Denis Arndt - Serving the text!

Denis Arndt - Serving the text!

First Published: December 2001
Denis Arndt | Working Actor

Denis Arndt | Working Actor

Denis Arndt | "LA Law " (1990-1991)
Denis Arndt | "Kansas" (1998)
Denis Arndt | "The Practice" (1999-2003)
Denis Arndt | "The Practice" (1999-2003)
Denis Arndt | "Blast" (2000)
Denis Arndt | "Bandidas" (2006) [a]
Denis Arndt | "Bandidas" (2006) [a]
Audra Blaser, Denis Arndt | "Bandidas" (2006)
Denis Arndt | "Fireflies" (2017) [b]
Denis Arndt | Working Actor
Denis Arndt | Working Actor
Denis Arndt | Working Actor
Denis Arndt, Mary Louise Parker | "Heisenberg" (2016)
Denis Arndt | "Heisenberg" (2016) [c]

Denis Arndt, was born in Ohio near the shores of Lake Erie, He was moved West with the rest of the country after WWII, and went to High School in Spokane, Washington. It was there, at John R. Rogers High School, that Denis found a teacher -- or a teacher found a pupil -- one Dale F. Brannon who was head of the Drama and Speech Department, a decorated Infantry Veteran wounded at Anzio, with a communicable passion, a passion for Literature and it's voice and action onstage.

"This guy was electric in his enthusiasm for the very idea of 'theatre', it's place, tradition and value in the human story, how it had and could shape us and change society, and I was a kid at the age when, if you catch them, you just might kindle a fire that will burn for the rest of their lives." Arndt told us.

Clearly, Dale Brannon was that kind of a fire-builder, a true teacher. He kindled kids, set them on fire with the spark of his own committment. He made them fall in love with an idea, an uniquely Human Idea. Arndt feels, "Every kid should find a teacher like that."

Brannon was also a strict disciplinarian when it came to the basic skills needed to participate in that idea, the Idea of Theatre. His vision was transcendent. He often spoke of that mysterious and magic moment when the houselights go to half, and the milling, mumbling crowd becomes one creature, one unrehearsed and willing player who came to the Play to play. Arndt admits there were other factors operative when he added, "And then, of course, there was the grease-paint and the roar, and all those cute actresses. My whole life has turned out to be Dale Brannon's fault," He says laughingly.

Arndt told us about his military experience which he also considers a formative part of the actor he is. He joined the Army and spent eleven years first as a soldier, then an air traffic controller, then a Line A Aviator helicopter pilot. He flew Hillers, Sikorskys, and Bells; models H-23, H-19, H-34, H-13, UHIB, UHID. He flew for several years in Bavaria, based near Augsburg, and then, because at that time it was obvious that he would be sent there anyhow, he volunteered for Vietnam. "I flew Slicks for a few weeks then, because I was senior and had more experience than most," He was transferred into a Gunship Platoon and flew the rest of his time in-country with the 'Firebirds' of A/501st Aviation Battalion, "a choice assignment.", he feels. Denis Arndt was awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds received in action, twenty-seven Air Medals and The Army Commendation Medal, otherwise known at "The Green Weenie". "I was really lucky, they usually award the Purple Heart to guys who have had their legs blown off." Then he came back to the States where he resigned. "Too bad, too. I loved the military." he said. "The costumes were great and nobody had props like these guys. One of my best roles was Combat Helicopter Pilot."

Within six months after returning from Vietnam, and after "trashing everything around me because there was nobody left to be pissed off at", Denis found himself with another helicopter "strapped to my ass", flying for Okanagan Helicopters in Vancouver, BC. Instead of firing 2.75 Navy Folding-Fins into Rubber Trees, he was setting powerlines up and down Howe Sound, a highly skilled equipment operator, building towers and hauling line, transporting men and equipment on the job. Denis Arndt was now a Commercial Helicopter Pilot!

His next job was with Evergreen Helicopters and he flew up and down the west coast on various kinds of contracts until the fall season threatened a layoff at Evergreen, and a job came open with a company called Livingston Copters in Juneau, Alaska. A pilot had been killed on the Snettisham Dam Project, blown out of the air when he mistakenly read hand signals from a ground crew and flew his helicopter smack-dab over a blast site just at the moment of detonation. "Hard to fly a helicopter with chunks of rock in your brain pan", Arndt confided.. Mr Livingston needed a replacement pilot ASAP. Denis got on a plane the next morning, and the following afternoon he was sling-loading the wreakage of that pilot's helicopter off the mountain and back to camp. "I grounded the helicopter part of the operation until we could all get our handsignals straight." He flew in Alaska for the next three years, as a Commercial Bush Pilot.

How did all this lead to his becoming an actor?, we wondered. "Ah, yes. About the Acting thing" he said chidingly. After deciding that being a commercial helicopter pilot was a young man's occupation, he was managing an apartment house for free rent and going to school trying to finish a degree at the University of Washington. when a guy who was in Seattle to direct some plays moved into one of the apartments. "I thought that my theatrical experience was far behind me." The night of his first auditions there was a snow storm in Seattle and the guy needed a ride to the theater and Denis was going that way "so...I get to the parking lot to let the guy out and he invites me in for a cup of coffee. I stand in the lobby listening to the actors audition and decide, what the hell, just for fun, I'll read too." Well, he was cast in the play, and he's been making a living as an actor ever since. And over the last 20 odd years, "I have been afforded the opportunity to attempt some to the greatest roles in Western Literature." For Denis Arndt, It's as though a circle has been closed, one that was started back at Rogers High Schooland a fire that was started. "It's what I'm supposed to be doing."

Mr. Arndt shares his passion for the Military with a compilation of War Films called "The Uncle Sam Movie Collection". These should be of interest to us all especially in light of the events of 9/11....

Denis Arndt's advice to the aspiring actor:

Remember that acting is ego-less. There is an ancient human mystery to the exercise. Acting is not about the Actor. Participate in that mystery which is greater then the sum of it's parts. A great performance is the one that does not draw attention to itself at the expense of the greater "reality" in the play, does not get in get in the way of the script, of the total experience of the Play. Serve the Text. Try to make everybody else's ideas work first. Don't be afraid. What are they gonna do? Send you to Mazaar-E-Sharif? Become a conduit through which the ideas of the playwright may pass unhindered to those unrehearsed and willing players out front, the ones that got a baby-sitter, drove across town, paid money to get into the room where the lights go out and everyone decides to 'Let's Pretend'. And, when you know you've done a good job, don't be shy in taking your curtain call.

--- Eat when you can; and don't get caught Acting.


Talent Agency

Innovative Artists
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Phone: 310-656-0400
Fax: 310-656-0456
Representative: Paula Muzik (
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DeWalt Management
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Fax: 818-562-7151
Representatives: Suzanne Dewalt (

Denis Arndt's Credits
 2018 How to Get Away with Murder (TV Series)
Justice Strickland
- Lahey v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (2018) ... Justice Strickland
 2017 The Good Fight (TV Series)
- The Schtup List (2017) ... Ron
 2014 Dolphin Tale 2
 2011 Grey's Anatomy (TV Series)
Colonel Daniel Robbins
- White Wedding (2011) ... Colonel Daniel Robbins
 2010 Past Life (TV Series)
- Regressing Henry (2010) ... Henry
 2010 Shuffle (Short)
Big Boss
 2007 Supernatural (TV Series)
Father Reynolds
- Houses of the Holy (2007) ... Father Reynolds
 2006 Vanished (TV Series)
Senator Eugene Collins
- Warm Springs (2006) ... Senator Eugene Collins
- Aftermath (2006) ... Senator Eugene Collins
 2006 Boston Legal (TV Series)
A.D.A. Joshua Wendt
- Can't We All Get a Lung? (2006) ... A.D.A. Joshua Wendt
 2006 Bandidas
 2006 Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil (Video)
CIA Director Weylon Armitage
 2005 Last Best Chance (Video)
Nathan Sheldon
 2005 24 (TV Series)
Don Ashton
- Day 4: 4:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m. (2005) ... Don Ashton
 2004 Sniper 3 (Video)
William Avery
 1999-2003 The Practice (TV Series)
A.D.A. Roland Hill / A.A.G. Quentin Reynolds / Matlin's Defense Attorney
- The Lonely People (2003) ... A.D.A. Roland Hill
- The Heat of Passion (2003) ... A.D.A. Roland Hill
- The Making of a Trial Attorney (2003) ... A.A.G. Quentin Reynolds
- The Return of Joey Heric (2002) ... A.D.A. Roland Hill
- Mr. Hinks Goes to Town (2000) ... A.D.A. Roland Hill
 2003 JAG (TV Series)
Rear Admiral Richard La Porte
- Shifting Sands (2003) ... Rear Admiral Richard La Porte
 2003 S.W.A.T.
Sgt. Howard
 2003 Boston Public (TV Series)
A.D.A. Roland Hill
- Chapter Sixty-Two (2003) ... A.D.A. Roland Hill
 2002 Providence (TV Series)
Dr. Bill Augustine
- The Eleventh Hour: Part 2 (2002) ... Dr. Bill Augustine
- The Sound of Music (2002) ... Dr. Bill Augustine
- Left-Overs (2002) ... Dr. Bill Augustine
- Truth and Consequences (2002) ... Dr. Bill Augustine
 2002 Dead Heat
Dr. Ivan Barnes
 2002 Undisputed
Warden Lipscom
 2002 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV Series)
Larry Maddox
- Chasing the Bus (2002) ... Larry Maddox (as Dennis Arndt)
 2001 Citizen Baines (TV Series)
Frank Starr
- Lost and Found (2001) ... Frank Starr
- The Whole Thump-Thump-Thump (2001) ... Frank Starr
 2001 Family Law (TV Series)
- Film at Eleven (2001) ... Szabo
 2000 The District (TV Series)
Owen Mitchell
- The Real Terrorist (2000) ... Owen Mitchell
 2000 Get Real (TV Series)
Stewart Green
- History Lessons (2000) ... Stewart Green
 2000 Blast
 2000 Touched by an Angel (TV Series)
- A Perfect Game (2000) ... Darrell
 1999 Wasteland (TV Series)
Mr. Baskind
- Thanks for Nothin' (1999) ... Mr. Baskind
 1999 Time of Your Life (TV Series)
Archer Fitzwith
- The Time the Millennium Approached (1999) ... Archer Fitzwith
- The Time Sarah Got Her Shih-Tzu Together (1999) ... Archer Fitzwith
- The Time She Came to New York (1999) ... Archer Fitzwith
 1999 Chicago Hope (TV Series)
Attorney Jason Sollers
- Curing Cancer (1999) ... Attorney Jason Sollers
 1999 Ally McBeal (TV Series)
Michael Mannix
- The Green Monster (1999) ... Michael Mannix
 1999 Dying to Live (TV Movie)
Nick Jannett
 1999 Turks (TV Series)
Glen Williams
- Friends & Strangers (1999) ... Glen Williams
 1998 Kansas (Short)
 1998 Max Q (TV Movie)
Don Mitchum
 1998 Blackout Effect (TV Movie)
Frank Wyatt
 1997 The Pretender (TV Series)
Nick Avani
- Scott Free (1997) ... Nick Avani
 1997 NightScream (TV Movie)
Ray Ordwell - Sr.
 1997 Asteroid (TV Movie)
 1997 Payback (TV Movie)
Neil Stanfill
 1997 Savannah (TV Series)
Martin Corelli
- Code Blue (1997) ... Martin Corelli
- The Gal to Marry Dear Old Dad (1997) ... Martin Corelli
 1997 Metro
Capt. Frank Solis
 1996 The Burning Zone (TV Series)
Dr. Thurman Rhinehart
- Pilot (1996) ... Dr. Thurman Rhinehart
 1993-1996 Picket Fences (TV Series)
Franklin Dell
- To Forgive Is Divine (1996) ... Franklin Dell
- Snow Exit (1996) ... Franklin Dell
- Final Judgement (1995) ... Franklin Dell
- Without Mercy (1995) ... Franklin Dell
- May It Please the Court (1994) ... Franklin Dell
 1996 The Beast (TV Series)
Osborne Manning
- Episode #1.2 (1996) ... Osborne Manning
- Episode #1.1 (1996) ... Osborne Manning
 1995 Nothing Lasts Forever (TV Movie)
 1995 The Home Court (TV Series)
 1995 The Return of Hunter: Everyone Walks in L.A. (TV Movie)
D.A. Frank Battaglia
 1994 Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight (TV Movie)
Joseph Laughlin
 1994 SeaQuest 2032 (TV Series)
Navy Quartermaster Bickle
- The Stinger (1994) ... Navy Quartermaster Bickle
- Whale Song (1994) ... Navy Quartermaster Bickle
 1993 Boy Meets Girl (TV Movie)
 1993 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (TV Series)
Dr. Sam Lane
- Requiem for a Superhero (1993) ... Dr. Sam Lane
 1993 Bodies of Evidence (TV Series)
Harris Devlin
- Endangered Species (1993) ... Harris Devlin
- Shadows (1993) ... Harris Devlin
 1992 Condition: Critical (TV Movie)
Dr. Austin DeGroose
 1992 Cruel Doubt (TV Mini-Series)
Leith Von Stein
- Episode #1.2 (1992) ... Leith Von Stein
- Episode #1.1 (1992) ... Leith Von Stein
 1992 Basic Instinct
Lieutenant Walker
 1991 Herman's Head (TV Series)
Russell Boswell
- Fear and Loathing in Manhattan (1991) ... Russell Boswell
 1991 One Special Victory (TV Movie)
Jack Arner
 1990-1991 L.A. Law (TV Series)
Jack Sollers
- Since I Fell for You (1991) ... Jack Sollers
- On the Toad Again (1991) ... Jack Sollers
- There Goes the Judge (1991) ... Jack Sollers
- Speak, Lawyers, for Me (1991) ... Jack Sollers
- As God Is My Co-Defendant (1991) ... Jack Sollers
 1991 Stat (TV Series)
Dr. Deardorf
- High Society (1991) ... Dr. Deardorf
 1989-1990 Life Goes On (TV Series)
Earl / Coach Delano
- Corky and the Dolphins (1990) ... Earl
- Honeymoon from Hell (1990) ... Earl
- Corky Witnesses a Crime (1989) ... Coach Delano
 1990 Murder, She Wrote (TV Series)
Lt. Vincent Palermo
- Murder: According to Maggie (1990) ... Lt. Vincent Palermo
 1990 Columbo (TV Series)
Paul Mackey
- Agenda for Murder (1990) ... Paul Mackey
 1988-1989 Annie McGuire (TV Series)
Nick McGuire
- Soft Hearted Annie (1989) ... Nick McGuire
- The Computer (1989) ... Nick McGuire
- The Journey (1988) ... Nick McGuire
- Lewis in Love (1988) ... Nick McGuire
- The Ferry (1988) ... Nick McGuire
 1989 Till We Meet Again (TV Mini-Series)
Swede Castelli
- Episode #1.2 (1989) ... Swede Castelli
- Episode #1.1 (1989) ... Swede Castelli
 1989 Mancuso, FBI (TV Series)
Ambassador Burton Kessler
- Suspicious Minds (1989) ... Ambassador Burton Kessler
 1989 The Wonder Years (TV Series)
Mr. Tyler
- Walk Out (1989) ... Mr. Tyler
 1988 TV 101 (TV Series)
Officer Checker
- Rolling (1988) ... Officer Checker
 1988 Distant Thunder
 1988 Wiseguy (TV Series)
- Dirty Little Wars (1988) ... Walker
 1986 Crime Story (TV Series)
Mr. Novak / Al Novak
- Strange Bedfellows (1986) ... Al Novak
- St. Louis Book of Blues (1986) ... Mr. Novak (as Dennis Arndt)
- Shadow Dancer (1986) ... Mr. Novak (as Dennis Arndt)
 1976 Dawn Flight (Short)
 1974 Runaway on Rogue River (TV Movie)
John Peterson (as Dennis Arndt)
 1974 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (TV Series)
John Peterson
- Runaway on the Rogue River (1974) ... John Peterson (as Dennis Arndt)
Theater (Representative)
Mark Taper Forum "Dealer's Choice" Steven
New York Shakespeare Festival "The Ballad of Soapy Smith" Soapy
New York Shakespeare Festival "Richard II" Northumberland
Intiman/Seattle "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" George
Arena Stage/Washington "DC Juno And The Paycock" Captain Boyle
Goodman Theatre/Chicago "The Tempest" Prospero
Seattle Repertory "Richard III" Richard III
Remains Theatre/Chicago "Puntila and His Hired Man" * Puntila *
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "King Lear" ('77 & '85) Lear
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "Titus Andronicus" Titus
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "Othello" Iago
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "Coriolanus" Coriolanus
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "Moon for The Misbegotten" James
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "Long Day's Journey Into Night" Jamie
Oregon Shakespeare Festival "Brand" Brand
* Joseph Jefferson Award / Best Actor (1986)

 Photo camera Credits 
[a] © 2006 Europacorp - TF1 Films
[b] © Photo by T. Charles Erickson / Long Wharf Theatre
[c] © Photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

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