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slides: Actor Richard Jenkins Returns to Trinity Rep

Monday, February 24, 2014


Richard Jenkins, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, has returned to Rhode Island, rejoining the Trinity Reperatory Company to direct the musical production Oliver!

Jenkins got his start in acting at Trinity Rep after graduating from Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in drama. Jenkins spring-boarded from Trinity's company into a career in film and television, and went on to serve as Trinity Rep's artistic director from 1990 to 1994. In 2009 he was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role) for his role in The Vistor

Jenkins teamed up with is wife, Sharon, who is choreographing the show, Oliver!, which began its run on the 20th of February and will be performed at Trinity through March 30th. The couple's return to Trinity coincides with the theater's 50th anniversary season.

"It is an understatement to say that we are thrilled that Richard and sharon have agreed to join us to bring Oliver! to the stage this season! They are both longtime members of the Trinity Rep family -- not to mention world-class talents," said current Artistic Director Curt Columbus. "To have them return home for our anniversary season is just a treat for us all to enjoy!"

Check out some highlights from Jenkins' storied career in the slideshow below. 


Related Slideshow: Richard Jenkins Returns to RI

Check out this chronology of Jenkins' career.

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Trinity Rep.

Jenkins began his career as a professional actor at Trinity Repertory Theater as an actor in 1970 before catapulted from the Providence stage onto the big screen. He was a member of the cast for fourteen seasons, and has been directing plays at Trinity since the early 1980s. His first was "Billy Bishop Goes to War," during the summer season of 1983. The director of the other offering that summer, "Tintypes," was Richard's wife Sharon, who has been directing show at Trinity even longer than her husband (her first show came the summer of 1979). 

Richard and Sharon Jenkins' return to Trinity this spring as the director of "Oliver!" has been met with anticipation and excitement at the theater. 

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Jenkins' first feature film role came in 1985's Silverado. The film, from director Lawrence Kasadan of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame, is a gun-toting Western where Jenkins got to work with luminary dramatic actors including Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Brian Dennehy, and Danny Glover, and even Monty Python star John Cleese. Though Jenkins himself didn't score Academy recognition this time, the film was nominated for Best Sound and Best Original Score at the 1986 Academy Awards.

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Hannah and Her Sisters

Jenkins' career has afforded him the chance to work with legendary directors and writers, including the prolific Woody Allen in one of Jenkins' first films, "Hannah and Her Sisters." Jenkins, who plays Dr. Wilkes, is the doctor to Allen's hypocondriac television writer. As Jenkins reassures Allen that he is indeed not dying, he sets in mind a confused but relieved Allen's search for spiritual meaning -- a process that culminates in Woody's famous monologue on the cosmological importance of The Marx Brothers.

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And the Band Played On

Still in the midst of his ascent towards movie stardom, one of Jenkins' relatively early came in the impactful TV movie "And the Band Played On." The film, which came out just as wave of the American AIDS epidemic was at its most destructive crest, traced the origins of HIV and told the story of the first patients to try to withstand and raise awareness of the disease. Jenkins plays a doctor in the film, which was critically acclaimed, earning fellow actors Alan Alda, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, and Lily Tomlin Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

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Outside Providence

Like the Coen Brothers, Jenkins has collaborated with slapstick masters the Farrelly Brothers for several films. In addition to "Outside Providence," Jenkins has appeared in "There's Something About Mary," "Me, Myself and Irene," "Say It Isn't So," "Hall Pass," and the 2012 "Three Stooges" remake. "Outside Providence" is particularly near and dear to the hearts of Rhode Islanders because it is set in the state, as well as filmed at various locations around Rhode Island. For more on Outside Providence or the other movies that have been shot within Rhode Island, check out GoLocalProv's article on the top 25 movies filmed within our state.

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Six Feet Under

One of Jenkins' most acclaimed roles was his long-running stint as the deceased father on HBO's critically acclaimed "Six Feet Under." The extraordinary ensemble was recognized by the Screen Actors Guild with a nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Drama Series after the show's second season, in 2002. Jenkins played the patriarch in a family that runs a Southern California funeral home. After his untimely demise in an accident, his sons are forced to take over -- though Jenkins returns throughout the series to offer his own spectral advice.

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The Visitor

Jenkins is probably best-known for his portrayal of Professor Walter Vale in Thomas McCarthy's "The Visitor." Jenkins received scores of nominations, including Best Actor at the 81st Academy Awards.  "The Visitor" is a poignant drama that tells the story of Professor Vale, a lonely man who one day encounters a strange, young couple living in his New York apartment. The two are undocumented immigrants who Vale helps to protect and care for in a movie that the New York Times' film critic A.O. Scott called a movie of "impressive grace and understatement" that "manages to surprise you along the way."

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Step Brothers

Jenkins has excelled in dramatic roles, but can play shtick too. Case in point:  his comedic turn as a dopey John C. Reilly's dad in the 2008 Judd Apatow-produced "Step Brothers." When Jenkins and Will Ferrell's mom (played by Mary Steenburgen), Reilly and Ferrell are catapulted together, and forced to begin their hilarious tenure as a single family.

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Burn After Reading

Jenkins is one of the Coen Brothers favorite actors. He has appeared in several movies with the fabulously talented tag-team directors, including "Intolerable Cruelty" and "The Man Who Wasn't There." In "Burn After Reading," Jenkins plays Ted Treffon, the kind-hearted, slightly doddering gym manager who is eventually 86'd by a hatched-wielding unemployed CIA analyst John Malkovich. No one scripts their actors' grisly endings quite like the Coen Brothers.

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The Tale of Despereaux

Jenkins tried his hand at animation, and earned recognition for his voice work with a nomination for a special award by the San Diego Film Critics Society for "The Tale of Despereaux." Based on the Newberry Award-winning children's book of the same name, the film follows the adventures of a plucky mouse (voiced by Matthew Broderick) who saves a princess (voiced by former Brown University student Emma Watson) and, with her, the kingdom. Jenkins plays the mouse-school principal who tries without much success to restrain Despereaux from his swashbuckling ways.

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Eat Pray Love

"Eat Pray Love" follows the story of Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts), a woman approaching midlife and embarking on a restless search for self-discovery as she undergoes a divorce. Jenkins plays a Texan whom Gilbert befriends at the second stop along her journey, at an ashram in India. Jenkins pursues Roberts, but Roberts is too busy falling in love with Javier Bardem in this flick -- and looking at Bardem, it is hard to blame her.

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Let Me In

Jenkins nabbed another award for his character work, this time from horror movie magazine Fangoria in the category of "Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actor" for his portrayal of "The Father" in Matt Reeves' "Let Me In." Here is Jenkins pictured along with his younger costars, taking questions on his spooky work.

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Cabin in the Woods

Jenkins' career is notable is for the variety of genres within which he has excelled. Here, Jenkins pokes fun at the horror genre itself, playing a shadowy figure who manipulates the scares at an archetypal horror movie cabin, where no one knows what is real and what's pretend. In "Cabin in the Woods," Jenkins and Bradley Whitford play two white-collar beauracrats who test vacationing teenagers with horror movie scenarios, building up to the film's shocking conclusion.

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Jenkins' career has come full circle, as he returns to Trinity Rep, this time to direct. Buy tickets to Tony Award-winning musical "Oliver!" here. The stage show, which was adapted into a Best Picture-winning musical film in 1968, has delighted families since it premiered in London's West end in 1960. It follows Dickens' novel about a witty young waif trying to make his way on the streets of London. You can see the show at Trinity Rep from now until March 30th.


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