William James Pullman was born in Hornell, New York, one of seven children of Johanna (Blaas), a nurse, and James Pullman, a doctor. He is of Dutch (mother) and English, Northern Irish, and Scottish (father) descent. After high school, Bill went into a building construction program at SUNY Delhi in New York. He transferred to State University of New York College at Oneonta where he received his BA in Theater. He received both his MFA in Theater/Directing and an honorary PHD from University of Massachusetts at Amherst. While teaching Directing at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, one of Bill's students was the soon-to-be film director John Dahl, who later cast Mr. Pullman in "The Last Seduction".