Also Credited As:Pete Berg, Peter W Berg
About Peter Berg
Born March 11, 1962 in New York City, NY, Berg was raised in a well-to-do home with his father, Larry, a former Marine and advertising executive, and mother, Sally, a former psychiatric hospital worker who co-founded the youth group Catalog for Giving and organized self-help groups for women with cancer. With visions of his son becoming a Harvard or Yale educated lawyer, his father sent him to Taft School in Watertown, CT, where Berg excelled instead at drinking and goofing off. He did, however, display a passion for theater - he regularly attended productions at Taft, but was uncertain how to go about getting involved. By the time he reached Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, Berg began receiving encouragement to take acting classes. He eventually majored in drama and left Macalester with his degree in 1984. After spending some time acting in local productions, Berg moved to Los Angeles to take a job as a production assistant with Trans World International, producers of "Battle of the Network Stars" (ABC, 1976-1985). Though not yet established as an actor, Berg had planted a foothold inside the industry.
Thanks to his distaste for authority and lack of responsibility with large sums of money, Berg was fired from TWI in less than a year, despite being a well-liked employee. He continued working on various productions in numerous capacities - including as a property assistant on Wayne Wang's low-budget thriller "Slam Dance" (1987) - while auditioning for roles. Berg managed to get some theater work - he landed one part after cutting in a large line to get the last audition spot - then had his first big break with a 1986 episode of "The Equalizer" (CBS, 1985-89). Soon regular guest spots on television came his way, including an episode of "21 Jump Street" (Fox, 1986-1990). Also at the time, Berg made his first forays into feature films, landing bit parts in "Miracle Mile" (1988) and "Tale of Two Sisters" (1989). He had one of his first lead roles in "Shocker" (1989), playing a high school athlete whose dream of a mass murderer leads to his execution, only to trigger a more frightening and deadly killer. Berg wrapped up a productive year with three more low-budget indies - "Race For Glory" (1989), "Never On Tuesday" (1989) and "Heart of Dixie" (1989).
Berg was on the rise in 1990s, as evidenced by his increasing demand and higher-profile projects. After starring opposite Terrance Stamp in "Genuine Risk" (1990), he played a college student who returns home to discover his family mired by a host of problems that never go away in "Crooked Hearts" (1991). In "Late for Dinner" (1991), he played the dolt brother-in-law of a man (Brian Wimmer) who thinks he killed an evil land developer, so both have themselves cryogenically frozen, only to be unfrozen almost 30 years later to discover that life has gone on without them. After starring as a young intelligence officer at the end of World War II in "A Midnight Clear" (1992), he played a young man from Detroit who moves to Aspen with his best friend (Paul Gross) where they become ski instructors, only to have their friendship almost fall apart over drugs, women and a big ski race in "Aspen Extreme" (1993). Berg made several more low-budget films, including John Dahl's award-winning neo-noir "The Last Seduction" (1994) in which he played a young man who becomes the unwitting dupe of a con woman (Linda Fiorentino) using him to get rid of her husband (Bill Pullman).
Right in the midst of an increasingly vibrant feature career, Berg ventured back into television with a regular series role on "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000), a medical drama about the personal and professional lives of a group of surgeons at the high-tech Chicago Hope Hospital, on which he played Dr. William "Billy" Kronk for four seasons, before appearing in a recurring fashion for the rest of the show's run. While on "Chicago Hope," Berg had the opportunity to stretch his creative legs into writing and directing a few episodes, which eventually whet his desire to direct features. Also on the small screen, he was the lead in "Rise & Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story" (Fox, 1994), playing the former New York Jets defensive lineman who battled complete paralysis after colliding with a teammate on the field. In the meantime, he continued acting outside the confines of the small screen, appearing as a creepy caller in Spike Lee's "Girl 6" (1996), before starring as a washed-up boxer who gets another chance at glory in "The Great White Hype" (1996). Berg then co-starred alongside Hollywood heavyweights Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Sylvester Stallone in "Cop Land" (1997), playing one of several corrupt police officers being investigated by an Internal Affairs officer (De Niro) helped by a put-upon small town sheriff (Stallone).
It was while working on "Cop Land" that Berg began sketching ideas for his feature debut, "Very Bad Things" (1998), a dark comedy about a soon-to-be-married man (Christian Slater) and his four friends who get embroiled in the murders of a prostitute and a security guard while trying to have some bachelor fun in Las Vegas. After Berg wrote the script, he sent it around town to every producer and studio he could get to read it. They all passed. Berg eventually found independent financing and made his film. But when it was released, "Very Bad Things" was savaged by the critics, particularly Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times, who called it "tedious" and "completely pointless exercise." Berg took the criticisms in stride. Meanwhile, he continued acting, appearing in features like "Dill Scallion" (1999) and "Corky Romano" (2001), followed by a two-episode arc on "Alias" (ABC, 2001-06). Back in the director's chair, he helmed "The Rundown" (2003), a mildly entertaining action-adventure yarn about a fixer (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) hired to bring back a motor-mouthed troublemaker (Seann William Scott) from Brazil. Despite a big budget and fairly prominent talent, "The Rundown" came and went without much fanfare.
While working consistently as an actor for well over a decade, Berg was struggling to define himself as a filmmaker. But that changed with his third effort, "Friday Night Lights" (2004), a gritty, but earnest look at a small Texas town's obsession with high school football, despite their struggles to cope with racial and economic divides. Based on H.G. Bissinger's best-selling nonfiction novel, "Friday Night Lights" focused on Coach Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), who works hard week after week to build a winning team with a group of young players struggling to cope with their problems, including the hopelessness of being stuck in a small town. Reviews for the film were overwhelmingly positive, while the $60 million box office take was more than expected. Unsatisfied with exploring the world on the big screen, Berg turned the film into a one-hour drama, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 2006- ), giving him a broader canvas on which to paint deeper, more vibrant characters.
Despite low-ratings its first season - which led to constant speculation about the show's cancellation - "Friday Night Lights" lured an almost-fanatic audience that helped push the show off the bubble more than once. Critics were also prominent in helping to keep the show on air, many of whom considered "Friday Night Lights" one of the best series on television. In 2006, the American Film Institute deemed the show one of the "10 Best TV Programs." The following year, Berg was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. Also in 2007, "Friday Night Lights" earned a Peabody Award for Broadcast Excellence and a Writers Guild Award for Best New Series. Though rumors of the show's imminent demise were rampant - particularly during the Writer's strike in 2007-08 - a third season of "Friday Night Lights" looked like a real possibility for 2008-09. Back on the big screen, Berg directed two more films - the Jaime Foxx-Chris Cooper thriller, "The Kingdom" (2007) and the Will Smith comic book actioner "Hancock" (2008).
|Estrella Warren. Ended relationship in January 2006, after four years together|
|Elizabeth Rogers. Together from c. 1987; married from 1993-1997|
|Sally Berg. Co-founded a youth group named Catalog for Giving and worked at a psychiatric hospital when Berg was growing up|
|Mary Berg. Younger|
|Emmett Berg. Born in November 1999|
|The Taft School, Watertown , Connecticut|
|Macalester College, Saint Paul , Minnesota|
|Appeared in local theater productions after attending college in Minnesota|
|Raised in Chappaqua, NY|
|Moved to Los Angeles and got a job as a production assistant for Trans World International|
|Made TV acting debut on the crime drama "The Equalizer" (CBS)|
|Made feature debut in "Miracle Mile"|
|TV-movie debut, "Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story" (CBS)|
|First film lead, Wes Craven's "Shocker"|
|Appeared as a platoon-mate of Ethan Hawke in "A Midnight Clear"|
|Co-starred in "Fire in the Sky," a film based on true events surrounding the supposed alien abduction of Travis Walton|
|Landed breakthrough screen role as the hapless victim of femme fatale Linda Fiorintino in "The Last Seduction"; first aired on HBO before its theatrical release|
|Portrayed paralyzed pro football player Dennis Byrd in the Fox TV movie "Rise & Walk: The Dennis Byrd Story"|
|Authored the one-act play "Miles and Mickey" that debuted in Los Angeles, CA|
|Joined the cast of the CBS medical drama "Chicago Hope" as a recurring character; became a regular for the 1995-96 season; also wrote two episodes and directed one|
|Sold first script (co-wrote with Michael Schiffer), "Furious George"|
|Cast as a punch-drunk former pugilist dragged out of retirement by Samuel L. Jackson in "The Great White Hype"|
|Played a sexual deviant travelling around the desert calling from his car in Spike Lee's "Girl 6"|
|Portrayed tempermental macho man cop Joey Randone in James Mangold's "Cop Land"|
|Feature directorial debut, "Very Bad Things"; also scripted and co-wrote the song "Walls Come Down"; Christian Slater starred and executive produced|
|Executive produced and created the ABC series "Wonderland"; wrote and directed pilot episode|
|Cast in featured role in the comedy "Corky Romano"|
|Guest starred as SD-6 Agent Noah Hicks on the Fox drama "Alias"|
|Directed The Rock and Seann William Scott in "The Rundown"|
|Directed the high school football themed film drama "Friday Night Lights"|
|Played a cop opposite Tom Cruise's bad guy in the thriller "Collateral"|
|His production company Film 44 scored a first-look deal with Universal Pictures|
|Executive-produced the NBC series based on his feature film "Friday Night Lights"; also wrote and directed the pilot episode for which he received an Emmy nomination|
|Co-starred in Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs"|
|Co-starred with Ryan Reynolds and Jeremy Piven in the action-comedy "Smokin' Aces"|
|Helmed "The Kingdom," starring Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman as U.S. government agents sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in Saudi Arabia; also co-wrote screenplay|
|Directed Will Smith in the comedy superhero film "Hancock'|
|Wrote the screenplay adaptation of the comic book "The Losers"|
|Helmed and produced the sci-fi action feature "Battleship"|