David Packard Corenswet (born July 8, 1993) is an American actor. After graduating from the Juilliard School in 2016, he began guest starring in television series, including House of Cards in 2018. He then starred in the Netflix series The Politician (2019–present) and Hollywood (2020), both created by Ryan Murphy.
Corenswet was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, John Corenswet, was from a prominent Jewish family in New Orleans, and worked as a stage actor in New York City for many years before becoming a lawyer; his mother, Caroline Packard, is a lawyer who specializes in nonprofit organizational conflict resolution; his sister, Amy Packard Corenswet, is a 2020 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Corenswet’s maternal grandfather is Edward Packard, creator of the Choose Your Own Adventure book concept and author of more than 50 books in the series. His maternal grandmother was a prominent Quaker activist. Corenswet earned a bachelor of fine arts in drama in 2016 from the Juilliard School in New York City. He applied and was accepted to Juilliard while a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania.
As a child actor, Corenswet appeared in numerous professional theater productions, including the Arden Theatre Company’s 2002 production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival’s 2003 production of Macbeth, the Walnut Street Theatre Company’s 2003 production of La Vie En Bleu, the People’s Light and Theatre Company’s 2004 production of The Forgiving Harvest, and the Arden Theatre Company’s 2008 production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, among others.
His first film role was in Following Chase (2011), a Crossbow Studio production for which he also wrote the screenplay. He next co-wrote, produced, and starred in a two-season sketch-comedy web series, Moe & Jerryweather (2014-2016).
In 2016, director Rob Reiner cast Corenswet as a co-lead in his planned television series, “The Tap,” set at Yale College in 1969 during the turmoil of campus antiwar protests, race riots, and the arrival of its first women undergraduates. Corenswet played Kirk Lewis, a “blue-blooded Skull & Bones legacy [turned] hippie warrior.” USA Network ordered the pilot episode, which was filmed in 2017, but declined to pick up the series.
In Corenswet’s first film role after graduating from Juilliard, he starred as Michael Lawson in Affairs of State (2018), a political thriller that had a limited release in theaters, then streamed on Amazon Prime Video. The film also stars Thora Birch, Mimi Rogers, and Adrian Grenier. Describing Corenswet’s character as “an ambitious but cash-strapped politico,” the Los Angeles Times called the film “engaging,” “well-acted,” and “refreshingly smart,” though “ungainly.” Forbes magazine said of Corenswet’s performance in the role that he “has the right star-making combination of traditional good looks and a compelling deadpan voice that keeps you guessing…he’s reminiscent of a younger Armie Hammer.”
Corenswet has also appeared in guest-star roles in several TV series, including House of Cards (as the college flame of Robin Wright’s character, Claire Underwood), Elementary, and Instinct.
In The Politician (2019-present), he plays River Barkley, the lover and high-school political rival of Payton Hobart (Ben Platt). Vanity Fair magazine described River as “the wealthy, sporty, straight-A student who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and dates the prettiest and most popular girl…in school. But while his life looks perfect from the outside, he’s also battling inner demons.” Corenswet had to learn Mandarin Chinese for the role.
Corenswet stars as Jack Castello in Hollywood (2020), a Netflix limited series about the post-World War II film business in Los Angeles, created by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan. Corenswet is also an executive producer on the series. He stars alongside Patti Lupone, Dylan McDermott, Darren Criss, and Holland Taylor. Men’s Health magazine described Jack Castello as “a post-WWII veteran…a wide-eyed kid seeking fame….a ‘Jimmy Stewart’ everyman…looking for any path to a career in movies.” The magazine praised Corenswet’s performance as that of a “breakout lead” with “the on-screen charisma of a future star.” IndieWire called it “…another star-proving turn from David Corenswet.”