Burt Young is a burly, talented character actor who has remained consistently busy playing “rough around the edge” types, often on the wrong side of the law.
He was born on April 30, 1940 in New York City, where he received his dramatic arts training under legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.
Young first gathered notice playing tough thugs in such films as The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, Across 110th Street, Chinatown and The Gambler. Fiery director Sam Peckinpah cast Young as the getaway driver / assassin, “Mac,” in The Killer Elite, and Young came to the attention of newcomer Sylvester Stallone, who cast him as future brother-in-law “Paulie” in the 1976 sleeper hit Rocky. Young received an Oscar nomination for the role, which he has gone on to reprise in all five Rocky sequels to date.
Peckinpah again cast him, this time as renegade trucker “Pigpen” in Convoy — watch for Pigpen’s Mack truck where the writing on the door states “Paulie Hauling.”
Young has appeared in numerous other major productions, including Once Upon a Time in America, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Mickey Blue Eyes, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Win Win.
Recently, Young received critical acclaim for his work in the short film Tom in America, including a Jury Award nomination for Best Actor at the 2016 Queens World Film Festival, a Maverick Movie Award nomination for Best Actor at the 2015 Maverick Movie Awards, and the Festival Prize for Best Actor, Short Drama at the 2015 Atlantic City Cinefest.
In 2014, Young was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hoboken International Film Festival.