He founded the ‘Steppenwolf Theatre Company,’ along with Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, and Terry Kinney, in 1974. It was earlier located in the Unitarian church on Half Day Road in Deerfield. It is presently located on Halsted Street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Notable actors, playwrights, and directors, such as Ethan Hawke, Joan Allen, Glenne Headly, Gary Cole, Eric Simonson, Tina Landau, Terry Kinney, K.Todd Freeman, and Frank Galati, have displayed their skills at ‘Steppenwolf.’ Sinise, who honed his skills both as an actor and director at the theater, won a ‘Joseph Jefferson Award’ for directing the play ‘Orphans’ by Lyle Kessler.
He appeared as an uncredited extra in the 1978 American comedy film ‘A Wedding.’ He then appeared in a single episode of the soap opera ‘Knots Landing’ (1980).
Sinise started getting attention after ‘Steppenwolf’ produced Sam Shepard’s play ‘True West’ in 1982. Sinise directed the play, apart from playing one of the lead roles alongside John Malkovich. His theatrical pursuits earned him an ‘Obie Award’ for direction, in 1983. Sinise and Malkovich also appeared in the TV movie based on the play, featured in the ‘PBS’ anthology series ‘American Playhouse’ in January 1984.
Sinise then directed the film ‘Miles from Home,’ which released on September 12, 1988. The film, starring Richard Gere and Kevin Anderson, was featured at the ‘Cannes Film Festival’ that year.
He then starred as ‘George Milton’ in the period drama ‘Of Mice and Men,’ which released on October 2, 1992. The film was also produced and directed by him. The critically acclaimed film was part of the ‘Cannes Film Festival’ that year, marking Sinise’s second entry into ‘Cannes.’ It also earned him a nomination for the ‘Palme d'Or’ award.
He starred as ‘Lieutenant Dan Taylor’ in the romantic drama ‘Forrest Gump,’ which released on July 6, 1994, all over the US. The film that had actor Tom Hanks playing the titular role marked the first of the three collaborations of Sinise with Hanks. The film garnered critical acclaim and grossed $677.9 million at the box office, emerging as that year’s top grosser in North America.
‘Forrest Gump’ earned several awards, including six ‘Academy Awards’ and three ‘Golden Globe Awards.’ The critical and commercial success of the film catapulted Sinise’s career to new heights, apart from earning him an ‘Academy Award’ nomination. The other two collaborations between Sinise and Hanks included the 1995 space docu-drama ‘Apollo 13’ and the 1999 fantasy crime-drama ‘The Green Mile,’ both of which became critical and commercial hits.
One of the most remarkable TV portrayals of his career was the role of ‘Harry S Truman’ in the award-winning TV movie ‘Truman.’ The movie was originally released on ‘HBO’ on September 9, 1995. It won him a ‘Golden Globe Award,’ a ‘Screen Actors Guild’ award, and a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ nomination.
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He furthered his fame by playing the titular role of former Governor of Alabama George C Wallace in the TV movie ‘George Wallace,’ which released on ‘TNT’ on August 24, 1997. The critically acclaimed TV movie fetched Sinise a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ among other awards.
He landed up with his first regular TV series when he bagged the role of ‘Detective Mac Taylor’ in the police-procedural series ‘CSI: NY.’ He featured in all nine seasons of the series. The series premiered on ‘CBS’ on September 22, 2004, and ran till February 22, 2013, for a total of 197 episodes.
Since the second season of ‘CSI: NY,’ Gary was also credited as its producer. His musical skills were also evident from many of the episodes of the series, including an episode from the second season that saw him playing with members of his band, the ‘Lt. Dan Band.’
He also produced and starred in the police-procedural TV series ‘Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,’ which aired on ‘CBS’ for two seasons, from March 16, 2016, to May 17, 2017. He earned a “star” on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame,’ on April 17, 2017, for his work in the TV industry. On October 30 that year, he was chosen as the ‘Grand Marshal’ of the ‘Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade’ that was held on January 1, 2018.
Over the years, he has performed in several notable films. These include the 1996 American crime thriller ‘Ransom,’ the 1998 American conspiracy thriller ‘Snake Eyes,’ the 2000 science-fiction adventure ‘Mission to Mars,’ and the 2000 crime thriller ‘Reindeer Games’ among others.
He has also forayed into voice acting, with films such as ‘Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D’ (2005), ‘Open Season’ (2006), ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014), and ‘Beyond Glory’ (2016).
He endorses ‘Baume & Mercier’ watches and also hosts the thrill-ride video ‘Mission: SPACE’ at ‘Epcot,’ the theme park at ‘Walt Disney World,’ Orlando, Florida.
In 2003, he co-founded the cover band ‘Lt. Dan Band’ with Kimo Williams. The band, named after ‘Lieutenant Dan Taylor,’ his character from the film ‘Forrest Gump,’ performs at ‘USO’ shows, entertains troops visiting military bases in the US and abroad, and makes efforts in raising funds for disabled veterans. It also performs for other non-profit organizations, such as ‘Operation Iraqi Children,’ a charitable program co-created by Sinise in March 2004 to send school supplies to Iraqi children.
He was the narrator of the 2008 ‘Discovery Channel HD’ documentary miniseries ‘When We Left Earth.’ Later that year, he narrated for ‘US Army’ recruitment ads. He also acts as the national spokesperson for the ‘American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.’
His humanitarian pursuits have earned him several awards and recognitions, including the ‘Presidential Citizens Medal’ awarded by George W Bush in 2008.
He was made an honorary ‘US Navy Chief Petty Officer’ in August 2012, in recognition of his efforts in aiding war veterans. He was also named an honorary ‘Marine’ by the ‘Commandant of the Marine Corps’ on August 29, 2013, and an honorary ‘Battalion Chief’ of the ‘Fire Department of the City of New York’ (FDNY) on March 23, 2016.
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to actor Moira Harris since 1981. The couple has three children, Sophie, McCanna Anthony, and Ella, born in 1988, 1990, and 1992, respectively.
‘Amherst College’ bestowed him with an honorary ‘Doctorate of Humane Letters,’ in 2003.
He is a staunch supporter of the ‘Republican Party.’ He, however, refrained from voting or backing Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election and also censured Trump after he insulted John McCain and questioned McCain's bravery.