One of Hollywood’s most talented actors, Barry Pepper’s impressive body of works speaks for itself. Ever since he gained critical attention for his portrayal of “Private Jackson” in the Academy Award winning feature SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, Pepper has been sought out for compelling roles with award-winning filmmakers.
Pepper was born on Vancouver Island, the gem of the Canadian West Coast, where his ancestors had settled in the early 1800's. His forefathers were pioneers, farmers, hunters, fishermen and blacksmiths who would build the first log schoolhouses, churches and farms on the surrounding Gulf Islands. Being raised with a deep appreciation and respect for living close to the land and working with his hands, Pepper now raises his own family honouring many of the same traditions handed down. Among his many passions are blacksmithing, fly-fishing, prospecting, his organic garden & orchard, and seasonal hunting for the wild edibles that abound in the stunning rain forests, waters and beaches of the rugged Pacific North West.
At age 5, his family launched a 50ft sailboat, which they hand built in a barn behind their home. Christened the "Moonlighter", she became their home for the next five years, on an incredibly adventurous voyage throughout the Islands of the South Pacific. Like the early explorers before them, they used a sextant and celestial navigation to find places like Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, and the Marquesas Islands. Pepper and his brothers were home schooled by his parents and enrolled in public school whenever possible, in such places as Rarotonga and New Zealand. The Polynesian people they met and lived with on the remote Atolls and Islands were unbound by Western reservations, young and old expressed themselves through music, singing, dancing, and storytelling, intrinsic to their way of life. These formative years developed his love of performance and with no television, and confined to a sailboat for month long crossings between countries, Barry intensely nurtured his imagination and creativity skills.
When the Peppers returned to Canada they built a farm on a small Gulf Island off the West Coast of British Columbia. The town was an eclectic community made up of farmers, hippies, expats, artisans, potters, painters, musicians, and retired professionals. People from every walk of life, race & religion, stripe & variety, would gather for barefoot dances and community baseball games, selling their produce and artwork at the farmer's market. Pepper spent his youth free to adventure and explore the wild places on the Island, hunting, fishing and swimming in the lakes in the summer, and playing hockey on them in the winter. He later discovered acting through his high school drama teacher Mrs. Salter. Salter and Pepper didn't always see eye to eye, as Pepper was a wild child, raised more Huckleberry Finn than Tom Sawyer, but her love of performance and attention to detail in authentic character development, planted the seeds for him. Pepper enrolled in the Vancouver Actors studio, training under the gifted Mel Tuck, who focused his skills, challenged him with the classics and ultimately opened his eyes to the possibilities of a career in the performing arts.
Within a few years of working in Vancouver's film & television industry, Pepper had built an impressive resumé, but his spirit was restless for adventure, and so he set sail once again, joining his father on another voyage aboard the Moonlighter. This journey proved to be the turning point for Pepper, as he and his father retraced the same route the family had navigated in the 70's, sailing from Canada down the Southern California coast, and crossing to Hawaii. Being at the helm of the Moonlighter, amidst the solitude of doldrums and harrowing wild white squalls of the vast open Pacific galvanized Pepper's vision for his future. Upon returning to North America, he packed everything he owned into his car and drove to Los Angeles, and was soon hired for the role of Jackson in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.
Pepper has starred alongside some of today’s most respected fellow actors and directors. He starred with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in Disney’s THE LONE RANGER which is set to be released July 3, 2013. Recently released films were BROKEN CITY for 20th Century Fox with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe and Summit Entertainment’s SNITCH with Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon. He starred with Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Matt Damon in the Coen Brother’s remake of TRUE GRIT. He starred opposite Kevin Spacey in CASINO JACK, the story of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. For his performance in this film Barry was the recipient of the Hollywood Spotlight Award from the 14th annual Hollywood Film Festival. He also starred in LIKE DANDELION DUST which won more than 30 national and international film festival awards, including Best Actor at the 2009 Las Vegas International Film Festival and 2009 NY Vision Festival. He was seen opposite Will Smith in Columbia Pictures’ SEVEN POUNDS, worked with Clint Eastwood in the World War II epic FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS for Dreamworks/Warner Bros, and starred alongside Tom Hanks in the Academy Award winning feature THE GREEN MILE. He also starred in 25th HOUR, Spike Lee’s compelling view of post-9/11 New York City, starring Ed Norton and Philip Seymour Hoffman. His film THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA for Sony Pictures Classics marked Tommy Lee Jones’ directorial debut and was shown in competition at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, and Pepper received a nomination for Best Supporting Male in the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards.
His other feature credits include the Bruckheimer/Scott thriller ENEMY OF THE STATE with Will Smith and Gene Hackman, the critically acclaimed Paramount Pictures’ WE WERE SOLDIERS with Mel Gibson, and the New Line feature KNOCKAROUND GUYS opposite John Malkovich and Dennis Hopper.
Pepper starred as Robert Kennedy in the Reelz Channel 8 hr. miniseries THE KENNEDYS with Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes. In recognition of his outstanding performance he won the 2011 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie and the 26th annual Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries. He has also made his mark as a producer. He executive produced and starred in the title role of the ESPN feature 3: THE DALE EARNHARDT STORY, a biopic of the NASCAR star who died in a crash during the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. His performance garnered a nomination for the 11th Annual SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. He also executive produced and starred in THE SNOW WALKER, which he received a Best Actor nomination for the 24th Annual Genie Awards in Canada as well as eight other nominations for the film.
Pepper’s starring role in the HBO feature 61* earned him nominations for a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and a Critic’s Choice Award. The film tells the story behind the competition between the New York Yankees’ Roger Maris (Pepper) and Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) to break Babe Ruth’s single season homerun record in 1961. The critically acclaimed film was directed and executive produced by Billy Crystal.