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He may not be a household name, but Željko Ivanek has appeared in dozens of television and movie roles – and even won an Emmy for his work. Now, the Ljubljana-born actor is appearing in the film Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri, one of this year’s contenders for the Academy Awards. Foto: EPA

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An Actor’s Journey from Ljubljana to Hollywood

Slovenia Revealed
29. November 2017 ob 12:08
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

He may not be a household name, but Željko Ivanek has appeared in dozens of television and movie roles – and even won an Emmy for his work. Now, the Ljubljana-born actor is appearing in the film Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri, one of this year’s contenders for the Academy Awards.

Born in Ljubljana in 1957, Ivanek moved to California as a child; at the time, his father was working on his PhD at Stanford University. Ivanek was involved in community theater in California’s Bay Area as a young man. After graduating from Yale, he went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

After years on the stage – he made his Broadway debut in 1981 --, Ivanek began to make a name for himself in television. He appeared in TV series ranging from Law & Order and Murder, She Wrote to Homicide and the X-Files. Many of his roles caught the attention of audiences who were intrigued by the strong on-screen presence of his characters – often lawyers, criminals, and other villains. Ivanek’s roles became increasingly prominent in critically acclaimed series such as CSI and House.

In 2008, Ivanek was finally recognized by the industry: His role as attorney Ray Fiske in the series Damages won him that year’s Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama.

Ivanek’s success in television allowed him to pursue increasingly interesting and complex film roles. He has appeared in more than 20 movies since the 1980s. Among his most memorable roles is his award-winning portrayal of U.S. State Department official Robert Pender in Argo. This fall, he can be seen in the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – a movie that has been touted as a top contender for the upcoming Academy Awards.

Ivanek remains proud of his Slovenian roots. Although he resides in Southern California, he frequently visits his native land and always makes sure that his first name is spelled Željko in the credits – with a Slovenian caron over the Z.

Jaka Bartolj