Todd Field

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Todd Field
Field attending the 73rd Berlin Film Festival
William Todd Field

(1964-02-24) February 24, 1964 (age 60)
  • Filmmaker
  • actor
Years active1985–present
Serena Rathbun
(m. 1986)

William Todd Field (born February 24, 1964) is an American filmmaker and actor. He is known for directing In the Bedroom (2001), Little Children (2006), and Tár (2022), which were nominated for a combined fourteen Academy Awards. Field has personally received six Academy Award nominations for his films; two for Best Picture, two for Best Adapted Screenplay, one for Best Director, and one for Best Original Screenplay.[1]

Before establishing himself as a filmmaker, Field appeared as an actor in such films as Victor Nuñez's Ruby in Paradise (1993), Nicole Holofcener's Walking and Talking (1996), and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999). He also co-created the concept for bubble gum brand Big League Chew.

Early life[edit]

Todd Field Portland Mavericks 1977

Field was born in Pomona, California, where his family ran a poultry farm.[2] When Field turned two, his family moved to Portland, Oregon, where his father went to work as a salesman, and his mother became a school librarian. At an early age, he became interested in performing sleight-of-hand and later music.[3][4]

As a child in Portland, Field was a batboy for the Portland Mavericks, a single A independent minor league baseball team owned by Hollywood actor Bing Russell. Kurt Russell, Bing's son and later an actor in his own right, also played for the Portland Mavericks during this time.[5] Field and Mavericks pitching coach Rob Nelson created the first batch of Big League Chew in the Field family kitchen. In 1980, Nelson and former New York Yankees all-star Jim Bouton sold the idea to the Wrigley Company. Since that time more than a billion pouches have been sold worldwide.[6][7][8][9]


A budding jazz musician, at the age of sixteen Field became a member of the Big Band at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon. Headed by Larry McVey, the band had become a proving-ground and regular stop for Stan Kenton and Mel Tormé when they were looking for new players. It was here Field played trombone along with his friend, trumpeter and future Grammy Award Winner Chris Botti. During this same time he also worked as a non-union projectionist at a second-run movie theater. Field graduated with his class from Centennial High School on Portland's east side and briefly attended Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) in Ashland on a music scholarship, but left after his freshman year favoring a move to New York to study acting with Robert X. Modica at his renowned Carnegie Hall Studio.[10] Soon after, Field began performing with the Ark Theatre Company as both an actor and musician.[11] He received his Master of Fine Arts from the AFI Conservatory.[4]

Acting career[edit]

Ashley Judd & Field in Victor Nuñez’s Ruby in Paradise

Field first appeared in motion pictures after Woody Allen cast him in Radio Days (1987), and went on to work with some of America's greatest filmmakers, including Stanley Kubrick, Victor Nuñez, and Carl Franklin.[12]

"Field has a deceptive facade of all-American clean-cut looks that allows him to suggest a wide range of emotions and thoughts behind such a regular-guy appearance; in Ruby in Paradise he expressed such uncommon decency and intelligence you had to wonder how Ashley Judd's hardscrabble Ruby could ever have considered letting him get away. In Eyes Wide Shut he's the likable med school dropout turned saloon piano player, and here he's an increasingly raging sociopath. In all these roles Field has the precious gift of being able to surprise you and to command your attention on screen."[13]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times in his review of Broken Vessels

Franklin and Nuñez, both AFI alumni, encouraged Field to enroll as a Directing Fellow at the AFI, which he did in 1992. His thesis film, Nonnie & Alex, received a Jury Prize at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival[14]. Other short films he made outside of school were exhibited at venues overseas and domestically at the Museum of Modern Art.[15]

Filmmaking career[edit]

In the Bedroom[edit]

Field on the set of In the Bedroom

Field began his filmmaking career in 2001 when he wrote and directed In the Bedroom, a film based on Andre Dubus's short story "Killings". (Kubrick and Dubus were among Field's mentors; both died right before the production of In the Bedroom.) In the Bedroom was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Tom Wilkinson, his first nomination), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek, her sixth), Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei, her second), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was shot in Rockland, Maine, a New England town where Field resides. The house where he, his wife (Serena Rathbun), and their four children live was even used as the setting for one sequence.[16] Rathbun and Spacek did some of the set design and Field handled the camera himself on many of the shots.

In the Bedroom made its debut at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Dennis Lim wrote in the Village Voice:

Todd Field's debut feature, In the Bedroom, alighted on the snowy peaks of Sundance last January as if from another universe. Here was a small miracle of patience and composure, so starkly removed from everything the festival had come to represent that it seemed almost to herald the overdue coming-of-age of American independent film.[17]

Upon the film's release David Ansen of Newsweek wrote:

Todd Field exhibits a mastery of his craft many filmmakers never acquire in a lifetime. With one film he's guaranteed his future as a director. He has the magnificent obsession of the natural-born filmmaker[18][19]

Anthony Quinn of The Independent stated,

"Field has pulled off something here I thought no American filmmaker would ever manage again: he makes violence feel genuinely shocking."[20]

For his work on In the Bedroom, Field was named Director of the Year by the National Board of Review, and his script was awarded Best Original Screenplay. The film was named Best Picture of the Year by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the New York Film Critics Circle awarded Field Best First Film. In the Bedroom received six American Film Institute Awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, three Golden Globe nominations, and five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and two individually for Field as screenwriter and producer. The American Film Institute honored Field with the Franklin Schaffner Alumni Medal.

The March 2023 issue of New York magazine listed In the Bedroom alongside Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, Dr. Strangelove, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Conversation, Nashville, Taxi Driver, The Elephant Man, Pulp Fiction, There Will Be Blood, Roma, and Tár, also directed by Field, as "The Best Movies That Lost Best Picture at the Oscars".[21]

Little Children[edit]

Tom Perrotta and Field working on the script for Little Children, 2005

After months spent doing research for a biopic of 19th-century stage actor Edwin Booth titled Time Between Trains, Field resurfaced with Little Children in 2006.[22][23] The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including two for the actors: Kate Winslet (her fifth nomination, and with it a record for the youngest actor to be nominated for five Academy Awards) and Jackie Earle Haley (his first nomination and first major role in over 15 years). With just two films, Field had garnered five Academy Award nominations for his actors and three for himself. Initially conceived as a miniseries,[24] the film, based on Tom Perrotta's novel of the same name, made its premiere at the 2006 New York Film Festival. In his roundup "Best of 2006", A.O. Scott of The New York Times wrote:

The first time you see Todd Field's adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel, you may remark on the director's impressive control over the unruly source material and the emotional agility of the cast, Kate Winslet in particular. The second time, the film's lurid, crazy side is more apparent, and the intensity of the supporting performances—Noah Emmerich, Jackie Earle Haley, Phyllis Somerville—creep into the foreground. This movie, Mr. Field's second a complicated blend of gothic, melodrama and sexual comedy, unerringly attuned to the varieties of human failure.[25]

International Cinephile Society's Matt Mazur called the film "subversive" and designed to disorient the viewer with "seemingly non-connected imagery to suggest a tone and a mood of disquiet." Mazur compared Field's technique with that of Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Edwin S. Porter.[26]

Many members of Field's creative team on In the Bedroom returned to work with him on the film, including Serena Rathbun. In a 2006 interview with The Hollywood Reporter's Anne Thompson, Field said he quit acting and began making his own films after Rathbun told him, "Do what you want to do. Don't get distracted."[27] Later that year, Field spoke extensively about the importance of Rathbun as his creative partner, describing a conversation he had with her where she gave him the most pivotal scene: "for me, the film is unthinkable without it."[28]

2006–2021: Unrealized projects[edit]

After Little Children, Field went fifteen years without directing another film, which various journalists lamented.[29] In his 2015 Ioncinema piece "Top 10 American Indie Filmmakers Missing in Action", Nicholas Bell wrote, "It is definitely time for Field to throw one down the middle. In the meantime, we'll just have to watch In the Bedroom for the umpteenth time."[30]

During this period, Field worked on a number of film and television projects that never came to fruition, including adaptations of the novels Blood Meridian,[31][32] Beautiful Ruins[33] and Purity.[34] He also worked for almost a decade on a film adaptation of the 2010 Boston Teran novel The Creed of Violence, set during the Mexican Revolution, which at different times was set to star Leonardo DiCaprio,[35] Christian Bale[36] and Daniel Craig.[37] It had also been reported that Field might direct a coming-of-age script set in the 1970s Northwest based on his experiences with the Minor League Baseball team the Portland Mavericks, that Kurt Russell was involved in.[7][38]

Speaking publicly for the first time in sixteen years, Field told The New York Times in 2022, "I set my sights in a very particular way on certain material that was probably very tough to get made."[39] Later, when asked if he would ever consider reviving any of his past projects, Field replied "[They're] kind of like a family plot. You have these little headstones, and you have a passing acquaintance with and occasionally drop flowers on, but I don't want to dig any of them up."[40]

Over those same years Field also worked in advertising, directing spots for such brands as Xbox,[41] Captain Morgan,[42] Corona,[43] BMW,[44] NASCAR[45] and GE.[46] Reflecting on his advertising work over these years he stated "I've been directing constantly, I feel much stronger as a director than I ever felt with those previous films."[47]


Field & Blanchett at 79th Venice International Film Festival where she received the Volpi Cup for Best Actress

Field's third film, Tár, starring Cate Blanchett as the fictional conductor/composer Lydia Tár, premiered at the 79th Venice International Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Lion and Queer Lion, with Blanchett winning the Volpi Cup for Best Actress.[48] The film had a limited theatrical release in the United States on October 7, 2022, before its wide release on October 28, 2022, and International theatrical release that began first in the UK on 13 January 2023.[49] Tár received six nominations for the 95th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Field, and Best Actress for Blanchett, and five nominations from the 76th British Academy Film Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Sound, and Best Screenplay of the Year.[50][51]

For his work on Tár, Field was nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Best Director, the Producers Guild of America for Best Film, and the Writers Guild of America for Best Original Screenplay.[52][53][54] He was named Best Director of the Year by the London Film Critics' Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and his script named Best Original Screenplay.[55][56]

Tár is the fourth film in history to be named Best of the Year by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the London Film Critics' Circle as well as the National Society of Film Critics.[57] More critics listed the film Best of the Year than any other released in 2022, including The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily, Vanity Fair, and Variety; plus, IndieWire's annual poll of 165 critics worldwide who also named Field "Best Director of the Year" and his script "Best Screenplay."[58][59][60]

Owen Gleiberman in his Venice Film Festival Daily Variety review wrote:

"Let me say right up front: It's the work of a master filmmaker... Tár is not a judgement so much as a statement you can make your own judgment about. The statement is: We're in a new world."[61]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times writing from the Telluride Film Festival and later from the New York Film Festival stated,

"I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie quite like Tár. Field balances Apollonian restraint with Dionysian frenzy. Tár is meticulously controlled and also scarily wild. Field finds a new way of posing the perennial question about separating the artist from the art, a question that he suggests can only be answered by another question: are you crazy? We don't care about Tár because she's an artist. We care about her because she's art."[62][63]

Alissa Wilkinson, writing for Vox, observed:

"Not to be hyperbolic, but it might be perfect. Todd Field has tuned his themes so brilliantly. You can’t just half-watch Tár, it demands your full attention. That’s the mark of good art, but it’s a discipline so many contemporary films aren’t willing to demand from audiences. And if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t just watch Tár; it watches you, too.”[64]

Martin Scorsese presenting Best Film of the Year to Field at the 2022 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, praised Field's filmmaking saying,

"For so long now, so many of us see films that pretty much let us know where they're going... but that's on dark days. The clouds lifted when I experienced Todd's film, Tár."[65]

Paul Thomas Anderson also praised Field when presenting him with his Director Medallion at the 75th annual DGA Awards saying,

"Every detail matters in this film. Nothing is not deliberate or full of intention. It's directed with such perfectly controlled mayhem and glee by Todd, it's really hard not to drool as another director."[66]


On Josh Olson and Joe Dante's The Movies That Made Me podcast, Field listed ten of his favorite films, which included Man with a Movie Camera (1929), The Big Parade (1925), The Servant (1963), I Am Cuba (1964), Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Murmur of the Heart (1971), Opening Night (1977), The Meetings of Anna (1978) and No End (1985).[67]

Field has cited George Roy Hill, Alan J. Pakula, John Ford, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg as the directors who inspired him when he was a young person.[68]



Year Title Role Director Ref.
1986 He Shoots, He Scores Anders Johansson Jean-Claude Lord
1987 Radio Days Crooner Woody Allen
The Allnighter Bellhop Tamar Simon Hoffs
1988 Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy Private Anthony Glenn Carl Franklin
The End of Innocence Richard Dyan Cannon
Back to Back Todd Brand John Kincaide
1989 Fat Man and Little Boy Robert Rathbun Wilson Roland Joffe
Gross Anatomy David Schreiner Thom Eberhardt
1990 Full Fathom Five Johnson Carl Franklin
1991 Queens Logic Cecil Steve Rash
1993 Ruby in Paradise Mike McCaslin Victor Nuñez
357 Marina del Rey Rake Rowe Penelope Spheeris
1994 Sleep with Me Duane Rory Kelly
1996 Twister Tim 'Beltzer' Lewis Jan de Bont
Walking and Talking Frank Nicole Holofcener
1999 Broken Vessels Jimmy Warzniack Scott Ziehl
Eyes Wide Shut Nick Nightingale Stanley Kubrick
The Haunting Todd Hackett Jan de Bont
2000 Net Worth Thad Davis Kenny Griswold
Stranger than Fiction Austin Walker/Donovan Miller Eric Bross [69]
2001 New Port South Walsh Kyle Cooper
2002 Rip It Off Jack Toretti Gigi Gaston
2005 The Second Front Nicolas Raus Dmitri Fiks
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1986 Lance et compte Anders Johansson 5 episodes
1987 Gimme a Break! Eric 2 episodes
1987 Hard Knocks Chad Episode: "Captain Justice"
1987 Brothers Walter Episode: "Penny and the Hard Hat"
1987 Student Exchange Neil Barton/Adriano Fabrizzi Television movie
1987 Take Five Kevin Davis 6 episodes
1988 Roseanne Charles Episode: "D-I-V-O-R-C-E"
1990 Tales from the Crypt Eugene Episode: "Judy, You're Not Yourself Today"
1991 Lookwell Jason Television movie
1993 Danger Theatre Ray Monroe Episode: "Searcher in the Mist/Sex, Lies & Decaf"
1993 Bakersfield P.D. Lewis Episode: "The Poker Game"
1995 Chicago Hope Josh Taubler Episode: "Heartbreak"
1998 Cupid Sam Episode: "Pick-Up Schticks"
1999–2001 Once and Again David Cassilli 28 episodes
2002–2003 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Ol' Drippy Voice, 2 episodes


Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes Ref.
Feature films
2001 In the Bedroom Yes Yes Yes
2006 Little Children Yes Yes Yes
2022 Tár Yes Yes Yes
Short films
1992 Too Romantic Yes Yes No AFI First Year Cycle Project
1993 When I Was a Boy Yes No No Co-director with Alex Vlacos and Matthew Modine
The Dog Yes No No Co-director with Alex Vlacos
The Tree Yes Yes No AFI First Year Cycle Project
Delivering Yes Yes No AFI First Year Cycle Project
1995 Nonnie & Alex Yes No No AFI Second Year Thesis Project
2023 The Fundraiser Yes Yes Yes Created for Berlinale 2023 [70]
Music videos
2022 "Mortar" Yes Yes Yes Music video [71][72]
1999 Once and Again Yes No No Episode: "Outside Hearts"
2005 Carnivàle Yes No No Episode: "Cheyenne, WY"


Year Award Category Project Result Ref.
2001 Academy Award Best Picture In the Bedroom Nominated [73]
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
2006 Little Children Nominated [74]
2022 Best Picture Tár Nominated [75]
Best Director Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2001 AFI Awards Director of the Year In the Bedroom Nominated [76]
Screenwriter of the Year Nominated
2022 London Film Critics' Circle Film of the Year Tár Won [77]
Director of the Year Won
Screenwriter of the Year Nominated
2023 British Academy Film Awards Best Film Tár Nominated [78]
Best Director Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Nominated
2001 British Film Institute Satyajit Ray Award In the Bedroom Won
2022 Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing - Feature Film Tár Nominated [79]
1993 Film Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Male Ruby in Paradise Nominated [80]
2001 Best First Feature In the Bedroom Won [81]
Best Screenplay Nominated
2022 Best Feature Tár Nominated [82]
Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay - Motion Picture Little Children Nominated [83]
2022 Tár Nominated [84]
2006 Gotham Awards Best Feature Little Children Nominated [85]
2022 Best Feature Tár Nominated [86]
Best Screenplay Won
2001 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Film In the Bedroom Won [87]
2022 Best Film Tár Won [88]
Best Director Won
Best Screenplay Won
2001 National Board of Review Best Director In the Bedroom Won [89]
Best Screenplay Won
2022 National Society of Film Critics Best Film Tár Won [90]
Best Screenplay Won
2001 New York Film Critics Circle Best First Film In the Bedroom Won [91]
Best Director Runner-up
2022 Best Film Tár Won [92]
2022 Boston Society of Film Critics Best Director Tár Won [93]
1995 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award Nonnie & Alex Won
2001 Grand Jury Prize In the Bedroom Nominated
2022 Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion Tár Nominated
Queer Lion Nominated
2006 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Little Children Nominated
2022 Best Original Screenplay Tár Nominated [94]

Directed Academy Award performances

Field has directed multiple Oscar nominated performances.

Year Performer Title Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
2001 Tom Wilkinson In the Bedroom Nominated
Academy Award for Best Actress
2001 Sissy Spacek In the Bedroom Nominated
2006 Kate Winslet Little Children Nominated
2022 Cate Blanchett Tár Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
2006 Jackie Earle Haley Little Children Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2001 Marisa Tomei In the Bedroom Nominated


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