Stephen Lang is an American actor and playwright recognized for appearing as Lou in the Broadway "The Speed of Darkness" and Colonel Jessep in the Broadway production of "A Few Good Men". His Off-Broadway credits include Anne Nelson's "The Guys", John Patrick Shanley's "Defiance", and his own play, "Beyond Glory", for which he earned numerous awards. Lang has also had a successful career on the big screen and garnered much acclaim for his performance in James Cameron's ‘Avatar.’ Born to Eugene Lang, a renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, and his wife Theresa, Stephen Lang was raised to be independent and ambitious. He graduated from Swarthmore College before venturing into an acting career. He began working as a stage actor and made quite a few appearances in popular stage productions before bagging his first film role. As a theater actor, he is the recipient of several prestigious awards like the Drama Desk award and Helen Hayes award. In his film career too, he was able to replicate his success and went on to gain fame as a poignant character actor. He has also been active on television and has made numerous guest appearances in television dramas and has played some main and recurring roles as well.
Childhood & Early Life
Stephen Lang was born on July 11, 1952 in New York City as the youngest child of entrepreneur and philanthropist, Eugene Lang, and his wife Theresa. He grew up with his two siblings, David, who later became a business executive, and Jane, who grew up to be a well-known attorney and activist.
His father made millions in technology development and donated much of his estate to charity through his acclaimed "I Have a Dream" foundation. He wanted his children to become self-sufficient, so he did not leave them a fortune. Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts in Manhattan is named after Lang’s father.
Lang initially studied at an elementary school in Jamaica Estates, Queens. He then attended George Ryan Junior High School. For high school, he went to the boarding school George School and graduated from there in 1969. He then went on to earn a degree in English literature from Swarthmore College in the year 1973.
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Stephan Lang first appeared as Harold Loman in the 1984 Broadway revival of the play ‘Death of a Salesman’. Two years later, year, he did the film ‘Manhunter.’ From 1986 to 1988, he played the role of attorney David Abrams in the TV series ‘Crime Story’. Soon after this, he played the titular character in NBC’s ‘Babe Ruth’.
In 1992, Lang acted in the play ‘The Speed of Darkness’ for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. He then appeared in the Broadway production of ‘A Few Good Men’.
He was cast in the movies ‘Gettysburg’ and ‘Western Tombstone’ in 1993. From the mid to the late 1990s, the actor did a number of films including ‘Tall Tale’, ‘The Amazing Panda Adventure’, ‘Loose Women’, ‘An Occasional Hell’, ‘Fire Down Below’ and ‘The Story of a Bad Boy’.
He appeared in five episodes of the TV series ‘The Fugitive’ in 2000-01. In 2003, he appeared in the prequel to ‘Gettysburg,’ titled ‘Gods and Generals’. Two years later, after Arthur Miller's death, Lang appeared in the late playwright’s last play ‘Finishing the Picture’. Soon after this, he acted in the play ‘Beyond Glory’.
In 2006, he played Colonel Littlefield in John Shanley's play ‘Defiance.’. A year later, he had a role in three episodes of the miniseries ‘The Bronx Is Burning’.
The American actor appeared as FBI Agent Charles Winstead in Michael Mann's flick ‘Public Enemies’ in 2009. The same year, he narrated ‘Road Rage,’ the audiobook which combines the short stories "Throttle" by Joe Hill and Stephen King and "Duel" by Richard Matheson.
Stephen Lang narrated "The Gettysburg Story: Battlefield Auto Tour” (2010) which went on to become the top-selling audio tour of Gettysburg Battlefield at the Gettysburg National Military Park.
In 2011, Lang did the “sword and sorcery” flick ‘Conan the Barbarian’. That year, he also played a lead role in the TV series ‘Terra Nova’. He next got featured in three episodes of ‘In Plain Sight’. In 2013, the actor played a role in Chiller TV’s horror film ‘The Monkey's Paw’.
From 2014 to 2015, he played Increase Mather in WGN America's series ‘Salem’. Since 2015, Lang has been a part of the cast of the drama series ‘Into the Badlands’.
He played ‘The Blind Man’ in Fede Alvarez's horror-thriller movie ‘Don't Breathe’ in 2016. A year later, it was revealed that he has been cast in the movie ‘Mortal Engines’ (currently in the post-production stage). In 2018, Lang starred in a supporting role in the action thriller flick ‘Braven’.
In 2009, Stephen Lang played the major role of villain Colonel Quaritch in the sci-fi epic ‘Avatar’. In this film, which was written, directed, and produced by James Cameron, Lang starred with Sam Worthington, Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver.
During its theatrical run, the movie ‘Avatar’ broke numerous box office records and became the highest-grossing flick ever, surpassing Cameron's ‘Titanic,’ which had held the same record for twelve years. Lang’s performance in the film won him the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor along with various nominations for other prestigious awards.
Stephan Lang has been married to Kristina Watson since June 1, 1980. Watson works as a teacher and costume designer. The couple has four children, including son Noah, who is a producer. Lang has worked with Noah on the movies ‘Sun Belt Express’ and ‘The Monkey's Paw.’
On May 30, 2010, Swarthmore College awarded Lang an honorary degree for his contribution to theatre, film, and television. The actor’s son Noah got his bachelor's degree in the same ceremony.
In 2015, he became a jury member for the Woodstock Film Festival.
This actor was considered first for the role of Rex Van De Kamp in the popular series Desperate Housewives. The role later went to Steven Culp.