Gary's first love professionally is the stage, where he honed his acting skills. His primary theatre base is Chicago, where he is a founder of the Remains Theatre Ensemble and a member of Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble. He has also performed in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego. Gary has been nominated twice for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Chicago professional theatre, and won in 1987, for Bang!.
Poster for Sin, A Cardinal Deposed
Sin, A Cardinal Deposed
by Michael Murphy
Hayworth Theatre, Los Angeles, California, 2009
Gary as Orson Krieger
Critics' Comments
"I swear, actor Gary Cole was channeling Jeff Anderson and Mitchell Garabedian (actual plaintiff attorneys) combined, in the role of a composite of plaintiff attorneys, the character Orson Krieger." — Kay Ebeling, LA City Buzz Examiner
Gary Cole with Molly Ranson in August: Osage County
August: Osage County
by Tracy Letts
Lyttelton Theatre, London, England, 2008-2009
Gary as Steve Heidebrecht
Critics' Comments
"The new arrivals to the cast are mostly male, and they include the "Desperate Housewives" alumnus Gary Cole in a deliciously sleazy turn as the fiancÚ of one of the three Weston daughters, a man with a serious thing for underage female flesh. (What this actor can do with the mere swipe of a hand scarcely bears thinking about.)" — Matt Wolf, International Herald Tribune
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Gary Cole with Emily Bergl and Catherine Dent in Country
The Country
by Martin Crimp
La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California, 2003
Gary as Richard
Critics' Comments
"Gary Cole is convincingly oily as the duplicitous Richard, a man who shuns emotional intimacy even within his own heart." — Jim Trageser, Turbula
Gary Cole with Brian Vander Ark and Shawn Hatosy in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
by Michael Ondaatje
La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California, 2001
Gary as Pat Garrett
Critics' Comments
"As the enigmatic killer Pat Garrett, Gary Cole is the tall, dark, silent type, a pleasure to watch meticulously eating an apple while others tell the narrative of his alcoholic past." — Anne Marie Welsh, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Bruce Norris with Gary Cole and Heidi Mokrycki in Closer
Closer
by Patrick Marber
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 2000
Gary as Larry
Gary Cole in Side Man
Side Man
by Warren Leight
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1999
Gary as Gene
Gary Cole with Marc Vann and Teddi Siddall in Flyovers
Flyovers
by Jeffrey Sweet
Victory Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, 1998
Gary as Ted
Critics' Comments
"Cole, as Ted, the bully who used to beat Oliver for kicks, brings an easy air of macho authority and bravado. He's almost gleeful as a beer-swilling bigot and sadist not to be denied moments of unlikely charm and sharp conversational ripostes. Cole glides into the role as if it were written for him." — Sid Smith, Chicago Tribune
Lou Ferguson and Gary Cole in Playland
Playland
by Athol Fugard
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1994
Gary as Gideon
Critics' Comments
"The actors, carefully husbanding their energies, deliver explosive portrayals that are marvels of subtlety and control. I'm especially moved by the work of Cole, who started out in Chicago as a young man of raw talent and who has become a skilled actor of great intelligence and power. He and Ferguson give this "Playland" a performance of great impact." — Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
Death and the Maiden
by Ariel Dorfman
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1993
Gary as Gerardo Escobar
Critics' Comments
"Gary Cole invests his role as her baffled husband with the shock, incredulity and consuming urgency that grips him as he, along with the audience, tries to sift through the tangle of memories and accusations that his wife has thrust before him." — Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune

 
A Summer Remembered
by Charles Nolte
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1992
Gary as Henry Durham
Critics' Comments
"Gary Cole (is) forceful in a role he's a bit too young to play." — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
Larry Brandenburg and Kevin Hurley with Gary Cole in American Buffalo
American Buffalo
by David Mamet
Remains, Chicago, Illinois, 1991
Gary as Teach
Critics' Comments
"He has grown and matured as an actor, but...he has lost none of the demonic energy and focus he demonstrated more than a decade ago when he was wheeling about the stage as a demented Howard Hughes in Remains' staging of Sam Shepard's Seduced." —Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
Love Letters
by A. R. Gurney
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1990
Gary as Andrew Makepeace Ladd, III
Gary Cole in Speed-the-Plow
Speed-the-Plow
by David Mamet
Remains-Wisdom Bridge Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, 1989
Gary as Bobby
Critics' Comments
"Gary Cole and David Alan Novak now have taken over the leading male roles in Mamet`s story of two Hollywood hucksters whose enthusiastic embrace of all-out greed is momentarily broken up by a mysterious young woman, and it`s a pairing that has given the play an ideal duet in contrasting personalities. With his tall, blond good looks—and wearing a sleek power wardrobe that includes a Rolex watch and a small gold pinkie ring—Cole is the embodiment of the fair-haired boy on his way up. Elegantly turned out, he`s nonetheless a tough, brash, street-smart operator who spews out vulgar wisecracks and petty commands with nonchalant bullying." —Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
Landscape of the Body
by John Guare
Goodman Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, 1987
Gary as Capt. Marvin Holahan
Critics' Comments
"Police detective Marvin Holahan (is) underplayed to precision by Gary Cole." — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
Bang!
by Laura Cunningham
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1987
Gary as Roy LeFevre
Note: Gary won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Chicago Theatre Excellence, Best Actor, for this role.
Critics' Comments
"There`s a terrific star turn by Gary Cole as a macho-mad survivalist who is waiting for nuclear Doomsday.... Best of all, there`s Cole`s amazing performance as Roy. It has a feral magnetism that appears to be all-consuming and instinctive; but it`s refined with a rhythm and pacing that explode even dud lines into laughs. With his all-American good looks and physique, Cole looks as if he was born to play this role. But that`s deceptive. He has made the role his through a shrewd, sharp use of his considerable acting talent." — Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
"Gary Cole makes a very flashy entrance (literally), but he's such a terrific actor - and athlete - that he can top it. It's worth the price of a ticket just to watch him work." — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
Murder in Green Meadows
by Douglas Post
WMAQ-TV-Ch.5's Chicago Playwrights Festival, Chicago, Illinois, 1986
Gary as Jeff
Gary Cole with Moira Harris in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1986
Gary as Brick
Critics' Comments
"Gary Cole, ghostly pale and haggard, does better - capturing both the burnt-out side of Brick, and his fierce honesty." — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
Frank's Wild Years
by Tom Waits
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1986
Gary as J.P. Fitzgerald
Critics' Comments
"Among the other actors who shine when given a moment in the sun...(is) Gary Cole, as a rabble-rousing rock singer with religion." — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times
Orphans
by Lyle Kessler
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, New York City, New York, 1985
Gary as Treat
The Shawl
by David Mamet
New Theatre Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1985
Gary as Charles
Critics' Comments
"Gary Cole (is) excellent as the ambitious young brute John craves." — Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune

 
True West
by Sam Shepard
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles, California, 1984
Gary as Austin
Tracers
by John DiFusco
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1984
Gary as Scooter
Jim Belushi and Gary Cole in True West
True West
by Sam Shepard
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, New York City, New York, 1983
Gary as Austin
Traps
by Caryl Churchill
Remains Theater, Chicago, Illinois, 1983
Gary as Albert
Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins in Gardenia
Gardenia
by John Guare
Goodman Theatre, Chicago, Illinois 1982
Gary as Joshua
And a Nightingale Sang
by C.P. Taylor
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1982
Gary as Eric
Tooth of Crime
by Sam Shepard
Remains Theater, Chicago, Illinois, 1982
Gary as Crow
Note: Gary was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Chicago Theatre Excellence for this role.
Balm in Gilead
by Lanford Wilson
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1981
Gary as Fick
Mother Courage
by Bertolt Brecht
Wisdom Bridge, Chicago, Illinois, 1981
Gary as Cook
Indulgences in the Louisville Harem
by John Orlock
Remains Theater, Chicago, Illinois, 1980
Gary as Wingfield
The Magnolia Club
by Jeff Berkson and John Karraker
Chicago, Illinois, 1980
Gary as John Wesley Patrick
Seduced
by Sam Shepard
Remains Theater, Chicago, Illinois, 1980
Gary as Henry Hackmore
Cowboy Mouth
by Sam Shepard
Chicago, Illinois, 1979
Gary as Chet
The Unseen Hand
by Sam Shepard
Victory Gardens, Chicago, Illinois, 1979
Gary as Blue Morphan
Steambath
by Bruce Jay Friedman
Travelite Theater Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1979
Gary as ?
Harry, Noon and Night
by Ronald Ribman
Remains Theater, Chicago, Illinois, 1979
Gary as soldier
The Tower
by ????
Remains Theater, Chicago, Illinois, 1979
Gary as Pablo
Philadelphia Here I Come
by Brian Friel
Steppenwolf Theatre Ensemble, Chicago, Illinois, 1978
Gary as Ned
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