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Tobin Bell (1942)

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  Summary  

Tobin Bell is an American film and television character actor. After years of work doing stand-ins and background work on films, he got his first major acting job in Mississippi Burning and went on to star in made-for-television films and guest star in television shows throughout the 1990s.

Bell is best known as the villain John "Jigsaw" Kramer of the Saw film series and is the only actor to appear in all seven films. He provided his voice in two video games based on the films, Saw and its sequel, Saw II: Flesh & Blood, in which he also provided his likeness. Bell's portrayal of Jigsaw has earned him five award nominations and two wins.

  Biography  

 early life
Bell was born in Queens, New York and raised in Weymouth, Massachusetts. His English-born mother, Eileen Bell Tobin, is an actress who worked at the Quincy Repertory Company. His father, Joseph H. Tobin (December 19, 1912—September 2, 1977), built and established the radio station WJDA in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1947 and once ran for mayor of Gloversville, New York. Bell has one sister and one brother. Bell studied liberal arts and journalism in college, with the intention of becoming a writer and entering the broadcasting field. He also has an interest in environmental matters, holding a master's degree in environmental science from Montclair State University as well as having worked for the New York Botanical Garden. He credits hearing a seminar by Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy at Boston University with inspiring him to begin an acting career.

Bell later joined the Actors Studio where he studied with Lee Strasberg and Ellen Burstyn, and joined Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse. He played background roles in the late seventies and early eighties in over thirty films, including films by Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese, while also performing in Broadway. Bell said that other actors at the Actors Studio thought doing stand-in and background work was "stupid or degrading", but he never felt that way.

 career
 Early work: 1982–1999


In 1982, Bell had a short uncredited scene in the Sydney Pollack film, Tootsie, playing a waiter at the Russian Tea Room. He told Movieline, "You know, when you’re talking about Tootsie, it’s the tip of the iceberg, because those other twenty-nine films I did aren't even on the IMDb." He worked on The Verdict for two weeks as a courtroom reporter in the trial. He recollected it being a "great opportunity" watching Sidney Lumet and Paul Newman, while also learning the technical aspect of acting. For every role he plays, starting with the initial reading of the script to the final shot of a production, he keeps a journal of various questions about and motivations for his character. "I write all kinds of stream-of-consciousness things that help me."

In the mid-1980s, Bell said "I was doing off-Broadway plays three nights a week, working on my craft. And a director at the Actors Studio said, 'You know, Tobin you've been doing that for a while. I think you should go to Hollywood and play bad guys'." Bell moved to Los Angeles and was cast in his first feature film, Alan Parker's Mississippi Burning , as a "tough", street smart, FBI agent. Bell played an assassin called "The Nordic Man" in another Pollack film, The Firm . He went on to appear in an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld titled "The Old Man" playing a record store owner. He appeared in two episodes of NYPD Blue playing different characters; he played Donald Selness in a 1993 episode and Jerry the Artist in 1996 episode.

In 1994, Bell played a hospital administrator in the second episode of the first season of ER and went on to appear in an episode of another medical drama Chicago Hope, playing a terminally ill death-row inmate. That same year, he portrayed the "Unabomber" in the made-for-television film Unabomber: The True Story. In 1997, Bell guest starred in an episode of La Femme Nikita and Nash Bridges. The following year, he guest starred in an episode of Stargate SG-1 and a two-part episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

 2004–present
In 2004, Bell was cast as the nefarious Jigsaw Killer, an engineer who wants others to appreciate the value of life via twisted "games" in the horror film, Saw. The low-budget film was a box office success, spawning brought six sequels: Saw II , Saw III , Saw IV , Saw V , Saw VI , and Saw 3D . He provided his voice for the Jigsaw character in the Saw video game and its sequel, Saw II: Flesh & Blood , to which he provided his likeness. Even though Bell spent three weeks lying on a floor and had very few lines his role was pivotal to the first film. For his role as "Jigsaw", Bell received MTV Movie Awards nominations in 2006 and 2007 for "Best Villain", won "Best Butcher" in the Fuse/Fangoria Chainsaw Awards and was given the "Best Villain in a Film Series" title at the 2010 Chiller-Eyegore Awards. Although he considers his role in Saw to have been "a great blessing", he hopes to soon have the opportunity to be cast against type.

In 2007, Bell starred in Decoys 2: Alien Seduction, The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It, and Buried Alive, which were all released direct-to-video.

 personal life
Bell is married and has two children. When not acting, he coaches a Little League Baseball team and flag football. His other hobbies include hiking and playing guitar.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Tobin Bell", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.