Goran Visnjic (b. 1972 in Sibenik, Croatia) is a Croatian-born actor who plays financial mastermind Damien Moreau.
Best known for his portrayal of Dr. Luka Kovač on ER, Visnjic began acting as a child in Croatia. After completing mandatory service in the Yugoslavian army, and a stint in the newly formed Croatian army's special forces, he studied at Croatia's Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb. While a student, he was cast as Laertes in the 1992 Dubrovnik Summer Festival production of Hamlet. When the lead fell ill that summer, he assumed the role of Hamlet, which he would play annually until 1999, winning several awards for his performance, including Croatia's equivalent of the Tony Award. As a result, Visnjic is widely regarded as the seminal Croatian Hamlet.
Early in his career, Visnjic in worked Croatian film and television while taking several small English-language film roles, including an appearance in The Peacemaker with George Clooney and The Rounders with Matt Damon. He also appeared in two music videos, "Zivot" (To Life) with Croatian singer Tony Cetinski, and "The Power of Goodbye" with Madonna. He was cast in his first American-made film, the 1998 comedy Practical Magic directed by Griffin Dunne ("The Two Live Crew Job"), which lead to roles in films such as the comedy Committed with Heather Graham and The Deep End with Tilda Swinton.
But it was his bittersweet role as Bosnian translator/driver Risto Bavic in 1997's Welcome to Sarajevo that gained him international attention following its screening at the Cannes Film Festival, and led to his casting as the tragic, beloved Dr. Luka Kovač on ER, where he would take on the challenge of replacing George Clooney.
During his eight year tenure on the series, Kovač, a gifted emergency room doctor, struggled with the loss of his wife and children during the Croatian War of Independence, and the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, to which Visnjic brought a unique level of authenticity born of his own experiences during the war. It also introduced him to Leverage cast member Aldis Hodge for the first time: when Kovač volunteered for an aid organization in Africa, he was captured and faced death at the hands of rebel troops. Hodge guest starred as the leader of the band of troops holding Kovač.
While appearing on ER, Visnjic's film work included Close Your Eyes with Shirley Henderson, Ice Age (voicing the evil sabretooth cat Soto) with future ER castmate John Leguizamo, and Elektra with Jennifer Garner, as well as the historical epic Spartacus for USA Network. He also gave voice to the words of famed photographer Robert Capa in the PBS documentary Robert Capa in Love and War for "American Masters", and returned to the medium of music video, appearing in UNKLE's short film music video "Burn My Shadow".
Throughout his career, Visnjic has continued to work in his home country, appearing in such programs as the epic historical drama Duga Mračna Noć (Long Dark Night), the documentary drama Tito, and the comedy The Last Will. He has also narrated or participated in documentaries about the Croatian War of Independence, both in English and Croatian.
Since his departure from ER in 2008, Visnjic has appeared in such films the short film "Apocrypha" with Carla Guigino which was originally part of New York, I Love You, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler with the Anna Paquin, the BBC mini-series The Deep with Minnie Driver and James Nesbitt, and Helen with Ashley Judd. His newest film is the critically acclaimed Beginners, with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, for which he is receiving early Oscar buzz. He has just been cast as Dragan Armansky in the film versions of Stieg Larsson's Milennium trilogy, opposite former James Bond rival Daniel Craig. His appearance as Damien Moreau is his first guest role on American episodic television.
In his private life, Visnjic is married to Eva Visnjic with whom has three children: sons Tin and Vigo and daughter Vivien Sofia. Eva Visnjic is an artist-sculptor and a daughter of the film director Antun Vrdoljak. The Visnjic family lives in Los Angeles and keeps a home on the Croatian island of Hvar. He is strongly committed to protection of animal rights, and to the advancement of his home country as a tourist destination.
- Among the skills Goran Visnjic brings to his acting are expert fencing and marksmanship, as well as training as a paratrooper. He is also able to handle a boat, an off-road vehicle, and a car at high speed. He once owned an Aston Martin DB7. Not surprisingly, he was one of the final three contenders for the role of James Bond in 2005.
- The Big Bang Job represents a reunion of sorts for Visnjic and Aldis Hodge, as well as a bit of and in-joke coupled with some long overdue revenge. When sixteen-year old Aldis Hodge appeared in the ER episode "The Lost" in 2003, he played one of a group of Congolese insurgents holding Visnjic's character, a doctor serving with a medical relief organization, hostage. All of Hodge's limited dialogue was in French, as was a portion of Visjnic's.
- Visnjic and James Frain (John Douglas Keller, The King George Job) worked together previously, when Frain played one of Visnjic's deputies in the epic Spartacus.
- In all his appearances in "Leverage", Visnjic is credited as a Special Guest Star.
- After Goran became a US Citizens his wife Ivana Vrdoljak officially changed her name to Eva Visnjic.