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C. Thomas Howell
Howell at the 2013 Peabody Awards
Christopher Thomas Howell

(1966-12-07) December 7, 1966 (age 54)
Other namesTommy Howell
Tom Howell
OccupationActor, film director
Years active1977–present
(m. 1989; div. 1990)

Sylvie Anderson
(m. 1992; div. 2016)

Christopher Thomas Howell (born December 7, 1966)[1] is an American actor and director. He has starred in the films Soul Man, The Hitcher, Grandview U.S.A., Red Dawn, Secret Admirer and The Outsiders. He has also appeared in Gettysburg and Gods and Generals as Thomas Chamberlain, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Amazing Spider-Man, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay.

Early life

Howell was born in Van Nuys, Los Angeles to Christopher N. and Candice Howell. He has two sisters, Stacy and Candy, and a brother, John.[2]

His father worked as a stunt coordinator and rodeo performer. He played the role of the Red Knight in Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King. As a young boy, Howell wanted to be a stuntman and was a child stunt performer. He was also a rodeo star.[3] He began acting at the age of four, when he was cast in the Brian Keith Show episode, "The Little People".

When Howell was young, his parents divorced.[4][5] Howell graduated from Saugus High School in 1984.


Howell's showbiz debut was acting in The Brian Keith Show episode "The Little People" as a little boy whose ears are being checked out by a doctor. When he got older, he tried stunt acting like his father and worked on commercials for a while.[6]

He tried rodeo riding for a few years. In 1982, he made his film debut as Tyler in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Afterward, at 15, he was cast as the lead role Ponyboy Curtis in Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders, which earned him a Young Artist Award.[2]


In 1984 he and Outsiders co-star, Patrick Swayze, reunited for Grandview, U.S.A., also with Jamie Lee Curtis, and Red Dawn, with Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, and Lea Thompson. Howell also had a pivotal role in Tank, with James Garner and Jenilee Harrison. In 1985 he again starred in the lead role in Secret Admirer, opposite Lori Loughlin and Kelly Preston.

Howell was one of two final actors in the running to play Marty McFly in Back to the Future the other being Eric Stoltz, who was eventually selected.[7] Michael J. Fox would later go on to replace Stoltz after filming had begun.

In 1986, he played a hitchhiker's target in the film The Hitcher. The sequel, in which he also starred, was released in 2003. He starred as a white student who pretends to be black to receive a scholarship in Soul Man. The film grossed $35 million on a $4.5 million budget, but it received condemnation from the NCAAP, and other African-American advocacy groups, and director Spike Lee, and received mostly negative reviews from professional critics. It currently holds an aggregated score of 14% at Rotten Tomatoes.[8] Howell has since stated that he does not regret playing the main character and that Soul Man was "an important part of [his] life" and "an important film" for racial relations in the United States.[9]

In 1988, Howell played the young Arturo Toscanini in the story of the world-renowned conductors debut in Franco Zeffirelli's Giovane Toscanini with Irma Capece Minutolo and Elizabeth Taylor. The film was never released domestically.


At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, Howell appeared in The Return of the Musketeers and Side Out. In 1993, he starred with Linda Fiorentino and Nancy Allen in the campy thriller Acting on Impulse.

After several straight-to-video features and a starring role in That Night, he achieved success again in the film Gettysburg, which was popular with history buffs and history classrooms. He starred as Mike, a motorcycle courier in Mad Dogs and Englishmen (U.S. title: Shameless) with Elizabeth Hurley.

His made-for-television film credits include Suspect Device, Sealed with a Kiss and Dead Fire. He starred in Dads, an unsold pilot. He also appeared in the short-lived TV series Kindred: The Embraced.

He started an interest in crime-thrillers after starring in Payback and playing gangster Baby Face Nelson in a film of the same name. He went on to direct and star in the 1996 direct-to-video release, Pure Danger, featuring alongside Teri Ann Linn and prop comic, Carrot Top.


Howell returned to acting in the 2000s in films such as Asylum Days, the Gods and Generals prequel to Gettysburg, and The Hillside Strangler, in which he played serial killer Kenneth Bianchi.

In 2006, Howell starred in Hoboken Hollow. He also became a supporter of the production company The Asylum, which produced his straight-to-DVD films.[citation needed]

In 2005, he starred in H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, one of three 2005 adaptations of the novel The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Howell directed and starred in a straight-to-DVD sequel War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave in 2008.[10]

In 2005, he reunited with his Secret Admirer co-star Lori Loughlin, when he had a recurring role on her television show Summerland as Zac Efron's father. After War of the Worlds, he spent time directing straight to-DVD films.[citation needed]

Also in 2008, he directed and starred in The Day the Earth Stopped, a mockbuster intended to capitalize on The Day the Earth Stood Still.[11]

He appeared as a doctor in The Poseidon Adventure, an adaptation of the 1972 film of the same name. His father's first stunt co-ordination was for the original film,[12] albeit uncredited. He briefly hosted a show on KLSX later that year.[citation needed]


Howell appeared in the 2012 film The Amazing Spider-Man.[13]

Television work

After filming The Outsiders, Howell co-starred in his own television series, Two Marriages, which ended after four episodes, but letters of support got it back on air. He later expressed disappointment in the series,[14] but eventually found it more satisfying.

After Two Marriages, Howell made guest appearances in shows like Moonlighting and The Hitchhiker. In 2000, Howell played a doctor stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash in Amazon.

He initially turned down a guest role in ER after missing out on a role he wanted, but his wife signed him up after yet another offer. Following ER, he guest appeared in 24. He guest starred in five episodes of Criminal Minds on CBS as serial killer George Foyet (The Boston Reaper), a recurring villain based on the Zodiac Killer.[citation needed]

Howell played the role of Officer Bill 'Dewey' Dudek, a police officer recovering from alcoholism, in the L.A. police drama Southland.[citation needed] He appeared in Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4 and was promoted to a series regular for Season 5, which began in February 2013. The series was cancelled on May 10, 2013.[citation needed]

In 2011, he guest starred as an inmate on The Glades and in Torchwood: Miracle Day.[15]

Starting in 2015, Howell has had a recurring role as Dr. Daniel Stinger in the Freeform show Stitchers. In 2017, he had a recurring role as Ash Spenser, a retired Navy SEAL, in the CBS show SEAL Team.

In 2016 and 2018, Howell had a recurring guest-star role as Paul Belmont, a United States Navy Lieutenant Commander at Camp Pendleton, in Seasons 1 and 3 of Animal Kingdom.


Howell has worked with Francis Ford Coppola many times and in other areas of making motion pictures including writing, producing, and directing. In 1995, he wrote and directed Hourglass, in which he starred with Sofia Shinas. The following year, he helped produce The Big Fall and Pure Danger.[citation needed]

Howell did not write or direct another film until 2004. He and his father co-wrote the made-for-television film Hope Ranch, which Howell produced. Howell went on to write and produce Blind Injustice the next year. Two years later he produced The Stolen Moments of September.[citation needed]

Personal life

In the 1980s he dated actress Kyle Richards.[16] Howell married actress Rae Dawn Chong in 1989, whom he met while co-starring with her in the 1986 film Soul Man.[17] They divorced the following year in 1990.[18] Howell married his second wife Sylvie Anderson, in 1992.[19] Together, the couple had three children.[19] In 2016, Anderson filed for divorce.[19]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Tyler Credited as Tom Howell
1983 The Outsiders Ponyboy Curtis
1984 Tank Billy
1984 Grandview, U.S.A. Tim Pearson
1984 Red Dawn Robert Morris
1985 Secret Admirer Michael Ryan
1986 The Hitcher Jim Halsey
1986 Soul Man Mark Watson
1987 A Tiger's Tale Bubber Drums
1988 Young Toscanini Arturo Toscanini
1989 The Return of the Musketeers Raoul
1990 Far Out Man Himself
1990 Side Out Monoroe Clark
1990 Kid Kid
1992 Nickel & Dime Jack Stone
1992 Breaking the Rules Gene Michaels
1992 That Night Rick
1992 To Protect and Serve Egan
1993 Jailbait Sergeant Lee Teffler Direct-to-video
1993 Gettysburg Thomas Chamberlain
1993 Treacherous Micky Stewart
1994 Teresa's Tattoo Carl
1995 Payback Oscar Bonsetter
1995 Dangerous Indiscretion Jim
1995 Mad Dogs and Englishmen Mike
1995 Hourglass Michael Jardine Direct-to-video
1996 The Sweeper Mark Goddard Direct-to-video
1996 Baby Face Nelson Baby Face Nelson
1996 Pure Danger Johnie Dean Direct-to-video
1997 The Big Fall Blaise Rybeck Direct-to-video
1997 Laws of Deception Evan Marino
1997 Last Lives Aaron
1997 Sleeping Dogs Sanchez Boon
1997 Dilemma Thomas "Quin" Quinlan
1997 Matter of Trust Michael D'Angelo Also known as The Surgeon
1998 Shepherd Boris Dakota
1998 Charades Evan Also known as Felons
1998 Fatal Affair Malcolm "Mack" Maddox
1999 The Glass Jar Lanois
1999 Avalanche Jack
1999 Hitman's Run Tom Holly
1999 The Prince and the Surfer Dean Direct-to-video
1999 Enemy Action John Reed
2000 The Million Dollar Kid Valentino
2000 Hot Boyz Officer Roberts Direct-to-video
2000 The Crimson Code J.B. Gaines Also known as Red Team
2001 WillFull Nat Wolff
2001 XCU: Extreme Close Up Geoffrey Liddy
2001 Separate Ways Tom Milton
2001 Asylum Days Nathan Devine
2001 Askari Joss McKinley
2003 Net Games Adam Vance
2003 Gods and Generals Thomas Chamberlain
2003 The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting Jim Halsey Direct-to-video
2004 Hidalgo Preston Webb
2004 Nursie Zack
2004 The Hillside Strangler Kenneth Bianchi
2004 A Killer Within Addison Terrill
2005 The Lost Angel Kuratha
2005 Glass Trap Curtis Direct-to-video
2005 The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam Coach Fielding
2005 H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds George Herbert Direct-to-video
2006 Hoboken Hollow Clayton Connelly
2006 The Da Vinci Treasure Michael Archer Direct-to-video
2006 The Far Side of Jericho Little Jimmy Thorton
2007 The Haunting of Marsten Manor Captain Williams
2007 Fighting Words David Settles
2007 The Stolen Moments of September Sisner
2007 Dead Letters KC Also known as Cold Ones
2008 House of Fallen Thomas
2008 Big Game Cody "Sully" Sullivan
2008 War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave George Herbert Also director
2008 Toxic Joe Direct-to-video
2008 The Thirst: Blood War Jed
2008 The Day the Earth Stopped Josh Myron Also director
2008 Mutant Vampire Zombies from the Hood! David
2008 The Grind Luke
2009 The Jailhouse Seth Delray
2009 The Land That Time Forgot Frost Michaels Also director
2009 American Pie Presents: The Book of Love Alumnus Guy #2 Direct-to-video
2009 Secret at Arrow Lake Daniel
2009 Fuel Shane
2009 Camouflage Stanley
2010 Street Poet David
2010 The Terror Experiment Chief Grasso
2010 Flatline Teacher
2010 Cupid's Arrow Professor Grimes
2011 Restitution John Youngstown
2012 Wedding Day Russ
2012 Commander and Chief Shrub
2012 The Amazing Spider-Man Troy
2012 Chilly Christmas Patrick Cole Direct-to-video
2012 MoniKa Double
2012 Escape Paul Jordan
2013 Don't Pass Me By Jack
2013 The Devil's Dozen Tom
2013 Lost on Purpose Delbert Fergeson
2013 Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Eobard Thawne / Professor Zoom (voice) Direct-to-video
2013 Storm Rider Mitch
2014 Confessions of a Womanizer Tony
2014 Bigfoot Wars Zeke
2014 A Magic Christmas Jack Carter
2014 Borrowed Moments Jack
2015 Spirit Riders Keith
2015 Rivers 9 Sheriff Quentin
2015 Justice League: Gods and Monsters Dr. Will Magnus (voice) Direct-to-video
2015 Woodlawn Coach George "Shorty" White
2015 A Christmas Eve Miracle Jack Carter
2015 Magic Hour Tom Worthy
2015 Lazarus Rising Silent Cal
2016 Blood Lust Ryan
2016 Attack of the Killer Donuts Officer Roberts
2016 LBJ Walter Jenkins
2016 Sick People Dr. Sam Zimmerman
2017 The Shadow People Kaine
2017 Disconnected Robert Crawford
2017 A Question of Faith John Danielson
2018 Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay Eobard Thawne / Professor Zoom (voice) Direct-to-video
2018 Dirty Dealing 3D Carter
2018 The Rack Pack Ted
2018 Beast Mode Breen Nash
2018 My B.F.F. Ben Wilkens
2019 Dauntless: The Battle of Midway Cpt. Browning
2019 Rich Boy, Rich Girl Blake Completed


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Two Marriages Scott Morgan Episode: "Relativity"
1985/1986 Moonlighting Waiter, Postal Worker Episodes: "Lady in the Iron Mask" and "Yours, Very Deadly"
1989 Nightmare Classics Jenner Brading Episode: "The Eyes of the Panther"
1990 Curiosity Kills Cat Thomas Television film
1992 Tattle Tale Bernard Sprat Television film
1993 Acting on Impulse Paul Stevens Television film
1994 Natural Selection Ben Braden / Alex Connelly Television film
1995 Suspect Device Dan Jerico Television film
1996 Kindred: The Embraced Frank Kohanek 8 episodes
1997 Dead Fire Tucker Television film
1998 Sealed with a Kiss Detective Mick Cullen Television film
1998 The Outer Limits Captain Miles Davidlow Episode: "The Joining"
1998 V.I.P. Phil Sherman Episode: "Val Got Game"
1998 The Love Boat: The Next Wave John Episode: "Affairs to Remember"
1999 Dead Man's Gun Henry Hubble Episode: "The Phrenologist"
1999–2000 Amazon Dr. Alex Kennedy 22 episodes
2000 Twice in a Lifetime Tony Episode: "The Escaped Artist"
2000 Lawless: Dead Evidence Dean Riley Television film
2002 Son of the Beach Jason Dudikoff Episode: "In the Line of Booty"
2002 Night of the Wolf Sheriff Wade Messer Television film
2002 Killer Bees! Sheriff Lyndon Harris Television film
2004 The District Chris Gunner Episode: "On Guard"
2004 Zolar Hedion Television film
2004–2005 Summerland Kyle Bale 2 episodes
2005 Crimson Force Captain Baskin Television film
2005 Ordinary Miracles Jim Powell Television film
2005 The Poseidon Adventure Doctor Matthew Ballard Television film
2005 ER Vincent Janeson Episode: "The Human Shield"
2006 24 Barry Landes 2 episodes
2008 Celebracadabra Himself Contestant
2008 Xenophobia Stone Television film
2008 A Gunfighter's Pledge Horn Television film
2009, 2013, 2020 Criminal Minds George Foyet / The Boston Reaper 6 episodes
2009–2013 Southland Bill "Dewey" Dudek 27 episodes
2010 Psych Agent Camden Driggs Episode: "One, Maybe Two, Ways Out"
2011 The Glades Peyton Robinson Episode: "Second Skin"
2011 Torchwood: Miracle Day The Gentleman Episode: "Escape to L.A."
2011 CHAOS Carson Simms Episode: "Proof of Life"
2011 Camel Spiders Sheriff Beaumont Television film
2012 Alphas Eli Aquino Episode: "The Quick and the Dead"
2012 Revolution Bounty Hunter Episode: "Chained Heat"
2012 Castle John Campbell Episode: "Swan Song"
2012 Longmire Ray Stewart Episode: "A Damn Shame"
2012 Hawaii Five-0 Martin Cordova Episode: "Death Wish"
2012 Home Invasion Ray Television film
2013 Horror Haiku John Asher Episode: "I Know What You Know"
2013 Sons of Anarchy Agent Frank Eagan Episode: "One One Six"
2013 Blue Bloods Alex Polanski Episode: "Justice Served"
2013 An Amish Murder Nathan Detrick Television film
2013 Christmas Belle Rex Everhart Television film
2014 Grimm Agent Weston Steward 5 episodes
2014 Category 5 Charlie DuPuis Television film
2014–2015 Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce Nate 4 episodes
2015–2017 Stitchers Daniel Stinger 7 episodes
2015 Motive Joe Hillis Episode: "Reversal of Fortune"
2015 Stitchers Daniel Stinger 3 episodes
2015 Ties That Bind Mr. Witherspoon Episode: "Controlled Substance"
2015 Sleepy Hollow Agent Mick Granger Episode: "I, Witness"
2016, 2018 Animal Kingdom Paul Belmont 9 episodes
2016 Advance & Retreat Nathan Shapiro Television film
2017 Ray Donovan Dr. Brogan 4 episodes
2017 Outcast Simon Barnes 3 episodes
2017, 2019 SEAL Team Ash Spenser 3 episodes
2017 The Punisher Carson Wolf 3 episodes
2018 The Blacklist Earl Fagen 2 episodes
2018 MacGyver Vasil Episode: "Guts + Fuel + Hope"
2018 Dynasty Max Van Kirk 2 episodes
2018 The Good Cop Chuck Everett Episode: "Why Kill A Busboy?"
2018 The Walking Dead Hilltop Messenger Episode: "Stradivarius"
2019 Bosch Louis Degner 2 episodes
2019 The Terror Major Bowen (Season 2) 4 episodes
2021 Creepshow Samuel Spinster Episode: "Dead and Breakfast/Pesticide "

Video games

Year Title Role
2017 Injustice 2 Leonard Snart / Captain Cold
2018 Lego DC Super-Villains Eobard Thawne / Reverse-Flash


  1. ^ "C. Thomas Howell". AllMovie. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b aboutct Archived 2008-07-24 at the Wayback Machine.; retrieved 2011-12-03.
  3. ^ Schiavino, G.R. (21 January 2021). "From Ponyboy to Horseman: C. Thomas Howell". The Team Roping Journal. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  4. ^ Tommy Howell: I'm Just a Normal Kid! Archived 2012-07-22 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.
  5. ^ Marriage Archived 2012-07-22 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.
  6. ^ Cooking Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-12-03.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes: Soul Man (1986)".
  9. ^ Harris, Will. "C. Thomas Howell on The Outsiders, blackface, and how Marlboros got him cast in E.T." The Onion AV Club. The Onion AV Club. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  10. ^ "War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave". VG TV-guide (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  11. ^ "Commentary: Fox takes action against 'Day the Earth Stopped'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  12. ^ Interview for the Poseidon Adventure Remake,; retrieved 2011-12-03.
  13. ^ Franich, Darren (January 10, 2011). "'Spider-Man': C. Thomas Howell joins the reboot". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  14. ^ Two Marriages Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Torchwood: Miracle Day casting news Archived 2012-02-11 at the Wayback Machine. Den of Geek; retrieved 2011-12-03.
  16. ^ The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Season 9, Episode 1: "Lucy Lucy Apple Juicy". Bravo, 2019.
  17. ^,amp.html
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c