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Goran Višnjić (1972)

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  Summary  

Goran Višnjić is a Croatian actor who has appeared in American and British films and television productions. He is best known for his role as Dr. Luka Kovač in the hit television series ER. Now credited as Goran Visnjic in his English-language work, he adopted the simplified spelling of his name when he came to the United States in the late '90s, believing it would be more accessible to American audiences.

  Biography  

 early life
Visnjic was born in the Dalmatian coastal city of Šibenik, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia. He has one older brother, Joško. His father, Željko Višnjić, was a bus driver, and his mother, Milka, worked in a food market. He appeared in plays throughout his childhood and made his screen debut at age 16 in the controversial Yugoslav film Braća po materi , playing a young Ustaša.

As Yugoslavia began to dissolve, Višnjić was serving a year-long tour of duty with the Yugoslav People's Army . He left the JNA and returned to Šibenik, where he joined the nascent Croatian Army in defending his hometown against JNA-supported Krajina Serbs.

After leaving the Croatian Army, he moved to Zagreb to study at the Academy of Dramatic Arts.

 career
Visnjic was the youngest actor to be chosen for the title role in Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Summer Theatre Festival in Croatia. Originally cast as Laertes and understudy to Hamlet, he took over the role when the star dropped out of the production shortly before the first performance. He portrayed the doomed prince for seven years from 1994 to 2000, winning several Orlando Awards . During an episode of ER, he demonstrated his expertise in the part of Hamlet, by reciting an excerpt from the "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Croatian. In the same episode, he demonstrated his skill in another Shakespeare-related hobby by fencing with Noah Wyle's character, Dr. John Carter.

Prior to ER, Visnjic had small speaking roles in films such as The Peacemaker, Committed and Practical Magic. In 1998 he also appeared in Madonna's music video "The Power of Goodbye", and had a cameo in the movie Rounders. But it was Visnjic's break-out role as Risto, the Bosnian driver in Welcome to Sarajevo that lead then-producer Jack Orman to offer him the role of the then unnamed doctor who would replace the departing George Clooney on ER. Visnjic joined ER in the sixth season in late 1999, eventually becoming the show's male lead in mid-season 11. Visnjic made a series of appearances in season 14 before leaving the show early in season 15, ending his 9 year run on the medical drama.

While starring on ER, Visnjic also worked on other projects. He co-starred in the movie The Deep End, voice-acted in Ice Age, and starred in Posljednja volja and Doctor Sleep. In 2004, he starred in the television miniseries Spartacus and the Croatian movie and television series Duga mračna noć. He appeared with Jennifer Garner in the 2005 movie Elektra. During the summer of 2005, Visnjic was one of four finalists for the role of James Bond, eventually losing out to British actor Daniel Craig. Visnjic appeared in UNKLE's music video for the song "Burn My Shadow", released in May 2007. In 2008, Visnjic starred in the film Helen alongside Ashley Judd as Judd's character's husband David in the drama, which made its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Visnjic also appeared alongside Carla Gugino in a segment of the 2009 film New York, I Love You, an anthology set in New York. Visnjic's segment was directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Although the Visnjic/Gugino segment was cut from the theatrical version of the film, it was included in the DVD version.

Visnjic appeared in the historical drama The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, about a young Polish woman responsible for the rescue of Jewish children in wartime Warsaw, filmed in Riga, Latvia. Produced for Hallmark Hall of Fame, the film aired on CBS on April 19, 2009. Visnjic recently completed a role in the Mike Mills independent film Beginners alongside Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor. At the end of 2009, he was cast in the role of Samson in the Tiger Aspect television miniseries The Deep, shown on BBC One in 2010. He appeared as Andrija Hebrang in the historical drama Tito on Croatian television. Visnjic appeared in the unsold 2010 pilot of ABC Studios' Boston's Finest in which he played a disgraced cop who works with a female officer to solve crimes while clearing his name. He recently appeared in the two-episode season three finale of the television series Leverage, as international crime financier Damien Moreau, his first guest appearance on an English-language television program. In 2011, Visnjic played the role of Dragan Armansky, the head of a security agency, in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ;he signed on to play this role for the entire film trilogy. He also signed on for a four-episode arc in the ABC television series Pan Am, playing a Yugoslavian attache to the United Nations.

 personal life
Visnjic is married to Croatian sculptor Ivana Vrdoljak, the daughter of filmmaker Antun Vrdoljak. They reside in Los Angeles, and maintain a home and a boat on the island of Hvar, in Croatia. The couple have two children, a son Tin, adopted in April 2007 and named after Croatian poet Tin Ujević, and an infant son Vigo born in July, 2011, born to a surrogate mother. Visnjic has also acknowledged paternity of a daughter, Lana.

Visnjic has been active in the American and European animal rights movements, and appeared in photographs alongside his dog Bugsy in PETA's first Eastern European anti-fur campaign. He is currently a representative for both the International Fund for Animal Welfare and an Animal Friends Croatia, as well as providing assistance to a number of small animal-rescue organizations in southern California. He has also supported a number of medical institutions in Croatia through the donation of money or equipment. Visnjic recently appeared on the nationally broadcast American benefit program Stand Up to Cancer. He also served as one of the faces of ER on NBC's long-running The More You Know campaign, appearing in public service announcements discussing topics such as family time and tolerance.

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