This is the list of many of my all-time favorite character actors and actresses.
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...
Actor Stanley Tucci was born on November 11, 1960, in Peekskill, New York. He is the son of Joan (Tropiano), a writer, and Stanley Tucci, an art teacher. His family is Italian-American, with origins in Calabria. Tucci took an interest in acting while in high school, and went on to attend the State University of New York's Conservatory of Theater Arts in Purchase...
This remarkable, one-of-a-kind actress has, since the early 1990s, intrigued film and TV audiences with her glowing, yet careworn eccentricity and old world-styled glamour. Very much in demand these days as a character player, Patricia Clarkson nevertheless continues to avoid the temptation of money-making mainstream filming while reaping kudos and acting awards in out-of-the-way projects...
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...
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...
Philip Baker Hall
Philip Baker Hall was born in Toledo, Ohio, to Berdene (McDonald) and William Alexander Hall, a factory worker who was originally from Montgomery, Alabama. He did not start acting until he was 30 years old, and shot to cult fame when he turned in an electrifying performance as Sydney, the veteran gambler...
Frances Conroy is a graduate of the Juilliard Drama Division and a member of The Acting Company. She recently won a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the Broadway hit "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan." Her other Broadway credits include "Ring Round the Moon", "The Little Foxes", "The Rehearsal" (Drama Desk Nominee)...
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...
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...
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...
Allison Janney is an award-winning actress who has earned a solid reputation in stage productions and in many supporting roles on screen, and who more recently has become prominent by portraying one of the major characters in the popular TV series The West Wing
. Entertainment Weekly magazine describes Janney's screen presence as "uncommonly beautiful and infinitely expressive"...
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...
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...
Keith David was born Keith David Williams in New York City's Harlem district, and was raised in East Elmhurst, in the Queens section of the city. He is the son of Dolores (Dickenson), a New York Telephone manager, and Lester Williams, a payroll operations director. As a child, he realized he wanted...
Excellent, prolific and versatile character actor Gregg Lee Henry was born on May 6, 1952 in Lakewood, Colorado. Henry studied acting at the University of Washington in Seattle. Right after graduating from college, Gregg moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue an acting career. He played in a band...
Bryan Cranston is an American actor, voice actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known for portraying Walter White on the AMC crime drama series Breaking Bad, Hal on the Fox comedy series Malcolm in the Middle, Tim Sacksky on the CBS comedy series King of Queens, and Dr. Tim Whatley on the NBC comedy series Seinfeld...
Peter Dinklage is an American actor. Since his breakout role in The Station Agent (2003), he has appeared in numerous films and theatre plays. Since 2011, Dinklage has portrayed Tyrion Lannister in the HBO series Game of Thrones. For this he won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series...
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...
The record-breaking actress set a record when at age 82, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars
. Cloris Leachman was born on April 30, 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa to Berkeley Claiborne "Buck" Leachman and the former Cloris Wallace. Her father's family owned a lumber company, Leachman Lumber Co. She is of Czech (from her maternal grandmother) and English descent...
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...
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...
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...
You may know her from multiple nominated and SAG Award winning portrayal of ADA Sylvia Costas Sipowitz in NYPD Blue, as a stay-at-home prostitute in Desperate Housewives and a murderous realtor on Monk, as a serial killer on Law and Order:SVU, coming to terms with her long lost daughter on Rizzoli & Isles...
Megan is an only child born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Martha, was a model, and her father, Carter Mullally Jr.
, was a contract player for Paramount. Megan first entered Northwestern University intending to study acting, but switched to English literature. However, she still ended up starring in several campus musicals...
Jennifer Coolidge is a versatile character actress and experimental comedienne, best known for playing Stifler's mom in American Pie
. She was born on August 28, 1961, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to Gretchen (Knauff) and Paul Constant Coolidge, a plastics manufacturer. Young Coolidge was dreaming of becoming a singer...
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"...
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...
Tess Harper attended Southwest Missouri State University, now known as Missouri State University, in Springfield, MO. During the late 1960s, she did "street" acting in the theme parks, Dogpatch, USA, in Jasper, AR, and Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. She was discovered while doing theater work in Dallas...
S. Epatha Merkerson
A native of Michigan, S. Epatha Merkerson earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Wayne State University. In 1978, she moved to New York City to apply her craft on stage. Although best known since 1993 as the smart and shrewd Lieutenant Anita Van Buren on the long-running TV crime drama Law & Order
Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, to an Italian carpenter/stagehand father from Naples and an opera-singing African-American mother from Alabama. His parents, working in Europe at the time of his birth, settled in Manhattan by the time he was six, and that's where he grew up...
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...
He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1939 and attended Temple University briefly before moving to New York where he studied drama with Stella Adler and at Actors Studio.
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.
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...
Two time Academy Award® nominee, Golden Globe® Winner (3 time nominee), 3 time Emmy winner (7 time nominee); As Good as It Gets
, Paul Blart: Mall Cop
, Grandma's Boy
Miss Knight was born in Gossell, Kansas the 5th of July 1936. She spent her young life in Mitchell, Kansas and later lived in Lyons, Kansas where she graduated from high school...
One of three children (she has two brothers, Greg and Don), Dianne Wiest was born in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Her mother, Anne Stewart (Keddie), was a nurse from Auchtermuchty, Scotland, and her father, Bernard John Wiest, was a college dean and social worker who was born in Pennsylvania, of German and Croatian descent...
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...
Actor Austin Pendleton was born March 27, 1940 in Warren, Ohio to Frances and Thorn Pendleton. He graduated from Yale University. He later became an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, and acted in several of the theater's productions. His first film appearance in Petulia
, a minor and uncredited role. Since, he has made over 100 appearances in television and film.
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...
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...
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...
Juliette Lewis has been recognized as one of Hollywood's most talented and versatile actors of her generation since she first stunned audiences and critics alike with her Oscar-nominated performance as "Danielle Bowden" in Cape Fear
. To date, she has worked with some of the most revered directors in the industry...
Kristin Chenoweth is an American stage, screen and television actress, though, depending on who you ask, Cheno fans may disagree on what her most famous roles are. Since Chenoweth began her career, she has been credited with roles in musicals and plays on and off-Broadway, on various television shows and can be seen in movies on television and the big screen...
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"...
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...
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...
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...
Davis, second of three children, was born in Englewood, New Jersey, the daughter of Joan, a librarian (at one time, for the elementary section of Elisabeth Morrow School), and William Davis, an engineer. Davis has described her mother as a "great storyteller" who would take Davis and her siblings to museums or to "something cultural" every Sunday after church...
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.
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"...
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...
Mercedes Ruehl was born February 28, 1948 in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City to Mercedes Ruehl, a school teacher, and Vincent Ruehl, an FBI agent. She made several film and television appearance before coming to her most successfully received role in Terry Gilliam
's The Fisher King
. She played the part of Jeff Bridges
's on-screen supportive yet neurotic girlfriend...
Elizabeth Ann Perkins was born on November 18, 1960, in the borough of Queens, New York, and was raised in Vermont. Her mother, Jo Williams, was a concert pianist and drug treatment counselor, and her father, James Perkins, was a businessman, farmer, and writer. She is of Greek and English descent. Perkins studied acting at Chicago's Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University for three years...
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was born in Lombard, Illinois, to Mary D. (Pagone) and Frank A. Mastrantonio, who ran a bronze foundry. Her parents were of Italian descent. She was raised in Oak Park, IL, and began her career in school plays as a teenager. Mary attended the University of Illinois and got bitten by the acting bug, starring in "Guys and Dolls"...
Naturally brunette/blue-eyed beauty Amy Davis Irving was born in Palo Alto, California. She is the youngest of three children, and the daughter of influential theatrical/television director and producer Jules Irving
, and actress Priscilla Pointer
. Her father was of Russian Jewish descent, and her mother's ancestry includes English, Scots-Irish, Welsh, Jewish, and German...
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...
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...
Bruce McGill grew up in San Antonio, Texas. His mother, Adriel Rose (née Jacobs) is an artist, and his father, Woodrow Wilson McGill, is a real estate and insurance agent. He graduated from Douglas MacArthur High School San Antonio and from The University of Texas at Austin with a degree in drama. His love for acting stems back to elementary school...
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...
Mary Debra Winger was born May 16, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, to Ruth (Felder), an officer manager, and Robert Jack Winger, a meat packer. She is from a Jewish family (originally from Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire). Her maternal grandparents called her Mary, while her parents called her Debra (her father named her Debra after his favorite actress...
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)...
For someone who has made an award-winning impact in all three mediums (stage, film and TV), actress Kathy Baker has been strangely denied all-out stardom, yet continues to demonstrate her versatility in whatever material comes her way. The comely blonde was born Katherine Whitton Baker in Midland, Texas...
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...
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
Blonde, buxom and noticeably tall Seattle native Jean Smart was born on September 13, 1951. Not your average-looking ingénue, she earned her stardom taking another route. Attending the University of Washington after high school, she received her BA degree in fine arts. Her first professional season...
Christine Ebersole was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Marian Esther (Goodley) and Robert Amos Ebersole, a steel company president. She won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her work in "Grey Gardens". Previously, she was awarded the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award...
The actress Wendie Malick was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1950 and attended Ohio Wesleyan University, from which she graduated in 1972. The 5-foot, 10-inch beauty was a Wilhelmina model in the 1970s, giving it up to go to work for Buffalo-area Congressman Jack Kemp
. She quickly left Washington, DC, behind to act in the theater...
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...
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...
Mary McDonnell is a two-time Oscar®-nominated actress, who is known for her character portrayals in both period and present-day screen roles. Mary Eileen McDonnell was born on April 28, 1952 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to Eileen (Mundy) and John McDonnell, a computer consultant, both of Irish descent...
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)...
Versatile veteran character actor Jonathan Banks was born in Washington D.C in 1947. While growing up he always had an interest in acting and stage work, so decided to pursue a career in entertainment. To this day he is a very accomplished stage actor. While acting in film, he usually plays sinister types or villains. He can be seen in Better Call Saul
as Mike Ehrmantraut.
Camryn grew up in Peoria, Illinois. Her mother, Sylvia, was a schoolteacher and her father, Jerry, was a math professor. She developed an interest in acting after working at a Renaissance Fair at age 16. She earned a Master's Degree in Fine Arts from New York University in 1987. She studied acting at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School in Chelsea...