When 2007 film The Visitor premiered before a wildly enthusiastic audience at the Toronto film festival, the first question put to its star Richard Jenkins was "Who are you taking to the Academy Awards?". Oscar buzz was unfamiliar territory for an actor still getting over his surprise at securing his first leading role at 60 in the sleeper hit, which chronicles a college professor's unlikely friendship with an illegal immigrant.
"I would say, 'I'll go back to my trailer now', and they'd say, 'No, no, you're in the next scene'," he recalled. "It's one of those things that I didn't know I would ever get an opportunity to try. I've been waiting my entire professional life for this experience."
Born May 4, 1947, Richard's first job was driving a linen truck. After graduating with a drama degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, he began acting with the Trinity Repertory Company in Rhode Island state before making his screen debut in TV movie Feasting With Panthers aged 27.
A string of supporting credits followed, notably in The Witches Of Eastwick with Jack Nicholson, Woody Allen's Hannah And Her Sisters and Charlize Theron flick North Country.
Real fame, however, came when he impressed audiences as the crazy deceased patriarch of the Fisher family undertakers in black comedy series Six Feet Under.
Richard, who has two children - Sarah and Andrew - with his wife Sharon Frederick, whom he wed in 1969, is also regular collaborator with the Coen Brothers. Over the years he's made three movies with the Directorial duo - The Man Who Wasn't There, Intolerable Cruelty and Burn After Reading, featuring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.