Craig T. Nelson

Craig Theodore Nelson[1] (born April 4, 1944) is an American actor. He is known for his roles as Hayden Fox in the television series Coach (for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series), Deputy Ward Wilson in the 1980 film Stir Crazy, Steve Freeling in the 1982 film Poltergeist, the warden in My Name is Earl, and Mr. Incredible in the 2004 film The Incredibles and its 2018 sequel. He also starred as Zeek Braverman in the television series Parenthood.

Craig T. Nelson
Nelson at the Paleyfest 2013 panel for Parenthood
Craig Theodore Nelson

(1944-04-04) April 4, 1944
Alma materUniversity of Arizona
Years active1971present
Robin McCarthy
(m. 1965; div. 1978)

Doria Cook-Nelson (m. 1987)

Early life

Nelson was born Craig Theodore Nelson in Spokane, Washington, on April 4, 1944.[1][2] He was the son of Vera Margaret (née Spindler; 19061971), a dancer, and Armand Gilbert Nelson (19001964), a businessman.

Nelson attended Lewis and Clark High School, where he played football, baseball, and basketball.[2][3]

After high school, Nelson studied at Central Washington University.[4] After flunking out, Nelson went to Yakima Valley College where he was inspired to study acting by his drama teacher, Mr. Brady.[5] From Yakima, he went on to study drama at the University of Arizona on a scholarship.[2][6]

In 1969, Nelson dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career.[2] When he first moved to California, he took up a job as a security guard at a soap factory until finding work as a comedy writer.[2]


Nelson began his show business career as a comedian. He was an early member of The Groundlings comedy troupe.[7] Nelson, Barry Levinson, and Rudy De Luca formed their own comedy team and were regular performers at The Comedy Store.[1] In 1973, Nelson left the comedy world, explaining "the standup comedy life was pretty unfulfilling for me"[8] and he settled in Montgomery Creek, CA where there was no electricity and no running water; "it was contentment, The Waltons, he said.[9] Nelson had different jobs during that time including janitor, plumber, carpenter, surveyor, and high school teacher. He returned to acting five years later.[8]

He was featured as a prosecuting attorney who opposes Al Pacino in the 1979 film ...And Justice for All, co-written by Levinson. In 1983, Nelson appeared in Silkwood, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep, as the high school football coach of Tom Cruise in the drama All the Right Moves and as one of the stars of director Sam Peckinpah's final film, The Osterman Weekend.

He has appeared in many other motion pictures (most notably the Poltergeist series) and had featured roles in five television shows (Coach, Call to Glory, The District, My Name Is Earl, and Parenthood). Coach ran from 1989 to 1997, with Nelson starring as college football coach Hayden Fox.

He provided the voice of Bob Parr (also known as Mr. Incredible) in the computer-animated superhero film, The Incredibles, and returned to the role for its sequel, Incredibles 2.[10] Nelson also reprised the role again in the video games Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure and in the Disney Infinity video game series, except for the video game and The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, where he was replaced by actor Richard McGonagle.[11]

During the early 1990s, he made a guest appearance in the music video for country singer Garth Brooks's song "We Shall Be Free".

Nelson made a three-episode guest appearance on CSI: NY as a "nemesis" of Gary Sinise's Taylor.[12]

His most recent films include 2009's The Proposal as Ryan Reynolds' skeptical father, 2010's The Company Men as a greedy CEO, and 2018‘s Book Club. From 2010 to 2015, he starred in the television show Parenthood as Ezekiel "Zeek" Braverman, the family patriarch.

Personal life

Nelson stated in an interview with Glenn Beck that he had been on welfare and collected food stamps. In that same interview, he railed at taxes, government, and the lack of fiscal responsibility in society. He also stated that he was thinking about no longer paying taxes because he disapproved of public funds rescuing those struggling. "What happened to society? I go into business, I don’t make it, I go bankrupt. I’ve been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No. No. They gave me hope, they gave me encouragement, and they gave me a vision."[13]

Nelson has three children from his previous marriage to Robin McCarthy.[14] His second wife Doria Cook-Nelson is a freelance writer, president of a martial arts association, karate instructor, tai chi teacher and a former film and television actress who had a featured role in the movie musical Mame.[14]

Nelson is a motorsports fan and an avid racer. He first participated in the 1991 Toyota Celebrity Long Beach Grand Prix[14] and finished ninth. In 1992, he founded Screaming Eagles Racing with John Christie and entered and drove a Toyota-engined Spice SE90 in the IMSA 1994 WSC, a Lexus-engined Spice SE90 in 1995 and a Ford-engined Riley & Scott MkIII in the 1996 and 1997 championships.



Year Title Role Notes
1971The Return of Count YorgaSgt. O'Connor
1973Scream Blacula ScreamSarge
1974Flesh GordonThe Monster (voice)Uncredited
1979...And Justice for AllFrank Bowers
1980Stir CrazyDeputy Ward Wilson
1980The FormulaGeologist #2
1980Where the Buffalo RoamCop on Stand
1980Private BenjaminCapt. William Woodbridge
1982PoltergeistSteve Freeling
1983Man, Woman and ChildBernie Ackerman
1983All the Right MovesNickerson
1983The Osterman WeekendBernard Osterman
1984The Killing FieldsMajor Reeves
1986Poltergeist II: The Other SideSteve Freeling
1987Rachel RiverMarlyn Huutula
1988Action JacksonPeter Dellaplane
1988Me and HimPeter Aramis
1989Born on the Fourth of JulyMarine Officer
1989Red Riding HoodSir Godfrey / Percival
1989Turner & HoochChief Howard Hyde
1989Troop Beverly HillsFred Nefler
1996Ghosts of MississippiEd Peters
1996I'm Not RappaportThe Cowboy
1997The Devil's AdvocateAlexander Cullen
1997Wag the DogSenator John NealUncredited
2000The SkullsLitten Mandrake
2001All Over AgainCole Twain
2004The IncrediblesBob Parr / Mr. Incredible (voice)
2005The Family StoneKelly Stone
2007Blades of GloryCoach
2009The ProposalJoe Paxton
2010The Company MenJames Salinger
2011Soul SurferDr. Robinsky
2015Get HardMartin Barrow
2016GoldKenny Wells
2018Book ClubBruce
2018Incredibles 2Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible (voice)


Year Title Role Notes
1973The Mary Tyler Moore ShowCharlie the mechanicEpisode: "Mary Richards and the Incredible Plant Lady"
1978Charlie's AngelsStoneEpisode: "Angels on the Run"
1978Wonder WomanSamEpisode: "The Deadly Sting"
1979How the West Was WonTuggerEpisode: "The Rustler"
1979Diary of a Teenage HitchhikerDriverTelevision movie
1980The Promise of LoveMajor LandauTelevision movie
1980The White ShadowFather PhilEpisode: "A Christmas Story"
1981Inmates: A Love StoryDanielsTelevision movie
1981WKRP in CincinnatiCharlie BathgateEpisode: "Out to Lunch"
1981Murder in TexasJack RamseyTelevision movie
1981–1982Private BenjaminCapt. Braddock / Col. Hoganrecurring role; 3 episodes
1982Paper DollsMichael CaswellTelevision movie
1982Chicago StoryKenneth A. Dutton13 episodes
1984–1985Call to GloryCol. Raynor Sarnac23 episodes
1986Alex: The Life of a ChildFrank DefordTelevision movie
1986The Ted Kennedy Jr. StorySenator Edward KennedyTelevision movie
1989Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal StoryMajor Bill HarcourtTelevision movie
1989–1997CoachCoach Hayden Foxseries regular; 198 episodes
1990Drug Wars: The Camarena StoryHarley SteinmetzTelevision miniseries
1990Extreme Close-UpPhilipTelevision movie
1991The Josephine Baker StoryWalter WinchellTelevision movie
1993The SwitchRuss FineTelevision movie
1993The Fire Next TimeDrew MorganTelevision miniseries
1994Ride with the WindFrank ShelbyTelevision movie
1994Probable CauseLieutenant Louis WhitmireTelevision movie
1994The Lies Boys TellLarryTelevision movie
1996If These Walls Could TalkJim HarrisTelevision movie ("1996" segment)
1998CreatureDr. Simon ChaseTelevision miniseries
1999To Serve and ProtectTom CarrTelevision miniseries
2000The HuntressRalph ThorsonEpisode: "Pilot"
2000Dirty PicturesSimon LeisTelevision movie
2000–2004The DistrictChief Jack Mannionseries regular; 89 episodes
2002The AgencyChief Jack MannionEpisode: "Doublecrossover"
2007My Name Is EarlWarden Jerry Hazelwood4 episodes
2008–2009CSI: NYRobert Dunbrook3 episodes
2009MonkJudge Ethan Rickover2 episodes
2010–2015ParenthoodEzekiel "Zeke" Bravermanseries regular; 91 episodes
2013Hawaii Five-0Tyler CainEpisode: "He welo 'oihana"
2015Grace and FrankieGuy5 episodes
2017Raised by WolvesPaul "Grampy" KosinskiTelevision movie
2019Young Sheldon Dale Ballard

Video games

Year Title Role
2004The IncrediblesBob Parr / Mr. Incredible (archive footage)
2012Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar AdventureBob Parr / Mr. Incredible
2013Disney Infinity
2014Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes
2015Disney Infinity 3.0[15]


Year Title Role Notes
1983–1984FriendsHarold (Okie) Peterson
1998Ah, Wilderness!Nat Miller

Awards and nominations

Year Title Accolade Results
1990 Coach Primetime Emmy award, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
1991 Nominated
1992 Golden Globe award, Best Lead Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Nominated
Primetime Emmy award, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Viewers for Quality Television award, Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Nominated
1993 American Television award, Best Actor in a Situation Comedy Nominated
Golden Globe award, Best Lead Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Nominated
Viewers for Quality Television award, Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series Nominated
1994 Golden Globe award, Best Lead Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical Nominated
1995 Nominated
1996 Ghosts of Mississippi Award Circuit Community award, Best Cast Ensemble Nominated
2001 The District Actor of the Year in a New Series Nominated
2002 Satellite award, Best Lead Actor in a Series - Drama Nominated
2004 Prism award, Best Performance in a Drama Series Episode Nominated
2005 The Incredibles MTV Movie + TV award, Best On-Screen Team (shared with Holly Hunter, Spencer Fox & Sarah Vowell) Nominated
The Family Stone Satellite award, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical Nominated
The Incredibles Visual Effects Society award, Outstanding Performance by an Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture Won
2006 The Family Stone AARP Movies for Grownups award, Best Grownup Love Story (shared with Diane Keaton) Won
2010 Ojai Film Festival award, Lifetime Achievement award Won
2012 Parenthood Prism award, Male Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline Won
2015 Critics Choice Television award, Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated


  1. Harris, Will (September 26, 2013). "Craig T. Nelson on comedy, chemistry, and more". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 29, 2019. I've never, ever been Craig Richard Nelson. Ever! My birth certificate says Craig Theodore.
  2. Editors (April 2, 2014) [First published April 2, 2014]. "Craig T. Nelson". The website. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved January 26, 2019.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. "Distinguished Lewis and Clark High School alumni". Spokane Public Schools. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  4. Armstrong, Liahna (September 25, 2014). "Former Wildcat Craig T. Nelson coming to local film festival". Daily Record. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  5. Holcomb, Kim (August 28, 2018) [First published May 2, 2018]. "Northwest native Craig T. Nelson made his way to Hollywood by way of Yakima". KING-TV. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  6. Boss, Kit (August 30, 1992). "Craig T. Nelson's Life In The Fast Lane". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  7. "History: In the Beginning". The Groundlings. Archived from the original on August 6, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  8. Logan, Joe (January 8, 1990). "Craig T. Nelson's Slow Path To Stardom The Star Of Abc's "Coach\" Twice Flunked Out Of College. For A While, He Was A Father On Welfare. Now His Film Credits Include \"silkwood\" And \"poltergeist," And Tonight He's In An Nbc Mini-series". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  9. Boss, Kit (August 30, 1992). "Craig T. Nelson's Life In The Fast Lane". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  10. "D23 Expo: Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films". July 14, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  11. Navarro, Alex (November 3, 2004). "The Incredibles Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  12. Eng, Joyce (December 3, 2008). "Craig T. Nelson to Guest on CSI: NY". Retrieved December 5, 2008.
  13. "Glenn Beck And Craig T. Nelson Talk About Not Paying Taxes Ever Again, For Some Reason". Huffington Post. May 29, 2009.
  14. Knutzen, Eirik (October 1, 2000). "Craig T. Nelson Is D.c.'s Top Cop". The Morning Call. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  15. Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of.
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