kids encyclopedia robot

Aaron Eckhart facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Aaron Eckhart
Aaron Eckhart (29830286295) (cropped).jpg
Eckhart in 2016
Aaron Edward Eckhart

(1968-03-12) March 12, 1968 (age 55)
Education Brigham Young University (BFA)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1992–present

Aaron Edward Eckhart (born March 12, 1968) is an American actor. Born in Cupertino, California, Eckhart moved to the United Kingdom at an early age. He began his acting career by performing in school plays, before moving to Australia for his high school senior year. He left high school without graduating, but earned a diploma through a professional education course, and then graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, U.S., in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in film.

As an undergraduate at BYU, Eckhart met director and writer Neil LaBute, who cast Eckhart in several of LaBute's original plays. Five years later Eckhart made a debut as an unctuous, sociopathic womanizer in LaBute's black comedy film In the Company of Men (1997), followed by appearances in three more of the director's films.

Eckhart gained wide recognition as George in Erin Brockovich (2000), and, in 2006, he received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Nick Naylor in Thank You for Smoking. In 2008 he played a major role in Christopher Nolan's blockbuster Batman film The Dark Knight as District Attorney Harvey Dent / Two-Face.

In 2019 he starred in Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster Midway.

Early life

Eckhart was born on March 12, 1968 in Cupertino, California, the son of Mary Martha Lawrence, a writer, artist, and poet, and James Conrad Eckhart, a computer executive. He is the youngest of three brothers. His father is of German-Russian descent, while his mother has English, German, Scots-Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served a two-year mission in France and Switzerland. Eckhart's family relocated to the United Kingdom in 1981, following his father's job in information technology. During their time in the United Kingdom, the family moved around Surrey, England, living in towns such as Cobham, Ripley, and Walton-on-Thames. Eckhart attended American Community School, where he was first introduced to acting, starring in a school production as Charlie Brown.

In 1985, Eckhart moved to Australia and settled in Sydney, where he attended American International School of Sydney for his high school senior year; he further developed his acting skills in productions like Waiting for Godot, where he admits that he gave a "terrible" performance. In the autumn of his senior year, Eckhart left school to take a job at the Warringah Mall movie theater. He eventually earned his diploma through a professional education course. This also allowed Eckhart time to enjoy a year of surfing in Hawaii and France, as well as skiing in the Alps. In 1988, Eckhart returned to the United States and enrolled as a film major at Brigham Young University–Hawaii, but later transferred to Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. He graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He also studied acting at the William Esper Studio.


Early work

While at Brigham Young University, Eckhart appeared in the Mormon-themed film Godly Sorrow, and the role marked his professional debut. At this time he met director/writer Neil LaBute, who cast Eckhart in several of LaBute's original plays. After graduating from BYU, Eckhart moved to New York City, acquired an agent, and took various occasional jobs, including bartending, bus driving, and construction work. His first television roles were in commercials. In 1994, he appeared as an extra on the television drama series Beverly Hills, 90210. Eckhart followed this small part with roles in documentary re-enactments (Ancient Secrets of the Bible: Samson), made-for-television movies, and short-lived programs like Aliens in the Family.

In 1997, Eckhart was approached by Neil LaBute to star in a film adaptation of LaBute's stage play In the Company of Men. He played a frustrated white-collar worker who planned to woo a deaf office worker, gain her affections, then suddenly dump her. The film, his first feature to reach theaters, was critically well received, with Desson Howe of The Washington Post reporting that Eckhart is the "movie's most malignant presence" and that he "is in chilling command as a sort of satanic prince in shirtsleeves". In the Company of Men was a critical success, winning Best First Film for LaBute at the 63rd annual New York Film Critics Circle Awards. His performance won him the Independent Spirit Award in the category of Best Debut Performance. The film was ranked as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies" by Premiere magazine.

..... For the role Eckhart was required to gain weight. In 1999, he starred opposite Elisabeth Shue in Molly, a romantic comedy-drama in which he played the self-absorbed brother of an autistic woman who was cured by surgery. Eckhart also starred that year as a football coach, an offensive coordinator in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday.

Critical success

Eckhart first gained wide exposure in 2000 as George, a ponytailed, goateed biker, in Steven Soderbergh's drama Erin Brockovich. The film was met with reasonable reviews, and was a box office success, earning $256 million worldwide. His performance was well received by critics; Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman wrote that Eckhart "may be playing a bit of an ideal [...] but he makes goodness as palpable as he did yuppie evil in 'In the Company of Men'." In an August 2004 interview, Eckhart claimed that he had not worked for nearly a year before he was cast in the movie. "I felt like I sort of was getting away from what I wanted to do as an actor. [...] I had nine months off, but it wasn't a vacation. Sure, I didn't earn any money for nine months, but every day I was reading scripts, I was producing my own material, I was taking meetings, I was working on my craft."

Neverwas Toronto
Nick Nolte, Eckhart, Joshua Michael Stern, and Alan Cumming promoting Neverwas at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.

Following the release of Erin Brockovich, Eckhart co-starred with Renée Zellweger in LaBute's Nurse Betty (2000). He next appeared in Sean Penn's mystery feature The Pledge (2001), in which he played a young detective partnered with a veteran detective, played by Jack Nicholson. The movie received generally favorable reviews, but it did not fare particularly well at the box office. The following year, he collaborated with LaBute in a film adaptation of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Possession (2002). In 2003, Eckhart co-starred with Hilary Swank in The Core, a film about a geophysicist who tries to detonate a nuclear device in order to save the world from destruction. The film was critically and financially unsuccessful. Also in 2003, he appeared in The Missing, in which he played Cate Blanchett's lover, and in the action-thriller Paycheck opposite Ben Affleck. Paycheck, based on a short story by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, garnered generally negative reception. Film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars (out of four), saying that he "enjoyed the movie" but felt that it "exploits [Dick's story] for its action and plot potential, but never really develops it."

The following year, away from film, Eckhart guest starred in two episodes of NBC's comedy sitcom Frasier, where he played a boyfriend of Charlotte, Dr. Frasier Crane's love interest. ..... Upon release, the movie received broadly negative reviews. Despite the reception, Eckhart's performance was favored by critics; Newsday wrote that Eckhart was a "classically handsome leading man ... but Merhige demands of him complexity and anguish." Suspect Zero was a box office disappointment, earning $11 million worldwide. Also in 2004, Eckhart starred on the London stage, opposite Julia Stiles, in David Mamet's Oleanna at the Garrick Theatre. The drama ran until mid-2004. For this performance, Eckhart received favorable critical reviews. In 2005, returning to film, Eckhart appeared in Neverwas as a therapist who takes a job at a rundown mental hospital that once treated his father (Nick Nolte). The feature was never given a full theatrical release, eventually being released straight to DVD in 2007.

Worldwide recognition

Eckhart's next project was Thank You for Smoking, in which he played Nick Naylor, a tobacco lobbyist whose firm researched the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer. Eckhart said that he felt challenged playing the role: "You have to say these words that are crazy, and yet do it with a smile on your face and have the audience like you. At one point, I'm doing a talk show with a kid who's dying of cancer, and he's going through chemotherapy and the whole thing, and I spin it so the anti-smoking people are the bad guys and I'm the good guy, and I'm this guy's best friend. I mean, it's whacked out." The film was screened at a special presentation at the 30th annual Toronto International Film Festival in 2005. It had a limited release in March 2006 and was released worldwide the following month. For his performance, Eckhart received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. A contributor of USA Today wrote that he gave a "standout, whip-smart performance" citing that as Nick Naylor he kept him "likable even in his cynicism." In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer review of the film, it was reported that "Under his chummy but compassionless smile" Eckhart radiated charm and "Naylor's true joys: manipulating arguments, steering debate, cooking words."

In this same year, he starred with Helena Bonham Carter in Conversations with Other Women (2006). While promoting this film, Eckhart revealed that he wishes not to be typecast or repeat himself, saying he does not want to play any more villains. He appeared in the 2006 film noir The Black Dahlia—based on a real 1947 crime—as Sergeant Leland "Lee" Blanchard, a detective investigating the murder of Elizabeth Short, later dubbed the "Black Dahlia". The film premiered at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival. Reception for the movie was mixed, but many critics enjoyed Eckhart's performance; Time Out magazine praised Eckhart and co-star Hilary Swank for their performances, writing "...both [are] great in their secondary roles."

Aaron Eckhart Dark Knight
Eckhart signing autographs for fans during promotion of The Dark Knight in 2008.

..... The following year, Eckhart was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He starred in No Reservations (2007), a remake of the 2001 German romantic comedy Mostly Martha. He starred opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones as an up-and-coming hotshot chef. The film was met with mixed reviews and was unfavorably compared to the original film. Eckhart starred in the 2008 comedy Meet Bill, in which he played the eponymous character, a sad executive working at his father-in-law's bank. He gained 30 pounds and donned a fat suit for the role.

Aaron Eckhart by Gage Skidmore 3
Eckhart at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2013

Also in 2008, Eckhart portrayed the comic book character Harvey Dent in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, the sequel to the 2005 film Batman Begins. Nolan's decision to cast Eckhart was based on his portrayal of corrupt characters in the films In the Company of Men, The Black Dahlia, and Thank You For Smoking. He noted in his depiction of the character that "[he] is still true to himself. He's a crime fighter, he's not killing good people. He's not a bad guy, not purely", while admitting "I'm interested in good guys gone wrong." The Dark Knight was a big financial and critical success, setting a new opening weekend box office record for North America. With revenue of $1 billion worldwide, it became the fourth highest-grossing film of all time, and the highest-grossing film of Eckhart's career. Roger Ebert opined that Eckhart did an "especially good job" as his character in the feature, while Premiere magazine also enjoyed his performance, noting that he "makes you believe in his ill-fated ambition ... of morphing into the conniving Two-Face."

..... The film was screened under the name Nothing is Private at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. ..... The way I did it was to really trust Alan. It was in the words. I really trusted Summer [Bishil], and I tried to get her to trust me, to build a relationship when we were doing physical scenes. We'd really rehearse them mechanically, and I'd say, 'OK, I'm going to put my hand here, I'm going to do this.' ... I think I found it more difficult." Towelhead was critically and financially unsuccessful.

He next co-starred with Jennifer Aniston in the romantic drama Love Happens, released in September 2009, as a motivational speaker coming to terms with his own grief. The movie received ambivalent reviews, with a contributor of the Orlando Sentinel reporting that Eckhart plays "broken" for the whole movie. The following year he starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole (2010), an adaption of David Lindsay-Abaire's 2005 drama of the same name. The feature premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2011, Eckhart starred in Jonathan Liebesman's science fiction film Battle: Los Angeles, in which he portrayed a combat veteran Marine platoon sergeant. The film was set in modern-day Los Angeles during a global alien invasion, and followed a platoon of U.S. Marines who are joined by an Air Force special operations sergeant and some Army infantry soldiers in combat operations against the alien enemy. He appeared alongside Johnny Depp, Richard Jenkins, and Amber Heard in Hunter S. Thompson's novel adaptation The Rum Diary, directed by Bruce Robinson. In the film, Eckhart played Sanderson, a wealthy landowner, who believes everything has a price and introduces Paul Kemp (Depp) to a different standard of living. He starred as a U.S. President who is taken hostage, in the 2013 action thriller Olympus Has Fallen, opposite Gerard Butler, and reprised the role in its 2016 sequel London Has Fallen.

In 2019 he starred in Roland Emmerich’s blockbuster movie Midway, which also starred Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson.

Personal life

Eckhart met actress Emily Cline during the filming of In the Company of Men and they became engaged, but they separated in 1998. He has always been reluctant to speak about his relationships in interviews. Eckhart dated songwriter and member of SHeDAISY, Kristyn Osborn, from 2006 to 2007. He appeared in the group's video for their song "I'm Taking the Wheel".

Eckhart has noted that hypnosis helped him to quit drinking, smoking, and partying, and that he undertakes amateur photography in his spare time.



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Slaughter of the Innocents Ken Reynolds
1997 In the Company of Men Chad Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance
Satellite Award for Outstanding New Talent
1998 Your Friends & Neighbors Barry
Thursday Nick
1999 Molly Buck McKay
Any Given Sunday Nick Crozier
2000 Erin Brockovich George
Nurse Betty Del Sizemore
Tumble "Man"
2001 The Pledge Stan Krolak
2002 Possession Roland Michell
2003 The Core Dr. Joshua "Josh" Keyes
The Missing Brake Baldwin
Paycheck James Rethrick
2004 Suspect Zero Thomas Mackelway
2005 Neverwas Zach Riley Also co-producer
Thank You for Smoking Nick Naylor Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Conversations with Other Women Man
2006 The Wicker Man Truck Stop Patron
The Black Dahlia Sgt. Lee Blanchard
2007 No Reservations Nick Palmer
Towelhead Mr. Vuoso
Meet Bill Bill Anderson Also executive producer
2008 The Dark Knight Harvey Dent / Two-Face Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble
People's Choice Award for Favorite Cast
Nominated – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Scream Award for Best Villain
2009 Love Happens Dr. Burke Ryan
2010 Rabbit Hole Howie Corbett Nominated – Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
To Be Friends N/A Producer
2011 Battle: Los Angeles SSGT Michael Nantz
The Rum Diary Hal Sanderson
2012 Erased Ben Logan Also known as The Expatriate
2013 Olympus Has Fallen President Benjamin Asher
2014 I, Frankenstein The Monster / Adam Frankenstein
2015 My All American Darrell Royal
2016 London Has Fallen President Benjamin Asher
Sully First Officer Jeff Skiles
Bleed for This Kevin Rooney
Incarnate Dr. Seth Ember
2019 Midway Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle
Line of Duty Frank Penny
2020 Wander Arthur Bretnik
TBA Afterward Post-production
TBA Rumble Through The Dark Jack Boucher Post-production
TBA The Bricklayer TBA Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Double Jeopardy Dwayne Television film
1993 History's Greatest Miracles Samson Television Special
1996 Aliens in the Family Episode: "Meet the Brodys"
2004 Frasier Frank 2 episodes
2018 The Romanoffs Greg Episode: "The Violet Hour"
2022 The First Lady President Gerald Ford 2 episodes
Pantheon Cary Voice role

See also

kids search engine
Aaron Eckhart Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.