Who is That Actor: Željko Ivanek
It seems impossible to watch a film or television program without eventually encountering the wildly prolific character actor Željko Ivanek – pronounced “Zell-ko Evan- nek”. He’s an old school Fontanaverse (Tom Fontana) player and I’ve long enjoyed his work. I can’t think of a program I’ve watched – Homicide: Life on the Street, The X-Files, Damages, 24 – where Željko Ivanek hasn’t made a scene stealing appearance. I am most familiar with Ivanek through his work as the pragmatic and often put upon Maryland State’s Attorney Ed Danvers on Homicide. But apparently, this dude has been EVERYWHERE. Definitely made the rounds on all the popular cop shows and medical dramas. This is a busy dude!
What I enjoy most about his performances is his ability to infuse humanity in even the most sleaziest characters. He often plays bit roles that would feel very much underwritten in the hands of a less accomplished thespian, but Ivanek finds a way to bring something substantial to each role he plays and seems very comfortable doing strong, memorable supporting work. Currently, Ivanek co-stars on the NBC drama The Event with another WiTA alum Bill Smitrovich. While the New York Post describes Ivanek’s appeal this way:
From inbreeding his family on “Big Love,” to playing happy torturer on “True Blood,” to helping Ted Danson eviscerate the life savings of thousands of trusting employees on “Damages,” Zeljko Ivanek has become TV’s No. 1 go-to creepy guy.
That’s an interesting take on his body of work. I tend to think of Ivanek as able to effectively make you care about “creepy” characters because there is a sweetness and vulnerability at the foundation of all his characters – even the really dark ones.
From the same New York Post interview, here’s Ivanek’s take on his success:
“I think it’s the deep-set dark eyes and kind of thin face. I just look a little sinister, apparently. Not to my friends or family, who know and love me, but you stick me in a suit and it has certain connotations.”
Ha. I kind of love this freaking fan made video.
And winning an outstanding supporting Emmy for his stellar work on Damages: