Great Conversation With Sam Anderson

Actor Sam Anderson of ‘Lost,’ Forrest Gump’ and ‘La Bamba’ fame to hold Great Conversation at UND

Actor Sam Anderson – one of the University of North Dakota’s best-known theatre arts graduates – will return to Grand Forks to hold a Great Conversation on Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., in the Chester Fritz Auditorium.

Anderson will help the university kick off its Theatre Arts 100th Anniversary by attending a reunion of his UND classmates, speaking to students and participating in the Great Conversation series, a format that allows questions from anyone in the audience. WDAZ TV news anchor Terry Dullum will conduct the interview and conversation. The event is open to the public.

“It’s wonderful to have him come back as part of this celebration of 100 years,” said Kathleen McLennan, chair of UND’s theatre arts department. “Like many of our graduates, he’s a great example of someone working in theatre and earning a living at it.”

Although Anderson gained national fame for his role as Bernard Nadler on the TV series Lost which ran on CBS from 2005 to 2010, the Wahpeton native’s acting career spans four decades on stage, in television and in movies. The online Internet Movie Database ( lists 137 different TV and movie titles dating back to 1979 in which the 65-year-old actor played a role.

Anderson earned two degrees at UND – a bachelor’s in theatre and a master’s in creative writing. He attended UND during the late 60s and early 70s, a time that McLennan notes was important in the history of theater at the university. In 1972, the theatre arts program became a separate department.

McLennan said the idea to bring Anderson back to UND came from the peer group of students in his class at the university. They wanted to have a reunion in conjunction with the anniversary.

“It will be great to have alumni back from that group because they were a pretty exciting bunch,” she observed.” Sam is the most recognizable, but many of them are still working professionally in the theatre arts field.”

Among Anderson’s career credits is playing the school principal in Forrest Gump. He recently finished filming Water for Elephants starring Robert Patinson and Reese Witherspoon.  He appeared in the Sept. 28 episode of NCIS with Mark Harmon.  He has had roles in Memphis Beat, Criminal Minds, Leverage, Grey’s Anatomy, ER, Cold Case, Boston Legal, Married to the Kellys, Judging Amy, Everybody Loves Raymond, Angle, and Melrose Place, to name only a few of his many credits.

When Anderson holds a workshop for UND students on Oct. 22, McLennan said they can learn a great deal from him about how to conduct a successful acting career.

“Since Sam appeared on Lost, he’s been getting more high-profile roles,” she noted. “But he has shown that you can also have a good career without being a headliner, which is the way a majority of actors do it. He does a little theatre, a little TV and a little film.”

McLennan points out that many young actors think they have to live and work in New York to have successful careers in theatre, but Anderson has shown it’s not necessarily the best approach.

“He has a family and he’s raised kids,” she said.”So it’s all possible.”

Dullum, a North Dakota native and UND graduate, is the anchor and producer of WDAZ News @5. He hosted the popular video essays, “The Dullum File,” on WDAZ News and is also a well-known speaker throughout the region.

Useful links

Sam Anderson filmography at the Internet Movie Database
UND Department of Theatre Arts