| Goran Visnjic (pronounced /ˈvɪʃnjɪtʃ/ VISH-nyich, Croatian: Goran Višnjić [ˈʋiʃɲitɕ]; born September 9, 1972) is a Croatian actor who has appeared in American films and television productions. He is best known for his role as Dr. Luka Kovač in the hit television series ER. Now credited as Goran Visnjic in his English-language work, he adopted the simplified spelling of his name when he came to the United States in the late '90s, believing it would be more accessible to American audiences.
Visnjic was born in the Dalmatian coastal city of Šibenik, Yugoslavia, now Croatia. He has one older brother, Joško. His father, Željko Višnjić, was a bus driver, and his mother, Milka, worked in a food market. He appeared in plays throughout his childhood and made his screen debut at age 16 in the controversial Yugoslavian film Braća po materi (1988), playing a young Croatian extremist.
As Yugoslavia began to dissolve, Visnjic was serving a year-long tour of duty with the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). He left the JNA and returned to Šibenik, where he joined the nascent Croatian Army in defending his hometown against JNA-supported Krajina Serbs.
After leaving the Croatian Army he moved to Zagreb to study at the Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Visnjic was the youngest actor to be chosen for the title role in Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Summer Theatre Festival in Croatia. Originally cast as Laertes, and understudy to Hamlet, he took over the role when the star dropped out of the production shortly before the first performance. Visnjic portrayed the doomed prince for seven years from 1994 to 2000, winning several Orlando Awards (the equivalent of the Tony Award). During an episode of ER, Luka demonstrated his expertise in the part of Hamlet, by reciting an excerpt from the "To be or not to be" soliloquy in Croatian. In the same episode, he demonstrated his skill in another Shakespeare-related hobby by fencing with Noah Wyle's character, Dr. John Carter.
Prior to ER, Visnjic had small speaking roles in films such as The Peacemaker, Committed and Practical Magic. In 1998 he also appeared in Madonna's music video "The Power of Goodbye", and had a cameo in the movie Rounders. But it was Visnjic's break-out role as Risto, the Bosnian driver in Welcome to Sarajevo that lead then-producer Jack Orman to offer him the role of the then unnamed doctor who would replace the departing George Clooney on ER. Visnjic joined ER in the sixth season in late 1999, eventually becoming the show's male lead in mid-season 11. Visnjic made a series of appearances in season 14 before leaving the show early in season 15, ending his 9 year run on the medical drama.
Since joining ER, Visnjic has co-starred in the movie The Deep End, voice-acted in Ice Age, and starred in Posljednja volja and Doctor Sleep. More recently, he starred in the television mini-series Spartacus and the Croatian movie and television series Duga mračna noć. He appeared with Jennifer Garner in the movie Elektra. During the summer of 2005, Visnjic was one of four finalists for the role of James Bond, eventually losing out to British actor Daniel Craig. Recently, Visnjic appeared in UNKLE's music video for the song "Burn My Shadow", released in May 2007. Visnjic recently completed filming the motion picture Helen with Ashley Judd. He plays Judd's character's husband David in the drama, scheduled to make its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Visnjic also will appear alongside Carla Gugino in a segment of the upcoming film New York, I Love You, an anthology set in New York. Visnjic's segment was directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev.Currently, Visnjic is shooting the historical drama Miss Irena's Children, about a young Polish woman responsible for the rescue of Jewish children in wartime Warsaw, in Riga, Latvia. Produced for Hallmark Hall of Fame, the film is scheduled to air on CBS in May, 2009. Visnjic is slated to play Mr. Darcy in the upcoming theatrical film Jane Austen Handheld, a reimagined version of the Jane Austen classic "Pride and Prejudice" told from the perspective of a documentary film crew.
Visnjic is married to Croatian sculptor Ivana Vrdoljak, the daughter of filmmaker Antun Vrdoljak. They reside in Los Angeles, and maintain a home and a boat on the island of Hvar, in Croatia. In April 2007, the couple adopted a baby boy, named Tin after Croatian poet Tin Ujević. Visnjic has also acknowledged paternity of a daughter, Lana.
Visnjic has been active in the American and European animal rights movements, and appeared in photographs alongside his dog Bugsy in PETA's first Eastern European anti-fur campaign. He is currently a representative for both the International Fund for Animal Welfare and a Animal Friends Croatia, as well as providing assistance to a number of small animal-rescue organizations in southern California. He has also supported a number of medical institutions in Croatia through the donation of money or equipment. Visnjic recently appeared on the nationally broadcast American benefit program Stand Up to Cancer. He also served as one of the faces of ER on NBC's long-running The More You Know campaign, appearing in public service announcements discussing topics such as family time and tolerance.
Visnjic was named People magazine's Sexiest Import in 1999 and "One of TV's Sexiest Men" in the June 5 – June 11, 2005 TV Guide. He was ranked #18 in Croatian-based monthly film magazine Hollywood in Best Croatian Male Movie Stars of All Time list in November 2005. He was also named as the Best Croatian actor in 2004 according to the votes of the visitors of internet magazines, for his role in the movie Duga mračna noć, according to the votes of Croatian newspaper Večernji list.
(Taken from his Wiki Page
(Graphic by sir)