MOTW: The Many Movies of Tim Robbins

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Two imprisoned men, Andy Dufresne and his friend "Red", bond over years in the prison of Shawshank. The two find solace in a life where only acts of decency and respect can redeem the men within the walls of Shawshank. The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award in 1994.
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures
February 22nd, 2013

MOTW: The Many Movies of Tim Robbins

Although he is perhaps best known for his role in "Bull Durham," Tim Robbins has cultivated a long career based on work that is often characterized as character driven. After beginning his career as a stage actor in New York, Robbins landed what proved to be his breakout role in Hollywood in the 1988 film in "Bull Durham." The film was actually not that much of a stretch for Robbins, who had been a fan of baseball for a number of years. Portraying the character of Nuke, a minor-league ball player who is being coached toward making the majors by a veteran player while simultaneously being wooed by a groupie, Robbins managed to pull off the role with aplomb. Beyond his acting ability, the film also allowed Robbins to demonstrate his exceptional pitching abilities with a rapid-fire fastball. Initially, the film was released with low expectations due to its low budget. However, it quickly became apparent that the combination of Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Kevin Costner was a recipe for success. "Bull Durham" went on to become an iconic sports film and quickly launched Robbins into the stratosphere of the Hollywood elite.

While "Bull Durham" was wildly successful, Robbins seemed intent on proving that his contribution to the film was anything but a one-off. Within five years, Robbins had managed to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with when he not only wrote but also directed the satirical film "Bob Roberts." He was later nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on the film.

That film was quickly followed up with "The Player," a movie in which Robbins starred as a film executive who is completely without morals. His performance earned him not only critical acclaim but also the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival that year. The following year, he once again teamed up with the director of "The Player," Robert Altman, for a film titled "Short Cuts," which was based on the writing of Raymond Carver. Robbins was largely responsible for the movie's humor, as he portrayed a police officer in Los Angeles with a penchant for manipulative and inappropriate behavior.

In 1994, Robbins continued to prove that he had what it took to bring audiences to the theater when he appeared in "The Shawshank Redemption" with Morgan Freeman. Based on a short story by Stephen King, the film received critical acclaim.

Throughout the next few years, Robbins was continually the star of choice for films such as "Human Nature," Arlington Road," and Mystic River." It was "Mystic River" that would finally land Robbins a much-coveted Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also received a SAG award for his portrayal of an adult who is coping with the trauma of having been molested as a child.

While Robbins was clearly continuing to hone his incredible acting talents, he was also working on cultivating his directorial skills. He even directed his romantic partner, Susan Sarandon, to an Academy Award in "Dead Man Walking," a death penalty drama that also starred Sean Penn and went on to receive critical acclaim. That film was later followed by "Cradle Will Rock," a musical set in the Great Depression that provides viewers with keen insight into the social and political issues of the time.

In 2005, Robbins provided a compelling performance in the remake of "War of the Worlds" as a shell-shocked survivalist. The film also starred Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. Over the course of the next few years, Robbins shifted his focus and began to concentrate more on smaller, international films, including "The Secret Life of Words," a film in which he stars as a man who is temporarily blind and is nursed back to a health by a young woman who is fighting her own demons. That film was followed by "Catch a Fire," in which Robbins portrays an apartheid torturer, a surprising departure from earlier roles. In 2008, Robbins teamed up with Rachel McAdams for "The Lucky Ones," a film that was shot on location in Illinois. Following his surprising split with Susan Sarandon in 2009, Robbins kept a somewhat low profile before emerging to appear in the made-for-television film "Cinema Verite." He was later nominated for a Golden Globe award for his role as the Loud family patriarch in that film. Since then, Robbins has also appeared as the father of Dr. Hector Hammond in the blockbuster film "The Green Lantern."