Nationality: American. Born: New York, New York, 21 March 1962; son of James (an actor) and Patricia (a painter, writer, and director) Broderick. Education: Attended the Walden School. Family: Married Sarah Jessica Parker (an actress), 19 May 1997. Career: Stage debut at age 17 in On Valentine's Day. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212–1825, U.S.A.
Max Dugan Returns (Ross) (as Michael McPhee); WarGames (Badham) (as David Lightman)
Cinderella (Cunningham—for TV) (as Prince Henry)
1918 (Harrison) (as Brother); Master Harold and the Boys (Lindsay-Hogg—for TV) (as Master Harold 'Hally'); Ladyhawke (Donner) (as Phillipe)
On Valentine's Day ( Story of a Marriage , title for On Valentine's Day and 1918 ) (Harrison) (as Brother); Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Hughes) (as Ferris Bueller)
Courtship (Cummings) (as Brother); Project X (Kaplan) (as Jimmy Garrett)
She's Having a Baby (Hughes) (as Cameo at end [uncredited]); Torch Song Trilogy (Bogart) (as Alan); Biloxi Blues (Nichols) (as Eugene)
Family Business (Lumet) (as Adam); Glory (Zwick) (as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw)
The Freshman (Bergman) (as Clark Kellogg)
Out on a Limb (Veber) (as Bill Campbell)
The Night We Never Met (Leight) (as Sam Lester); A Life in the Theater (Mosher—for TV) (as John)
The Road to Wellville (Parker) (as William Lightbody); Would You Kindly Direct Me To Hell?: The Infamous Dorothy Parker (Karp—for TV) (as Commentator); Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle ( Mrs. Parker and the Round Table ) (Rudolph) (as Charles MacArthur); The Lion King (Allers and Minkoff) (voice of Adult Simba)
Arabian Knight (Williams) (as voice of Tack)
Infinity (as Richard Feynman) (+ d, pr); The Cable Guy (Stiller) (as Steven Kovacs)
Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (Burns) (mini—for TV) (voice of John Ordelay); Addicted to Love ( Forlorn ) (Dunne) (as Sam)
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (LaDuca and Rooney) (voice of Simba); Godzilla (Emmerich) (as Dr. Niko Tatopoulos)
Walking to the Waterline (Mulhern); Inspector Gadget (Kellogg) (as John Brown and Inspector Gadget); Election (Payne) (as Jim McAllister)
You Can Count on Me (Lonergan) (as Brian)
"School's Out," interview with A. Hunter, in Films and Filming (London), no. 389, February 1987.
Interview with Kenneth Lonergan, in Interview (New York), vol. 30, no. 4, April 2000.
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Matthew Broderick left an indelible mark on 1980s cinema with a bravura performance as the eponymous hero in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , the archly Oedipal comedy that helped define the actor's screen persona as much as it did the emerging sensibility of Generation X. Ferris is not just the subject of his life, but its architect as well. Director John Hughes exemplifies the control this high school senior is able to achieve through force of will, cunning, and charm by giving
Broderick had developed the essential elements of the Ferris Bueller character in some earlier work, especially the engaging Wargames , where his character's childish pranksterism almost causes a nuclear confrontation that, à la Tom Swift, he alone proves able to defuse, once again showing the inadequacies of "official" adultdom. Among other early films such as Project X , he reprises it to great effect. In Biloxi Blues , he plays the smart New York Jew faced with double culture shock: life in the army and life in, of all places, a very non-Kosher Mississippi. Even recently, though older and not so baby faced, Broderick does two turns on the Bueller character, taking it into the realm of likable eccentricity chiefly inhabited by Robin Williams. As the title character in Inspector Gadget , a kind of pleasant RoboCop, and the naïve biologist in Godzilla , Broderick proves able once again to deliver just the right mixture of kooky antiestablishmentarianism and boy-next-door appeal. Less successful is the schlemiel turn on Bueller character that Broderick attempted in The Freshman , where he was much too old to play a naïve recent high school graduate just arrived in New York to pursue a filmmaking career at New York University. The story plays interestingly with age contrasts, pitting Broderick against Marlon Brando as an older version of the godfather; Andrew Bergman's fine screenplay gives Broderick some interesting moments, including a Ferris Bueller kind of chase for an escaped lizard through a terrorized suburban mall. Though directed by Sidney Lumet, Family Business was a critical and popular failure, notwithstanding its casting of Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, and Broderick as the three generations in a family turned to a disastrously conceived crime. Also unsuccessful was Torch Song Trilogy , where Broderick attempts the role of a young gay man (on stage he had appeared in different parts in the immensely popular Broadway extravaganza dominated by the personality and talent of Harvey Fierstein). This mixture of bravura performance and conventional melodrama did not transfer well to the screen, and Broderick seems lost in the role.
Making the transition, more or less, to adult roles, Broderick, despite his energy and wit, has not been so successful with romantic comedy, but always turns in a competent and engaging performance. In The Cable Guy , he plays a young man disappointed in love who, through incredible mischance, becomes hooked up with Jim Carrey's equally lonely cable repairman, who eventually takes over his life. Broderick does a good job of providing the proper human setting for Carrey's legendary antics; his straight man is subdued, submissive, and easy to victimize. The black comedy Addicted to Love offered Broderick more opportunity to shine, but, paired with Meg Ryan doing an excellent turn as an aggressive, low rent talker, he seemed unable to generate an equivalent energy, trapped, perhaps, by the nerdy lineaments of his character (an astronomer from the Midwest). Though the first part of the film focuses on his attempts to spy on the woman who has jilted him, when Ryan's biker lady moves in downstairs he is simply overwhelmed. With some romantic chemistry, the pair might have been able to make the subsequent plot work, but Broderick lacks traditional leading man charisma and sexiness.
In strictly dramatic roles, he has achieved some better results, often as a part of an ensemble (in Alan Rudolph's Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle , where as Charles McArthur, one of the Algonquin circle presided over by Dorothy Parker, he does a creditable, if onedimensional job) or as a minor but featured player (in Horton Foote's marvelous 1918 , where his footloose young man does not even have a name, but is simply known to the rest of the family as Brother). In his own directorial debut, Infinity (based on his mother's screenplay), Broderick attempts to incarnate an adult Ferris Bueller, physicist Richard Feynman, who, by all accounts, was a manic, difficult, wildly creative person. The film is essentially a love story, but Broderick's version of Feynman lacks the charisma and bubbling creativity that would make this nerdy recluse an attractive romantic partner (Patricia Arquette does a convincing job as the girlfriend, who becomes desperately ill, setting up a kind of Love Story plot where Feynman must find a way to attend to his beloved yet assist with the ongoing Manhattan project). It is in the Civil War epic Glory that Broderick does his finest dramatic work. Here he plays one of history's most famous mama's boys, the Boston aristocrat Robert Gould Shaw, who became the first colonel of one of the Federal Army's first Negro regiments. In a fine, layered performance, Broderick subtly suggests Shaw's fearful hesitancy at Antietam, and the subsequent growth in self-esteem and ideological purpose that transforms him as he assumes a truly important and transcendent moral burden, setting an example for the black soldiers who are called upon to set examples of their own for their fellows not yet in arms. Forced to grow up, Shaw is also forced to accept his own death. It is a part in which Ferris Bueller, all kidding aside, would not be caught dead.
—R. Barton Palmer