The 100 Most Sought-After Character Actors in Hollywood

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1.
J.K. Simmons
Actor, Whiplash
J.K. Simmons is an American actor. He was born Jonathan Kimble Simmons in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, to Patricia (Kimble), an administrator, and Donald William Simmons, a music teacher. He attended the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; University of Montana, Missoula, MT (BA in Music). He had originally planned to be a singer and studied at the University of Montana to become a composer...
 
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Thomas F. Wilson
Tom Wilson is a creative artist whose professional career has explored almost every imaginable artistic discipline, blending them into a unique and very individual declaration of a life in the arts. A man of fervent but private faith his whole life, the last few years have been interesting, with hundreds of invitations to speak at conferences and retreats...
 
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Michael Badalucco
Michael Badalucco, a Brooklyn native, got his start in the entertainment industry at a very young age, going to work with his father Giuseppe, a Sicilian-born immigrant, who worked as a carpenter on movie sets. In 1963, during the filming of Fail Safe starring Henry Fonda, a photo of a young boy was needed...
 
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Veronica Cartwright
Actress, Alien
Born in Bristol, England, Veronica is the older sister of the popular child actress Angela Cartwright. In her early career, Veronica was cast in a number of popular movies such as The Children's Hour, Spencer's Mountain and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. As such, she was cast as "Jemima Boone" in the popular television series Daniel Boone...
 
7.
Stephen Tobolowsky
Actor, Memento
Character actor Stephen Tobolowsky was born on May 30, 1951 in Dallas, Texas. Over the past three decades, Tobolowsky has racked up a lengthy list of roles in movies and television across many different genres. While Tobolowsky initially attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with the intention of studying geology...
 
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Edie McClurg
Actress, Frozen
Edie McClurg began her performing career at age five with the oxymoronic Kansas City Rhythm Kids. She retired when the dance teacher was arrested on a morals charge for "dating" the tall and lissome, yet underage, star dancer in the troupe. That girl's big number culminated with a back-bend where Edie drank a soda upside down (of course)...
 
10.
Daniel Roebuck
Having made his feature film debut starring in the teen comedy Cavegirl Daniel Roebuck quickly realized that there was only one direction to travel in his career. Up! Soon after Cavegirl, Roebuck established himself as one of the industry's youngest character actors with his haunting portrayal as the teenage killer, Samson in The River's Edge...
 
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Luis Guzmán
Actor of Puerto Rican descent who made many memorable films in the 1980s due to his villainous persona. Presently resides with his wife and many kids in Vermont.
 
13.
Donal Logue
Actor, Gotham
Donal Logue's versatility and talent makes him one of the most well respected and beloved actors today. Born in Ottawa, Canada, Logue moved all over the United States, from the Boston area as an infant to various towns on the Mexican border. He returned to Boston to attend Harvard University, where he majored in Intellectual History and discovered his love for the performing arts...
 
14.
Melanie Lynskey
Actress, Togetherness
At 16 years of age, Melanie Lynskey captivated audiences with her explosive debut in Peter Jackson's Academy Award-nominated Heavenly Creatures, achieving worldwide acclaim and a Best Actress prize for her portrayal of an outcast teen whose relationship with her best friend (Kate Winslet) spirals dangerously out of control...
 
16.
Bill Smitrovich
Connecticut-born actor Bill Smitrovich (on May 16, 1947) started his acting career rather late. A Masters degree holder from Smith College and a former acting teacher at the University of Massachusetts, the hefty actor earned his big break in an understudy role in the world premiere of Arthur Miller's "The American Clock" at the Spoleto Festival...
 
17.
Dean Winters
Actor, John Wick
Dean Winters starred as "Johnny Gavin," Tommy's younger brother and a NYPD police detective on Rescue Me, the critically acclaimed, one-hour drama from Sony Pictures Television, airing on FX. Dean is best know for playing the cunning "Ryan O'Reily" on Tom Fontana's hit HBO drama series Oz...
 
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Rich Sommer
Actor, Mad Men
Sommer returned to Cleveland in 2008 to teach a master class at the Case Western Reserve University / Cleveland Play House graduate program. He earned an MFA in the program in 2004. Sommer planned his future in improv comedy during his Play House days. He has performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe, but the bulk of his career has been in television and film...
 
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Kirk Acevedo
Born and raised in the Bronx, and spent most of his formative years hanging out in New York City, Kirk Acevedo, who is of Puerto Rican descent, received his BFA from SUNY Purchase and founded a theater company called The Rorschach Group. After guest-starring on several television shows like New York Undercover and Law & Order...
 
25.
Bobby Cannavale
Actor, Ant-Man
In both career and in real life, Bobby Cannavale tends to choose the unconventional way of doing things. In the beginning, his decisions may have cost the dark, swarthily good-looking actor some acting roles and/or good-paying money but, in the end, his strong work ethic and sense of self, despite a lack of formal training...
 
26.
Garret Dillahunt
Garret grew up in the state of Washington and attended the University of Washington where he studied journalism. He received his MFA from New York University's Graduate Acting Program. He has appeared on and off Broadway and in theaters around the country before he began pursuing film and television roles. He has two brothers: Brett, a teacher; and Eric, deceased.
 
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Martha Plimpton
Actress, Raising Hope
She has show biz in her blood. Martha Plimpton was born November 16, 1970, in New York City to two actors: Keith Carradine and Shelley Plimpton. Martha began her career at age 8, when her mom had a friend of hers, composer Elizabeth Swados, enroll her in an actors' workshop. At age 10, she got a small part in Rollover, and also made a series of Calvin Klein commercials...
 
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Lisa Edelstein
Lisa Edelstein began her professional acting career while studying theater at N.Y.U.'s Tisch School of the Arts. After performing in a wide range of productions off and on Broadway, authored and performed the AIDS-related musical "Positive Me" at Ellen Stuart's La Mama, in Manhattan. It was one one of the earliest AIDS-related theater productions...
 
29.
Bruce Campbell
In 1979 with his Detroit friends, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell raised $350,000 for a low-budget film, The Evil Dead, in which he starred and co-executive produced. Completed piecemeal over four years, the film first gained notoriety in England where it became the best-selling video of 1983...
 
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Alfred Molina
Alfred Molina was born in 1953 in London, England. His mother, Giovanna (Bonelli), was an Italian-born cook and cleaner, and his father, Esteban Molina, was a Spanish-born waiter and chauffeur. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. His stage work includes two major Royal National Theatre productions...
 
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Gary Basaraba
Gary Basaraba left the Yale School of Drama and began his career working for many of the most highly acclaimed directors of our times. His career has spanned all genres of film and television from cutting edge art film such as "The Last Temptation of Christ" to beloved classics such as "Fried Green Tomatoes" and the popular animated series of Smurf films...
 
34.
Loretta Devine
Actress, Crash
Loretta Devine was born August 21, 1949 in Houston, Texas, to Eunice O'Neal (née Toliver), a beautician, and James Devine, who worked as a laborer. Loretta grew up in the Acres Home area of Houston and later enrolled at the University of Houston, where she earned a a Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Drama...
 
35.
Danny Trejo
Actor, Machete
Danny Trejo was born Dan Trejo in Echo Park, Los Angeles, to Alice (Rivera) and Dan Trejo, a construction worker. A child drug addict and criminal, Trejo was in and out of jail for 11 years. While serving time in San Quentin, he won the lightweight and welterweight boxing titles. Imprisoned for armed robbery and drug offenses...
 
36.
Clifton Collins Jr.
An acting chameleon who can easily lose himself in the life of his film and television characters, Clifton Collins Jr. is a native Angeleno who grew up destined to become a part of the Latino entertainment industry. His great-grandparents on his mother's side were a Mexican trumpet player and Spanish dancer who formed a traveling family act...
 
37.
Rainn Wilson
Actor, The Office
Rainn Wilson lives in Los Angeles with his wife, fiction writer Holiday Reinhorn (Big Cats), and his son, Walter McKenzie Wilson who was born in 2004. He grew up in Seattle, Washington but graduated from New Trier H.S. in Winnetka, Illinois. After attending both Tufts University and the University of Washington...
 
38.
William Sanderson
Prolific and versatile character actor William Sanderson was born on January 10, 1944, in Memphis, Tennessee. His mother was an elementary school teacher and his father was a landscape designer. William served two years in the US Army. Following his military service he attended Southern Methodist University...
 
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John C. McGinley
Actor, Scrubs
John C. McGinley's path to stardom is a story that reads like a classic Hollywood script. While an understudy in New York in the Circle-In-The-Square production of John Patrick Shanley's "Danny and the Deep Blue Sea," he was spotted by director Oliver Stone and soon after was cast in "Platoon," the...
 
40.
CCH Pounder
Actress, Avatar
CCH Pounder (the CCH standing for Carol Christine Hilaria, her birth name). As can be said of other similarly styled actresses such as Alfre Woodard and Cicely Tyson, most of Pounder's characters are enriched with these same positive attributes and it is a testament to this actress' abilities that she continues on such a high plane in a nearly three-decade career...
 
41.
Timothy Olyphant
Actor, Justified
From Timothy Olyphant's first screen appearances, such as his two-minute bit in The First Wives Club, to "Nicko", whose presence at times dwarfed the island in A Perfect Getaway, he has been a force to be reckoned with. Born in Hawaii, Timothy David Olyphant was raised in Modesto, California. He is the son of Katherine Lyon (Gideon) and John Vernon Bevan Olyphant...
 
42.
David Paymer
One of modern TV and moviedom's most sturdy and reliable character actors, David Paymer dreamed of being an actor from early childhood. Although he came from a traditional middle-class Jewish family that urged him to become a doctor or lawyer, Paymer felt more at home in the world of the thespian. At 14...
 
43.
Joe Morton
Joe Morton was born on October 18, 1947 in New York, New York, USA. He is a television, film, and theater actor, best known for The Brother from Another Planet, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Eureka, and Scandal. He also writes and directs, and is a singer/songwriter.
 
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Stephen Root
One of the most prolific character actors working today, Stephen Root has worked alongside many of the biggest names in Hollywood. Born in Sarasota, Root majored in acting and broadcasting at the University of Florida and remains a die-hard Gator fan. After three years of touring the U.S. and Canada with the National Shakespeare Company...
 
45.
Jimmi Simpson
Actor, Westworld
Jimmi Simpson is an American actor. He was born in Hackettstown, New Jersey, the youngest of three brothers. After graduating from Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Arts in theater, he acted for four seasons at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. Simpson made his film debut in the teen comedy Loser (2000)...
 
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Steve Buscemi
Actor, Fargo
Steve Buscemi was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Dorothy (Wilson), a restaurant hostess, and John Buscemi, a sanitation worker. He is of Italian (father) and English, Dutch, and Irish (mother) descent. He became interested in acting during his last year of high school. After graduating, he moved to Manhattan to study acting with John Strasberg...
 
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Harriet Sansom Harris
Actress, Memento
Born in Texas, Harriet Sansom Harris got involved in acting as a youngster. At seventeen, Harris was accepted at New York's famed Juilliard School. Upon graduation, Harris joined The Acting Company, a repertory group formed by the first alumni of John Houseman's Drama Division of The Juilliard School...
 
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Ernie Hudson
Actor, Oz
As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest black theatre in the country...
 
50.
Adam Scott
Adam Scott was born in Santa Cruz, California, the son of Anne and Douglas Scott. He has two older siblings, Shannon and David. Scott has said that his brother David "looks like me but is far more cerebral and inherited the intellect of our parents," both of whom are retired teachers. He graduated from Harbor High School and he is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles...
 
51.
Kevin Corrigan
A native of the Bronx, New York, Kevin Corrigan has been acting and writing since the age of 15. He made his film debut in Lost Angels and around that time, when he was just 17, his original play "The Boiler Room" was produced by the Young Playwrights Festival of New York. He has gone on to star in countless independent films and has made quite an impression...
 
52.
Glynn Turman
Actor, Super 8
New York City-born African-American actor Glynn Turman enjoyed his first real taste of acting success at the age of 13 originating the role of Travis Younger on Broadway in Lorraine Hansberry's landmark play "A Raisin in the Sun" in 1959 opposite Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil and Diana Sands as his various family members...
 
53.
Richard Riehle
Richard Riehle was born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to Mary Margaret (Walsh), a nurse, and Herbert John Riehle, an assistant postmaster. He is of German and Irish descent. Richard attended the University of Notre Dame, where he became heavily involved with the University Theatre. Appearing in such productions as "Luther"...
 
55.
Mary Lynn Rajskub
Actress, 24
Mary Lynn Rajskub is an American actress, comedienne and singer who is best known as a co-star of Kiefer Sutherland on the popular television series 24. She was born on June 22, 1971, in Detroit, Michigan, into a family of Irish, Czech, and Polish ancestry. She was brought up in Trenton...
 
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Terry Kinney
Terry Kinney, the stage, film and television actor, was born on January 29, 1954 in Lincoln, Illinois and attended Illinois State University. While at university, his friend, the aspiring actor Jeff Perry, took Kinney to Chicago to see a production of "Grease" in which his best friend, Gary Sinise...
 
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Megan Follows
Actress, Reign
Megan Elizabeth Follows was the last child born to parents, Ted Follows and Dawn Greenhalgh in Ontario, Canada. Her parents were part of the founding members of Canada's summer theatre culture and Megan began acting as a toddler with her siblings Edwina Follows, Laurence Follows, and Samantha Follows...
 
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Betty Buckley
Betty Buckley was born in Big Spring, Texas to Betty Bob and Ernest Buckley. She attended Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth. She was crowned "Miss Fort Worth" in 1966, and was runner-up in the Miss Texas competition. While Betty has always been a product of Broadway, the roles in which she played before-the-camera are mesmerizing...
 
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Robin Tunney
Actress, The Mentalist
Robin Tunney studied acting at the Chicago Academy for the Arts, spending her summer performing in such plays as "Bus Stop" and "Agnes of God". She moved to Los Angeles at the age of eighteen and shortly landed roles in such television shows as Life Goes On, Class of '96 (recurring), Law & Order...
 
65.
Ron Perlman
Actor, Hellboy
Ron Perlman is a classically-trained actor who has appeared in countless stage plays, feature films and television productions. Ronald N. Perlman was born April 13, 1950 in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York. His mother, Dorothy (Rosen), is retired from the City Clerk's Office. His father, Bertram "Bert" Perlman...
 
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Nestor Carbonell
He is most often recognized for his integral role in the series "Lost" as Richard Alpert, as well as his turn as Mayor Anthony Garcia opposite Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight". He reprised his role as the Mayor in the box-office hit "The Dark Knight Rises". Nestor can be seen starring in Universal's "Bates Motel" (2013-2017) as Sheriff Alex Romero...
 
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Idris Elba
Actor, Prometheus
An only child, Idris Elba was born and raised in Hackney, London, England. His father, Winston, is from Sierra Leone and worked at a Ford motor factory. His mother, Eve, is from Ghana and had a clerical duty. Idris attended school in Canning Town, where he first became involved in acting. He gained a place in the National Youth Music Theatre - thanks to a £1,500 Prince's Trust grant...
 
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Frances Fisher
Actress, Titanic
Frances Fisher began by apprenticing at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. She spent 14 years based in New York City, playing leads in over 30 productions of plays by such noted writers as John Arden, Noël Coward, Emily Mann, Joe Orton, Sam Shepard, William Shakespeare, Jean Claude Van Italie...
 
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Victor Garber
Actor, Titanic
Victor Garber has been in some of the most memorable projects of the past four decades. Victor is currently appearing in The Slap, The Flash, Motive and Web Therapy. He will soon star in Greg Berlanti's new Untitled DC Comics Superhero series for Warner Bros/CW. He has shared in two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast...
 
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Raymond J. Barry
Before moving into film, Raymond J. Barry appeared in more than 75 stage productions, winning two Obie Awards for "Leaf People" and "Molly's Dream." Barry earned a degree in philosophy at Brown University before being accepted by the Yale School of Drama. After he moved to New York in the 1960s, his...
 
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W. Earl Brown
Actor, Deadwood
As a rule, W. Earl Brown does not usually speak of himself in the third-person. However, the Internet Movie Database will not accept biographical information written in the first person, therefore: W Earl Brown was born and raised in western Kentucky. Realizing early in life that he had aversion to manual labor...
 
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Jim Beaver
Actor, Deadwood
Jim Beaver is an American character actor, best known for his leading roles on the TV series Deadwood and Supernatural. Born in Laramie, Wyoming a minister's son, he was raised in and around Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Following high school and a year of college, he joined the Marines and served as a radioman with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam...
 
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Jamey Sheridan
Virile, fair-haired, set-jawed actor Jamey Sheridan was born in 1951 and raised in Pasadena, California. He turned to acting after a knee injury ended his pursuit of a dancing career. Beginning professionally on stage in 1978, he gained some momentum into the next decade and eventually reached Broadway...
 
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Stephen Fry
Self, QI
Writer, actor, comedian, doer of good works, excellent good friend to the famous and not, Fry lives in his London SW1 flat and his Norfolk house when not traveling. Famous for his public declaration of celibacy in the "Tatler" back in the 1980s, Emma Thompson has characterised her friend as "90 percent gay...
 
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Fionnula Flanagan
Actress, The Others
Fionnula Flanagan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. From an early age she grew up speaking both English and Irish on a daily basis. Her parents weren't native Irish speakers but wanted Fionnula and her four siblings to learn the language. Her mother used to say, "A nation without a language is a nation without a soul"...
 
81.
David Morse
David Morse, a 6' 4" tall blue-eyed blond who performed on stage for 10 years before breaking into film, became established as a respected supporting, character actor and second lead. He was born the first of four children of Charles, a sales manager, and Jacquelyn Morse, a schoolteacher, on October 11...
 
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Muse Watson
Actor, NCIS
Rugged character actor Muse Watson is an established stage actor and veteran screen performer with a host of widely varying characters to his name, ranging from the hook-wielding killer in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997), to the gentle, cat-loving con in the Fox television suspense drama "Prison Break" (2005)...
 
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John Amos
Actor, Die Hard 2
A native of New Jersey and son of a mechanic, African-American John Amos has relied on his imposing build, eruptive nature and strong, forceful looks to obtain acting jobs, and a serious desire for better roles to earn a satisfying place in the annals of film and TV. He has found it a constant uphill...
 
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Annie Corley
Actress, Monster
Annie Corley graduated from McCutcheon High School in Lafayette, Indiana and later enrolled at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Since 1990, Annie has appeared in several films, her most notable role to date is Meryl Streep's on-screen daughter in The Bridges of Madison County. She later made a chilling appearance as Donna, Christina Ricci's on-screen aunt in Monster.
 
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Margo Martindale
Margo Martindale was born July 18, 1951 in Jacksonville, Texas, to Margaret (Pruitt) and William Everett Martindale, a lumber company owner and dog handler. She is the youngest of three children, and the only daughter. Margo attended Lon Marris College, and later transferred to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor...
 
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James Pickens Jr.
James Pickens Jr. was born October 26, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. While attending college at Bowling Green State University, Pickens began pursuing an interest in acting. He graduated from BGSU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1976. Afterwards, Pickens began work on the stage at the Roundabout Theatre in New York City...
 
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Viola Davis
Actress, The Help
Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), a maid and factory worker...
 
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Sean Patrick Flanery
Sean Patrick Flanery was born in Lake Charles, La. and raised in a small town outside of Houston, Texas. While attending the University of St. Thomas in Houston, he saw a beautiful girl leaving a building on campus every Monday and decided to drop an English class and sign up for "whatever the hell they were teaching in that building"...
 
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Timothy Omundson
Actor, Galavant
Timothy Omundson was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on July 29, 1969, the youngest of four children. He grew up in Seattle, Washington, where his family moved when he was one. His father is a former railroad man and his mother was a teacher. Tim started to study theatre at the age of 12 at the Seattle Children's Theater...
 
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JoBeth Williams
Actress, Poltergeist
The product of a musical family, Margaret JoBeth Williams was born in Houston, Texas, to Frances Faye (Adams), a dietitian, and Fredric Roger Williams, a wire/cable company manager and opera singer. Her father encouraged her early interest in theater during high school. She made her professional debut at age 18 in a Houston-based musical production...
 
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Benito Martinez
Benito Martinez is most widely recognized as David Aceveda, the character he portrays on the long running hit drama The Shield, winner of the Golden Globe for best drama. For his work as "David," Benito has received national and international attention, nominated for many acting accolades and has been recognized by the National Council of La Raza...
 
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Chandra Wilson
Houston, Texas native Chandra Wilson began performing in musicals at the age of five with Theatre Under the Stars. She attended Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and later went on to acquire her BFA in Drama from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts through which she spent four years at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute...
 
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Jayma Mays
Actress, Glee
Jayma was born Jamia Suzette Mays. She was raised in Grundy, Virginia, with her older brother and sister. Her father was a high school teacher at Grundy Senior High School for 7 years, before spending 25 years working in the coal-mining industry. He is now retired and lives with Jayma's mother in Bristol...