Peter Coyote (born Robert Peter Cohon; October 10, 1941) is an American actor, director, screenwriter, author and narrator of films, theatre, television, and audiobooks. He is perhaps best known for his work in various films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Cross Creek (1983), Jagged Edge (1985), Bitter Moon (1992), Kika (1993), Patch Adams (1998), Erin Brockovich (2000), A Walk to Remember (2002), and Femme Fatale (2002). He was also known as the "Voice of Oscar" for the 72nd Academy Awards ceremony, the first Oscars announcer to be seen on-camera.
Coyote's voice work includes his narration for the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics and Apple's iPad Retina Display campaign. He narrated the PBS series The Pacific Century (1992), winning an Emmy, and eleven documentaries directed or produced by Ken Burns: The West (1996), The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009), Prohibition (2011), The Dust Bowl (2012), The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014), The Vietnam War (2017), The Mayo Clinic: Faith--Hope--Science (2018), Country Music (2019), Hemingway (2021), Benjamin Franklin (2022), and The U.S. and the Holocaust (2022). He won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator in 2015 for his work on The Roosevelts.
Coyote was one of the founders of the Diggers, an anarchist improv group active in Haight-Ashbury during the mid-1960s, including the Summer of Love. Coyote was also an actor, writer and director with the San Francisco Mime Troupe from which the Diggers evolved; his prominence in the San Francisco counterculture scene led to his being interviewed for the book Voices from the Love Generation. He acted in and directed the first cross-country tour of The Minstrel Show, and his play Olive Pits, co-authored with Mime Troupe member Peter Berg, won the troupe an Obie Award from The Village Voice. Coyote became a member, and later chairman, of the California Arts Council from 1975 to 1983. In the late 1970s, he shifted from acting on stage to acting in films. In the 1990s and 2000s, he acted in several television shows. He speaks fairly fluent Spanish and French.
Coyote had first discovered Zen in his teens via the works of Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, and other Beats. Coyote met Snyder with the Diggers and was impressed with Snyder's "gravitas and elegance, his care and deliberation".
Beginning in 1975, Coyote undertook meditation practice and eventually became a dedicated practitioner of American Zen Buddhism, moving into the San Francisco Zen Center. He was later ordained a lay priest in the Sōtō tradition and was ordained as a Zen Priest in 2015.
Coyote performed audiobook recordings of Shunryu Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and Paul Reps's Zen Flesh, Zen Bones as well as narrating the documentary Inquiry into the Great Matter: A History of Zen Buddhism.