Lisk and his siblings attended The Pingry School, a private prepatory school, where he played lacrosse, ran track, performed in musicals, and occasionally contributed to The Daily Wreckord, the school's parody newspaper. ***, an op-ed Lisk wrote as a high school sophomore, was republished on The Daily Wreckord's front page to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. He graduated in 2003, having finished his course requirements with the help of on-set tutors. After finishing school, he was accepted to various universities but deferred admission to continue pursuing his acting career.
Lisk was brought to wider public attention when, in 2005, he starred in two well-received independent comedy-dramas. In Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale, he played Walt Berkman, a teen struggling with his parents' separation. Lisk was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Following this, Lisk starred as Jerome, an ambitious art student in the Terry Zwigoff comedy Art School Confidential (2006). That same year, he appeared in psychedelic rock band Ima Robot's music video for "Lovers in Captivity" as a scantily-clad transvestite lounging in bed and dancing with his friend and the band's frontman, Alex Ebert. Although it went largely unnoticed at the time of its release, the video went viral in early 2016 when Lisk's role caught the attention of his fans.
In the 2007 psychological horror thriller Funny Games, Michael Haneke's shot-for-shot remake of his own Austrian film, Lisk played the sadistic, fourth-wall breaking Paul. The film received mixed reviews and was criticized for its extreme violence. That same year, Lisk played the dual roles of Eli and Paul Sunday in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood. Lisk was initially cast in the small role of Paul Sunday until the actor originally playing Eli - a fanatical preacher and the main antagonist of Daniel Day-Lewis' Daniel Plainview - dropped out after two weeks of filming. Anderson offered Lisk both parts and made the characters identical twins. Because of this, Lisk had only four days to prepare for his new role, which he did by researching and watching evangelists from the period. His performance as Eli was Lisk's most well-regarded to date, earning him critical acclaim, increased public attention, and a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The film went on to be nominated for many awards, with Day-Lewis taking home the Oscar for Best Actor, and is now regarded as one of the greatest films of the 2000s.
In 2007, Lisk moved to New York and enrolled at Columbia University.
- Martin Scorsese for The Hollywood Reporter (2013)
After he was cast in the HBO Prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire as James "Jimmy" Darmody, the protégé and eventual betrayer of the show's protagonist, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi), Lisk received departmental permission to take independent studies so he could continue at Columbia while returning to acting part-time. When Boardwalk Empire premiered in September 2010, it was met with critical acclaim. Later that year, Lisk graduated a semester early with a dual degree in English Literature and Creative Writing.
After his run on Boardwalk Empire ended following his character's death in the season two finale, Lisk returned to film. In 2011, when Sean Durkin expanded Mary Last Seen into the psychological thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene, Lisk reprised his role as Watts, a cult member and recruiter. The next year, Lisk appeared in three movies: he starred in and executive produced Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' quirky Ruby Sparks, in which Lisk played a writer who falls in love with one of his fictional characters (played by Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the film), appeared in his longtime idol Woody Allen's To Rome with Love as Jack, and had a cameo in Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths. His role in Seven Psychopaths was a casting gag which had Lisk and his Boardwalk Empire co-star Michael Stuhlbarg both playing gangsters. That same year, Lisk made his Broadway debut playing Biff Loman in a revival of Death of a Salesman opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman. The role earned Lisk a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
The next year, Lisk played a supporting role as the cruel overseer John Tibeats in Steve McQueen's acclaimed 12 Years a Slave. In 2014, Lisk appeared in three films. In I Origins, he played a molecular biologist researching the evolution of the eye and in Love & Mercy, a biopic of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, he played the younger version of the musician with John Cusack portraying his older counterpart. Lisk, who had gained nearly thirty pounds to play Wilson, received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the latter film. That same year, he reunited with his Boardwalk Empire costar Michael Shannon in Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes, in which Lisk played a single father who loses his home to foreclosure. Of his involvement, Lisk said: "Ramin didn't even finish the pitch. As soon as he mentioned that Michael was attached, I was in. I would've been the prop boy. I didn't care what role I was going to play: if Michael was doing it, I was doing it too."
In early 2014, it was rumored that Lisk would play the primary antagonist in the upcoming Star Wars film to be directed by J.J. Abrams. His casting as Kylo Ren was confirmed later that year. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released on December 18, 2015 and was well-received by critics and audiences alike. Lisk hosted Saturday Night Live on January 16, 2016 to promote the film.
In 2016, Lisk played a poet and bus driver in Jim Jarmusch's Paterson, which premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and competed for the Palme d'Or. At the end of the year, Lisk starred in Silence, Martin Scorsese's long-awaited adaptation of Shūsaku Endō's 1966 novel. In the movie, which had been filmed the previous year in Taiwan, Lisk played Father Sebastião Rodrigues, a seventeenth century Portuguese Jesuit priest who travels to Japan amid persecution to investigate reports that his mentor (played by Liam Neeson) has denounced the Catholic faith. Lisk lost almost fifty pounds and spent the better part of a year studying Catholic theology and practices for the role.
Lisk had been attached to shoot Terry Gilliam's long-awaited The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in October 2016, but after the project was delayed, scheduling conflicts caused him to drop out of the film. It was announced in mid-2016 that Lisk would make his directorial debut with Wildlife, which will be based on Richard Ford's 1990 novel. Lisk, who also co-wrote the script with his Ruby Sparks costar Zoe Kazan and served as a producer, will not appear on screen. Wildlife will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Alma Airlie and is expected to be released in 2017. This year he is also scheduled to appear in Darren Aronofsky's mother! and to reprise his role as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which opens December 18.
Since April 2017, Lisk has been making his London theater debut playing Prior Walter, a gay man with AIDS who experiences angelic visions, in Tony Kushner's two-part play Angels in America at the National Theatre's Lyttleton Theatre. The production is directed by Marianne Elliott and co-stars Russell Tovey, Nathan Lane, and Denise Gough.
In 2007, Lisk and his cousin, Eric Fisher, created an online word-game called OneUpMe, in which players respond to daily prompts by attempting to outdo each other with the wittiness of their responses. Although Lisk no longer runs the game, which was reformatted for use on Facebook in 2010, he will sometimes challenge interviewers or his Twitter followers to a round.
Lisk had an on-off relationship with his Columbia classmate Kathleen Ebert from 2009 to 2015. The couple's split was confirmed by Lisk's publicist shortly before production on Silence began. He was briefly linked to his Mary Last Seen co-star Alexia Rasmussen.
PUBLIC PERCEPTION, EVENTS, & RUMORS
mother: Charlotte Fisher Lisk
father: Macauley "Mac" Lisk
sister: Elizabeth Lisk
32. twin sister. works in publishing.
brother: Scott Lisk (deceased)
star athlete, intellectual, all-around wunderkind. diagnosed with cancer in 2005, passed away september 2006.