Jay O. Sanders

Jay Olcutt Sanders (born April 16, 1953) is an American actor who has worked in theatre, film, and TV, known for JFK (1991). He frequently appears in plays Off-Broadway at The Public Theatre.[1]

Jay O. Sanders
Sanders in October 2009
Jay Olcutt Sanders

(1953-04-16) April 16, 1953
Years active1979–present
Height1,88 m
Spouse(s)Maryann Plunkett (1991–present)
ChildrenJamie Sanders

Early life and education

Sanders was born on April 16, 1953 in Austin, Texas, to Phyllis Rae (née Aden) and James Olcutt Sanders.[2] After attending the acting conservatory at SUNY Purchase, Sanders made his Off-Broadway debut in a Shakespeare in the Park production of Henry V in 1976.[3] He played Bradley in the first New York production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child in 1978.[4]


Sanders has had a long career in film and television. He is perhaps most recognized for his work in the films The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Green Lantern (2011).[5] He has appeared in many other notable films, however, including Glory (1989), JFK (1991), Angels in the Outfield (1994), Half Nelson (2006), and Revolutionary Road (2008).[6]

On television, Sanders played mob lawyer Steven Kordo in the 1986–88 NBC detective series Crime Story, Norbert "Ziggy" Walsh on two episodes of Roseanne, and recurring characters on shows such as Person of Interest and True Detective. He is the narrator for the PBS series Wide Angle from 2002–2009 and has served as narrator for a number of Nova episodes starting in 2007.[7]

On stage, Sanders has appeared on Broadway in Loose Ends (1979),[8] The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (1983),[9] Saint Joan (1993),[10] and Pygmalion (2007).[11][12]

Off-Broadway, he appeared as George W. Bush in Sir David Hare's Stuff Happens in 2006.[13][14] He then played in a number of Shakespearean plays: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Bottom, 2007), Hamlet (Ghost of Hamlet's Father/Player King/Gravedigger, 2008), Twelfth Night (as Sir Toby Belch, 2009), and the title role in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (2011).[15]

Sanders appeared in the Richard Nelson Apple Family Plays, a series of plays which ran Off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in 2010 (That Hopey Changey Thing), 2011 (Sweet and Sad), 2012 (Sorry), and 2013 (Regular Singing).[16]

Sanders has appeared in more plays by the Delacorte Theatre (Shakespeare in Central Park) than any other actor to date.[17]

In 2015, Sanders debuted his first play, Unexplored Interior, about the Rwandan Genocide, at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C.[18]

He received the 2018 Joe A. Callaway Award, presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation for "best performance in a professional production of a classic play", for his performance in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.[19].

He also received the Drama Desk Award for 2019 for Actor in a Play for Uncle Vanya.



2017Search for the Super BatteryNarratorDocumentary film
2013Northern BordersAgent Sanders
Bones of the BuddhaNarratorDocumentary
2011Green LanternCarl Ferris
The JewelMr. Rothman
The UndyingDr. Richard Lassiter
A Novel RomanceWalter Evans
2010Edge of DarknessDet. Bill Whitehouse
ZenithDoug Oberts
2009I Hate Valentine's DayTim the Delivery Guy
2008Revolutionary RoadBart Pollock
Cadillac RecordsMr. Feder
2007Greetings from the ShoreCommodore Callaghan
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on TrialNarratorDocumentary film
2006Half NelsonRuss Dunne
Wedding DazePolice Officer
2004The Day After TomorrowFrank Harris
Hair HighFootball Announcer (voice)
2003D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of FearDouglas DuncanTelevision film
Abby SingerKevin's Father
2001Along Came a SpiderFBI Agent Kyle Craig
Boss of BossesJoseph O'BrienTelevision film
The Familiar StrangerPatrick Hennessy Welsh / Timothy Michael Kingsbury
2000PicnicTelevision film
1999Music of the HeartDan Paxton
The ConfessionJack Renoble
Earthly PossessionsJack EmeryTelevision film
A.T.F.Sam SinclairTelevision film
The Jack BullAtty. Gen. MetcalfeTelevision film
TumbleweedsDan Miller
1998The Odd Couple IILeroy
1997For Richer or PoorerSamuel Yoder
The MatchmakerSenator John McGlory
Kiss the GirlsFBI Agent Kyle Craig
1996DaylightSteven Crighton
1995The Big GreenCoach Jay Huffer
Kiss of DeathFederal AgentUncredited
Silver Strand
Three WishesCoach Schramka
1994Angels in the OutfieldRanch Wilder
State of EmergencyDr. Jeffrey Forrest
1993My Boyfriend's BackSheriff McCloud
1992HostagesTerry A. Anderson
1991JFKLou Ivon
Meeting VenusStephen Taylor
V.I. WarshawskiMurray Ryerson
1990Mr. DestinyJackie Earle 'Cement Head' Bumpers
1989GloryGen. George Crockett Strong
A Man Called HawkOfficer Brogan
The Young RidersLongley
1988Tucker: The Man and His DreamKirby, Tucker's Attorney
The Prince of PennsylvaniaTrooper Joe
1987The Misfit BrigadeTiny
1983Cross CreekCharles Rawlings
Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr. StoryDick WilleyTelevision film
Eddie Macon's RunRudy Potts
1982Hanky PankyKatz
1980The Day Christ DiedSimon PeterTelevision film
1979Starting OverLarryCredited as Jay Sanders


Year Title Role Notes
2018The SinnerChief Tom Lidell7 episodes
Decoding the Weather MachineNarrator1 episode
2017–2019Sneaky PeteSam15 episodes
2015–2016BlindspotBill Weller10 episodes
2015Dawn of HumanityNarrator1 episode
American OdysseyAlex8 episodes
2014True DetectiveBilly Lee Tuttle2 episodes
2013HostagesLynn Shipley
2012–present Secrets of the DeadNarrator23 episodes
2012–2014Person of InterestSpecial Counsel9 episodes
2012Blue BloodsJimmy Reagan
2011–2016The Good WifeJudge Hal Ferris2 episodes
2011–2012Pan AmDouglas Vanderway3 episodes
2011Law & Order: Criminal IntentCaptain Joseph HannahMain Role 8 episodes
2010Hardcover MysteriesNarrator8 episodes
2002Law & Order: Criminal IntentHarry RowanEpisode: "Dead"
2002WidowsDetective John Maynard4 episodes
1995The Outer LimitsEd BarkleyEpisode: "The Voyage Home"
1993Northern ExposureDr. John SummersEpisode: "Jaws of Life"
1990–1991RoseanneNorbert "Ziggy" Walsh2 episodes
1990L.A. LawDetective Michael Phillips
1989BookerGordon Rudd1 episode
Kate & AllieTim MayerEpisode: "What's Love Got to Do with It?"
1986–1988Crime StorySteven Kordo12 episodes
1985Miami ViceDetective Tim DuryeaEpisode: "The Maze"
1983–1984AfterMASHDr. Gene Pfeiffer10 episode


Year Title Role Notes
2010Red Dead Redemption: Undead NightmareD.S. MacKennaUncredited
Red Dead RedemptionD.S. MacKenna, Mr. Philmore
2007Manhunt 2The Pervs


  1. Isherwood, Charles (December 13, 2011). "I Wouldn't Touch That Pie, if I Were You". The New York Times.
  2. "Jay Sanders Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  3. Miller, J. Michael. "J. Michael Miller talks to Maryann Plunkett and Jay O. Sanders". Interview. The Actors Center.
  4. Buried Child lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016.
  5. "The Day After Tomorrow". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  6. Revolutionary Road, tcm.com; accessed November 10, 2016
  7. "About the series". Wide Angle Credits. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  8. "'Loose Ends' Broadway", Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  9. "'The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial' Broadway", Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  10. "'Saint Joan' Broadway", Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  11. 'Pygmalion' on Broadway, Playbill.com, accessed November 10, 2016
  12. "Jay O. Sanders at IBDB". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  13. Brantley, Ben (April 14, 2006). "David Hare's 'Stuff Happens': All the President's Men in 'On the Road to Baghdad'". The New York Times.
  14. Stuff Happens, lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016.
  15. Titus Andronicus, lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016
  16. "Sanders Off-Broadway", lortel.org, accessed November 10, 2016
  17. "Exploring six degrees of Jay O. Sanders: Unexplored Interior playwright's brilliant career - DC Theatre Scene". 19 November 2015.
  18. Marks, Peter (November 3, 2015). "Mosaic opens its inaugural curtain with 'Unexplored Interior'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  19. Gans, Andrew. "Alison Fraser and Jay O. Sanders Are Winners of 2018 Joe A. Callaway Awards" Playbill, December 7, 2018
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