Richard Dale Jenkins (born May 4, 1947) is an American stage, film, and television actor. He began his career in the theatre and made his film debut in 1974. He has played supporting roles in films almost every year since 1985 and had lead roles in The Cabin in the Woods and The Visitor, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He played the deceased patriarch Nathaniel Fisher on the HBO drama series Six Feet Under.
Jenkins was born and raised in DeKalb, Illinois. His mother, Mary Elizabeth (née Wheeler), was a housewife, and his father, Dale Stevens Jenkins, was a dentist. He attended DeKalb High School. Before he was an actor, Jenkins drove a linen truck (his boss was actor John C. Reilly's father). Jenkins earned a degree in drama from Illinois Wesleyan University before relocating to Rhode Island. At Illinois Wesleyan Jenkins became a member of Phi Gamma Delta.
Jenkins worked as an actor with the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, while breaking into film with a bit part in Feasting with Panthers (1974), a television movie. He continued as a celebrated member of Trinity's resident acting company and served as its artistic director from 1990 to 1994.
Since his film debut in the television movie Feasting with Panthers (1974), Jenkins has been working steadily in film. His earlier film credits include Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), and Snow Falling On Cedars (1999). He has worked with the director siblings the Farrelly brothers in There's Something About Mary (1998), Outside Providence (1999), Me, Myself, & Irene (2000), Say It Isn't So (2001), Hall Pass (2011) and the 2012 Three Stooges remake. He has also appeared in three Coen Brothers movies: The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), and Burn After Reading (2008). He is in North Country (2005), has three memorable scenes as FBI Director James (Robert) Grace in The Kingdom (film) (2007), and is in Step Brothers (2008). Although primarily known for supporting parts, Jenkins had a lead role in The Visitor (2008) for which he was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and an Academy Award for Best Actor. Jenkins won the International Press Academy's Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama.
Jenkins costarred in Dear John, as the father of John Tyree (Channing Tatum), and in Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard's horror film The Cabin in the Woods (2012).
Jenkins is perhaps best known for playing Nathaniel Fisher in the HBO drama series Six Feet Under. His character is the deceased patriarch of the Fisher family, and regularly appears to his family as a ghost or in dreams. He played the role for the show's entire run. He and his castmates received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2002. Jenkins also portrayed a DEA agent in one episode of Miami Vice and a mob boss in a later episode.
Jenkins and his wife Sharon R. Friedrick were married on August 23, 1969, and have two children: son Andrew Richard and daughter Sarah Pamela. He resides in Cumberland, Rhode Island.