Tobin Bell Poster


Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (3)

Born in Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameJoseph H. Tobin Jr.
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Tobin Bell is an American actor with a career in film, television and theater spanning three decades. He was born in Queens, New York and raised in Weymouth, Mass. His mother is the British actress Eileen Bell. He is perhaps best known for his role as the iconic villain "Jigsaw" in the Saw film series...for which he received MTV Award nominations in 2007 & 2009. He's a graduate of Boston University and has a Masters Degree in Education from Montclair State University. He studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York. He is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio and a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tobin Bell

Spouse (1)

Elizabeth Warren (1993 - 2018) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (2)

Low, raspy voice
Usually plays villains or sinister characters

Trivia (14)

Often plays a villainous character.
Son of English actress Eileen Bell.
Studied in New York City with Ellen Burstyn.
Is probably best known as Jigsaw/John Kramer in the "Saw" movies.
Has never been, and to this day is not, a fan of horror films, despite playing his menacing character Jigsaw in the "Saw" trilogy.
Donated two vials of his own blood to be mixed with red ink for 1000 posters to help promote Saw III (2006). All proceeds went to the American Red Cross.
In addition to being an actor he is also a Little League baseball coach.
Considers Saw II (2005) his favorite out of the "Saw" trilogy.
He had a small role in Goodfellas (1990), with Joe Pesci. Pesci later played David Ferrie in JFK (1991), the same role Bell played in Ruby (1992).
Profiled in "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting" by Scott Voisin. [2009]
Splits his time with his wife and two children between his homes in New York and Los Angeles.
Tobin's father, Joseph Henry Bell, built and established the radio station WJDA in Quincy, MA. Joseph was American-born, from a Massachusetts family, of Irish descent. Tobin's mother, actress Eileen Bell, was British-born, and had roots in County Cork.
As of 2014, has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: The Verdict (1982), Tootsie (1982), Mississippi Burning (1988) and Goodfellas (1990).
Appeared in four films with Gene Hackman: Mississippi Burning (1988), Loose Cannons (1990), The Firm (1993) and The Quick and the Dead (1995).

Personal Quotes (6)

There are different ways of approaching roles.  Some people get involved in the emotional aspects of characters.
I want to do anything that's well-written, that reveals something of the human condition, that provides growth for the material as well as the actors. Great opportunity.
(On getting into characters) As you know, there's as many different kind of police officers as there are tap dancers or mechanics. There's this conventional idea of a mechanic, but go into any shop, and the mechanics come in all different shapes, sizes, colors. I don't think about how I look, necessarily, I think about what's going on for this guy and what he does and why he does it. And I ask myself a whole bunch of questions, and I try to answer those questions so I can ground myself in the reality of what he does. You're surrounded by the physical representations of what you do. So I try to think of acting in terms of thinking and doing. People think of it as, "Oh, let's get inside this guy." They think that acting is being, or feeling, or emoting. It's as much doing. One of the first things you do as an acting student is ask, "Can you say words and do a task at the same time, like sweep a floor?" That's what's so beautiful about New York. You get to see people. You see people unloading trucks. You get to go on the subway and see people who've been working all night falling asleep in their seat. Couples who are in love, couples who are arguing. You get to watch the human condition, and there's always a "doing" aspect of it. This couple, they're carrying backpacks, where are they going? Students? Or are they carrying instruments? They're musicians, or they're on their way to a rehearsal, or they've been up all night playing at a party. Whatever. It stimulates the imagination. So acting is doing...
I always thought I was going to play romantic leads. I honestly did. I still don't think I've played the role I'm destined to play, one that shows a wholeness. I've appreciated all the roles I've played, but I mean a role that shows the fullness of my personality, not just that power guy. I was doing a scene at the Actor's Studio in New York [in the early '80s], 150 people sitting in the audience. It was about Thomas Jefferson-very sensible, very intelligent, very classical kind of scene. I finish the scene, the director says to me, "Tobin, how's your career coming?" And I said, "Well, you know, I've been doing some plays, I'm doing one downtown." And she said, "No, but I mean, are you making money?" and I said, "Well, I'm plugging away, and I have since the mid-'70s. It took Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman 15 years before they worked." So she said, "You should go to Hollywood and play bad guys, that's what you should do." I was like, "What?"
(On landing Mississippi Burning) Alan Parker saw my headshot-and here's a good comment regarding having a good headshot: The more specific, the better. I don't know if mine was unusual or what, but it stood out to him. He brought me in. He doesn't even have a casting director in the room. He sets up a video camera and he talks to you. It was slightly embarrassing, because Alan would say to me, "Tobin, don't act." He was looking for somebody who, under pressure, could do something minimal. The camera sees everything. He had me do this a number of times, and disappeared to Los Angeles, cast the rest of the film, came back to New York, and brought me in again. Then same thing, except he read me for a different part. The one Brad Dourif eventually played, the deputy. I didn't have enough credits or experience, but he wanted to read me for something that had a number of lines. The part I eventually had had very few lines, but good lines. I really wanted so much to work with Alan Parker, and to get paid to go to the deep South where the blues was born, and the deltas. It was unbelievable. I was working in a restaurant, nights at the time... Oh! This is embarrassing. As soon as I get to Mississippi, I go out into the boonies with a bunch of FBI agents. And we arrest this Klan guy at this shack that he's living in. He's out in the yard, so it's just a quick clip. I cuff him and I push him through this dirty laundry hanging on the line. As I'm coming through, pushing him in front of me, handcuffed, I give this little flourish with my shoulders. It was kind of like, "Yeah! I'm the man!" Alan yells, "Cut!" He comes over to me and he says [adopts British accent] "Tobin, Tobin, Tobin. That's the last little bit of acting that you're going to do in this film, right?" He spotted it. It was the smallest little shoulder, "Yeah, I got him," kind of thing, and he didn't want that. I thought, "Oh my God, he's going to send me home. I just did the very thing he's been telling me for three weeks not to do in New York. And I did it first thing." It's like a football player: You screw up the first play of the game, and you think you're gonna sit on the bench.
One of the first speaking roles I had was in a film called Svengali, with Peter O'Toole and Elizabeth Ashley. I was a waiter, and I had about three lines. And I was ready! I had been around people like that, and I knew they were just actors. All the work I had done, it was all there, and I felt like I knew all the mechanics. I didn't know everything, and boy did I learn a lot doing crap. I did a lot of pretty bad stuff...soap operas, you name it. But you learn just as much doing bad things as you do when you do good things. In fact, sometimes you learn more because you have to make it better.

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