John Aylward- Firing on All Cylinders

John Aylward- Firing on All Cylinders

First Published: January 2002 - (updated (12-2023)
Editor's Note:
We are saddened to report the passing of John Aylward (November 7, 1946 – May 16, 2022). 

Aylward died Monday, May 16, 2022, at his home in Seattle of natural causes after a long illness, his longtime agent, Mitchell Stubbs, told The Hollywood Reporter. 

“John was a wonderful actor and a great friend to many. He was proud of his film and television work, although his life in the theater was where he was the happiest,” Stubbs said.
John Aylward | Working Actor

John Aylward | Working Actor

John Aylward | "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" (1993) [a]
John Aylward, Stuart Wilson | "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III" (1993) [a]
John Aylward | "ER" (1994)
Anthony Edwards, John Aylward | "ER" (1994)
 John Aylward, Maura Tierney, Paul McCrane | "ER" (1994)
Deezer D, John Aylward | "ER" (1994)
Rene Russo, John Aylward | "Buddy" (1997) [b]
John Aylward, Simon Baker | "The Mentalist" (2008)
John Aylward | "Fairly Legal" (2011)
John Aylward | Working Actor

John Aylward may be best known for his portrayal of the hard-nosed Dr. Anspaugh on NBC's "ER", however, he has spent decades on theatre stages throughout the U.S. and Canada and has performed everything from Shakespeare & Moliere to Shepard & Mamet. And while audiences of TV and film have generally seen him play serious men and downright curmudgeons, Aylward's comic prowess is legend. His versality and talent have made him one busy actor.

Born and raised in Seattle, John attended parochial school until the 11th grade. Aylward claims the biggest reason he became an actor was that "the nuns taught me how to read -- and to read ALOUD." His reading ability landed him his first role in the 3rd grade, Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh, "but I refused to wear short pants and get teased, so they gave me a yellow slicker to wear." (These days he's happy to be cast as the object of ridicule when it's a good part.).In the 8th grade John won an elocution contest and a scholarship to prep school, which required him to join the debate team and travel around the state on weekends trying to garner trophies for the school through "oral interpretation." In this he was very successful and for Checkov's one-act play "The Marriage Proposal" John won the prize for Best Actor in the state. "At age 16 I really caught the bug!"

After graduating Garfield High School (the alma mater of Quincy Jones, Bruce Lee & Jimi Hendrix, Aylward states proudly), he auditioned for and was accepted into the first class of the Professional Actors' Training program at the University of Washington. "The next three years completely changed my life. I was introduced to British Old Vic training coupled with Jacques LeCoq's mask work. It was an incredible time, to be able to study and practice what you love 6 hours a day and also to take advantage of all the University had to offer. It all made such sense!"

After graduation in 1970, John began a career that has now spanned 30 years and has never required him to take a day job. As a young actor anxious to do it all, he knew that what he did not want was to understudy "the old guys" on the Lort circuit, and so in 1973 he, together with a small group of like-minded actors formed the Empty Space Theatre. "It was a place where you could really work out, bang your head against the wall, and play roles you'd never be cast to play in the "commercial" theatre because of the way you looked. But believe me, we bowled people over with our productions of "Alice", "Mandragola", "Tooth of Crime", "Ronnie Bwana, Jungle Guide". We'd do a park show, an 8 o'clock and a midnight show and then stay out all night. Those were the days." After a period of about ten years during which John worked with other acting companies, including one specializing in the works of Samuel Beckett, he felt it was time to enter the mainstream circuit and actually make a living. "My age finally caught up with my face and I was allowed to play the parts that were right for me."

For the next 15 years he worked as a company member of the Seattle Repertory Company led by Daniel Sullivan. John played leading character roles in such plays as "Curse of the Starving Class", "House of Blue Leaves", "Tartuffe", "A Flea in Her Ear" and "The Miser", among many others.

John's break into the world of TV and film came in 1996 when starring in "Psychopathia Sexualis" at the Mark Taper Forum in LA. Carol Flynt, co-producer of "ER", saw the play. "I was asked if I'd be willing to do my monologue for the writers and producers of the show and I said sure. Before I got home they had called my agent and said, 'We love him; we're going to write a role for him.' Needless to say, it was nice to be invited to the party."

John has appeared and recurred on a number of A-list shows, including "The Practice", "Family Law", "3rd Rock from the Sun" and "Alias", as well as "ER", add to that, "The West Wing", "Brothers & Sisters", "Mad Men", "The Whole Truth", "House of Lies",and most recently, "Nobodies". Notable TV guest appearances include: "The Agency", "TV Judging Amy", "Nip/Tuck", "Law & Order", "Boston Legal". He has appeared in well over 30 Feature and Television films to date including HBO's "Path to War", directed by John Frankenheimer, in which he played Dean Rusk. Some of his other notable feature film projects include: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III", "Buddy", "Armageddon", "Thirteen Days", "Monster-in-Law", "The Celestine Prophecy", "Water for Elephants", and "A Million Ways to Die in the West".

John Aylward's advice to the aspiring actor:

Remember, there's a reason it's called "play". Find yourself teachers who don't take themselves too seriously, or a theatre group that you perceive to be having fun and check it out. This is not cancer research that we do, but it does require skill, discipline and physical stamina (not unlike an athlete). Remember that you are part of a team and theatre works best when the team is firing on all cylinders. So leave your ego at the door, be willing to make a fool of yourself and dive in.

Come on in -- the water's FUN!


Talent Agency Theatrical

Mitchell K. Stubbs & Associates (MKS)
8695 W Washington Blvd. Ste 204
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: 310-838-1200
Fax: 310-838-1245
Representatives: Judy Page, Mitchell K. Stubbs


Gregg Edwards Management
6072 Franklin Ave. Ste 304
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: 323-462-2688
Fax: 323-462-2296
Representative: Gregg Edwards (

John Aylward's Credits

 2019-2020 Briarpatch (TV Series) 
Freddie Laffter

- Felicity (2020) ... Freddie Laffter
- Behind God's Back (2020) ... Freddie Laffter
- Breadknife Weather (2020) ... Freddie Laffter
- Snap, Crackle, Pop (2019) ... Freddie Laffter
- First Time in Saint Disgrace (2019) ... Freddie Laffter
 2020/I The Way Back 
Father Edward Devine
 2020 The Nowhere Inn 
Uncle Pete

 2018 Yellowstone (TV Series) 
Father Bob

- Kill the Messenger (2018) ... Father Bob
- Daybreak (2018) ... Father Bob

 2018 Nobodies (TV Series)

- Rob in the Hood (2018) ... Curtis
- Kristen's Wiig (2018) ... Curtis
- Page One Rewrite (2018) ... Curtis
- Swimmin Pools, TV Stars (2018) ... Curtis
- Open Dorf Policy (2018) ... Curtis

 2016 Shameless (TV Series)

- Requiem for a Slut (2016) ... Bill

 2016 Scorpion (TV Series)
Uncle Tobin

- Sly and the Family Stone (2016) ... Uncle Tobin

 2015-2016 Impastor (TV Series)
Bishop Perkins

- The Bish Is Back (2016) ... Bishop Perkins
- Bird of Pray (2015) ... Bishop Perkins
 2016/I The Architect
Drew's Father

 2013 Major Crimes (TV Series)
Ted King Sr.

- Year-End Blowout (2013) ... Ted King Sr.
 2013 Gangster Squad
Judge Carter
 2012 Final August (Short)
The Man

 2012 American Horror Story (TV Series)
Father Malachi

- Tricks and Treats (2012) ... Father Malachi

 2012 House of Lies (TV Series)
K. Warren McDale

- The Mayan Apocalypse (2012) ... K. Warren McDale
- Ouroboros (2012) ... K. Warren McDale
- The Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments (2012) ... K. Warren McDale

 2012 Fairly Legal (TV Series)
Sam Childs

- Satisfaction (2012) ... Sam Childs

 2012 Fringe (TV Series)
Dr. Owen Frank

- A Better Human Being (2012) ... Dr. Owen Frank

 2011 Harry's Law (TV Series)

- Bad to Worse (2011)
 2011 Water for Elephants
Mr. Erwin

 2010 The Whole Truth (TV Series)
Judge Jeremiah Studley

- Liars (2010) ... Judge Jeremiah Studley
- Pilot (2010) ... Judge Jeremiah Studley

 2010 Mad Men (TV Series)
Geoffrey Atherton

- Blowing Smoke (2010) ... Geoffrey Atherton
- Christmas Comes But Once a Year (2010) ... Geoffrey Atherton
 2010 Norman
Robert Bessent
 2010 Legally Mad (TV Movie)
Warren Belson

 2010 Brothers & Sisters (TV Series)
Joe Rawling

- On the Road Again (2010) ... Joe Rawling
- Love All (2010) ... Joe Rawling
- Where There's Smoke... (2010) ... Joe Rawling
 2010 The Crazies
Mayor Hobbs
 2009 Honor (Short)
Mr. Morrissey
 2009 Crimes of the Past
Clay Covington

 2009 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV Series)
Dr. Paul Anton

- Kill Me if You Can (2009) ... Dr. Paul Anton

 2008 The Mentalist (TV Series)
Professor Stutzer

- Red Brick and Ivy (2008) ... Professor Stutzer

 1996-2008 ER (TV Series)
Dr. Donald Anspaugh

- Another Thursday at County (2008) ... Dr. Donald Anspaugh
- The Chicago Way (2008) ... Dr. Donald Anspaugh
- Truth Will Out (2008) ... Dr. Donald Anspaugh
- Believe the Unseen (2008) ... Dr. Donald Anspaugh
- Status Quo (2008) ... Dr. Donald Anspaugh

 2007 Big Shots (TV Series)
Larry Cooper

- Who's Your Daddy? (2007) ... Larry Cooper
 2007 Half-Life 2: Episode Two (Video Game)
Dr. Arne Magnusson (voice)

 2007 My Boys (TV Series)

- The Estates of Hoffman (2007) ... Brent
 2007 The Gray Man
Captain Ayers

 2007 Cavemen (TV Series)

- Pilot (2007) ... Dorouchey
 2007 Forfeit

 2007 Without a Trace (TV Series)
Bernard Fields

- Desert Springs (2007) ... Bernard Fields

 2006 Cold Case (TV Series)
Norman Campbell

- Fireflies (2006) ... Norman Campbell

 2005-2006 The West Wing (TV Series)
Barry Goodwin - Former DNC Chair / Barry Goodwin - Head of Transition

- The Last Hurrah (2006) ... Barry Goodwin - Head of Transition
- Requiem (2006) ... Barry Goodwin - Former DNC Chair
- Election Day: Part 2 (2006) ... Barry Goodwin - Former DNC Chair
- Welcome to Wherever You Are (2006) ... Barry Goodwin - Former DNC Chair
- The Wedding (2005) ... Barry Goodwin - Former DNC Chair

 2001-2006 Alias (TV Series)
Jeffrey Davenport

- Maternal Instinct (2006) ... Jeffrey Davenport
- S.O.S. (2006) ... Jeffrey Davenport
- So It Begins (2001) ... Jeffrey Davenport (uncredited)

 2006 Stargate SG-1 (TV Series)
President Nadal

- Ethon (2006) ... President Nadal

 2006 Boston Legal (TV Series)
Tom Orchard

- Too Much Information (2006) ... Tom Orchard

 2005 Law & Order (TV Series)
Reverend Harlan Dwyer

- Age of Innocence (2005) ... Reverend Harlan Dwyer

 2005 Surface (TV Series)
Government Panel Suit

- Episode #1.1 (2005) ... Government Panel Suit
 2005 North Country
Judge Halsted
 2005 Monster-in-Law
Priest (uncredited)

 2005 Carnivàle (TV Series)
Bishop McNaughton

- Damascus, NE (2005) ... Bishop McNaughton
- Los Moscos (2005) ... Bishop McNaughton

 2004 Jack & Bobby (TV Series)
Victor Sable

- Pilot (2004) ... Victor Sable

 2004 Nip/Tuck (TV Series)
Father Malley

- Agatha Ripp (2004) ... Father Malley

 2004 The D.A. (TV Series)
Mayor Edwards

- The People vs. Sergius Kovinsky (2004) ... Mayor Edwards (uncredited)

 2003 Good Morning, Miami (TV Series)
Mr. Fowler

- A Kiss Before Lying (2003) ... Mr. Fowler

 2003 Judging Amy (TV Series)
Father Jack Monroe

- The Wrong Man (2003) ... Father Jack Monroe
 2003 L.A. County 187 (TV Movie)
 2003 Down with Love

 1997-2002 The Practice (TV Series)
Federal Judge Kendall Marcott / Chief District Court Judge / Center Panelist in Rydell Hearing

- Bad to Worse (2002) ... Federal Judge Kendall Marcott
- The Confession (2001) ... Federal Judge Kendall Marcott
- Officers of the Court (2000) ... Chief District Court Judge
- First Degree (1997) ... Center Panelist in Rydell Hearing

 2002 The Agency (TV Series)
Senator Davies

- First Born (2002) ... Senator Davies

 2002 Everwood (TV Series)
Walter Cunningham

- Friendly Fire (2002) ... Walter Cunningham
 2002 Path to War (TV Movie)
Dean Rusk, Secretary of State

 2002 The X-Files (TV Series)
Dr. John Rietz

- Sunshine Days (2002) ... Dr. John Rietz
 2002 Bad Company
Officer Ferren

 2002 Dharma & Greg (TV Series)
Kevin Kincaid

- She's with the Band (2002) ... Kevin Kincaid

 2002 Ally McBeal (TV Series)
Owen Cobb

- The New Day (2002) ... Owen Cobb
 2001 Harvey's Speech

 2000-2001 Family Law (TV Series)
Judge Lester Burger

- Moving On (2001) ... Judge Lester Burger
- Bringing Up Babies (2001) ... Judge Lester Burger
- Generations (2000) ... Judge Lester Burger
- Going Home (2000) ... Judge Lester Burger
- Love and Money (2000) ... Judge Lester Burger
 2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Trial by Fire (Video Game)
Thaddeus Thatch (voice)
 2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire - Search for the Journal (Video Game)
Thaddeus Thatch (voice)
 2001 Just Visiting

 2001 Diagnosis Murder (TV Series)
LAPD Captain Woodruff

- Dance of Danger (2001) ... LAPD Captain Woodruff

 2000-2001 The Fugitive (TV Series)
Matthes Ross

- And in That Darkness (2001) ... Matthes Ross
- Safekeeping (2001) ... Matthes Ross
- Lagniappe (2001) ... Matthes Ross
- Liar's Poker (2000) ... Matthes Ross
- Sanctuary (2000) ... Matthes Ross
 2000 Thirteen Days
Orville Dryfoos

 1996-2000 3rd Rock from the Sun (TV Series)
Chancellor / Registrar

- B.D.O.C. (2000) ... Chancellor
- Dick the Vote (1996) ... Registrar

 2000 Secret Agent Man (TV Series)
Dr. Phil Etherington

- The Face (2000) ... Dr. Phil Etherington

 2000 The Others (TV Series)
Albert McGonagle

- Life Is for the Living (2000) ... Albert McGonagle
- The Ones That Lie in Wait (2000) ... Albert McGonagle
- Don't Dream It's Over (2000) ... Albert McGonagle
- Luciferous (2000) ... Albert McGonagle
- 1112 (2000) ... Albert McGonagle

 2000 Any Day Now (TV Series)

 1999 Instinct
Warden Keefer
 1999 Swing Vote (TV Movie)
Justice Benjamin 'Rip' Ripley
 1999 Can't Stop Dancing
Dick McGuire
 1998 The Victim (Short)
 1998 Finding Graceland
Sheriff Haynes
 1998 Armageddon
Dr. Banks

 1998 Creature (TV Mini-Series)
Ben Madiera

- Night 2 (1998) ... Ben Madiera
- Night 1 (1998) ... Ben Madiera

 1998 From the Earth to the Moon (TV Mini-Series)
Dr. Ray Pemberton

- Galileo Was Right (1998) ... Dr. Ray Pemberton
 1998 The Escape (TV Movie)
 1997 Buddy
Mr. Joe Bowman

 1997 Grace Under Fire (TV Series)

- Jimmy Moves In (1997) ... Ralph

 1996 Ink (TV Series)
Advertiser #1

- Mike & Kelly & Max & Kate (1996) ... Advertiser #1
 1996 Eden
Dr. Bryson

 1990-1992 Northern Exposure (TV Series)
Charles 'Red' Murphy / Businessman

- Nothing's Perfect (1992) ... Charles 'Red' Murphy (as John J. Aylward)
- The Big Kiss (1991) ... Charles 'Red' Murphy (scenes deleted)
- Russian Flu (1990) ... Charles 'Red' Murphy
- Pilot (1990) ... Businessman
 1992 With a Vengeance (TV Movie)
 1990 Child in the Night (TV Movie)
Dr. Wendt
 1989 Third Degree Burn (TV Movie)
 1989 Three Fugitives
Second Cop
 1988 Seven Hours to Judgment
Taxi Driver
 1987 Stamp of a Killer (TV Movie)
 1985 Strings
 1976 The Secret Life of John Chapman (TV Movie)
THEATRE (Representative)
"Three Penny Opera"Tiger BrownIndianapolis Repertory Theater
"Death of a Salesman"Willy LomanA Contemporary Theater
"The Kentucky Circle"EnsembleBroadway/Dir. Warner Shook
"Psychopathia Sexualis"Dr. BlockMark Taper Forum/Dir. Daniel Sullivan
"Waiting for Godot"PozzoSeattle Repertory Theater/Dir. Doug Highes
"A Flea in Her Ear"Poshe/ChandabiscSeattle Repertory Theater/Dir. Michael Maggio
"Richard III"RichardOregon Shakespeare Ashland/Dir. Denis Arndt
"Loot"TruscottDallas Theater Center/Dir. Jonathan Moscone
"Lulu"Dr. ShoenBerkeley Repertory Theater/Dir. Sharon Ott
"Hedda Gabbler"TesmanCincinatti Playhouse/Dir. John Going
"King Lear"LearA Contemporary Theater/Dir. Arne Zaslove
"Glengarry Glen Ross"Shelly LevineA Contemporary Theater/Dir. Miles Potter
"Born Yesterday"BrockManitroba Theater/Dir. James Roy
"Cuckoos Nest"CheswickCharles Playhouse, Boston/Dir. Lee Sankowitch
"Mench Meier"OttoEmpty Space Theater/Dir. M. Burke Walker
"Quartermaine's Terms"WagnerOld Globe Theater/Dir. David McClendon
"Man and Superman"StrakerIntiman Theater/Dir. Liz Huddle

 Photo camera Credits 
[a] © 1993 - New Line Cinema
[b] © 1997 - American_Zoetrope

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