Childhood & Early Life
James Wolk was born on March 22, 1985, in Farmington Hills, Michigan, to an art teacher mother, Edie, and a Jewish father, Robert Wolk, who continues to run a local shoe store named ‘Sundance Shoes’ along with Wolk’s sister. Wolk helped run the store between the ages of 10 and 13, and it was there that he gathered the qualities of poise and earnestness, while pleasantly helping middle-aged women make the right choice of footwear.
Wolk’s interest in performing arts was evident at an early age. Hence, upon graduating from ‘North Farmington High School’ in 2003, Wolk chose to attend the ‘University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.’ While still in university, Wolk temporarily moved to New York to intern at a theater during one of the summer breaks. He would wait tables at restaurants to sustain himself.
During his teens and into his early twenties, Wolk had an unusual occupation. He worked as an emcee (colloquially known as a party starter) at bar and bat mitzvahs (the coming-of-age ceremonies for young Jewish girls and boys). He started as a teenage party dancer recruited by a Detroit company but quickly rose through the ranks to become an emcee within a year, against the usual trend. He continued entertaining at these parties even after moving to New York, flying to Michigan during the weekends and attending acting classes and auditions in New York during the week.
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In 2008, within a year of graduating from ‘Michigan University,’ Wolk broke into the world of TV, as ‘Brad Cohen,’ a teacher struggling with the challenges of Tourette syndrome while excelling in his profession, in the ‘Hallmark Hall of Fame’ telefilm ‘Front of the Class.’ The following year, Wolk played the role of ‘Officer Charlie Hudson’ in the ‘ABC’ pilot ‘Solving Charlie.’
Wolk started the next decade with a slew of failed shows, beginning with the ‘Fox’ drama series ‘Lone Star,’ which featured him in the role of a con man named ‘Robert Allen.’ The show got canceled after two excellent episodes in 2010.
Following this, he was seen in ‘USA Network’s comedy–drama miniseries ‘Political Animals,’ which was speculated to be developed into a whole season after premiering on July 15, 2012. However, the network announced its decision to not expand the show, after its completion on August 19, 2012.
His next project was the most promising and probably the most disheartening of all his works, the ‘CBS’ comedy series ‘The Crazy Ones,’ starring legendary actor Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. The 2013 series was canceled by ‘CBS’ after the first season, making it the late Robin Williams’s last TV show before his sudden demise on August 11, 2014.
While it seemed that Wolk had hit a stroke of bad luck in his career, it was not all that bad. He made a few episodic appearances on primetime shows such as ‘Shameless’ (2012) and ‘Happy Endings’ (2012), before earning one of the most notable and talked-about roles of his career so far, the mysterious new hire in the accounts department of ‘Sterling Cooper & Partners,’ ‘Bob Benson,’ in the critically acclaimed series ‘Mad Men,’ in 2013. Wolk’s character remained at the center of intrigue and conspiracy theories throughout the sixth season, only to reveal no prior connections to the storyline, in the end.
After the success of ‘Bob Benson,’ Wolk earned his first lead role, in the TV drama series ‘Zoo’ (2015–2017), portraying ‘Jackson Oz,’ a zoologist working in close proximity with wild animals in Vancouver.
Wolk started his movie career in 2006, with ‘The Spiral Projects’ and a few shorts such as ‘Forgotten Land’ (2008) and ‘8 Easy Steps’ (2009). His first big-budget film was the 2010 comedy ‘You Again,’ starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell. After the success of ‘Mad Men,’ Wolk was cast in Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s period drama ‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ (2015), followed by Ryan Jaffe’s indie film ‘This is Happening.’ The latter featured him in the lead role of ‘Phillip,’ alongside ‘Academy Award’-winning veteran actor Cloris Leachman.
He has appeared in the ‘Showtime’ drama ‘Billions’ (2017), starring Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. He has also been part of the ‘Amazon Studios’ legal drama web-series ‘Goliath’ (2018). Wolk continues to star in the psychological web-thriller ‘Tell Me a Story’ (2018–2019). The series has been renewed for a second season.
Personal & Family Life
James Wolk married his girlfriend, Elizabeth Jae Lynch, in a ceremony held in June 2015, at ‘Crossroad Estate,’ in Los Olivos, California. Lynch is a school teacher in Santa Monica, where the couple lives with their 2-year-old son, Charlie.
Wolk has a Rottweiler-Shepherd mix dog named Flea, who has been Wolk’s companion for almost 10 years now and was an important part at his wedding.
After making his TV debut as ‘Brad Cohen,’ a teacher struggling with Tourette syndrome, Wolk joined the board of directors of the ‘Brad Cohen Tourette Foundation.’
Wolk worked in a number of theater productions during his university days, namely, ‘The Laramie Project,’ ‘You Can't Take It with You,’ ‘Arthur Miller Celebration,’ and ‘In Arabia We'd All Be Kings.’
In 2014, Wolk signed with the prestigious talent and literary agency ‘ICM Partners.’