Jon Cryer
Cryer in 2011
Jonathan Niven Cryer

(1965-04-16) April 16, 1965 (age 58)
  • Actor
  • writer
  • producer
  • television director
Years active1982–present
  • (m. 1999; div. 2004)
  • (m. 2007)

Jonathan Niven Cryer (born April 16, 1965)[1] is an American actor, writer, producer, and television director. Born into a show business family, he made his motion picture debut as a teenage photographer in the 1984 romantic comedy No Small Affair; his breakout role came in 1986 in the John Hughes-written film Pretty in Pink. In 1998, he wrote and produced the independent film Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five.

Although he gained fame with his early film roles, it took several years to find success on television as none of his star vehicles, including The Famous Teddy Z, Partners, and The Trouble with Normal, lasted more than 22 episodes. In 2003, he was cast in a co-leading role as Alan Harper on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, a major hit for twelve seasons for which he won two Primetime Emmy Awards (in 2009 and 2012).[2][3] He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television in 2011.

Cryer's other film appearances include Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Hiding Out (1987), Hot Shots! (1991), Holy Man (1998), Tortured (2008), Shorts (2009), and Hit by Lightning (2014). He also has appeared in the recurring role of the Earth-38 Lex Luthor in the CW series Supergirl, Arrow, and Batwoman. After appearing on the podcast Crime Writers On... it was announced that he would join the Undisclosed podcast for their second season.

Early life

Cryer was born in New York City. His mother, Gretchen Kiger, is a playwright, songwriter, actress and singer. His father, Donald David Cryer, is an actor and singer who originally studied to be a minister.[4][5][6] His paternal grandfather, the Rev. Donald W. Cryer, was a prominent Methodist minister. He has two sisters, Robin and Shelly.[7]

When Cryer was twelve years old, he decided he wanted to become an actor.[8] When his mother heard this, she thought he should have a backup plan, and joked, "Plumbing is a pretty good career."[7] Cryer attended Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center for several summers as a teenager,[9] and is a 1983 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. He was classmates with screenwriter and film director Boaz Yakin.[10] To his mother's "great disappointment," he skipped college and went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England, for a summer short course in Shakespeare.[11]


Career beginnings

Cryer at the 2003 premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Cryer's first professional acting effort was as David in the Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy, replacing Matthew Broderick, whom he "closely resembled."[12] He reprised the role in San Francisco and Los Angeles.[13] He was later a standby and replacement for Broderick as Eugene Jerome in the original Broadway production of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1984.[13][citation needed]

At age 19, Cryer appeared in the 1984 romantic comedy film No Small Affair, in the lead role as Charles Cummings, after the original production with Matthew Broderick was shut down when director Martin Ritt suffered a heart attack.[14] He went on to appear in small roles in films and television films.

Cryer made his film breakthrough as Philip F. "Duckie" Dale in the John Hughes-scripted film Pretty in Pink.[15] In an interview with the Daily News, Cryer's mother Gretchen said that after Pretty in Pink, she started getting calls from teenage girls from all over the world, who would leave hysterical, giggling messages on her answering machine.[7]

Cryer then starred in the 1987 film Hiding Out as a stockbroker on the run from a Mafia hit man. His mother Gretchen played his aunt. The film broke even, but Cryer's performance as a character who was much older than him was critically acclaimed. In 1989, he got the lead role in the TV comedy series The Famous Teddy Z. His performance gained poor reviews[16] and the show was canceled after the first season.[16]

In 1990 Cryer appeared as Sandy in an Off-Broadway adaptation of Carnal Knowledge.[17] That same year he appeared alongside future Two and a Half Men costar Charlie Sheen in the Jim Abrahams comedy Hot Shots!,[8] which was received very positively.[18] Cryer is frequently linked to the Brat Pack.[19] In a March 2009 interview on Anytime with Bob Kushell, Cryer stated that he had auditioned for St. Elmo's Fire but was not cast in a role.[20] In 1993, he was asked to audition for the role of Chandler Bing on Friends, while doing a play in London. His reading was videotaped by a British casting agent but the tape failed to arrive in the U.S. before the network had made its final decision.[8]

In 1995, Cryer was cast as Bob in the sitcom Partners, which, like his prior show The Famous Teddy Z, was canceled after its first season. In an interview with Time Out New York he stated, "Hey, every show I'm in goes down. Think about this: George Clooney was in 28 pilots, or something. It means nothing."[7] After guest starring on shows such as Dharma & Greg and The Outer Limits, he wrote, produced and co-starred in the film Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five. It debuted in 1998 at the Los Angeles Film Festival and gained positive reviews from critics.[21] Leonard Maltin from Playboy Magazine called it "a breath of fresh air."[22] That same year, Cryer landed in another TV series, the Fox sitcom Getting Personal, alongside Vivica A. Fox and Duane Martin. Although the show was picked up for a second season after its abbreviated spring run, it was canceled that fall, after airing 17 episodes in total.

In 1999, Cryer appeared as Neal in Jeffrey Sweet's play Bluff at the Victory Gardens Theater.[23] In 2000, he was cast as the lead in a comedy series called The Trouble With Normal. For the third time, Cryer starred in a show which was canceled after its first season.[24]

Two and a Half Men

Cryer's long run of unsuccessful TV projects finally ended in 2003. Against the wishes of CBS executives (who were aware of his past failures) and due to a friendship with Charlie Sheen, he was cast as Alan Harper on the hit comedy series Two and a Half Men. (He had auditioned for the role of Gaius Baltar on the Sci-Fi Channel's reimagined Battlestar Galactica at around the same time, but the role went to James Callis.)[25] Cryer earned seven Primetime Emmy Award[26] nominations and two wins[2] for his acting work on the show.[3] In a comment on the show's high ratings, he said: "When you’re on a show that's fighting for survival every week, you stop trusting your instincts, because you think, ‘My instincts haven't worked so far.’ But when people clearly like the show and are watching it in great numbers, it takes a huge amount of pressure off you. It allows you to trust your instincts and go with what has worked for you before."[8] After Sheen's departure from the series, Cryer's character became the show's main protagonist (with Ashton Kutcher being cast as the co-lead) during the final four seasons. Cryer is the only actor to have appeared in every episode of the series; Sheen was fired in March 2011 and Cryer's on-screen son Angus T. Jones left the series at the end of season 10, after describing the show as "filth" and calling himself a "paid hypocrite."[27] (Jones did return for the series finale.)

Further acting and TV roles

In 2008, Cryer appeared with Laurence Fishburne and James Cromwell in the film Tortured,[28] and in 2009 co-starred with James Spader in the film Shorts.[29]

In 2011, Cryer played the role of David in a concert staging of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. The all-star cast was headed by Neil Patrick Harris and Patti LuPone.[30] The concert subsequently aired on PBS's Great Performances.[31]

Cryer made a guest appearance on the sitcom series Husbands in its second season.[32] He was initially cast to voice the lead character in DisneyToon Studios' animated film Planes, a spin-off of Pixar's Cars franchise,[33] but later dropped out and was replaced by Dane Cook.[34][35] Cryer did however receive a credit on the film for "additional story material."[36]

In 2015, Cryer released a memoir, So That Happened, a breezy, often comic tale chronicling Cryer's 30-year career on stage, film and television.[37]

Cryer currently appears in the drama series NCIS, where he currently plays Navy Dr. Cyril Taft who treats NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon). Cryer had expressed a desire to appear in NCIS since it premiered in 2003.[citation needed]

Pursuing a passion for criminal justice, Cryer joined the team of the popular podcast Undisclosed where he will be voicing the weekly addendum episode for the second season.[38]

On May 21, 2018, Cryer was featured in the season 9 premiere of genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? Cryer uncovered the dramatic tale of his ancestor James Adams, a Scottish Covenanter soldier who was captured during the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, and endured horrific conditions as a prisoner. He was then transported to America an indentured servant to work at the Saugus Iron Works at Lynn, Massachusetts. As part of his research for the episode, Cryer visited the site of the Battle of Dunbar, Durham Cathedral in Durham, North East England – where surviving Scottish prisoners were held until they were indentured – and the Saugus Iron Works national historic site. Cryer said: "Seeing the resilience of my family over centuries, you can see the legacy he left. I can't help but feel lucky...clearly, the resilience of my family, that spine of steel, was not something that came from nowhere. Moving forward, I'm going to take James Adams' strength as my inspiration and know that when you go through very, very difficult times, if you can turn around and help the people around you who had it even worse, that's real strength. And I aspire to be one of those people."[citation needed]

On November 16, 2018, it was announced that Cryer had been cast as Lex Luthor on The CW's Supergirl in a recurring role.[39] (He had previously played Lenny Luthor, Lex Luthor's nephew, in the 1987 film Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.) His first appearance in the fifteenth episode of Season 4, titled "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". He reprised the role in the Batwoman and The Flash episodes of the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths.[40][41]

On April 15, 2019, Cryer joined other WGA writers in firing their agents as part of the WGA's stand against the ATA and the practice of packaging.[42]

Personal life

Cryer with wife Lisa Joyner in September 2011

Cryer married British actress Sarah Trigger in 1999, with whom he has a son, Charlie Austin.[7] They divorced in 2004. On a February 2007 episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he announced that he was engaged to entertainment reporter Lisa Joyner, whom he married in Mexico[7] in June 2007.[43][44] On September 29, 2009, they announced that they had adopted a baby girl.[45][46]

When Pretty in Pink co-star Molly Ringwald told Out magazine in 2012 that she believed Cryer's character in the film, Duckie, was gay, Cryer stated, "I respectfully disagree. I want to stand up for all the slightly effeminate dorks that are actually heterosexual. Just cause the gaydar is going off, doesn't mean your instruments aren't faulty. I've had to live with that, and that’s OK."[47] Also in 2012, he told Jeff Probst that when he and Joyner started dating, she wondered if he might be gay because "he never kissed me."[48] Cryer was asked in 2014 if he was "mistaken for gay"; he called himself "an effeminate heterosexual dork" and made a tongue-in-cheek remark about never being propositioned: "Fellas, you're dropping the ball."[49]

Political views

Prior to the 2008 presidential election, Cryer attended a fundraiser hosted by the McCain campaign and, according to news reports, endorsed John McCain.[50][51] When Cryer did not make a public endorsement for the 2012 race, his spokeswoman said that the 2008 report aligning him with the Republican Party was a "mistake" and that Cryer was "not really political." He had attended events for both Republicans and Democrats "because he wanted to hear what both sides had to say."[52]

In regard to Donald Trump, Cryer opined on the May 5, 2016, episode of the podcast Never Not Funny, "I have been pointing out, and I have been screaming to the rooftops, that Donald Trump is the Charlie Sheen of politics ... I have to tell you, I love Charlie Sheen, I loved working with him when he was sober, but he was, he's full of shit. He has been full of shit, he has serious addiction. His addiction is obviously serious, drugs, and, but, Trump is just addicted to feeling important. I think if anybody is under the delusion that he cares about anybody in America besides himself, they are stoned and need to rethink their priorities, 'cause it's just ridiculous that he's gotten as far as he has."[53]

Cryer was an active supporter of the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike and also a supporter of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike.[54][55]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 No Small Affair Charles Cummings
1985 Noon Wine Teenage Herbert Thompson
O.C. and Stiggs Randall Schwab Jr.
1986 Pretty in Pink Phil "Duckie" Dale
1987 Morgan Stewart's Coming Home Morgan Stewart
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace Lenny Luthor
Dudes Grant
Hiding Out Andrew Morenski/Max Hauser
1989 Penn & Teller Get Killed Frat Boy
1991 Hot Shots! Jim "Wash Out" Pfaffenbach
1993 The Waiter Tommy Kazdan
1994 Heads Guy Franklin
1996 The Pompatus of Love Mark Writer
Cannes Man Himself
1997 Plan B Stuart Winer
1998 Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God... Be Back by Five Daniel Writer and producer
Holy Man Barry
2001 Glam Jimmy Pells
2003 The Metro Chase Mr. Stamm
2008 Unstable Fables: 3 Pigs and a Baby Richard Pig Voice[56]
Tortured Brian Mark
2009 Weather Girl Charles
Shorts: The Adventures of the Wishing Rock Bill Thompson
Stay Cool Javier
2010 Due Date Alan Harper Cameo
2011 Company David Filmed performance
2013 Ass Backwards Dean Morris
Planes Writer; additional story material
2014 Hit by Lightning Ricky Miller
2019 Big Time Adolescence Reuben Harris
2021 18½ H. R. Haldeman Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Amazing Stories Phil Episode: "Miscalculation"
1988 Cinemax Comedy Experiment Himself Episode: "Rap Master Ronnie: A Report Card"
1989–1990 The Famous Teddy Z Teddy Zakalokis 20 episodes
1995–1996 Partners Bob 22 episodes
1996 The Outer Limits Trevor McPhee Episode: "Vanishing Act"
1997 It's Good to Be King Mort
Dharma & Greg Brian Episode: "Shower the People You Love with Love"
1998 Getting Personal Sam Wagner 17 episodes (also producer)
Hercules The Winged Wolves Voice, episode: "Hercules and the Underworld Takeover"
Mr. Show with Bob and David Duckie Episode: "It's Perfectly Understandishable"
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place Justin Episode: "Two Guys, a Girl and a Thanksgiving"
2000–2001 The Trouble with Normal Zack Mango 13 episodes
2001 Family Guy Wiseguy Voice, episode: "There's Something About Paulie"
2002 Andy Richter Controls the Universe Lemuel Praeger Episode: "Gimme a C"
The Practice Terry Pender Episode: "Of Thee I Sing"
2003 Becker Roger Episode: "Chris' Ex"
Hey Joel Joel Stein Voice, 13 episodes
Stripperella Dave / Clifton / Clifford Voice, 3 episodes[56]
2003–2015 Two and a Half Men Alan Harper 262 episodes;
3 episodes (director);
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2012)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2009)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2006–2008, 2010–2011)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (2011)
2005–2006 Danny Phantom Freakshow Voice, 2 episodes[56]
2006 American Dad! Quacky Voice, episode: "It's Good to Be The Queen"
2008 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Himself Episode: "Two and a Half Deaths"
2010–2011 Hannah Montana Kenneth Truscott 2 episodes
2012 Husbands Vic Del Rey 2 episodes
2013 The Cleveland Show Alan Harper Voice, episode: "The Fist and the Furious"
2013–2016 Mom Restaurant customer Episode: "Pilot";
2 episodes (director)
2015–2016 NCIS Dr. Cyril Taft 3 episodes
2016–2017 The Ranch Bill Jensen 2 episodes
2016 Lady Dynamite Himself Episode: "Pilot"
2017–2019 Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television Jon Cryer 7 episodes
2017 Justice League Action Felix Faust Voice, 4 episodes[56]
Disjointed 2 episodes (director)
2018 Robot Chicken Brainy Smurf / Ziggy Voice, episode: "Your Mouth Is Hanging off Your Face"
Will & Grace Himself Episode: "Kid 'n Play"
Drop the Mic Episode: "Shawn Mendes vs. Odell Beckham Jr. & Molly Ringwald vs. Jon Cryer"
Who Do You Think You Are? 2 episodes
2019–2021 Supergirl Lex Luthor (Earth-38) 20 episodes;
Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television (2021)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television (2019)
Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Villain (2019)
2019 Batwoman Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 2"
The Flash Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 3"
2020 Arrow Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 4"
Legends of Tomorrow Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 5"
The Forgotten West Memphis Three Television mini-series documentary (executive producer)
2021 The Kominsky Method Himself Episode: "Chapter 22. The fundamental things apply"
2023 Extended Family Jim Kearney Main role (executive producer)


Year Title Role Venue Ref.
1983 Torch Song Trilogy David US national tour [57]
1983 Brighton Beach Memoirs Eugene Jerome Alvin Theatre [58]
1990 Carnal Knowledge Sandy Kaufman Theater [59]
1994 900 Oneonta Gitlo The Old Vic [60]
1999 Bluff Neal Victory Gardens Theater [61]
2011 Company David Concert with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center [62]



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