After completing his degree in English Literature and graduating with Honors from C.W. Post College, now Long Island University, Gary Swanson put aside a career as a professional high diver on the Atlantic City Steel Pier and began working immediately as Greg Mercer on NBC Daytime Soap Opera, “Somerset” in New York City.


While starring in the popular daytime drama playing opposite of Ted Danson and JoBeth Williams, Gary met with the famed acting teacher and “father” of The Method, Lee Strasberg. Swanson studied with Strasberg both privately and at The Actors Studio. The year he auditioned for The Actors Studio, he competed against three thousand other promising actors. He was one of three accepted and became a lifetime member of this prestigious acting company. Under Strasberg’s tutelage, Swanson became one of the highest rated actors on daytime television.

It was at the Actors Studio and privately that Gary continued his working relationship and friendship with Strasberg for eight years until his passing in 1982. During that time and after, Gary built his career as a working actor in New York and Los Angeles. Starring in numerous films like “Vice Squad”, “Blood Red”, “Convicts”, “Bone Collector”.

His movie career kicked off in 1974, and since then, he has starred in 15 feature films. He has guest starred in numerous television series and films, theatrical productions and hundreds of national television commercials.

Gary has starred and worked with some of the greatest directors in the world – Arthur Hiller, William Friedkin, Peter Masterson, Nicolas Roeg, and Philip Noyce.

Gary Swanson on Discovery's Man V Expert
Watch Gary on Discovery’s Man V Expert


Swanson’s teaching credits are numerous, he began with Carlin Glynn at Tajas Productions in 1983. Credits include a summer at ‘Circle In The Square.’ He taught basic technique at The Actors Studio, where he continues to collaborate.

In 1994, James Lipton and the executive committee of The Actors Studio Paul Newman, Norman Mailer, Ellen Burstyn, Estell Parsons, Arthur Penn – asked Gary to be one of four teachers tasked with launching the Masters Program at the New School of Social Research, which came to be known as “Inside the Actors Studio” for three years.


Swanson was also a guest instructor at the Drama Department in Washington University.

Gary also focuses on his own courses. As part of this, he has and still does personally coach many well-known actors and conducts regular workshops with small groups of developing artists. In 2006, he initiated The Montauk Group, a deeply impacting and intensive summer workshop and theater group.

He also writes a monthly column for the Hamptons publication, The Montauk Sun, “From an Actors Point of View.” His works have been featured in Black Tie and Times Square Chronicles. He wrote the script for Lost In The Hamptons which is currently in pre-production.

Swanson lives between Manhattan and Montauk, New York.