Irwin began his career as an actor and vaudeville-style performer, but is also a producer, director, writer and choreographer with an extensive list of credits to his name.
After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in Theater Arts, Irwin went on to graduate from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Clown College. An original member of Kraken, the theater company directed by Herbert Blau, Irwin is also an original member of Pickle Family Circus out of San Francisco, CA.
In the theater, Irwin has created and produced original works over the years including Fool Moon, Old Hats, Largely New York, The Harlequin Studies and The Regard of Flight. His theater acting credits include Show Boat, Bye Bye Birdie, The Goat, Broadway and London's West End revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he won the 2005 Tony Award® for Best Actor in a Play, King Lear, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Waiting for Godot and Texts for Nothing.
On television, Irwin has appeared in a wide variety of roles including “Mr. Noodle” in Sesame Street and “Dr. Lindstrom” in Law & Order: SVU. Additional credits include Bill Irwin Clown Prince, Third Rock from the Sun, Northern Exposure, Sesame Street, Elmo's World, The Regard of Flight, The Laramie Project, Subway Stories, Bette Midler: Mondo Beyondo, Life on Mars, A Gifted Man, CSI, The Good Wife, Lights Out, Monday Mornings, Elementary, Quarry, Sleepy Hollow and Legion on FX.
Irwin’s film credits include Confirmation; Interstellar; Identity Theft; Rachel Getting Married; Higher Ground; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Definitely, Maybe; Igby Goes Down; Lady in the Water; Dark Matter; Raving; Across the Universe; Popeye; Eight Men Out; Silent Tongue; Illuminata; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; My Blue Heaven; A New Life; Scenes from a Mall and Stepping Out.
Irwin has won many awards during his illustrious career including a National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer's Fellowship, as well as Guggenheim, Fulbright and MacArthur Fellowships.