Fans of the Netflix series Virgin River definitely recognize Tim Matheson as the grumpy doctor of the sleepy California town, Doc Mullins. He's also the guy that seems like he's been in nearly everything, but will always be most widely known for starring as Eric "Otter" Stratton in National Lampoon's Animal House, the most iconic college film of all time. Ever watched The West Wing? There he was, as the suave Vice President John Hoynes, tackling political drama with style.
But who is he, really? Oh, only just this charismatic, versatile guy who's been in the Hollywood spotlight for over half a century. No big deal. But seriously, he's done a little of everything, even things that you might not have expected. From his voice-acting role as the original Jonny Quest to playing the duplicitous Brick Breeland in Hart of Dixie, Matheson's range and adaptability have made him a treasured staple in the industry.
He's also a celebrated director, lending his creative vision to many shows. His talent, consistency, and infectious charisma guarantee you'll always have a good time when this guy pops up on your screen. And you may not have known this, but he's even a bona fide stage actor, appearing in productions across the US. With a stage presence that's just as dynamic as his on-screen performances, each new role of his showcases how dedicated he is to his craft.
But that's enough talk. Now it's time to get to know him beyond the acting roles and through the years of his lengthy career. By the time this is all said and done, you'll be a veritable Matheson expert. Trust us on that.
Who is Tim Matheson?
It all began early for Matheson. Born Timothy Lewis Matheson, he grew up in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, and started acting when he was just a child. He booked roles on Window on Main Street, Leave It to Beaver, and even landed the lead voice on the animated series Jonny Quest. In his 20s, the actor appeared on the classic western shows The Virginian and Bonanza as well as the family comedy Yours, Mine and Ours as the oldest son of Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.
Matheson's career in Hollywood was going strong. He even starred in a brief western show on NBC with Kurt Russell called The Quest. But starring in Animal House with the likes of John Belushi really took his career to the next level. He even auditioned for Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones but, as well all know, Harrison Ford locked down the title character.
"To sit and watch it with an audience, it just reminded me of so much emotion, so much feeling I have for this movie and how important it was in my life and my career and just how great the writing was and the directing was and the performers were," Matheson told App following a screening of Animal House in 2018.
Ever since, Matheson hasn't even remotely slowed down. He earned two Emmy Award nominations for playing Vice President John Hoynes on The West Wing and has appeared on almost every show you could imagine — Psych, Burn Notice, This Is Us, White Collar, and the CBS series Wolf Lake. He's also gotten actively involved behind the camera and has directed episodes of various TV series like Without a Trace, The Good Guys, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Eureka, Drop Dead Diva, and The Twilight Zone. He's worked on pretty much every major TV channel from USA Network to FOX and everywhere in between.
The actor has also had a steady film career including The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, A Little Sex, To Be or Not to Be, Drop Dead Fred, Fletch, Van Wilder, A Very Brady Sequel, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The man even played Ronald Reagan in a TV movie...is there anything he can't do?
TV's favorite small-town doctor
As much as we love the smooth-talking Otter that first endeared us to Matheson, we've grown quite fond for his affinity to play grumpy small-town doctors on feel-good TV shows. He played opposite Rachel Bilson on the CW's Hart of Dixie playing Doctor Brick Breeland, her initial nemesis who eventually becomes a mentor and a friend. It's almost like Netflix knew that fans missed Doc Breeland and that's why Matheson was cast as Doc Mullins on their new hit series Virgin River. Matheson told author Robyn Carr (who wrote the books that inspired the show) that he loves playing the complicated character on the show.
"The character of Doc Mullins I think is, you know, Vernon is a character, not unlike many others here, who's been injured in his life, who has injured emotionally, and has a loss relationship, and he sort of sought the peacefulness and the quiet here in Virgin River as a place to regroup and a place to rethink his life and get away from things that were haunting him."