James Marsden
Marsden at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
James Paul Marsden

(1973-09-18) September 18, 1973 (age 50)
Years active1993–present
Lisa Linde
(m. 2000; div. 2011)

James Paul Marsden (born September 18, 1973)[1] is an American actor. He began his acting career guest starring in the television shows Saved by the Bell: The New Class (1993), Touched by an Angel (1995), and Party of Five (1995). Marsden gained fame for his portrayal of Cyclops in the X-Men film series (2000–2014) and for his roles in the films The Notebook (2004), Superman Returns (2006), Hairspray (2007), Enchanted (2007), and 27 Dresses (2008). He portrayed John F. Kennedy in the drama film The Butler (2013) and starred in the comedy films Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013), Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022).

Marsden starred in the science fiction series Westworld from 2016 to 2022 and in the black comedy series Dead to Me from 2019 to 2022, for which he received a nomination for the Critics' Choice Television Award in 2023. He played guest roles in the sitcoms Modern Family (2011) and 30 Rock (2012–2013). He starred as a fictionalized version of himself in the mockumentary series Jury Duty (2023), for which he received nominations for a Golden Globe Award and a Primetime Emmy Award.

Early life and family

Marsden was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on September 18, 1973, the son of Kathleen (née Scholtz) and James Luther Marsden.[2] His father, a food safety advisor to LexiGene Industries,[1][3] and his mother, a nutritionist, divorced when he was nine years old.[4]

He has four siblings: two younger sisters and two brothers. He attended Hefner Middle School and Putnam City North High School, in Oklahoma City, and later went on to attend Oklahoma State University, where he studied broadcast journalism.[5] He was also a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. Marsden left after one and a half years, opting instead to move to Los Angeles in order to pursue his acting career.


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Debut and early career (1993–2003)

Marsden got his first job in a series of episodes of The Nanny as Eddie, Margaret Sheffield's boyfriend. He then starred in the Canadian television series Boogies Diner, which aired for one season. Following the end of that series, he guest starred on television shows such as Saved by the Bell: The New Class and Party of Five. He later starred in the ABC show Second Noah. He lost out to Edward Norton for a role in Primal Fear and auditioned for the lead role in 54, which then went to Ryan Phillippe.[6] He starred in the films Disturbing Behavior opposite Katie Holmes and Gossip opposite Kate Hudson. He also appeared in the television series Ally McBeal as one of the main cast members during the first half of season 5, where he also sang. He also starred in a 1998 episode of "The Outer Limits".

Marsden was cast as Cyclops in the X-Men films. His character is prominent in the comics; his screen time in the films, however, is reduced in the sequels. Marsden also appeared in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. Singer had dropped out of the third X-Men film to direct Superman and Marsden was cast as Lois Lane's fiancé, Richard White. Due to schedule conflicts, Marsden's screen time in X-Men: The Last Stand was reduced, stirring controversy from fans of the comics.[7] Marsden's portrayal of Cyclops in the films was well received and garnered him a Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actor.[8] In 2014 Marsden reprised his role of Cyclops in a brief cameo for X-Men: Days of Future Past, as did other actors from the first film including Anna Paquin and Famke Janssen.

Breakthrough with comedy films (2004–2011)

In 2004, Marsden co-starred with Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner, and Gena Rowlands in the romantic drama The Notebook as Lon Hammond, Jr., the second man Allie Hamilton (McAdams) falls in love with. In 2007, Marsden played Corny Collins in the film adaptation of the Broadway musical Hairspray, based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name. In the film, he sang two songs, "The Nicest Kids In Town" and "(It's) Hairspray." Both Hairspray and its soundtrack were critically acclaimed.[9] His next role was with Amy Adams in the Disney hybrid animated/live-action film Enchanted, playing Prince Edward. He sang one song as a duet with Adams at the beginning of the film and a duet with Idina Menzel that was cut from the film. Enchanted was well received critically and proved to be a commercial success, earning more than $340 million worldwide at the box office.[10]

Following his successes in 2007's Hairspray and Enchanted, Marsden played the male lead in the 2008 romantic comedy 27 Dresses opposite star Katherine Heigl, which grossed $160 million worldwide.[11] He also starred in the teen comedy Sex Drive. Though the film was a moderate success, Marsden's performance was heavily praised.[12] Marsden also received a Teen Choice Awards nomination for Choice Movie Actor in a Comedy for his roles in Enchanted and 27 Dresses.[13]

In 2009, Marsden also played the male lead in the film The Box, based on the 1970 short story "Button, Button" by author Richard Matheson, which was earlier made into an episode of The Twilight Zone.[14] He starred opposite Cameron Diaz and reunited with Superman Returns co-star Frank Langella.[15] In 2010, Marsden was cast in the comedy Death at a Funeral, a remake of the 2007 British film of the same name, along with Chris Rock, Luke Wilson, Danny Glover, and Columbus Short.

Marsden made an appearance on Modern Family in January 2011, playing a squatter.[16] In April, Marsden appeared as the male (live-action) lead in Hop, an Easter-themed comedy co-starring Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny. Although the film was considered a commercial success, opening at the top of the weekend box office and grossing over $100 million in the U.S. box office, Hop generally received negative reviews.[17][18] Later in 2011, Marsden played the lead in Straw Dogs, a remake of Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film; Marsden portrayed the character played by Dustin Hoffman in the original. Straw Dogs reunited Marsden with his Superman Returns co-star Kate Bosworth. The film received mixed reviews and ultimately ended up being a box office flop.[19][20]

Independent films and television roles (2012–present)

Marsden at the world premiere of Robot & Frank in January 2012

In 2012 and 2013, Marsden appeared in a recurring role in the sixth and seventh seasons of 30 Rock, playing Criss Chros, the boyfriend (and later husband) of the series' main character Liz Lemon. He also appeared in several independent films, including Robot & Frank, Small Apartments, Bachelorette, and As Cool as I Am. In 2013, he co-starred with Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg in the action film 2 Guns, which debuted at number one in its weekend release. Soon after, he starred in Lee Daniels' historical drama The Butler as President John F. Kennedy. The film, featuring an ensemble, opened at the top spot and received positive reviews. Marsden played Jack Lime, a rival reporter to Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy, in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The following year, he reprised his role as Scott Summers for the first time in eight years in X-Men: Days of Future Past in a cameo. He would also star in his second Nicholas Sparks film titled The Best of Me, replacing Paul Walker in the lead role. Marsden performed as the sentient android Teddy Flood in three seasons of HBO's Westworld.

Marsden appeared as Judy Hale's former boyfriend and lawyer Steve Wood in the Netflix dark comedy series Dead to Me.[21] He later starred in a separate role in the same series as Ben Wood from the second season onward.[22] In 2020, he starred in Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog film[23] and the Paramount+ television miniseries The Stand.[24] Marsden also starred in the FX miniseries Mrs. America as Phil Crane. In 2021, Marsden provided the voice of Hitch Trailblazer in the Netflix animated film My Little Pony: A New Generation.[25] Marsden reprised his role of Tom Wachowski in the 2022 sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2.[26] He also reprised the role of Edward in the sequel to Enchanted, titled Disenchanted, which was released on Disney+ in November 2022.[27][28] In 2024, Marsden was announced to return as Tom Wachowski in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.[29] He also starred as Jack LaLanne in Unfrosted, which was released on Netflix in May of that year.[30][31]

Personal life

Marsden married Mary Elizabeth "Lisa" Linde, daughter of Dennis Linde, on July 22, 2000. The couple have two children: a son born in 2001 and a daughter born in 2005.[32][33] They divorced in 2011, with Linde citing irreconcilable differences.[34][35]

He also has a son, born in 2012, with model Rose Costa.[36]



Year Title Role Notes
1994 No Dessert, Dad, Till You Mow the Lawn Tyler Cochran
1996 Public Enemies Doc Barker Direct-to-video
1997 Campfire Tales Eddie Segment: "The Hook"
1998 Disturbing Behavior Steve Clark
2000 Gossip Derrick Webb
X-Men Scott Summers / Cyclops
2001 Sugar & Spice Jack Bartlett
Zoolander John Wilkes Booth
2002 Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road Neal Oliver
2003 X2 Scott Summers / Cyclops
2004 The Notebook Lon Hammond
The 24th Day Dan
2005 Heights Jonathan Kessler
2006 The Alibi Wendell Hatch
Superman Returns Richard White
10th & Wolf Tommy Santoro
X-Men: The Last Stand Scott Summers / Cyclops
2007 Enchanted Prince Edward Also voice
Hairspray Corny Collins
2008 27 Dresses Kevin "Malcolm" Doyle
Sex Drive Rex Lafferty
2009 The Box Arthur Lewis
2010 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Diggs Voice
Death at a Funeral Oscar
2011 Hop Fred O'Hare
Straw Dogs David Sumner
2012 Bachelorette Trevor Graham
Robot & Frank Hunter Weld
Small Apartments Bernard Franklin
2013 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Jack Lime
As Cool as I Am Chuck Diamond
The Butler John F. Kennedy
2 Guns Harold Quince
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Prince Ishitsukuri English voice dub
2014 The Best of Me Dawson Cole
The Loft Chris Vanowen
Walk of Shame Gordon
Welcome to Me Rich Ruskin
X-Men: Days of Future Past Scott Summers / Cyclops Cameo
2015 Accidental Love Scott
The D Train Oliver Lawless
Into the Grizzly Maze Rowan
Unfinished Business Jim Spinch
2017 The Female Brain Adam Simmons
Shock and Awe Warren Strobel
2018 Henchmen Hank Voice
2019 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Burt Reynolds Extended cut
2020 Sonic the Hedgehog Tom Wachowski
2021 The Boss Baby: Family Business Tim Templeton Voice
My Little Pony: A New Generation Hitch Trailblazer Voice
2022 Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Tom Wachowski
Disenchanted King Edward Also voice
2023 Knox Goes Away Miles
PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie Hank Voice
2024 Unfrosted Jack LaLanne [37]
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Tom Wachowski Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1993 In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco Steven Willis Television film
Joe's Life Brian Episode: "Parental Guidance Not Suggested?"
The Nanny Eddie 2 episodes
Saved by the Bell: The New Class Chad Westerfield Episode: "Homecoming King"
1994 Boogies Diner Jason Episode #2.28
Heavenly Road Jeremy Television film
Search and Rescue Television film
1995 Blossom Josh Episode: "The Date"
Party of Five Griffin Holbrook Episode: "The Ides of March"
Touched by an Angel Jake Episode: "Angels on the Air"
1996 Gone in a Heartbeat Michael Galler Television film
919 Fifth Avenue Will Television film
1996–97 Second Noah Ricky Beckett Main cast
1997 Bella Mafia Luka Television film
On the Edge of Innocence Jake Walker Television film
1998 The Outer Limits Brav Episode: "Rite of Passage"
2001–02 Ally McBeal Glenn Foy Main cast (season 5)
2009 Robot Chicken Jason Chambers / Lion Voices; episode: "Especially the Animal Keith Crofford"
2011 Modern Family Barry Episode: "Slow Down Your Neighbors"
2012–13 30 Rock Criss Chros Recurring role
2014–16 Wander Over Yonder Sir Brad Starlight Voice; 3 episodes
2016–22 Westworld Teddy Flood Main cast (seasons 1–2; 4)
2017 Tour de Pharmacy Rex Honeycut Television film
2019–22 Dead to Me Steve Wood / Ben Wood Main cast
2020 Mrs. America Phil Crane 3 episodes
2020–21 The Stand Stu Redman Main cast
2022 Green Eggs and Ham Bo Voice; episode: "You Only Mom Twice"
2023 Party Down Jack Botty 2 episodes
Jury Duty Himself Main cast

Music videos

Year Title Artist(s) Role
1998 "Got You (Where I Want You)" The Flys Himself
2020 "Imagine"[38] Gal Gadot & friends Himself


Year Song Album
2000 "Glow" Gossip
2007 "True Love's Kiss"
(with Amy Adams)
"That's Amore" Enchanted
"The Nicest Kids in Town" Hairspray
"(It's) Hairspray" Hairspray
2021 "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" The Boss Baby: Family Business
2022 "The Magic of Andalasia" Disenchanted

Awards and nominations

Award Year Category Work Result Ref.
Astra TV Awards 2023 Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Party Down Nominated [39]
Best Supporting Actor in a Streaming Comedy Series Dead to Me Nominated
Jury Duty Won
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards 2001 Favorite Supporting Actor – Sci-Fi X-Men Won [41]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2008 Best Acting Ensemble Hairspray Won [42]
Critics' Choice Television Awards 2023 Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Dead to Me Nominated [43]
2024 Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Jury Duty Nominated [44]
Golden Globe Awards 2024 Best Supporting Actor – Television Jury Duty Nominated [45]
Hollywood Film Awards 2007 Ensemble of the Year Hairspray Won [46]
Independent Spirit Awards 2024 Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series Jury Duty Won [47]
MTV Movie & TV Awards 2001 Best On-Screen Team (shared with Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and Anna Paquin) X-Men Nominated [48]
2014 Best Fight (shared with cast) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Nominated [49]
Primetime Emmy Awards 2024 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Jury Duty Nominated [50]
Saturn Awards 2007 Best Supporting Actor Superman Returns Nominated [51]
Screen Actors Guild Awards 2008 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Hairspray Nominated [52]
2014 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The Butler Nominated [53]
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series 30 Rock Nominated
2017 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Westworld Nominated [54]
2021 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Dead to Me Nominated [55]
TCA Awards 2023 Individual Achievement in Comedy Jury Duty Nominated [56]


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