These are the men that you just see in everything, never knew their name, but their faces are burned into our memories forever.
Some have moved on to stardom, some died trying, and some will forever remain... CHARACTER ACTORS!
(Sorry - men only list, no room for the women. Not even Zelda Rubinstein or Linda Hunt.)
Best known for his roles "Kirk Morris" and "Jack Farrell", with his sharp, raspy nasal voice, sneering smile and fierce look, Burns has made himself really an actor to watch. He was drawn to acting late in college. After graduating, he re-established himself in New York and landed the title role of "Don Juan" at the New York Shakespeare Festival...
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"...
R. Lee Ermey
A talented character actor known for his military roles, Ronald Lee Ermey was in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, and later was bestowed the honorary rank of Gunnery Sergeant by the Marine Corps, after he served 14 months in Vietnam and later did two tours in Okinawa...
M. Emmet Walsh
Wonderfully talented, heavyset character actor (from New York, but regularly playing Southerners) M. Emmet Walsh has made a solid career of playing corrupt cops, deadly crooks, and zany comedic roles since the early 1970s. Michael Emmet Walsh was born in Ogdensburg, to Agnes Katharine (Sullivan) and Harry Maurice Walsh...
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...
Jesse Heiman was born in Boston on May 23, 1978 and lived in Boston until 1989. He lived in Austin, Texas from 1989 and attended West Ridge Middle School, Westlake High School, and Texas State University of San Marcos for education. Graduated college in May of 2000 with a BA in English. Moved to Los Angeles in September of 2000...
Born in Honduras, José moved to New York City at the age of 7. His first film was RIDING THE RAILS. Jose rode on freight trains and lived in homeless shelters during the 4 months of filming. When he returned to NYC his then agent secured him an audition for ALIVE directed by Frank Marshall.
Xander's father was a painter and his mother a school teacher who sewed, providing him with costumes (his preference over toys). School plays and Community Theater were next. An experimental theater troupe in the area (which was an offshoot from Joseph Chaikin
's Open Theater in New York) took Xander under their wing when he was 16...
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...
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...
James Robert Rebhorn (September 1, 1948 - March 21, 2014) was an American actor who appeared in over 100 films, television series, and plays. At the time of his death, he had recurring roles in the current series White Collar and Homeland. An early performance was in Butterflies are Free at the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire in 1974...
John Hawkes was born John Marvin Perkins in Alexandria, Minnesota, to Patricia Jeanne (Olson) and Peter John Perkins, a farmer. He is of British and Scandinavian descent. John moved to Austin, Texas to begin his career as an actor and musician. He co-founded the Big State Productions Theatre Company and appeared in the group's original play...
John Carroll Lynch
John Carroll Lynch was born August 1st, 1963 in Boulder, Colorado. He was raised in Denver Colorado. It was there John found a passion for acting and became a Denver Broncos fan. He graduated in the mid-80s with a B.F.A. in theatre from the The Catholic University of America / Hartke Theatre Acting program...
Canadian-born actor Matt Craven is among the most sought after character actors of film and television today, starring in such blockbuster critically acclaimed films as the Academy-Award-nominated "Crimson Tide" and "A Few Good Men" and SAG Award nominated "X-Men: First Class." Craven has starred opposite great Hollywood actors such as Denzel Washington...
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.
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Vince first started to get noticed for his excellent performances at the start of his career in Shy People
and Mississippi Burning
. In both these films he played something of a blathering redneck idiot, although there was a streak of pathos in both performances which made it impossible to dismiss his characters as just 'bad' people...
Ethan Suplee has established himself over the past decade as an actor of considerable talent and accomplishment. His diverse and eclectic resume ranges from hilarious roles in such comedies as Mallrats
and Without a Paddle
to hauntingly dramatic performances in intense features such as American History X
American character actor and writer Wallace Shawn has one of those fun, mischievously homely faces just made to entertain. Though he got out of the starting gate rather slowly, he has since excelled on stage, television and film while managing to turn himself into a winner with his loser-type looks...
Masur has also been active in the theatre with increasing frequency. His Broadway debut was in The Changing Room by David Storey (1973). More recently, Masur returned to Broadway in Michael Frayn's Democracy (2004-05), and, among his many off-Broadway and regional theatre appearances, are recent major roles in A Feminine Ending by Sarah Treem (Playwrights Horizons - 2007)...
Elias Koteas was born on March 11, 1961, in Montreal, Canada. Both his parents are of Greek descent. Elias attended Vanier College in Montreal before leaving to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1981, of which he is a graduate. He also attended the Actors Studio in New York City...
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...
Jeffrey Duncan Jones was born in Buffalo, New York. He is a very tall, fair-haired character actor who is recognized all over for his excellent work. He is a veteran stage actor having such plays as "The Elephant Man" and Neil Simon
's "London Suite" under his belt. His first film role was in The Revolutionary
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...
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...
Terry Crews was born in Flint, Michigan, to Patricia and Terry Crews, Sr. He earned an Art Excellence Scholarship to attend Western Michigan University and also earned a full-ride athletic scholarship to play football. Crews was an All-Conference defensive end, and was a major contributor on the 1988 MAC champion WMU Broncos...
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...
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.
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...
A tall, wavy-haired US actor with a deep, resonant voice, Clancy Brown has proved himself a versatile performer with first-class contributions to theater, feature films, television series and even animation. Clarence J. Brown III was born in 1959 in Urbana, Ohio, to Joyce Helen (Eldridge), a concert pianist...
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.
Asian American actor & stuntman has picked up a cult fan following based around his numerous appearances in high voltage action flicks from the mid-1980s onwards. Al nearly always turns up as a bad guy with his lean muscled physique, incredible agility, amazing martial arts skills, wispy black hair...
James Hong was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, but at some point along the way became interested in acting. He graduated from the University of Southern California and practiced for 1½ years as a road engineer with the County of Los Angeles...
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...
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...
A small-town guy with a big heart, William Fichtner has been captivating the hearts of Western New Yorkers for decades. Bill was born in 1956 on Long Island, New York, to Patricia A. (Steitz) and William E. Fichtner. He is of German, Irish, and English descent. Fichtner was raised in Cheektowaga, and graduated from Maryvale High School in 1974...
Character actor Paul Gleason was adept at playing tough guys and white collar sleazebags, making his film debut in Winter A-Go-Go
. He made a name for himself portraying these unlikeable characters. A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Gleason studied extensively at the Actor's Studio in New York City...
Fiery, forceful and intimidating character actor James Tolkan has carved out a nice little niche for himself in both movies and television alike as a formidable portrayer of fierce and flinty hard-boiled tough guy types. James Stewart Tolkan was born on June 20, 1931 in Calumet, Michigan. His father...
Tim Thomerson rates highly as one of the best, most prolific, versatile and dependable character actors to ever grace both the big and small screens alike with pleasing regularity since the mid 70s. Although often cast as laconic rough 'n' tumble macho guys, Thomerson has proved on many occasions that he can essay comic roles and more substantial dramatic parts with equal skill and conviction...
Christopher Walton Cooper was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Mary Ann (Walton), a homemaker, and Charles Sherwood Cooper, a cattleman and internist who served as a doctor in the US Air Force. His parents were from Texas, where Cooper was raised. Educated at the University of Missouri school of drama...
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ancestry...
David Russell Strathairn was born on January 26, 1949 in San Francisco, California. He is the son of Mary Frances (Frazier), a nurse, and Thomas Scott Strathairn, Jr., a physician. He has two siblings, Tom and Anne. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, Irish, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian, and one sixteenth Chinese (the latter three from his paternal grandmother)...
Brian Cox is an Emmy Award-winning Scottish actor. He was born on June 1, 1946 in Dundee, Scotland, to Mary Ann Guillerline (McCann), a spinner, and Charles McArdle Campbell Cox, a shopkeeper and butcher. His father was of Irish ancestry and his mother was of Irish and Scottish descent. Cox first came to attention in the early 1970s with performances in numerous television films...
Character actor Brad Dourif was born Bradford Claude Dourif on March 18, 1950 in Huntington, West Virginia. He is the son of Joan Mavis Felton (Bradford) and Jean Henri Dourif, a French-born art collector who owned and operated a dye factory. His father died when Dourif was three years old, after which his mother married Bill Campbell...
was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where his parents were hard-working people, who instilled in him a sense of self-reliance and humility. As an amateur actor in the city's Karamu House Theater, he starred in the Ossie Davis
play "Purlie Victorious". Cobbs was an Air Force radar technician for eight years; he also worked in office products at IBM and sold cars in Cleveland...
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...
James is a rugged, intense character player with leading man good looks. Having first gained recognition in 1979 as Ajax
, in his second film, The Warriors
. That same year he garnered acclaim on Broadway with Richard Gere
in the concentration camp drama "Bent". In a career spanning nearly four decades...
Harry Dean Stanton
Prolific character actor Harry Dean Stanton's drooping, weather-beaten appearance and superb acting talent have been his ticket to appearing in over 100 films, and 50 TV episodes. Stanton was born in West Irvine, Kentucky, to Ersel (Moberly), a cook, and Sheridan Harry Stanton, a barber and tobacco farmer...
Tim Bagley was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Madison and Trempealeau, Wisconsin, and Niles, Michigan, with his parents, Carol and Elwyn, and four siblings, Anne, Patrick, Kit and Dan. After High School Tim moved to southern California to perform with the singing group "The Young Americans," while majoring in Art with a minor in Psychology at California State University Fullerton...
Sean was born in Washington D.C. The youngest of four, he was raised in Silver Spring/Olney Maryland and graduated from Sherwood High School. He moved west and graduated from UCLA four years later. Like most actors, he worked as a waiter while studying and performing at the famed Groundling Theater...
Henry Gibson was born on 21 September 1935 in Germantown, Pennsylvnia. Before appearing in films and television series, he was a child star on the stage during the 1940s and during the late 1950s he was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. His screen debut came in 1963 when he was cast in the Jerry Lewis
film The Nutty Professor
Michael Murphy was born in Los Angeles, California, to Georgia Arlyn (née Money), a teacher, and Bearl Branton Murphy, a salesman. After a hitch in the Marine Corps, Murphy attended the University of Arizona, Tuscon, and then went to U.C.L.A. to get his teaching credential. From 1962 to 1964, he taught high school English and drama in Los Angeles...
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...
Clint Howard also had a recurring role in The Andy Griffith Show, as a little boy always dressed in a cowboy outfit and always eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He never said a word, but was always offering someone a bite. He also had a co-starring role along with a black bear as the owner and friend of Gentle Ben, in that series.
Vincent Schiavelli, selected in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of the best character actors in America, had made over 120 film and television appearances. He studied acting at NYU's Theatre Program. Aside from his acting career, Vincent was the author of three cookbooks, and has written numerous articles on food for magazines and newspapers. In 2001, he received the James Beard
David Graf was a Lancaster, Ohio native. He was a graduate of Lancaster High School in 1968. He went on to attend college at Otterbein University where he graduated in 1972 as a theater major. He attended Ohio State University grad school until 1975 when he dropped out to pursue an acting career in New York City...
Will Patton was born in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Bill Patton, is a playwright, acting/directing instructor, and Lutheran minister. Patton attended the North Carolina School of the Arts. He has won two OBIE awards for best actor for the off-Broadway plays, Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love" and the Public Theatre production of "What Did He See?".
Robert Davi is an award-winning actor, screenwriter, director, producer and jazz vocalist. From his portrayal of the opera singing baddie in "The Goonies" and one of the most popular James Bond villains Franz Sanchez in "Licence to Kill" to FBI Special Agent Big Johnson in" Die Hard" or Al Torres in...
Michael Ironside has made a strong and indelible impression with his often incredibly intense and explosive portrayals of fearsome villains throughout the years. He was born as Frederick Reginald Ironside on February 12, 1950 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ironside was a successful arm wrestler in his teenage years...
Acclaimed Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies was born in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales, to Mary Margaretta Phyllis (Jones), a nurse, and Rhys Davies, a mechanical engineer and Colonial Officer. He graduated from the University of East Anglia and is probably best known to film audiences for his roles in the blockbuster hits Raiders of the Lost Ark
and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Lively character actor who usually plays hard-ass military types and menacing bad guys. Charles Napier's roles have changed little since his debut in Russ Meyer
's Cherry, Harry & Raquel!
. Napier went on appearing in other Meyer movies, including the homicidal Harry Sledge in Supervixens
and also became a regular playing smaller roles for Jonathan Demme
Jared Francis Harris was born in London, England. He is the son of Irish actor Richard Harris
and Welsh actress Elizabeth Harris (Elizabeth Rees
), and brother of Damian Harris
and Jamie Harris
. Despite his lineage, Jared showed little interest in becoming an actor, until he was cast in a college production while attending North Carolina's Duke University (USA)...
Sir Ian Holm is an Academy Award-nominated British film and stage actor who was a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and played more than 100 roles in films and on television. He was born Ian Holm Cuthbert on September 12, 1931, in Goodmayes, Essex, UK, to Scottish parents who worked at the Essex mental asylum...
Seymour Cassel, the veteran character actor who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the hippie swinger Chet in John Cassavetes
, studied acting at the American Theatre Wing and at the Actors Studio. He made his movie debut in Cassavetes' first film, Shadows
, on which he also served as associate producer...
Born in Bellaire, Ohio, in May, 1957, he was among the last graduating class of the Windsor Mountain School in Lennox, Massachusetts. Attended Marlboro College in Vermont. Performed in summer stock and regional theatres in Vermont, Michigan and West Virginia before settling in Chicago and joining The Remains ensemble...
From small-town Oklahoma native to internationally acclaimed actor and musician, Wes Studi credits his passion and multi-faceted background for his powerful character portrayals that forever changed a Hollywood stereotype. Within a few years of his arrival in Hollywood, Studi caught the attention of the public in Dances with Wolves