Clark Johnson
Clark Johnson.jpg
Born (1954-09-10) September 10, 1954 (age 68)
Other namesClark "Slappy" Jackson, Clarque Johnson, J. Clark Johnson
Occupation(s)Actor, director
Years active1981—present

Clark Johnson (born September 10, 1954),[1] is an American-Canadian actor and director who has worked in both television and film. He is best known for his roles as David Jefferson in Night Heat (1985–1988), Clark Roberts in E.N.G. (1989–1994), Meldrick Lewis in Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999) and Augustus Haynes in The Wire (2008).

Early years

Johnson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The family eventually moved to Canada.[2] He has three siblings[2] including jazz singer Molly Johnson and actress and singer Taborah Johnson.

Johnson attended Eastern Michigan University on a partial athletic scholarship for American football, but he was expelled after he was caught stealing food from the school cafeteria.[3] He attended several other universities including the University of Ottawa and Loyola College/Concordia University, where he played Canadian football, before ending up at the Ontario College of Art as a film major.[3] He was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the seventh round of the 1978 CFL Draft but ultimately did not play professionally.


Johnson started in film doing special effects, including David Cronenberg's The Dead Zone. This behind-the-scenes work often served as a "backup" for him during the early stages of his acting career.

He began performing in feature films in 1981, landing roles in the films Killing 'em Softly, Colors, Wild Thing, Adventures in Babysitting, and Nowhere to Hide. He also acted in a number of television shows early in his career, including The Littlest Hobo, Night Heat, Hot Shots and E.N.G. He starred in the first episode of The Women of Brewster Place in 1989 as Butch Fuller.

Homicide: Life on the Street

In 1993, Johnson became part of the original cast of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street playing Detective Meldrick Lewis for all seven seasons and the reunion movie, as well as directing several episodes. Johnson regularly improvised during filming and made up his own jokes and dialogue; writer and producer James Yoshimura called Clark the "king of the ad lib".[4] Although the ensemble nature of the show meant that Johnson never played a minor role, he became an even larger presence after his character was paired with a new partner, Mike Kellerman (played by Reed Diamond). The two detectives became the central figures in a plot line surrounding a Baltimore drug lord whose financial resources and front as a devoted community servant make it nearly impossible for the police department to charge him. Johnson made the transition to director with the season four episode "Map of the Heart".[5][6] He also directed "Betrayal",[7] "Valentine's Day",[8] "Full Court Press"[9] and "The Twenty Percent Solution".[10] David Simon, the author of the non-fiction book Homicide was based upon, as well as a writer and producer for the series, commented that the transition from actor to director was made easy by Johnson's familiarity with the show and that he was one of the better directors in terms of keeping the tone of the show consistent.[6] In 2013, Johnson made a brief cameo as Lewis in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Wonderland Story" when the squad are at a retirement party for John Munch (Richard Belzer).

The Wire

Johnson worked on The Wire, reuniting with writer David Simon. Johnson directed the pilot episode "The Target",[11][12] second episode,[13][14] fifth episode and the series finale. He plays Augustus Haynes, the dedicated and principled editor for The Baltimore Sun city desk.[15]

Alpha House

In 2013, Johnson starred as Sen. Robert Bettencourt (R-PA) in Amazon's Alpha House, a political comedy written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau.[16] Along with John Goodman, Johnson plays one of four Republican senators living together in a house on Capitol Hill. Johnson also directed the season finale for the show's first season.[17] Johnson spent the summer of 2014 filming season two.


Johnson's other directing credits include the big-screen releases The Sentinel (2006) and S.W.A.T. (2003), and episodes of Third Watch as well as the HBO original production Boycott (2001), a project which he helmed and in which he also acted. He also directed the first episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 of the 2005 mini-series Sleeper Cell. He also directed the first and last episodes of The Shield, along with other episodes of that series.

Johnson directed the pilot episode of the FX drama Lights Out. The series stars fellow The Wire cast members Pablo Schreiber and Reg E. Cathey and focuses on a retired heavyweight boxing champion.

Johnson is a guest instructor at HB Studio. [18]

Selected filmography




  1. ^ "Clark Johnson Biography".
  2. ^ a b Lee, Felicia R. (January 4, 2008). "Bittersweet Work of Wrapping 'Wire'". The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Miller, Denene (April 14, 1996). "Life Off The Street 'Homicide' Takes A Break But TV Cop Clark Johnson Is Far From Idle". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  4. ^ Yoshimura, James (November 4, 1998). Anatomy of "Homicide: Life on the Street" (Documentary). Baltimore, Maryland: Public Broadcasting Service.
  5. ^ Clark Johnson (director), James Yoshimura, Michael Whaley (writers) (April 26, 1996). "Map of the Heart". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 4. Episode 19. NBC.
  6. ^ a b David Simon (1998). Homicide: Life on the Street Season 4 interviews (DVD). NBC.
  7. ^ Clark Johnson (director), Tom Fontana, Julie Martin, Gay Walch (writers) (January 10, 1997). "Betrayal". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 5. Episode 12. NBC.
  8. ^ Clark Johnson (director), Tom Fontana (writer) (February 14, 1997). "Valentine's Day". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 5. Episode 16. NBC.
  9. ^ Clark Johnson (director), David Simon, Philip B. Epstein (writers) (April 3, 1998). "Full Court Press". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 6. Episode 18. NBC.
  10. ^ Clark Johnson (director), David Simon (writer) (October 30, 1998). "The Twenty Percent Solution". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 7. Episode 04. NBC.
  11. ^ "Episode guide – episode 01 The Target". HBO. 1996. Retrieved July 24, 2006.
  12. ^ David Simon, Ed Burns (directors) (June 2, 2002). "The Target". The Wire. Season 1. Episode 1. HBO.
  13. ^ "Episode guide – episode 02 The Detail". HBO. 2004. Retrieved July 26, 2006.
  14. ^ David Simon, Ed Burns (directors) (June 9, 2002). "The Detail". The Wire. Season 1. Episode 2. HBO.
  15. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (September 3, 2001). "Down to "The Wire": It's a Wrap for Gritty TV Series". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 3, 2007.
  16. ^ Goodman, Tim (November 14, 2013). "Alpha House: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  17. ^ Clark Johnson - IMDb
  18. ^ "HB Studio".