President Chopp's Introduction of Stephen Lang '73
Stephen Lang, you are a brilliant and accomplished actor known for strong, dynamic, and riveting performances in the many plays, films, and television productions that define your career. Your commitment to making art both for entertainment and social value is evident in many of the roles you've played, most notably in Beyond Glory, the one-man play based on the war experiences of seven Medal of Honor recipients.
You were born and raised in New York City, the son of Teresa and Eugene Lang '38, who have long loved, guided, and supported the College. At the age of seven, after attending a Gilbert and Sullivan production, you decided to become an actor. At Swarthmore, you majored in English literature and performed in productions both on and off campus. Here, you also wrote and produced student Hamburg Show productions and acted in your first professional role at the Hedgerow Theater in nearby Rose Valley.
You made your first mark as a stage actor in your Broadway debut playing Happy alongside Dustin Hoffman's Willie Loman in the 1985 revival of Death of a Salesman. Many roles followed, among them Lt. Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men; the homeless Vietnam War Veteran Lou in The Speed of Darkness; which earned you a Tony nomination; Hamlet at the Roundabout Theatre; Mike Talman in the Broadway revival of Wait Until Dark with Marissa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino;, and Colonel Littlefield in John Patrick Shanley's Defiance.
You have also written for the stage and in 2004 performed your one-man play Beyond Glory, which opened at the theater at Arlington National Cemetery to great critical acclaim, later garnering nominations for both a Lucille Lortel Award and a Drama Desk award for outstanding solo performance.
Your career in film and television has been equally sterling. In over 70 productions, you have played significant roles in Crime Story, Babe Ruth, Manhunter, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Gettysburg, Tombstone, and Gods and Generals, among others. Most recently, you have received critical and popular praise for playing key roles in Law & Order and The Men Who Stare at Goats as well as Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar.
As co-artistic director of New York's fabled Actor's Studio, you have also mentored young actors. Alvin Klein in The New York Times has called you "an actor's actor ... and more often than not, a critic's actor."
Stephen Lang, actor of great range and singular talent, a playwright of power and inspiration, a dedicated and empathic teacher, your commitment to acting, to inhabiting the minds and hearts of a wide range of characters and revealing the essence of each of them, has shown us the full range of human emotion and possibility.
Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.