing live-action musical film, the second highest-grossing film of 2017, and the 17th highest-grossing film of all time.[34][35][36] He also voiced Calvin Fischoeder in the animated comedy series Bob's Burgers (2011–present), for which he earned a Primetime Emmy nomination. He has reprised his role in the latter's theatrical feature The Bob's Burgers Movie (2022).

In 2021, it was announced that Kline would star with Cate Blanchett on Alfonso Cuaron's Apple TV+ show Disclaimer.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Kline met actress Phoebe Cates in 1983. They began dating in 1985 and married in 1989. They live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York. They have two children, Owen Joseph Kline (born 1991); and Greta Kline (born 1994), who fronts the band Frankie Cosmos.[38]

The Kevin Kline Awards honor theatre professionals in St. Louis in an array of categories, including best actor and actress, set design, choreography, and new play or musical.[39][40][41]

Acting credits[edit]

Kline's career spans over five decades and includes collaborations with some of the most acclaimed filmmakers and actors of his time.

Selected credits:

Awards and nominations[edit]

Kline's numerous accolades include an Academy Award, three Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award as well as nominations for two BAFTA Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards.


  1. ^ "Theater honors put women in the spotlight". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Kevin Kline at the Internet Broadway Database
  3. ^ a b "Robert J. Kline, 87; Was Opera Buff, Owner of Record Stores". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. September 7, 1996. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Peggy Kirk Kline profile". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. June 8, 2000.
  5. ^ "The Record Bar: Emotional Response to Closing". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  6. ^ Euston, Diane (December 21, 2021). "Kline's Department Store and their Christmas fairy princess". Retrieved December 6, 2023.
  7. ^ "Kevin Kline star bio". Tribute. 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  8. ^ "Herald-Journal – Google News Archive Search". google.com.
  9. ^ "Kevin Kline Biography" The New York Times, accessed February 12, 2016
  10. ^ Lindquist, David. "Kevin Kline returns to IU, where his acting began" indystar.com, September 12, 2014
  11. ^ "Kevin Kline" tribute.ca, accessed February 12, 2016
  12. ^ Klein, Alvin. "Theater. From Juilliard to Shakespeare at a Pond" The New York Times, July 12, 1992
  13. ^ Anthony Tommasini (January 22, 2001). "Beverley Peck Johnson, 96, Voice Teacher". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Maslin, Janet. "'The Pirates of Penzance' OvervieW" The New York Times, accessed February 12, 2016
  15. ^ "'King Richard III', Delacort Theater" lortel.org, accessed February 12, 2016
  16. ^ "'Much Ado About Nothing', Delacort Theater" lortel.org, accessed February 12, 2016
  17. ^ "'Henry V', Delacort Theater" lortel.org, accessed February 12, 2016
  18. ^ "'Hamlet' 1986, Delacort Theater" lortel.org, accessed February 12, 2016
  19. ^ "'Hamlet' 1990, Delacort Theater" lortel.org, accessed February 12, 2016
  20. ^ Charles Isherwood, "This King, This Courtier, These Kevin Klines", nytimes.com, January 1, 2008.
  21. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 10, 1982). "STYRON'S 'SOPHIE'S CHOICE'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  22. ^ "'Sophie's Choice' Golden Globe Awards and Nominations" goldenglobes.com, accessed February 11, 2016
  23. ^ "'Sophie's Choice' Awards and Nominations" hollywood.com, accessed February 11, 2016
  24. ^ "100 Years, 100 Laughs". American Film Institute. 2000. Archived from the original on June 3, 2008. Retrieved June 7, 2008.
  25. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". Archived from the original on October 31, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  26. ^ "American Theatre Critics Association". January 29, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  27. ^ "'Henry 1V Broadway" Archived September 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbillvault.com, accessed February 12, 2016
  28. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Lincoln Center Hears the Chimes at Midnight as Ambitious 'Henry IV' Opens" Playbill, November 20, 2003
  29. ^ "Kline gets Hollywood star", TheAge.com.au, December 4, 2004.
  30. ^ "Kevin Kline". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  31. ^ Hetrick, Adam (September 25, 2007). "Morton, Sarandon and Baker Will Join Kline in Broadway's Cyrano; Casting Complete". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  32. ^ "Broadway Review: 'Present Laughter' With Kevin Kline, Cobie Smulders". Variety. April 6, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2023.
  33. ^ "Disney's Live-Action 'Beauty and the Beast' Gets Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. March 16, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  34. ^ "Beauty and the Beast (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on December 11, 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
    "Beauty and the Beast (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  35. ^ Chris Hunneysett (March 17, 2017). "Beauty and the Beast review: Irresistible charm shows no one casts a spell quite like Disney". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on September 10, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  36. ^ Roeper, Richard (March 15, 2017). "Lavish 'Beauty and the Beast' true as it can be to original". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 10, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  37. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (December 1, 2021). "Cate Blanchett, Kevin Kline to Topline Alfonso Cuaron Apple Series 'Disclaimer'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2021.
  38. ^ Pelly, Jenn (March 5, 2014). "Frankie Cosmos". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  39. ^ Brown, Dennis. "Great Expectations" Riverfront Times, December 14, 2005
  40. ^ "Official website" Archived June 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine kevinklineawards.org, accessed February 11, 2016
  41. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "St. Louis' Kevin Kline Awards Go to Steven Woolf, 'Red', Curtis Holbrook, 'Awake and Sing!', 'Immigrant' and More" playbill.com, April 4, 2012

External links[edit]