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Patty Elder

Patty Elder

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An amiable, engaging performer of stage, film and TV, Ron Eldard received critical acclaim in his feature debut opposite Annabella Sciorra as the immature bridegroom in "True Love" (1989), Nancy Savoca's low-budget, slice-of-life sleeper about an Italian wedding in the Bronx. (His Off-Broadway debut had come in an almost identical role as Tony in "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding.") The attention, however, spooked him, and he passed on the first round of film offers coming his way, electing instead to remain in Queens and concentrate on theater while deciding what he wanted from life. After starring as Servy in the 1991 Off-Broadway production of "Servy-n-Bernice 4Ever," the former Golden Gloves contender decided to stick his toe in TV waters, and his rugged athletic looks and ability gave him credibility as a former baseball player who resorts to crime to support his family in the 1992 ABC movie "Jumpin' Joe." Eldard went on to play policemen in two short-lived sitcoms: in ABC's "Arresting Behavior" (1992), he was cast as the precinct playboy teamed with a veteran while in Fox's clever and classy "Bakersfield, P.D." (1993), he was a detective whose entire knowledge of policing came from TV. Never turning his...

An amiable, engaging performer of stage, film and TV, Ron Eldard received critical acclaim in his feature debut opposite Annabella Sciorra as the immature bridegroom in "True Love" (1989), Nancy Savoca's low-budget, slice-of-life sleeper about an Italian wedding in the Bronx. (His Off-Broadway debut had come in an almost identical role as Tony in "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding.") The attention, however, spooked him, and he passed on the first round of film offers coming his way, electing instead to remain in Queens and concentrate on theater while deciding what he wanted from life. After starring as Servy in the 1991 Off-Broadway production of "Servy-n-Bernice 4Ever," the former Golden Gloves contender decided to stick his toe in TV waters, and his rugged athletic looks and ability gave him credibility as a former baseball player who resorts to crime to support his family in the 1992 ABC movie "Jumpin' Joe." Eldard went on to play policemen in two short-lived sitcoms: in ABC's "Arresting Behavior" (1992), he was cast as the precinct playboy teamed with a veteran while in Fox's clever and classy "Bakersfield, P.D." (1993), he was a detective whose entire knowledge of policing came from TV.

Never turning his back on the theater, Eldard acted in two 1993 Off-Broadway productions, "Aven'U Boys" and "The Years," performed his one-man show "Standing Eight Count" for the Naked Angels Repertory and finally made it to Broadway as Terry Malloy (the role which earned Marlon Brando an Oscar) in the unsuccessful 1995 stage adaptation of Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront." (Eldard's first Broadway experience had turned sour when playwright Neil Simon fired him on the spot after watching him work during an understudy run-through of "Biloxi Blues" in 1986.) During the 1995-96 TV season, the actor increased his exposure significantly with his art-imitating-life recurring role as Shep, a paramedic who romanced Nurse Hathaway (played by Eldard's off-camera girlfriend Julianna Margulies) on the hit NBC medical drama "ER." When producers offered him a regular part on the series, however, he declined, believing there wasn't much more he could do with the character. Instead, he returned to the world of sitcoms in 1996 co-starring as Rob Schneider's beer-swigging roomie in NBC aptly-titled "Men Behaving Badly," but exited at the start of the show's second season in 1997 reportedly because he was unhappy that the scripts lacked the edge of the similarly named British series which had inspired it.

Despite his dimpled smile and playful, choirboy looks, Eldard has enjoyed a diverse career, often playing against type. 1996 saw him portray an abusive stepfather in Anjelica Huston's powerful film version of "Bastard Out of Carolina" (Showtime), a cold-hearted, drug-dealing killer traumatized by a childhood incident in Barry Levinson's "Sleepers" and a murderous grad student in the little-seen black comedy "The Last Supper." As he told US in April 1997: "I can play really terrible human beings, and I seem to have a quality that people can, if not necessarily forgive me those sins, at least cut me some slack." The actor reunited with frequent "ER" director Mimi Leder on "Deep Impact" before turning in a hauntingly effective performance as a World War II soldier receiving battlefield promotions in HBO's "When Trumpets Fade" and stepping into the shoes of yet another murderer for "Delivered" (all 1998). Back on the NYC boards in 1999, he was sensational as a cocky guy's guy in Neil LaBute's "bash," smoothly recalling the terrible lengths to which he stooped to retain his middle management position in a tour de force 25-minute monologue. He then succeeded Kevin Anderson as Biff in the award-winning Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman." Eldard rounded out that year as a believable hockey player on screen, despite having to take a crash course in skating, in "Mystery Alaska," scripted by TV phenom David E. Kelley.

Eldard was among the impressive, mostly masculine cast of young actors "Black Hawk Down" (2001) director Ridley Scott's harrowing account of the Army Rangers disastrous 1993 incursion into war-torn Somalia. He next joined off-screen love Margulies in the cast of the spooky-soggy thriller "Ghost Ship" (2002), playing part of a salvage team that discovers a mysterious ocean liner. Eldard was better served by his next film "House of Sand and Fog" (2003), in which he plays a county police officer who falls for Jennifer Connelly and, by making a series of disastrous decisions, sets in motion the tragic end to her battle of wills with Ben Kinglsey over ownership of her family home.

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