Zeljko Ivanek's career began as a New York stage actor. He had his Broadway debut in 1981 as a hitchhiker in "The Survivor" and his film debut in Tex in 1982. Since then, he had starring and supporting roles in many plays and movies with occasional appearances on TV.
He was born in Ljubljana, then a part of former Yugoslavia, today part of Slovenia. In 1960, when he was three years old, he emigrated with his parents to the US because his father completed his doctorate in electronic engineering at Stanford University. Ivanek graduated as Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1978 and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.