Bradford Claude Dourif was born on March 18, 1950 in Huntington, West Virginia. His father owned and operated a dye factory, and died when Brad was 3. His mother remarried champion golfer Bill Campbell, who helped raise Brad and his 5 siblings(3 sisters and 2 brothers) From 1963-1965, Brad attended Aiken Preparatory School in Aiken, South Carolina. There he pursued his interests in art and acting. Although he breifely considered becoming an artist, he eventually settled on the path to becoming an actor. This was inspired by his mother's participation as an actress in a community theater.
Starting in school productions, he progressed to community theater, joining up with the Huntington Community Players, while attending Marshall University of Huntington. At age 19, he quit his hometown college and headed to New York City, where he worked with the Circle Repertory Company. During the early 1970s, Brad appeared in a number of plays, off-Broadway and at Woodstock, New York, including The Ghost Sonata, The Doctor in Spite of Himself and When You Comin' Back, Red Rider?, in which he was spotted by director Milos Forman who cast him in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
Although this film is frequently cited as his film debut, in fact, Dourif made his first big-screen appearance with a bit part in W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975). Nevertheless, his portrayal of the vulnerable Billy Bibbit in Forman's film was undoubtedly his big break, earning him a Golden Globe Award for Best Acting Debut, a British Academy Film Award for Best Supporting Actor, and an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Skeptical of his instant stardom, Dourif returned to New York, where he continued in theater and taught acting and directing classes at Columbia University until 1988 when he moved to Hollywood.
Despite his attempts to avoid typecasting, his intensity destined him to play demented, deranged, or disturbed characters, starting in Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), John Huston's Wise Blood (1979), and Milos Forman's Ragtime (1981). Brad then teamed up with director David Lynch for Dune (1984) and Blue Velvet (1986).
His high-strung style also served him well in a number of horror films, notably as the voice of the evil doll Chucky in Child's Play (1988) and its 5 sequels. Brad broke from the horror genre with roles in Fatal Beauty (1987), Mississippi Burning (1988), Hidden Agenda (1990), and London Kills Me (1991).
Recent film work includes the role of Grima Wormtongue in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since his television debut in the PBS film The Mound Builders (1976), Brad has made sporadic appearances in a number of television series, such as The X-Files (1993), Babylon 5 (1994), Star Trek: Voyager (1995) and Ponderosa (2001) (in the recurring role of Frenchy).
Brad currently co-stars in the HBO hit western/drama Deadwood, and received a Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the tormented alcoholic doctor, Amos "Doc" Cochran.