Tracy Letts – Playwright
Tracy S. Letts (born July 4, 1965) is an American actor, playwright and screenwriter. He received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County and a Tony Award for his portrayal of George in the revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2013).
He is also known for his portrayal of Andrew Lockhart in seasons 3 and 4 of Showtime’s Homeland, for which he has been nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards as a member of the ensemble. He currently portrays Nick on the HBO comedy Divorce. In 2017, Letts starred in three critically acclaimed films: The Lovers, Lady Bird and The Post. The latter two films were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture; Lady Bird garnered Letts a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture nomination.
Letts wrote the screenplays of three films adapted from his own plays: Bug and Killer Joe, both directed by William Friedkin, and August: Osage County, directed by John Wells. His 2009 play Superior Donuts was adapted into a television series of the same name. His first screenplay not to be adapted from his own work, The Woman in the Window, based on the eponymous novel by A. J. Finn is scheduled to be released in 2020.
Letts was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to author Billie Letts (née Gipson) and college professor and actor Dennis Letts. He has two brothers, Shawn, a musician, and Dana. Letts was raised in Durant, Oklahoma and graduated from Durant High School in the early 1980s. He moved to Dallas, where he waited tables and worked in telemarketing while starting out as an actor. He appeared in Jerry Flemmons’ O Dammit!, which was part of a new playwrights’ series sponsored by Southern Methodist University.
Letts moved to Chicago at the age of 20, and worked for the next 11 years at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Famous Door. He is still an active member of Steppenwolf. He was a founding member of Bang Bang Spontaneous Theatre, whose members included Greg Kotis (Tony Award-winner for Urinetown), Michael Shannon (Academy Award-nominee for Revolutionary Road), Paul Dillon, and Amy Pietz. In 1991, Letts wrote the play Killer Joe. Two years later, the play premiered at the Next Lab Theater in Evanston, Illinois, followed by the 29th Street Rep in NYC. Since then, Killer Joe has been performed in at least 15 countries in 12 languages.
His mother Billie Letts has said of his work, “I try to be upbeat and funny. Everybody in Tracy’s stories gets naked or dead.” Letts’ plays have been about people struggling with moral and spiritual questions. He says he was inspired by the plays of Tennessee Williams and the novels of William Faulkner and Jim Thompson. Letts considers sound to be a very strong storytelling tool for theater. Letts was once engaged to actress Sarah Paulson. He married actress Carrie Coon in September 2013. Together they have a son, born in 2018.
During the late 1980s through the late 2000s Letts acted in many of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s plays. In particular he starred in Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile (1994).
Letts is a playwright, having written over ten plays. His most famous, August: Osage County, premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago on June 28, 2007, and closed on August 26, 2007. It had its Broadway debut at the Imperial Theatre on December 4, 2007, and the production transferred to the Music Box Theatre on April 29, 2008. The Broadway show closed on June 28, 2009, after 648 performances and 18 previews. Letts won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play in 2008. The show also went on to receive seven Tony Award nominations, winning six including Best Play. Letts has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his plays Man from Nebraska and The Minutes, the Pulitzer committee describing the latter as a “shocking drama set in a seemingly mundane city council meeting that acidly articulates a uniquely American toxicity that feels both historic and contemporary.”
In 2012, Letts gained attention for his performance in his Broadway debut in the revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Booth Theatre. He won rave reviews and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.
In 2019, Letts appeared in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons with Annette Bening at Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre. The show officially opened on April 22, 2019 and closed on June 23, 2019.
Video – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, Starring Amy Morton and Tracy Letts 2012 Broadway
Early in his acting career, in the 1990s through the mid 2000s, Letts appeared in a variety of TV shows including Prison Break, The District, Strong Medicine, Profiler, Judging Amy, The Drew Carey Show, Seinfeld, Early Edition, and Home Improvement.
In 2013-14 Letts joined Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning Homeland as US Senator Andrew Lockhart in seasons 3 and 4. He was nominated with the rest of the cast for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble.
In 2016, Letts joined HBO’s marital comedy-drama Divorce starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church. On November 2, 2018, HBO renewed the show for a third season.
In 2018, Letts was cast in the second season of USA Network’s anthology crime drama series The Sinner opposite Bill Pullman and Carrie Coon.
Letts has written the screenplays for three feature films based on plays of the same names written by Letts: Bug (directed by William Friedkin), Killer Joe (also directed by Friedkin); and August: Osage County (directed by John Wells).
In 2015, Letts starred in Adam McKay’s flashy ensemble The Big Short with Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt. The film gained positive reception and went onto receive five Academy Award nominations including a win for Adapted Screenplay.
In 2016, Letts starred in several independent films including Todd Solondz’s dark comedy Wiener-Dog alongside Greta Gerwig and Danny DeVito, Antonio Campos’ Christine with Rebecca Hall, and Liza Johnson’s Elvis & Nixon with Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon.
He starred in James Schamus’ film adaptation of the Philip Roth novel, Indignation (2016) with Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, and Danny Burstein. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews. The film is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with 82% and the consensus reading, “Indignation proves it’s possible to put together an engaging Philip Roth adaptation — and offers a compelling calling card for debuting writer-director James Schamus.”
He also starred in the critically acclaimed true story Imperium (2016) alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Toni Colette. The film focuses on a young FBI agent, Nate Foster (Radcliffe), based on real life agent Michael German, who went undercover as a white supremacist. Letts plays a Rush Limbaugh-type character who placates the local white supremacists. The film is also Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at 84% with the consensus reading, “The unsettling Imperium boasts troublingly timely themes and a talented cast led by Daniel Radcliffe as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a ring of white supremacists.”
Letts’ next acting roles would include the 2017 film The Lovers and Steven Spielberg’s film The Post (2017) based upon the story about Katharine Graham and The Pentagon Papers. The starry ensemble includes Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Sarah Paulson, and Bradley Whitford. Letts played Frederick “Fritz” Beebe, who was the chairman of the board of The Washington Post. Graham believed that Beebe brought a “breadth of vision that included editorial as well as business judgment” to the company. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
In 2017, Letts starred in Greta Gerwig’s coming of age film Lady Bird with Saoirse Ronan. Letts plays the sympathetic and empathetic father and husband Larry, a gentle soul who tries to avoid confrontation at all costs. His wife is played by Laurie Metcalf. The film became a standout for 2017 becoming one of the year’s highest rated films on Rotten Tomatoes, a 99% with the consensus stating, “Lady Bird delivers fresh insights about the turmoil of adolescence — and reveals writer-director Greta Gerwig as a fully formed filmmaking talent.” The film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Letts along with the rest of the cast was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture.
|2003||Man from Nebraska|
|2007||August: Osage County|
|2009||Three Sisters (adaptation of the Chekov play)|
|2016||Mary Page Marlowe|
Work as ActorFilmTelevisionAwards and NominationsTony AwardsPulitzer PrizeDrama Desk AwardScreen Actors Guild AwardWriters Guild AwardBroadcast Film Critics Association Award
|2006||Bug||Adaptation of his play|
|2011||Killer Joe||Adaptation of his play|
|2013||August: Osage County||Adaptation of his play|
|2020||The Woman in the Window||Post-production|
|1988||The Glass Menagerie||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|1991–1995||Bang Bang Spontaneous Theatre||Various characters||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|1994||Picasso At The Lapin Agile||Freddy||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|1999||Three Days of Rain||Walker||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2001||Glengarry Glen Ross||John Williamson||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2002||The Dazzle||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2002||Miracle on 34th Street||Lawyer||Chicago Center for Performing Arts|
|2003||Homebody/Kabul||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2004||The Dresser||Norman||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2005||Last of the Boys||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2005||Orson’s Shadow||Kenneth Tynan||Off-Broadway, Barrow Street Theatre|
|2005||The Pain and the Itch||Cash||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2006||The Pillowman||Tupolski||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2006||The Well-Appointed Room||Stewart||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2007||Betrayal||Robert||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2009||American Buffalo||Walter “Teach” Cole||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2010||Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?||George||Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre|
|2012||Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?||George||Broadway, Booth Theatre|
|2014||The Realistic Joneses||Bob Jones||Broadway, Lyceum Theatre|
|2019||All My Sons||Joe Keller||Broadway, American Airlines Theatre|
|1998||Chicago Cab||Sports Fan|
|U.S. Marshals||Sheriff Poe|
|2007||Cop Show||Michael Cooke||Short film; also writer|
|2015||The Big Short||Lawrence Fields|
|Elvis & Nixon||John Finlator|
|Indignaton||Hawes D. Caudwell|
|Lady Bird||Larry McPherson|
|The Post||Fritz Beebe|
|2019||Ford v. Ferrari||Henry Ford II||Post-production|
|TBA||The Devil All the Time||Filming|
|French Exit||Small Frank (voice)||Filming|
|1995||Home Improvement||Henry||Episode: “Jill’s Surprise Party”|
|1996–1997||Early Edition||Jonathan / Marksman||2 episodes|
|1997||Seinfeld||Counterguy||Episode: “The Strike”|
|1998||The Drew Carey Show||Lomax||Episode: “Drew and the Conspiracy”|
|1999||Judging Amy||Mr. Kleinman||Episode: “Pilot”|
|2000||Profiler||Mr. Adams||Episode: “Train Man”|
|2001||Strong Medicine||Ken||Episode: “Wednesday Night Fever”|
|2001||The District||Brad Gilroy||Episode: “Melt Down”|
|2006||Prison Break||Peter Tucci||2 episodes|
|2013–2014||Homeland||Senator/Director Andrew Lockhart||17 episodes|
|2017||Comrade Detective||Vasile (voice)||Episode: “No Exit”|
|2018||The Sinner||Jack Novack||Recurring role; 7 episodes|
|2008||August: Osage County||Best Play||Won|
|2013||Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?||Leading Actor in a Play||Won|
|2004||Man from Nebraska||Pulitzer Prize for Drama||Nominated|
|2008||August: Osage County||Pulitzer Prize for Drama||Won|
|2018||The Minutes||Pulitzer Prize for Drama||Nominated|
|2008||August: Osage County||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play||Won|
|2013||Homeland||Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2014||Homeland||Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2018||Lady Bird||Cast in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|2014||August: Osage County||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
|2014||August: Osage County||Best Adapted Screenplay||Nominated|
- “The 2008 Pulitzer Prize Winners – Drama”. pulitzer.org.
- “Interview with Billie Letts”. readersread.org.
- Associated Press (2008-02-25). “Dennis Letts, 73, a Professor Who Became Broadway Actor, Dies”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- “Tracy Letts’s Productions at Steppenwolf”. Steppenwolf Theatre Company. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Carlton Stowers (27 November 2003). “Sweet Revenge”. The Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Aifen Wang (2008). “In-your-face Theatre with In Your Face Sound Design”. Stage Research. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- “Tony Winners: ‘In the Heights,’ ‘August: Osage County‘“. www.vulture.com. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- “Finalists Tracy Letts” pulitzer.org, retrieved April 16, 2018
- “2018 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Full List”. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
- Gans, Andrew (May 17, 2012). “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton, Will Arrive On Broadway in September”. Playbill. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- Schuessler, Jennifer (2013-06-06). “‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ at the Tonys”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- “All My Sons”. Broadway.com. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- Otterson, Joe (2018-11-02). “‘Divorce’ Renewed for Season 3 at HBO With New Showrunner, Smaller Episode Count”. Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- Nguyen, Hanh (2018-05-18). “‘The Sinner’ Season 2 Reveals First-Look Photos and Who’s Joining Carrie Coon in the Mystery Crime Series”. IndieWire. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- “THE BIG SHORT GETS 5 OSCAR NOMINATIONS INCLUDING BEST PICTURE”. oscar.go.com. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- Lincoln, Ross A. (2016-02-29). “‘The Big Short’ Wins Oscar For Best Adapted Screenplay”. Deadline. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- Debruge, Peter (2016-01-25). “Sundance Film Review: ‘Indignation‘“. Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- “Indignation (2016)”, Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2019-03-17
- “Imperium (2016)”, Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2019-03-17
- “Fritz Beebe, portrayed by Tracy Letts – ‘The Post’: 16 of the Film’s Stars and Their Real-Life Inspirations”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- “Lady Bird (2017)”, Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2019-03-17
- Surrey, Miles (2017-12-13). “SAG Awards Nominations: ‘Lady Bird’ Cleans Up, ‘Phantom Thread’ Flops”. The Ringer. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
- “Carrie Coon and Husband Tracy Letts Expecting Their First Child”. PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
- Juneau, Jen (July 2, 2018). “Carrie Coon and Tracy Letts Welcome Son Haskell”. People.
- “Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, adapted by Tracy Letts”. Artists Repertory Theatre. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
This adaptation of the Russian masterpiece was commissioned by Artists Rep as part three of its four-part Chekhov project. Letts offers a fresh, new look at the decay of the privileged class and the search for meaning in the modern world, through the eyes of three dissatisfied sisters who desperately long for their treasured past.
- ““TEN” earns its rating at The Gift Theatre – Chicago Sun-Times”.
- “Carrie Coon Among Cast Of 19 For Steppenwolf’s World Premiere Of Tracy Letts Play”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 7, 2015.
- “Linda Vista | Steppenwolf Theatre”. www.steppenwolf.org. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- “The Minutes | Steppenwolf Theatre”. www.steppenwolf.org. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- Tracy Letts at the Internet Broadway Database
- Tracy Letts on IMDb
- Tracy Letts at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Tracy Letts at People.com
- Write TV public television interview with Tracy Letts