Daniel Zelman Biography

Daniel Zelman is an American actor, screenwriter, director, and television producer, best known as the creator of the drama series ‘Damages.’ With professional training in acting from New York’s ‘Tisch School of the Arts,’ Daniel’s passion for acting led him to a successful career in the entertainment industry. Starting with a guest role in the series ‘Law & Order,’ he quickly made his mark with supporting roles in films like ‘Let It Be Me’ and appearances in popular TV shows such as ‘Weird Science’ and ‘Ned and Stacey.’ As a director, he has showcased his talent in episodes of ‘Bloodline’ and ‘Damages,’ while also contributing his writing skills to numerous episodes in both series.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Daniel Luke Zelman
  • Age: 56 Years, 56 Year Old Males
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Debra Messing (m. 2000 – div. 2016)
    • Siblings: Aaron Zelman
    • Children: Roman Walker Zelman
  • Born Country: United States
  • Jewish Actors
  • Screenwriters
  • Height: 5’8″ (173 cm), 5’8″ Males
  • U.S. State: New Yorkers
  • City: Rye, New York
  • More Facts
  • Education: New York University, Harvard College

Childhood & Early Life

Daniel Zelman was born Daniel Luke Zelman on June 16, 1967, in Rye, New York, to Jewish American parents. He was the first-born son in the family and had a younger brother, Aaron Zelman, who also went on to become a writer/producer. Although none of his parents had any connection with the entertainment industry, Daniel somehow became interested in acting. He completed his high school graduation from his hometown and decided to pursue a degree in performance arts. He enrolled at the ‘Tisch School of the Arts’ in New York City and completed the graduate acting program. Following his graduation from college, Daniel began auditioning for roles in films and television.


In 1993, Daniel began his acting career playing a guest role as ‘Bruce Abelson’ in the ‘Black Tie’ episode of the series ‘Law & Order.’ It took Daniel two years to earn his next acting stint. He appeared in a supporting role in the 1995 film ‘Let It Be Me,’ which was also his film debut. In the next year, he appeared in a supporting role in the film ‘Milk & Money.’ In 1996, he appeared as ‘Dave’ in two episodes of the series ‘Ned and Stacey’ and followed it with a supporting role in the television series ‘Weird Science’ and a supporting role in the television film titled ‘Prison of Secrets.’ He failed to get his acting career on track and before giving up on acting, he appeared in a small role in the film ‘What Lies Beneath,’ followed by a guest role in the series ‘The Practice.’

In 2000, he co-produced the science fiction horror television film ‘They Nest.’ The film received moderate to bad reviews. He took a few years’ break before venturing into production yet again. In 2007, he co-wrote and co-created the legal thriller series ‘Damages.’ The series was an immediate critical and commercial success and ran for 5 seasons and 59 episodes. The series won 4 ‘Emmy’ awards along with a ‘Golden Globe.’ It has also won many nominations over the years. Daniel, along with co-writers Todd A. Kessler and Glenn Kessler, won a nomination for an ‘Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing of a Drama Series’ for writing the pilot episode. Apart from creating and writing many episodes in the series,’ Daniel also donned the director’s hat for 2 episodes of the series (‘I Need to Win’ and ‘It’s Not My Birthday’).

The success of ‘Damages’ helped Daniel in finding his footing in the industry. In 2015, he served as executive producer of the series ‘Bloodline.’ He also directed 2 episodes and wrote 4 episodes. He received credit as ‘creator’ of 33 episodes. In 2018, he served as the consulting producer of the series ‘Succession.’ He received the credit for consulting producer in 9 episodes of the series. He has also received credits for writing story/screenplays of films such as ‘Fool’s Gold,’ ‘Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid,’ and ‘They Nest.’

Family & Personal Life

In 1990, while he was studying at New York University’s ‘Tisch School of the Arts,’ Daniel Zelman met actress Debra Messing, who was also a student there. The couple dated through the 1990s and got married in 2000. They had a son together in 2004, named Roman Walker Zelman. In December 2011, the couple announced that they were ending their marriage after 11 years of being together. Debra filed for divorce in June 2012, which was finalized in March 2016.

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