Served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
He immigrated to the U.S. as a child in the early 1950s, and settled in Milford, Connecticut. In 1965 he graduated Yale University as a drama major and attended one year of graduate school at Tulsa University while serving basic training in the Army. He would have been drafted into Vietnam, if not for medical file conflict.
In 1977 he married a fellow aspiring stage actress, Charlotte Bova. For fourteen years until 1991 they lived together with their two young children in a small three-room apartment in little Italy of Manhattan's Lower East side. For eleven years he and his family lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn. In 2002, he and his family moved to South Orange, New Jersey, where he currently resides.
In 1969 he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career, but was unable to find work. He supported himself as an advertiser throughout the early 1970s, and actually pitched the original idea for the "Jell-O Pudding Cup". By the summer of 1975 he had found stage work with John Astin and Patty Duke in California. However, he moved back to the East Coast after the production ended.
He played the father to both Jake Gyllenhaal and his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, in the films, "Brokeback Mountain" and "World Trade Center", respectively.
Has appeared on "Law & Order" and all four of its spin-offs.
He has played the same character (Judge Walter Bradley) on four different series: Law & Order (1990), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005) and Conviction (2006).
He has appeared in eight films directed by Woody Allen: Zelig (1983), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Shadows and Fog (1991), Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Deconstructing Harry (1997), Celebrity (1998) and Small Time Crooks (2000).
As of 2016, he has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Brokeback Mountain (2005), Lincoln (2012) and Bridge of Spies (2015).