Reed Birney

Reed Birney (born September 11, 1954) is an American actor. He has worked both on Broadway and Off-Broadway.

Reed Birney
Born (1954-09-11) September 11, 1954
EducationBoston University College of Fine Arts
Years active1976–present

In 2016, Birney won a Tony Award for his performance in the play The Humans. He also won four Drama Desk Awards and three Obie Awards.


Birney attended Boston University, the School of Fine Arts for two years. After moving to New York City, he attended classes sponsored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.[1]

Birney appeared Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 1976 in Gemini by Albert Innaurato. He has appeared in many plays Off-Broadway since, including Bug (2004) and Circle Mirror Transformation (2009).[2]

He has performed on Broadway in Casa Valentina (2014) and The Humans.[3] He appeared in the Annie Baker adaptation of Uncle Vanya at the Soho Rep in 2012. Charles Isherwood in his review for The New York Times wrote: "The indispensable Reed Birney is as vitally moving a Vanya as I’ve yet to see..."[4] He was nominated for the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Actor in a Play, for Uncle Vanya.[5]

He won the 2016 Tony Award, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, for The Humans;[6] the 2014 Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play, for Casa Valentina; and the 2010 Obie Award, Performance, for Circle Mirror Transformation.[7] He received a Special Drama Desk Award in 2011, honoring his career.[8][9]

He appeared off-Broadway in the play by Tracy Letts, Man from Nebraska, which opened in January 2017 (previews) at the Second Stage Theatre.[10] As of May 2017, he stars as O'Brien in the Broadway production of 1984.

His television performances include Matthew Lester in Kane & Abel, Mr. Prescott on Gossip Girl, Donald Blythe on the Netflix series, House of Cards,[8][11] Tom Connolly in The Blacklist and Dr. Adamson on Titans.

Birney is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University.[8]

Personal life

He is married to actress Constance Shulman, who appears in Orange is the New Black, and they have two children together. [12] Their daughter Gus Birney is an actress and his son Ephraim Birney is also an actor.

Awards and nominations

Year Work Award Category Result
2011N/ADrama Desk AwardSpecial Drama Desk AwardWon
2014Casa ValentinaTony AwardBest Featured Actor in a PlayNominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Won
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance AwardNominated
2016The HumansTony AwardBest Featured Actor in a PlayWon
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Ensemble Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a PlayNominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance AwardNominated


  1. Sod, Ted. "Interview", October 4, 2015
  2. Gates, Anita. "At Peter J. Sharp Theater: Actor, Make Like a Tree" The New York Times, October 15, 2009
  3. "Reed Birney Credits", accessed June 13, 2016
  4. Isherwood, Charles. "A Fresh Breeze in Pastoral Russia" The New York Times, June 18, 2012
  5. Lefkowitz, Andy. "The 58th Annual Drama Desk Award Winners Are Announced!", May 19, 2013
  6. Viagas, Robert. " 'Hamilton' Tops Tony Awards With 11 Wins" Playbill, June 12, 2016
  7. "Reed Birney Bio", accessed June 13, 2016
  8. "Reed Birney", accessed June 13, 2016
  9. "Reed Birney Broadway" Playbill, accessed June 13, 2016
  10. Clement, Olivia. " 'Man from Nebraska 'Opens at Second Stage" Playbill, February 15, 2017
  11. "'House of Cards’ Star Reed Birney Endures ‘Quiet Desperation’ in ‘Mad Women’", July 22, 2015
  12. Borison, Susan. "Actors Constance Shulman and Reed Birney Talk Parenting" Your Teen, retrieved June 8, 2018
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