Jeffrey Donovan Biography

Jeffrey Donovan is an American actor, best known for his role in the espionage-action series ‘Burn Notice’. Read this biography to know about his birthday, childhood, achievements, family life and other fun facts.

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 11, 1968

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Age: 52 Years, 52 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Taurus

Also Known As: Jeffrey Thomas Donovan

Born in: Amesbury, Massachusetts

Famous as: Actor

Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Michelle Woods (m. 2012)

mother: Nancy Matthews

siblings: Michael and Sean

children: Claire Donovan

U.S. State: Massachusetts

More Facts

education: Tisch School Of The Arts, Amesbury High School, Bridgewater State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Jeffrey Thomas Donovan is an American actor, best known for his role in the espionage-action series ‘Burn Notice’. He began his acting career on stage and debuted on Broadway at the age of 26. A year later, he made his movie and television debuts with small roles in ‘Throwing Down’ and ‘Homicide: Life on the Street’, respectively. He worked as a supporting cast in a string of movies and TV series for several years before finally getting his first starring role in the crime drama television series ‘Touching Evil’. At 39, his portrayal of protagonist Michael Alan Westen on the spy drama show ‘Burn Notice’ made him a household name. The show ran on USA Network for seven seasons, earning him two ‘Teen Choice’ award nominations. Donovan is equally recognized for his film roles, having worked in movies like ‘Hitch, ‘Come Early Morning’, ‘Believe in Me’, ‘Changeling’, etc. Despite his success as a screen actor, he never abandoned stage and has appeared in a number of productions, ranging from classics like ‘Hamlet’ to farces like ‘Don't Dress for Dinner’.

Childhood & Early Years
  • Jeffrey Thomas Donovan was born on May 11, 1968 in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He is of Irish and American descent, but not much is known about his father. He and his two brothers, Michael and Sean, were raised by their single mother, Nancy Matthews.
  • The family lived mostly on welfare and regularly changed homes because they could not pay the bills. For Christmas, their mother would rewrap the old gifts that she had given to them earlier. Thus, from the very beginning, the brothers learned to live frugally.
  • While studying at ‘Amesbury High School’, Jeffrey Donovan was noticed by his English teacher Patricia Hoyt. Earlier, Shakespeare seemed almost like a foreign language to him. But Hoyt not only translated the passages, but also made him dig deeper. Slowly, he began to understand that life had many layers.
  • Under Hoyt’s guidance, he began to discover the world of literature. She helped him set up a drama club and earn a scholarship that allowed him to attend a summer program, which further heightened his passion for drama.
  • After graduating from school, Donovan enrolled in the ‘Bridgewater State College’. Later, he moved to the ‘University of Massachusetts’, Amherst, from where earned a bachelor of arts degree in drama. During this period, he took care of his finances by working as a bus driver.
  • He earned his master of fine arts degree in acting from the ‘New York University's Tisch School of the Arts’. During his college years, he started taking lessons in Shotokan karate, eventually earning a black belt. Later, he also took lessons in aikido and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
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  • Not much is known about Jeffery Donovan’s early career, but it is assumed that he began his acting journey on stage. He made his Broadway debut in ‘An Inspector Calls’ in 1994.
  • In 1995, he made his film debut, starring as Pete Gulley in ‘Throwing Down’. In the same year, he also made his television debut on the police procedural show 'Homicide: Life on the Street', before appearing in another series of the same genre called ‘Law & Order’. Thereafter, he continued to appear in small roles both in television series and films.
  • Donovan was seen in two films 'Sleepers' and ‘Critical Choices’ in 1996. They were followed by ‘Vegas Vacation’ (1997), ‘Catherine’s Grove’ (1997), ‘Witness to the Mob’(1998) , ‘When Trumpets Fade’ (1998), ‘Bait’(2000), ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’ (2002), ’Purpose’ (2002) and ‘Final Draft’(2003).
  • His television roles in the year 1997 included ‘Millennium’, ‘Another World’ and ‘The Pretender’. They were followed by ‘Spin City’ (1999), ‘The Beat’ (2000) and ‘Witchblade’ (2002).
  • In 2004, Donovan got his first starring role of Detective Inspector David Creegan in 12 episodes of the crime series ‘Touching Evil’. While he essayed a lot of interesting movie and TV roles during that period, he had to wait until 2007 to get his next substantial role. In that year, he was cast as William Ivers in five episodes of ‘Crossing Jordan’.
  • The most significant performance of his career was as Michael Alan Westen in 111 episodes of ‘Burn Notice’, between 2007 and 2013. In 2010, he made his directorial debut when he got the opportunity to direct the show’s ‘Made Man’ episode. Later, he went on to direct two more episodes; ‘Mixed Message’ and ‘Forget Me Not’.
  • In 2011, he directed and produced the prequal of his popular show ‘Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe’, making a cameo appearance in it. In the same year, he portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in Clint Eastwood’s biographical drama film ‘J. Edgar’. Earlier in 2008, he was seen in two films ‘Hindsight’ and ‘Changeling’.
  • Donovan played a recurring role in 10 episodes of ‘Fargo’ in 2015. It was followed by ‘Shut Eye’ (2016-2017), in which he appeared in the main role of Charlie Haverford in 20 episodes.
  • In recent years, he has acted in a number of films; appearing in ‘Sicario’ and ‘Extinction’ in 2015, ‘LBJ’ in 2016, ‘Shot Caller’ in 2017, ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado’ in 2018, 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' and 'Villains' in 2019. He is currently working in 'Honest Thief' and ‘Let Him Go’.
Major Works
  • Jaffrey Donovan is best known for portraying the starring role of Michael Alan Westen in ‘Burn Notice’. Starting in June 2007, the series ran for seven seasons and received positive reviews both from fans and critics. His performance as a lighthearted, smart-mouthed, vengeful-spirited former U.S. Army Ranger and current CIA contractor was highly praised.
Family & Personal Life
  • Jeffrey Donavan married his long-time girlfriend Michelle Woods on August 25, 2012. The couple has three children. Their eldest child, a daughter named Claire, was born in December 2012; while their son Lucas was born in 2014. Their youngest daughter was born in 2017.
  • Donavan is a philanthropist, who actively supports ‘Life Rolls On’, a foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with various disabilities. In 2009, he returned to ‘Amesbury High School’ to present it with a $100,000 art scholarship program.

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