Goran Visnjic was born in Sibenik, Croatia on September 9, 1972. The child of a bus driver and a food market worker, he has one older brother. Visnjic is married to Ivana Vrdoljak, daughter of director Antun Vrdoljak, and they have one adopted son, Tin.
Goran Visnjic began acting as a ten-year old, and an appearance in Equus at age 12 earned him his first standing ovation, followed by the directors suggestion that he had the skill to be a professional actor. After completing high school, he performed his mandatory service the Yugoslavian army at age 18 where he trained as a paratrooper, making 13 jumps. After the beginning of the Croatian War of Independence, he volunteered for the Croatian Army, but was replaced by his brother when he was accepted at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb. Classically trained, Visnjic’s skills include fencing, which helped earn him his first stage role as Hamlet in the Dubrovnik Summer Festival production, a role he would play seven years, and for which he won three best actor awards. The role also brought him to the attention of director Michael Winterbottom, who cast him as the Bosnian driver Risto in Welcome to Sarajevo. That arresting performance, in turn, led to a stand-out role in Practical Magic, and caught the eye of ER producer Jack Orman, who recommended he be cast as the new doctor replacing George Clooney in 1999.
Since joining the cast of ER, Visnjic has starred in the independent film The Deep End with Tilda Swinton, the thriller Close Your Eyes, the television adaptation of Spartacus, and the action film Elektra opposite Jennifer Garner. While active in the American film and television industry, Visnjic continues to work in his home country. In 2004, he appeared in the film Duga Mracna Noc (Long Dark Night which was Croatia’s submission for the 2004 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and for which he won both the Best Actor Award at the Pula Film Festival, and the Vladimir Nazor Award, Croatia’s highest artistic award. He recently completed a guest appearance on Hravatski Television’s Nasa mala klinika (Our Little Clinic), and has announced plans to star in a film biography of controversial Croatian general Ante Gotovina. Visnjic is also strongly rumored to be the leading candidate to play the villian in the upcoming 22nd Bond film.
Having completed his eighth year on ER, Goran Visnjic is contracted to play ER’s lead character, Dr. Luka Kovac though the show’s upcoming 2007-2008 season on a limited basis, and is expected to leave the show before the season\'s end.