David Schwimmer Biography

David Lawrence Schwimmer is an accomplished American actor, comedian, director, and producer, who rose to international fame for his portrayal of Ross Geller in the widely popular TV series, Friends. In 1995, he was honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award and was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for his outstanding supporting role in the show.

While he was still working on Friends, Schwimmer also ventured into the film industry and landed his first leading role in The Pallbearer in 1996. He went on to feature in several other notable films such as Kissing a Fool, Six Days, Seven Nights, Apt Pupil (all released in 1998), and Picking Up the Pieces in 2000. Additionally, he was cast in the critically acclaimed miniseries Band of Brothers in 2001, playing the role of Herbert Sobel.

Starting off his acting journey, Schwimmer honed his skills in school plays at Beverly Hills High School. He further pursued his passion by graduating from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater and speech in 1988. Following his graduation, Schwimmer went on to co-found the Lookingglass Theatre Company.

Despite his early success, the late 1980s proved to be a challenging period for Schwimmer, as he struggled to secure acting gigs in Los Angeles. However, his fortunes turned around in 1989 when he was cast in the TV movie A Deadly Silence. Subsequently, he secured several other roles on television, including appearances in popular shows like L.A. Law, The Wonder Years, NYPD Blue, and Monty in the early 1990s.

Following the conclusion of the immensely popular series Friends in 2004, Schwimmer diversified his career by exploring opportunities in film and stage. In 2005, he landed the titular role in the drama movie Duane Hopwood, and also lent his voice to Melman the Giraffe in the computer-animated Madagascar film franchise. Furthermore, he acted in the dark comedy Big Nothing (2006) and the thriller Nothing but the Truth (2008).

Schwimmer’s West End stage debut came in 2005 when he played the lead character in the play Some Girl(s). He made his Broadway debut in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial in 2006. In 2007, he directed his first feature film, the comedy Run Fatboy Run, followed by his directorial debut in an Off-Broadway production of Fault Lines the next year.

In 2016, Schwimmer received his second Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of lawyer Robert Kardashian in the TV series The People v. O. J. Simpson, this time for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.


  • Birth Name: David Lawrence Schwimmer
  • Nickname: Schwim
  • Born: November 2, 1966
  • Birth Place: New York, New York, United States
  • Height: 6′ 1″ (1.85 m)
  • Spouse: Zoe Buckman (m. 2010–2017)
  • Children: Cleo Buckman Schwimmer
  • Grandparent: Bertram Schwimmer
  • Organization founded: Lookingglass Theatre Company

Early Life

Born to Arthur and Arlene Coleman-Schwimmer, both lawyers, in Flushing, Queens, New York City, Schwimmer comes from a Jewish family. He has an elder sister named Ellie (born 1965). The family later relocated to Los Angeles, where Schwimmer’s passion for acting was first sparked at the age of 10 when he was cast as the fairy godmother in a Jewish adaptation of Cinderella.

In 1979, Schwimmer attended a Shakespeare workshop hosted by renowned English actor Sir Ian McKellen in Los Angeles, which he found to be an enthralling experience. Schwimmer’s dedication to the craft saw him enter the Southern California Shakespeare Festival contest three years consecutively, where he won first place in two of those years.

After Schwimmer’s mother found success as a divorce lawyer, his family relocated to Beverly Hills, where he attended Beverly Hills High School, alongside actor Jonathan Silverman. Schwimmer found it challenging to fit in, admitting that he felt like an outsider due to the different value system of his peers. Although he excelled in science and math, Schwimmer found his passion in drama class, where he appeared in several stage productions.

His school drama teacher recognized Schwimmer’s talent and urged him to pursue acting further, leading him to attend a summer acting program at Northwestern University in Chicago, which he found both “enlightening and exhilarating.” Schwimmer graduated from Beverly Hills High in 1984 but was convinced by his parents to attend college before pursuing an acting career. He enrolled at Northwestern University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater and speech in 1988. During his time at the university, Schwimmer co-founded the Lookingglass Theatre Company and was part of an improv group called the No-Fun Mud Piranhas with fellow actor Stephen Colbert. After graduation, Schwimmer returned to Los Angeles to embark on an acting career.


  • Born on his mother’s birthday.
  • Graduated from Northwestern University. His classmate was his friend, Roger Kumble.
  • Along with best friend & fellow actor David Catlin, he helped found the Looking Glass Theater Company, based in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Before Friends (1994) Schwimmer competed against high-school friend Jonathan Silverman and actor Jon Cryer for a role in the TV pilot Couples (1994). Silverman won the role opposite Helen Slater, but ABC passed on the show. The producers later reconceived the show for singles and sold it to NBC as Friends (1994) in which Schwimmer was the first actor to be cast.
  • Called up a London talk show to deny false claims that cast members of Friends (1994) were demanding $1,000,000 each per episode. [April 2000]
  • Has worked extensively on the stage both as actor and director.
  • Is on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation for the Rape Treatment Center of Santa Monica.
  • Split up from Mili Avital in November 2001.
  • Member of Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity.
  • January 2003 – Premiered his play “Turnaround” at the 99-seat West Hollywood Coast theater. All of his “Friends” were in attendance.
  • He graduated Beverly Hills High School in 1984 and performed in stage productions there under the direction of John Ingle.
  • Went to Beverly Hills High School, the same high school as Logan Lerman, Angelina Jolie, Michael Klesic, Nicolas Cage, Lenny Kravitz, Jonathan Silverman, Gina Gershon, Rhonda Fleming, Jackie Cooper, Rob Reiner, Antonio Sabato Jr., Pauly Shore, Michael Tolkin, Betty White, Corbin Bernsen, Elizabeth Daily, Albert Brooks and Crispin Glover.
  • Both his parents, Arlene Coleman-Schwimmer and Arthur Schwimmer, had small parts in Since You’ve Been Gone (1998), which he directed.
  • David once said in an interview, he would like to become a public school teacher after Friends (1994) ended.
  • Has an older sister, Ellie Schwimmer.
  • Playing “Michael” in The Wonder Years (1988), he rides a 500cc Triumph Daytona motorcycle. The same motorcycle, also seen in other episodes, is also seen mounted on the back of his character’s Volkswagen van.
  • Had to miss Lisa Kudrow’s wedding in Los Angeles due to filming The Pallbearer (1996) in New York.
    Turned down Will Smith’s role in Men in Black (1997).
  • Allergic to cats.
  • He was awarded the 1991 Joseph Jefferson Award Citation for Director – Play for directing a stage adaptation of “The Jungle” at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Joy Gregory and he were nominated for a 2003 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Adaptation for “Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About” at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Became good friends with John Krasinski during the filming of Duane Hopwood (2005). Schwimmer attended Krasinski’s July 2010 marriage to Emily Blunt.
  • With Andy Bellin, nominated for a 2010 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work – Play for “Trust” at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Became a 1st time father at age 44 when his wife Zoe Buckman gave birth to their daughter Cleo Buckman Schwimmer on May 8, 2011.
  • He was voted one of Playgirl Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive at No. 15.
  • Starring in a London West End play, Neil LaBute’s “Some Girl(s)” at the Gielgud Theatre with Saffron Burrows. [April 2005]
  • In the 1980s he attended Chicago’s Northwestern University’s theater & speech class with Stephen Colbert.
  • He went to school with actor Harry Lennix.
  • Brother-in-law of Sandro Carotti and Peter Buckman.
  • Grandson of Bertram Schwimmer (1910-2000), Beatrice P. Schwimmer (Osgood) (1907-2004), Max S.
  • Colman (1916-1975) and Syd Colman (Sherman) (1916-1988).
  • Was considered for the role of Neo in The Matrix (1999) before Keanu Reeves was cast.

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