David Lawrence Schwimmer is an American actor, comedian, director and producer. He gained worldwide recognition for portraying Ross Geller in the sitcom Friends, for which he received a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1995.
While still acting in Friends, his first leading film role was in The Pallbearer (1996), followed by roles in Kissing a Fool, Six Days, Seven Nights, Apt Pupil (all 1998), and Picking Up the Pieces (2000). He was then cast in the miniseries Band of Brothers (2001) as Herbert Sobel.
Schwimmer began his acting career performing in school plays at Beverly Hills High School. In 1988, he graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater and speech. After graduation, Schwimmer co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company. For much of the late 1980s, he lived in Los Angeles as a struggling, unemployed actor, until he starred in the television movie A Deadly Silence in 1989 and appeared in a number of television roles in the early 1990s, including L.A. Law, The Wonder Years, NYPD Blue, and Monty.
After the series finale of Friends in 2004, Schwimmer branched out into film and stage work. He was cast as the title character in the 2005 drama film Duane Hopwood, and voiced Melman the Giraffe in the computer-animated Madagascar film franchise, acted in the dark comedy Big Nothing (2006), and the thriller Nothing but the Truth (2008). Schwimmer made his West End stage debut in the leading role in 2005’s Some Girl(s). He made his Broadway debut in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial in 2006. His feature film directorial debut followed in 2007 with the comedy Run Fatboy Run, and the following year he made his Off-Broadway directorial debut in Fault Lines.
In 2016, he starred as lawyer Robert Kardashian in The People v. O. J. Simpson, for which he received his second Primetime Emmy Award nomination, this time for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.
- Birth Name: David Lawrence Schwimmer
- Nickname: Schwim
- Born: November 2, 1966
- Birth Place: New York, New York, United States
- Height: 6′ 1″ (1.85 m)
- Spouse: Zoe Buckman (m. 2010–2017)
- Children: Cleo Buckman Schwimmer
- Grandparent: Bertram Schwimmer
- Organization founded: Lookingglass Theatre Company
Schwimmer was born in Flushing, Queens, New York City, to attorneys Arthur (born 1941) and Arlene Coleman-Schwimmer (born 1940). His family is Jewish. He has an older sister named Ellie (born 1965). His family subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where Schwimmer, at 10, had his first acting experience when he was cast as the fairy godmother in a Jewish version of Cinderella. In 1979, Schwimmer went to a Shakespeare workshop given by English actor Sir Ian McKellen in Los Angeles. He recalls being riveted by the experience. Schwimmer then entered a contest in the Southern California Shakespeare Festival three years in a row, winning two first prizes.
Following his mother’s successful career as a divorce lawyer, the family moved to Beverly Hills, where Schwimmer attended Beverly Hills High School. His classmates included actor Jonathan Silverman. Schwimmer admitted to being an outsider during his time at the school, recalling, “When I was there I always felt: ‘This is not me, I’m surrounded by people with a different value system. And I just wanted to get out of California.'” His best subjects were science and math and he thought he would become a doctor. Schwimmer enrolled in a drama class, where he appeared in stage productions. Encouraged by his school drama teacher to further his acting, he flew to Chicago for a summer acting program at Northwestern University. He noted that the experience was both “enlightening and exhilarating”. In 1984, Schwimmer graduated from Beverly Hills High and wanted to go straight into acting, but his parents insisted he go to college first so he would have something to fall back on. Schwimmer enrolled in Northwestern University, where he had attended the summer acting program earlier. At the university, he studied theater and was in an improv group with Stephen Colbert, the No-Fun Mud Piranhas. After graduating in 1988, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and speech, Schwimmer co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company. Subsequently, he returned to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
- Born on his mother’s birthday.
- Graduated from Northwestern University. His classmate was his friend, Roger Kumble.
- Along with best friend & fellow actor David Catlin, he helped found the Looking Glass Theater Company, based in Chicago, Illinois.
- Before Friends (1994) Schwimmer competed against high-school friend Jonathan Silverman and actor Jon Cryer for a role in the TV pilot Couples (1994). Silverman won the role opposite Helen Slater, but ABC passed on the show. The producers later reconceived the show for singles and sold it to NBC as Friends (1994) in which Schwimmer was the first actor to be cast.
- Called up a London talk show to deny false claims that cast members of Friends (1994) were demanding $1,000,000 each per episode. [April 2000]
- Has worked extensively on the stage both as actor and director.
- Is on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation for the Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica.
- Split up from Mili Avital in November 2001.
- Member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity.
- January 2003 – Premiered his play “Turnaround” at the 99-seat West Hollywood Coast theater. All of his “Friends” were in attendance.
- He graduated Beverly Hills High School in 1984 and performed in stage productions there under the direction of John Ingle.
- Went to Beverly Hills High School, the same high school as Logan Lerman, Angelina Jolie, Michael Klesic, Nicolas Cage, Lenny Kravitz, Jonathan Silverman, Gina Gershon, Rhonda Fleming, Jackie Cooper, Rob Reiner, Antonio Sabato Jr., Pauly Shore, Michael Tolkin, Betty White, Corbin Bernsen, Elizabeth Daily, Albert Brooks and Crispin Glover.
- Both his parents, Arlene Coleman-Schwimmer and Arthur Schwimmer, had small parts in Since You’ve Been Gone (1998), which he directed.
- David once said in an interview, he would like to become a public school teacher after Friends (1994) ended.
- Has an older sister, Ellie Schwimmer.
- Playing “Michael” in The Wonder Years (1988), he rides a 500cc Triumph Daytona motorcycle. The same motorcycle, also seen in other episodes, is also seen mounted on the back of his character’s Volkswagen van.
- Had to miss Lisa Kudrow’s wedding in Los Angeles due to filming The Pallbearer (1996) in New York.
Turned down Will Smith’s role in Men in Black (1997).
- Allergic to cats.
- He was awarded the 1991 Joseph Jefferson Award Citation for Director – Play for directing a stage adaptation of “The Jungle” at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois.
- Joy Gregory and he were nominated for a 2003 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Adaptation for “Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About” at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
- Became good friends with John Krasinski during the filming of Duane Hopwood (2005). Schwimmer attended Krasinski’s July 2010 marriage to Emily Blunt.
- With Andy Bellin, nominated for a 2010 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work – Play for “Trust” at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
- Became a 1st time father at age 44 when his wife Zoe Buckman gave birth to their daughter Cleo Buckman Schwimmer on May 8, 2011.
- He was voted one of Playgirl Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive at No. 15.
- Starring in a London West End play, Neil LaBute’s “Some Girl(s)” at the Gielgud Theatre with Saffron Burrows. [April 2005]
- In the 1980s he attended Chicago’s Northwestern University’s theater & speech class with Stephen Colbert.
- He went to school with actor Harry Lennix.
- Brother-in-law of Sandro Carotti and Peter Buckman.
- Grandson of Bertram Schwimmer (1910-2000), Beatrice P. Schwimmer (Osgood) (1907-2004), Max S.
- Colman (1916-1975) and Syd Colman (Sherman) (1916-1988).
- Was considered for the role of Neo in The Matrix (1999) before Keanu Reeves was cast.