Nationality: American. Born: Roy Richard Scheider in Orange, New Jersey, 10 November 1935. Education: Attended Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, B.A. 1955. Military Service: U.S. Air Force. Family: Married 1) Cynthia Eddenfield Bebout, 1962, one daughter; 2) Brenda King, one son, one daughter. Career: Member of the Lincoln Center Repertory Company; 1964—film debut in Curse of the Living Corpse ; 1980—on Broadway in Betrayal ; 1993–95—in TV series seaQuest DSV ; 1993—in TV mini-series Wild Justice , and Leopold & Loeb , 1994.
Curse of the Living Corpse (Tenney) (as Philip Sinclair)
Paper Lion (March); Star! (Wise)
Stiletto (Kowalski) (as Bennett)
Loving (Kershner) (as Skip); Puzzle of a Downfall Child (Schatzberg) (as Mark)
The French Connection (Friedkin) (as Buddy "Cloudy" Russo); Klute (Pakula) (as Frank Ligourin)
Assignment Munich (Rich—for TV) (as Jake Webster)
The Seven-Ups (D'Antoni) (as Buddy Manucci); Un Homme est morte ( The Outside Man ; Funerale a Los Angeles ) (Deray) (as Lenny); L'Attendat ( The French Conspiracy ) (Boisset) (as Michael Howard)
Jaws (Spielberg) (as Sheriff Martin Brody); Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York (Furie) (as Sam Stoneham)
Marathon Man (Schlesinger) (as Doc Levy)
Sorcerer (Friedkin) (as Jackie Scanlon/"Juan Dominiguez")
Jaws II (Szwarc) (as Sheriff Brody)
Last Embrace (Jonathan Demme) (as Harry Hannan); All That Jazz (Fosse) (as Joe Gideon)
Still of the Night (Benton) (as Sam Rice)
Blue Thunder (Badham) (as Frank Murphy); Tiger Town (Shapiro) (as Billy Young); Jacobo Timerman: Prisoner without a Name, Cell without a Number (Yellen—for TV) (title role)
2010 (Hyams) (as Heywood Floyd)
Mishima (Schrader) (as narrator)
The Men's Club (Medak) (as Cavanaugh); 52 Pick-Up (Frankenheimer) (as Harry Mitchell)
Cohen and Tate (Red) (as Cohen)
Night Game (Masterson) (as Mike Seaver); Listen to Me (Stewart) (as Charlie Nichols)
The Fourth War (Frankenheimer) (as Colonel Jack Clark); The Russia House (Schepisi) (as Russell); Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture (Pierson—for TV) (as Paul Marish)
Naked Lunch (Cronenberg) (as Dr. Benway); Contact: The Yahomani Indians of Brazil (doc)
Romeo Is Bleeding (Medak) (as Don Falcone)
Covert Assassin (as Col. Peter Stride)
Myth of Fingerprints (Freundlich) (as Hal)
Money Plays (Frank D. Gilroy—for TV) (as Johnny Tobin); Executive Target (Merhi) (as President Carlson); The Definite Maybe (Lobl, Sokolow) (as Eddie Jacobson); The Rainmaker (Coppola) (as Wilfred Keeley)
The White Raven (Stevens) (as Tom Heath); Evasive Action (Jerry P. Jacobs); Better Living (Mayer) (as Tom/Tim)
Silver Wolf (Svatek) (as John Rockwell); RKO 281 (Benjamin Ross—for TV) (as George Schaefer)
Chain of Command ; The Doorway ; Falling Through
Interview in Films Illustrated (London), January 1976.
Interview with James Cameron-Wilson, in Film Review (London), November 1980.
Interviews in Ecran Fantastique , July/August 1983 and April 1985.
Interview in Time Out (London), 14 March 1985.
Hamill, Pete, "Recognizing Roy Scheider," in New York , 23 May 1983.
* * *
Roy Scheider's career is marked by variety and diversity, but it has not been varied by degrees. Instead, Roy Scheider characters can always be seen at the extremes. He is at once the heroic, everyman, Sheriff Martin Brody in Jaws and Jaws II and Frank, the sadistic pimp in Klute . On both counts, at whatever end of the character spectrum he operates, he is always believable, and most importantly, accessible.
The best way to visualize the extremes in Scheider's long film career is to look at the year 1971. In that year he had roles in two Academy Award-winning motion pictures. In Klute he played Jane Fonda's pimp Frank, a necessarily small, seedy character from whose lips syrupy wooing and brutal epithets flow with equal credibility. Later that year, Scheider got what was to become perhaps his breakthrough role. As Buddy Russo, Gene "Popeye Doyle" Hackman's partner in The French Connection , he was the ideal, play-it-by-the-book offset to Hackman's obsessive Doyle.
Scheider's most memorable role, and subsequently his most marketable persona, is that of Sheriff Martin Brody in Jaws . Brody is the perfect commoner's hero: a former New York cop, who is afraid of the water, but lives and works on a small resort island. Brody himself wittily underscores this fact saying, "It's only an island if you're looking at it from out there [the water]." Brody, like so many later Scheider characters—the mild-mannered psychiatrist in The Still of the Night or the daring copter pilot in Blue Thunder —must rise above his personal limitations or hang-ups to overcome an adversary seemingly much better prepared. The task of these characters is made harder by the fact that they are also outsiders. But Scheider has worked his way up the ranks (i.e., "paid his dues" as an actor—anyone who has seen the low-budget Curse of the Living Corpse will agree), and been a tough guy in real life (Golden Gloves boxer in high school). These factors have helped bring a special kind of realism to his roles.
A less visible aspect of Scheider's career, but one that is just as significant, is the number of times he has played against his usual persona. In films such as William Friedkin's Sorceror , Scheider finds characters that seem to have no precedent in his prolific past. All That Jazz is the best example of how Scheider has willingly taken career chances. In the film, which Bob Fosse loosely based on his own self-destructive lifestyle, Scheider plays a famed choreographer/filmmaker named Joe Gideon. As such, he must dance, sing, and most importantly, develop a character that is credible within such a world. Scheider did an excellent job of making Gideon a three-dimensional character, managing to create a sympathetic side to a self-indulgent womanizer. His performance earned him an Academy Award nomination.
Among other things, Scheider has been fortunate enough to have worked with the major directorial talents of the last two decades: Steven Spielberg, William Friedkin, Robert Benton, Alan J. Pakula, and Bob Fosse. It is also, decidedly, a tribute to Roy Scheider's talents that the foremost names continue to want to work with him.
—Rob Winning, updated by Linda J. Stewart