11 March 1961, Montréal, Québec, Canada
Elias Koteas was born on March 11, 1961, in Montreal, Canada. Both his parents are of Greek descent. Elias attended Vanier College in Montreal before leaving to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1981, of which he is a graduate. He also attended the Actors Studio in New York City, where he studied acting under Ellen Bu...
Elias Koteas was born on March 11, 1961, in Montreal, Canada. Both his parents are of Greek descent. Elias attended Vanier College in Montreal before leaving to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1981, of which he is a graduate. He also attended the Actors Studio in New York City, where he studied acting under Ellen Burstyn and Peter Masterson. His film debut was in One Magic Christmas (1985). He has also appeared on stage in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," "Death of a Salesman," "Bent" and "The Cherry Orchard." In 1989 he was nominated for a Genie (Canada's Academy Award) for best actor in Malarek (1988), a true story in which he plays a troubled street-kid-turned reporter for a Canadian newspaper. A somewhat of a breakthrough role for Elias happened in 1990, when he got the role of vigilante Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) and its sequels. He is one of Canada's most popular actors and frequently appears in films by Canadian directors Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg. It was Cronenberg's controversial movie Crash (1996) that had Cannes all abuzz in 1996. Elias played Vaughan, a self-appointed "mad scientist" with an unusual fetish--sexual delight in car crashes! The past two years have been busy ones for Koteas, adding six more roles to his resume. As Capt. James Staros, the commanding officer of Charlie Company in The Thin Red Line (1998), he brought sensitivity and compassion to his portrayal of a man who cared about the safety of his men--even at the risk of his own career. In 2000 he appeared in Lost Souls (2000), a thriller starring Winona Ryder, and starred on Broadway with Josh Brolin in the Sam Shepard play "True West."
I would think I'd accomplished it all if I could get to play Quasimodo.
I would think I'd accomplished it all if I could get to play Quasimodo.
I play guys who are willing to go really far. If the dung really hits the fan, I don't know if I could walk the talk. But anyone who isn't w...
I play guys who are willing to go really far. If the dung really hits the fan, I don't know if I could walk the talk. But anyone who isn't willing to die for his convictions isn't worth living. My characters, no matter how demented they are, they have their convictions. (Screenmancer.com, 2001)
A lot of these roles that I feel like I've had some sort of impact, or that have had an effect on me, have always been with directors who ha...
A lot of these roles that I feel like I've had some sort of impact, or that have had an effect on me, have always been with directors who have the time to somehow get to know me. Any good director's going to be curious about who it is that's coming aboard. Because of lack of time a lot of directors hope that you just have the character in your pocket and you just show up and do it.
I think children exist on a different spiritual vibration and I think they're really keyed in on any bull*** barometer. So for them to put t...
I think children exist on a different spiritual vibration and I think they're really keyed in on any bull*** barometer. So for them to put their arm around me and accept me was gratifying. As an actor, that's what I hope and aspire to be-a 12 year old. Then at the same time, you're looking at them at the cusp of change and they're firing on all spiritual cylinders and reflecting back what they see. I felt like I was in the presence of something really special.
[2011, on Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)] That was the summer of 1986. I was 25-years-old, fresh out of acting school, exhilarated, living in...
[2011, on Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)] That was the summer of 1986. I was 25-years-old, fresh out of acting school, exhilarated, living in Los Angeles for the summer. The joy of being in Hollywood-everything was new. John Hughes, I had auditioned for him for She's Having a Baby (1988), and he liked me enough and was interested in me enough to set me up with the director, Howard Deutch. I remember auditioning a couple of times, and each time felt more fun and improvisational. They just let me improvise, and I felt so free and uninhibited. The character on the page was this huge, burly-type guy and they saw this little glint in the eye-this joie de vivre-and they let me play. There was just so much joy in playing that part. I felt like there was no wrong way of playing it, as long as you were just committed and had fun with it. The freedom that I felt doing that part, I long for that. If I could go back to that... There was no fear involved. There was just a complete unabashed, free, moment-to-moment joy.
[2011, on Gardens of Stone (1987)] We filmed that a month prior to my getting the job on Some Kind of Wonderful (1987). We shot that in Arli...
[2011, on Gardens of Stone (1987)] We filmed that a month prior to my getting the job on Some Kind of Wonderful (1987). We shot that in Arlington [Virginia]. What I remember from that was tragedy. It was painful. The way I got that part, unfortunately, was due to the tragedy that happened to Francis Ford Coppola losing his son [Gian-Carlo] in a boating accident. My whole presence there was the replacement of that actor. I'm getting nauseous just thinking about it, how painful it must have been for Francis. He was living in a Greek tragedy. So much support around him, and so much pain in his losing his eldest son. I couldn't help but feel that every time he saw me that the reason I was there were these horrible circumstances. For me, it was a blessing-having a job, meeting all these different people. But obviously, I would totally erase the movie from my mind if I could take back the reason I was there...He didn't really direct me. I showed up, and from the bits that I've seen-and I try not to see too much-but what I saw was unbridled enthusiasm, again, for being in front of the camera, and acting, and doing what I love. I don't know how much character development there was other than complete energy on my part. That's who I was at the time. I remember shaving my head. I had shoulder-length hair at the time. It was very visceral. I had never been in a uniform or anything like that, so you'd try and pretend the best you can in the moment. Francis put his arm around me. He made me feel welcome as best he could under the horrible circumstances. Then he cast me in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), years later.
[2011, on Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)] Unfortunately, I was at a place in my life with a lot of chaos, a lot of distractions. It wa...
[2011, on Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)] Unfortunately, I was at a place in my life with a lot of chaos, a lot of distractions. It was a couple of years later, I think. I was playing "Alex Tremulis", who was a real guy, who designs the car. [Francis Ford Coppola] seems to bring people together that he's worked with before - a lot of family, closeness, togetherness, a lot of love, lot of support. He was very nurturing. He wanted me to do the best I could, but I'm sure that because of where I was in my life at the time... When I was off, when I wasn't working, I tended to want to get on a flight and go visit my girlfriend at the time. Which caused a lot of problems, unfortunately, in retrospect. The petulance of youth and being in love at the time or, at least, deep in dysfunction. But I cherished that time for a lot of things, and that he gave me another shot on a film with him. The next time I saw him was at the Cannes Film Festival for Crash (1996) and he was very sweet to me, but I haven't seen him since. Jeff Bridges was great. Lovely people - Joan Allen, Christian Slater, who I knew was going to be a big star when I saw him. He was 17 at the time and just reeked of potential. Nina Siemaszko, Frederic Forrest. All great.
[2011, on The Prophecy (1995)] I was given an opportunity, a great character, but I just felt like I missed the boat on that one. But it was...
[2011, on The Prophecy (1995)] I was given an opportunity, a great character, but I just felt like I missed the boat on that one. But it was just brilliant the way Greg [Greg Widen] put it together - great actors all around, man. I felt like I had a front-row seat at some great performances. Eric Stoltz came in, did his stuff. He was very focused. Great working alongside Christopher Walken; he was very supportive. Everyone was just great. It was just beautiful. But it was a tough ride, because it was one of my first opportunities as a major role, and it was a tough one. It was on TV recently, and I was looking at it and was like, "What was I thinking?" Look, it's 20 years later. You grow. I consider myself a late bloomer - and again, you don't really realize the enormity of the gift that sometimes is in front of you. Sometimes there are certain things that you gotta grow into. Sometimes, for some actors, they know it spiritually at a young age. Others need to grow into it. The idea of that character having lost his faith, having to go through life without it, and what that crisis of faith means - and somehow being confronted with a war in heaven with angels, what does that do? That's just a concept that boggles my mind. If it came around to me at this point in my life, it would have a different resonance. But you could say that about everything. At the same time, I'm not the person to ask. I can't stand to watch anything that I'm in. I tear it apart. The worst thing you can do is leave me alone and let me watch what I'm in. It's abusive.
[2011, on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)] Ah, 1989, the summer of, 28-years-old, hair was flowing. I felt healthy, strong. Awesome hair...
[2011, on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)] Ah, 1989, the summer of, 28-years-old, hair was flowing. I felt healthy, strong. Awesome hair. I don't know what happened. You just felt alive. My one attempt at being a hero, a vigilante in the park, looking for bad guys. It was fun. Especially with Jim Henson and the puppets. It was cutting-edge technology at the time. It was a magical summer in Wilmington, North Carolina. I get stopped by kids - not kids anymore; they're 25, 30 - saying, "There's Casey Jones!" There are worse things in the world. It brings a smile to my face.
[2011, on Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow (1993)] That's another movie I wish I had a chance to go back and redo. Angelina Jolie came in, she was 17-...
[2011, on Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow (1993)] That's another movie I wish I had a chance to go back and redo. Angelina Jolie came in, she was 17-years-old, just beautiful and so raw and open to anything and trying different things. Smart. You never can tell where someone's gonna go, but she did have this energy around her which was pretty magical. Making that movie for me was six weeks of nights filming in San Pedro-shipping yards, where ships go to die. It was grim. I hated it. But I thought Michael Schroeder had a great vision. It sometimes comes across as fully as you want it to, sometimes it doesn't. But I thought he made a great, valiant effort at something. But again, I'm gonna knock myself on that, because I missed the boat emotionally...No matter what it is, it takes a lot. I live it, I breathe it, I sleep with it - it runs my life. And sometimes you connect to it and sometimes you don't, but the energy behind it is always the same, and you always want to give of yourself. And if you don't, you feel blocked, and my life somehow suffers for it, because you don't get to let it go. You don't get to leave it. And by leaving it, you're opening up for other experiences to fill your soul. But if somehow you're blocked and you're not letting it all out, then you're all cramped up and you carry that, and it's a big knot that fills your soul. So I do the best I can to get rid of it, but sometimes it doesn't come out. It sounds kind of weird, but it's the only way I know how.
[2011, on Malarek (1988)] Yeah man, wow! Malarek. Back in 1988, May/June. First starring role. I had a blast! It was six weeks, a fast shoot...
[2011, on Malarek (1988)] Yeah man, wow! Malarek. Back in 1988, May/June. First starring role. I had a blast! It was six weeks, a fast shoot, and Roger Cardinal, the director, trusted me, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with that part. I met the real Victor Malarek - just single-mindedness again, passionate. Filming in my hometown of Montreal. I just saw a couple of scenes recently, and aside from spending some time tearing it up, there was a rawness, a fearlessness, a youthfulness. It felt a little dated. After that movie was over, I remember walking down the street thinking, "Yeah, I could do this. I can carry a film".
[2011, on The Adjuster (1991)] I feel like I'm watching someone else when I see it. I almost felt like I don't really know how to talk about...
[2011, on The Adjuster (1991)] I feel like I'm watching someone else when I see it. I almost felt like I don't really know how to talk about that film. It seems like an out-of-body experience. What people take from that is completely different than what I could possibly say about it. And it makes my heart smile when people respond to that film, because it's so quirky and odd. Sometimes being so controlled as an actor and knowing everything you want to do can serve it. Sometimes not knowing on the day what you're going to do may be the best remedy for that part. Sometimes the actor's confusion might translate into the character's confusion for the viewer. And Atom Egoyan, he said in passing, recently, that you probably can't make that kind of movie now. It's just not possible. When you look at it, it's like a capsule of the potential of independent filmmaking at its rawest. And Atom has such a passionate view of how he looks at the world and how people relate to each other. And any time he has a story that he thinks I can help him tell, I'll be there.
[2011, on making Desperate Hours (1990)] I don't remember that experience. I don't know what happened. I was a huge fan of Thunderbolt and L...
[2011, on making Desperate Hours (1990)] I don't remember that experience. I don't know what happened. I was a huge fan of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974). It was a phenomenal movie. I thought that Michael (Michael Cimino) was very passionate, too, about trying to make a film. He hadn't made a film in a while. Again, taking all that aside, I had no idea what I was doing when I went to do that movie. I had no clue how to approach that character as far as what I should be playing and how I should play being Mickey Rourke's brother, I was in over my head. I had no idea. I didn't particularly care in any way what I did in that movie. It seemed light and irrelevant.
[2011, on Collateral Damage (2002)] I had no idea what I was doing in that movie. The director, Andrew Davis, he was lovely. He wanted me to...
[2011, on Collateral Damage (2002)] I had no idea what I was doing in that movie. The director, Andrew Davis, he was lovely. He wanted me to be in the movie, and I was going to be in the movie. Who was I to say? I have no idea what any of this political stuff means. I could sit here and tear it apart - tear myself apart mostly - but Andrew is a great filmmaker and he does great stuff. He shows great stories. Sometimes, the journey could be fun and informative, other times it's over your head. You're playing roles that, emotionally, you may not be connecting with, but you do the best you can to tell the story. It was very surreal. You're part of a big-budget film, traveling to Mexico, downtown Los Angeles. I mean, you pinch yourself. It's a blessing. But, do I relate personally to the politics of this kind of thing? I probably don't. But if I had the chance to play it over again? I'm a little bit more informed by it. I've lived a little bit longer. I think I've grown a little bit. I know how to work a little bit more deeply. I don't know. I know I first met Arnold Schwarzenegger during the rehearsal, and we were introduced each other and he's like [adopts accent], "Ahhh, the weasel." He referred to my character as "the weasel." I thought he was so professional, and knew his lines, and he cared. All the energy in the world. I take my hat off to that guy. He was great, and he wanted you to be at your best, too. He wanted to keep up. He was very humble. He knew what his strengths were, and he knew what everyone else's strengths were. He tried to bring it on at the day, at the moment. You know what? I was in a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. That kind of brings a smile to my face.
[2011, on Two Lovers (2008)] I think it's a gem of a film. James Gray is brilliant. If I could be in James Gray movies for the rest of my da...
[2011, on Two Lovers (2008)] I think it's a gem of a film. James Gray is brilliant. If I could be in James Gray movies for the rest of my days, I'd be a lucky man. He shoots on location. Everything is real. It's gritty. It's personal. And he allows you to play. He doesn't care too much about continuity from take to take. He just wants you to make it your own. What a lovely soul to work for - to work with, alongside. And yeah, I think the movie got shafted by a lot of distraction. I think it deserves a lot more than what it got. Ultimately, it'll stand the test of time. For the lucky people who come upon it, they will see what a gift it is, what a great movie. And Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant in it and so is Vinessa Shaw. She was great in that. I was moved by her character, by how she played it. So, yeah, I think the movie definitely deserved more publicity. It's the kind of story that requires you to actually sit and be drawn in and sucked into the plight of an individual torn between loves and his own personal demons. It's not an easy film, but I think that it's really life-affirming and inspirational. And painful. Sometimes life is painful. There aren't any easy choices. You do the best you can.
[2011, on Zodiac (2007)] I loved working with David [David Fincher]. David pushes you in a way that will test your resolve and your own char...
[2011, on Zodiac (2007)] I loved working with David [David Fincher]. David pushes you in a way that will test your resolve and your own character. Him and Terry, the similarities... He's focused, knows what he wants. He keeps doing it, keeps honing it. Sometimes you do a lot of takes, and I love that. You get the chance to relax into it...Sometimes it works in your favor. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes doing 40 takes flattens you out. Sometimes it takes a certain kind of actor and a certain kind of talent to maintain a spark after 40 takes. Sometimes actors are at their best after three takes and you move on. But, you know, it depends on the situation. There was one scene where I was so nervous. I mean, I was nervous. I couldn't function. Sometimes being the instrument, you're at the mercy of the day and how you wake up in the morning. Sometimes you're nervous, and it gets in the way. The fact that there were 40 takes to relax me was comforting. The fact that we didn't only have three took a lot of pressure off me. But I could understand how it could flatten you out. If you're really operating on all cylinders, doing a lot of takes could be exhausting. But that's its own challenge. You gotta take it as it comes. But I could also see the value of doing a couple of takes. You have to bring your game right off the top, and that's its own thing. You know, it's challenging either way.
[2011, on Shutter Island (2010)] God, man! I was working with Marty Martin Scorsese! It was the quietest set I've ever been on. It was almos...
[2011, on Shutter Island (2010)] God, man! I was working with Marty Martin Scorsese! It was the quietest set I've ever been on. It was almost reverential. I felt like I went home. He made me feel like I belonged. It was a magical time. It was only a week of my life in Boston. I grew up watching stuff that he did. Suddenly, to be on set with him, working together, you gotta pinch yourself. It was very intimidating and nervous. Suddenly you're there, in the middle of the scene. You gotta make it happen. You hope to God that you're present enough to try a lot of different things. Oh, and I remember one day, I was sitting in a trailer putting on the makeup, and in comes Max von Sydow. And on my cell phone, my ringtone is "Tubular Bells" [The theme from The Exorcist (1973)]. Here comes this very elegant, quiet gentleman, and he comes in and he sits right next to me so he could have his makeup put on. We say hello to each other, and it's all very nice. Then it occurred to me, if someone were to call me, there would be "Tubular Bells" ringing, and I thought that would be a great icebreaker. But nobody called! It didn't occur to me to call up my girlfriend and say, "Hey, babe, could you call me right now?" I would have had her call me, and I would have let it ring. It would have cracked everybody up.
[2011, on The Fourth Kind (2009)] I liked the idea, man. The script was brilliant. Honestly, I've only seen parts of it. It looked interesti...
[2011, on The Fourth Kind (2009)] I liked the idea, man. The script was brilliant. Honestly, I've only seen parts of it. It looked interesting. They did a good job. But I didn't really see the whole thing. Got the chance to go to Bulgaria. It was great. I had a fun time.
[2011, on the controversy surrounding the original release of Crash (1996)] Crash was done a disservice, because the powers that be that ran...
[2011, on the controversy surrounding the original release of Crash (1996)] Crash was done a disservice, because the powers that be that ran the studio that owned the film, that distributed it, kind of held it up. And then they marketed it in a certain way that was not representative. It's a very cerebral film, and it's cold, and it gets under your skin, and it's disturbing, and it's methodical. It's not like this fast-paced, high-voltage thing. It's very cerebral. I thought that a lot of these trailers did it a disservice. After all the commotion and controversy, when they actually saw it, I imagine there was a lot of disappointment, like, "What's the big deal?" Well, what was the big deal? There is no big deal. They did a disservice to it by delaying it. To me, all the actors in that movie, we were all in the state of grace. We loved it. Every moment of it, we were supportive. David Cronenberg, we were in his little sandbox, and we were all willing to do whatever to bring it to life. We all had a blast. I felt like I was at the tip of an arrow, and it was just going forward, and I was just trying to stay out of the way. It was one of those moments in my life where I felt it was all left there [on the set], and I felt blessed by it. I felt renewed and reinvigorated.
Elias Koteas's FILMOGRAPHY
Example Example Example
Elias Koteas'S roles
Capt. James 'Bugger' Staros
Sgt. Jack Mulanax
Joe, Douglas Anderson