Livingston was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Linda (née Rinas), a Lutheran pastor, and Kurt Livingston, an aerospace/electronics engineer. His younger brother John is also an actor; sister Jennifer Livingston and brother-in-law Mike Thompson are TV news personalities at WKBT in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He graduated from Marion High School in Marion, Iowa, and attended Yale University, where he received B.A. degrees in theater and English. Livingston first acted at Theatre Cedar Rapids after being introduced to the group during a school job shadowing. Livingston moved to Chicago and became involved in the local theater scene.
Livingston's first film role was in 1992, in Dolly Parton's Straight Talk. He moved to Los Angeles and was cast in supporting roles in Some Folks Call it a Sling Blade and The Low Life. Livingston landed his first role in a major film in 1996's Swingers. He starred as the male lead, Peter Gibbons, in the comedy cult classic Office Space, which co-starred Jennifer Aniston and was written and directed by Mike Judge. He also appeared in HBO's miniseries Band of Brothers as Captain Lewis Nixon opposite Donnie Wahlberg and Damian Lewis.
Going beyond nice-guy roles, Livingston played a Hollywood agent in Adaptation (2002); a weaselly Ivy League upstart to Alec Baldwin's casino boss in The Cooler (2003); and teachers in Winter Solstice and Pretty Persuasion (both 2005). He also appeared as sardonic writer Jack Berger, Carrie's short-term boyfriend in the fifth and sixth seasons of Sex and the City. He guest starred in the episode "TB or Not TB" of House. In 2006, he starred as FBI negotiator Matt Flannery in the Fox series Standoff, co-starring Rosemarie DeWitt, and he was an ad spokesman for Sprint Nextel.
In summer 2007, Livingston appeared on the off-Broadway stage in the world premiere of Neil LaBute's In a Dark Dark House, produced by MCC Theater, with Frederick Weller and Louisa Krause. The show ran from May–July at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York City. In November 2007, the indie film Holly told the story of a Vietnamese girl trafficked into the sex trade in Cambodia. Livingston starred as Patrick, a shady card shark who becomes determined to save Holly from her ill-destined fate.
In 2009, he portrayed flight engineer Maddux Donner in the series Defying Gravity, which was cancelled after its first season. In 2010, Livingston co-starred in the Jay Roach comedy Dinner for Schmucks. On February 26, 2013, Entertainment Weekly confirmed that he would be joining the cast of HBO's Boardwalk Empire for the fourth season.
In 2013, Livingston co-starred in the indie comedy Drinking Buddies. In 2015, he starred as John Carver in Saints & Strangers. In 2017, he started portraying Sam Loudermilk, the lead role on Audience's Loudermilk. The series was renewed for a second season in April 2018.
Livingston and his Standoff co-star Rosemarie DeWitt began a relationship after meeting on the show. After dating for three years, they were married on November 2, 2009, in San Francisco. He was previously engaged to actress Lisa Sheridan.
In May 2013, Livingston and wife Rosemarie announced that they had adopted a girl, Gracie James Livingston, who was born on April 29, 2013. In December 2016, the couple announced they had adopted another daughter, Esperanza Mae Livingston, the previous year.
- Despite being announced and credited as series regular during the entire promotion before the premiere, Ron Livingston is credited as "Guest Starring" every time he appears in an episode.
|A Million Little Things: Season 1|
|"Pilot":||"Band of Dads":||"Save the Date":||"Friday Night Dinner":||"The Game of Your Life":||"Unexpected":||"I Dare You":||"Fight or Flight":||"Perspective":|
|"Christmas Wishlist":||"Secrets and Lies":||"The Day Before...":||"Twelve Seconds":||"Someday":||"The Rock":||"The Rosary":||"Goodbye":|
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