Famous Faces in Culture Who Have Connections to Missoula

These three have entertained many audiences down through the years.

We’re all about home pride here at Make it Missoula, and there’s not much that makes our heart swell with honor more than seeing someone who has attachments to our great city make it big.  Even though Missoula is modest in size, with under 75,000 residents currently living here, it’s still managed to have an impact on the cultural world.

So, let’s take a look at some of the most famous faces connected to Missoula that have put their unique stamp on culture. If you’re more of a sports fan though, then you’ll have to read up on our state of Montana’s top athletes ever.

David Lynch

The grandaddy of surrealism in American cinema, David Lynch, was actually born right here in Missoula on the 20th January 1946. The now 76-year-old wasn’t here for long though, as he was actually moved by his family to Sandpoint, Idaho, at two months old, and then two years later moved again to Spokane, Washington, and then onto various other places during his childhood. This erratic moving around the country was due to his father working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, although Lynch later said that he didn’t mind it, as he found himself able to make friends easily. That must have been the affable nature of Missoula coursing through his veins.

Lynch went on to create the freakishly disconcerting, but completely compelling, Eraserhead in 1977, which immediately launched him to the forefront of exciting moviemaking auteurs. He then followed that up with equally captivating and psychologically haunting releases, like 1986’s Blue Velvet, and 2001’s Mulholland Drive. His amazing filmography has solidified him as one of the most talented and important moviemakers in history, and to think his journey began right here in Missoula.

J.K. Simmons

This man has become one of the most recognized and beloved character actors of his generation. J. K. Simmons has entertained audiences since the 80’s, on television screens, in movie theater’s, or even hearing his commanding voice in video games. Whilst Simmons wasn’t born here in Missoula, he moved to the city in 1973, when he was 18-years-old, because his father began working at the University of Montana, as director of the School of Music. Obviously being an apple that didn’t fall far from the tree, Simmons actually graduated from the same university in 1978, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music.

Since then, Simmons has starred in some truly incredible movies, including 2014’s Whiplash, which actually captured him his first Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor, for his intense role as a domineering music teacher. We’re sure he wasn’t channeling any of his teachers from his time at the University of Montana, which he only has kind words for. He has also got to work with the acclaimed directors, the Coen brothers, a couple times, including on 2004’s The Ladykillers. Although it wasn’t the biggest hit at the time, it has now become a bit of a cult classic, mainly thanks to Simmons’ fantastic execution of his role as a grifter who plans to rob a casino.

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Born in Missoula on October 22nd 1975, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, lived in the city until his family moved away to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he was still in his formative years. However, he still holds much love for his birth city, and he shouts it out on social media whenever he returns here. Ferguson decided from the young age of eight that he wanted to become an actor, and his hard work and talent made that dream a reality.

He first began his acting career treading the boards in New York, on both Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, including On the Town and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He then worked his way onto TV and movies, with his most loved role being his turn as Mitchell Pritchett, in the super smash-hit sitcom Modern Family, which ran from 2009 to 2020.