Jeffrey Wright
Jeffrey Wright by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Wright in 2019
Born (1965-12-07) December 7, 1965 (age 56)
EducationAmherst College (BA)
New York University
OccupationActor
Years active1990–present
Spouse
(m. 2000; div. 2014)
Children2

Jeffrey Wright (born December 7, 1965) is an American actor. He is well known for his role as Belize in the Broadway production of Angels in America, for which he would win a Tony Award, and its HBO miniseries adaptation, for which he would win an Emmy and Golden Globe.

He has also starred as Jean-Michel Basquiat in Basquiat; Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and No Time to Die; Valentin Narcisse in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire; Beetee Latier in The Hunger Games films; Isaac Dixon in the video game The Last Of Us Part II; and the Watcher in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) animated series What If...? Since 2016, he has starred as Bernard Lowe in the HBO series Westworld. He portrayed James Gordon in the superhero film The Batman (2022) by Matt Reeves.

Early life

Wright was born on December 7, 1965 in Washington, D.C., the son of Barbara Evon (Whiting), a customs lawyer, and James Charles Wright, Jr., who died when he was a child.[1][2] He graduated from St. Albans School and attended Amherst College, receiving a bachelor's degree in political science, planning to attend law school, but chose instead to study acting. After attending the MFA acting program at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts for two months in 1988, he left to appear in Les Blancs at Arena Stage before transferring with it to the Huntington Theatre Company and deciding to be an actor full-time.[3][4]

Career

Film, television, and theater

Wright began appearing off-Broadway in New York City and Washington DC. In 1990 he appeared in his first major film as an attorney in Presumed Innocent, starring Harrison Ford. In 1991, he joined John Houseman's national touring repertory company The Acting Company in productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Athol Fugard's Blood Knot. In 1993 and 1994, he appeared as Norman "Belize" Arriaga in Tony Kushner's award-winning play Angels in America. His portrayal of a gay nurse forced to take care of Roy Cohn as he dies of AIDS won him the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

In 1996, Wright portrayed painter Jean-Michel Basquiat in the film Basquiat, to critical acclaim. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he appeared in leading and supporting roles in such films as Celebrity (1998), Ride with the Devil (1999), Shaft (2000), and Boycott (2001), where he gave an AFI Award-winning performance as Martin Luther King Jr. In 2003, he reprised his role as Norman "Belize" Arriaga in HBO's award-winning adaptation of Angels in America, garnering him an Emmy award and a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries. In 2004, he appeared in Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate. In February 2005, he returned to HBO Films in Lackawanna Blues, and guest-starred on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Homicide: Life on the Street.

In 2005, he played Washington attorney Bennett Holiday in Syriana and Bill Murray's eccentric Ethiopian neighbor Winston in Broken Flowers, starred in the play This Is How It Goes, and appeared as one of the tenants in Lady in the Water. In 2006, he appeared as Felix Leiter in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. He reprised the role in Quantum of Solace and No Time to Die.[5]

Wright at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28, 2007
Wright at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28, 2007

In 2007, Wright starred in the alien invasion suspense thriller The Invasion. In 2008, he portrayed Colin Powell in W. He portrayed Muddy Waters in Cadillac Records, a biopic, loosely based on the rise and fall of Chess Records. In 2010, Wright played Jacques Cornet in the world premiere run of A Free Man of Color at the Vivian Beaumont Theater of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City.

Wright plays Beetee in The Hunger Games film series, starting with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, released in November 2013. He also landed the role of Dr. Valentin Narcisse in season 4 of Boardwalk Empire, starting in the fall of 2013.[6] Wright was nominated for three Emmys for his performance as Bernard Lowe in HBO's Westworld.[7]

In March 2017, Wright appeared in a commercial for Dell Technologies.[8]

In 2018, Wright produced the HBO documentary We Are Not Done Yet, which gives voice to war veterans who, through a USO-sponsored arts workshop at Walter Reed National Military Hospital, discover the power and healing of shared experience to unite and find resilience in the face of post-traumatic stress.[9] That same year, Wright starred in HBO's O.G., a film about a man confronting his past crime and preparing to leave prison after decades behind bars.[10] The film was directed by Madeleine Sackler, and was uniquely filmed entirely in Pendleton Correctional Facility near Indianapolis, Indiana.[11] The film was not only shot in a working prison, many prisoners and staff were recruited as actors for the film, including Wright's co-star, Theotus Carter, who plays Beecher, a younger prisoner that Louis, (Wright's character) takes under his wing, which threatens Louis' release date.[12] During shooting Wright was sometimes mistaken for a prisoner by other real prisoners and guards. The film debuted on HBO on February 25, 2019.[13] Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker said, "The performances are exceptionally strong, both by the free-to-leave professional actors (especially Jeffrey Wright, who plays Louis, the 'O.G.' of the title, an older inmate on the verge of release) and by the incarcerated neophytes."[14] Ben Kenigsberg of the New York Times said, "Jeffrey Wright gives a rich, imposing performance as the former 'mayor' of Pendleton Correctional Facility."[15]

Wright starred in the video game The Last of Us Part II as Isaac, the leader of the Washington Liberation Front. The game was released on June 19, 2020.[16]

In 2021, Wright portrayed food writer Roebuck Wright in the film The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson.

Wright voices the Watcher in the Disney+ animated series What If...?, which is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).[17]

Charity and business ventures

Wright is chairman and co-founder of Taia, LLC and Taia Peace Foundation and Vice Chairman of Taia Lion Resources, Inc,[18][19] a gold-exploration company looking to create a conflict-free gold mining operation in Sierra Leone.[20][21][22]

Personal life

Wright married actress Carmen Ejogo in August 2000. They have a son named Elijah and a daughter named Juno and lived in Brooklyn, New York.[23][24][25][26] They have since divorced.[27]

In 2004, Wright received an honorary degree from his alma mater, Amherst College.[28]

Filmography

Film

Key
Not yet released Denotes works that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
1990 Presumed Innocent Prosecuting Attorney
1992 Jumpin' at the Boneyard Derek
1996 Faithful Young Man
Basquiat Jean-Michel Basquiat
1997 Critical Care Bed Two
1998 Too Tired to Die Balzac Man
Celebrity Greg
Meschugge Win
Blossoms and Veils Ben
1999 Cement Ninny
Ride with the Devil Daniel Holt
2000 Hamlet Gravedigger
Crime and Punishment in Suburbia Chris
Shaft Peoples Hernandez
2001 Ali Howard Bingham
2002 D-Tox Jaworski
2004 Sin's Kitchen Rex
The Manchurian Candidate Al Melvin
2005 Broken Flowers Winston
Syriana Bennett Holiday
2006 Lady in the Water Mr. Dury
Casino Royale Felix Leiter
2007 The Invasion Dr. Stephen Galeano
Blackout Nelson Also producer
2008 W. Colin Powell
Quantum of Solace Felix Leiter
Cadillac Records Muddy Waters
2009 One Blood Dan Clark Also producer
2011 Source Code Dr. Rutledge
The Ides of March Senator Thompson
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close William Black
2013 Broken City Carl Fairbanks
A Single Shot Simon
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Beetee
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete Henry
2014 Ernest & Celestine Grizzly Judge (voice) English dub
Only Lovers Left Alive Dr. Watson
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Beetee
2015 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
The Good Dinosaur Poppa Henry (voice)
2018 Monster Mr. Harmon
The Public Mr. Anderson
Game Night FBI Agent Ron Henderson Uncredited[29]
Age Out Detective Portnoy
O.G. Louis
Hold the Dark Russell Core
2019 The Laundromat Malchus Irvin Boncamper
The Goldfinch James "Hobie" Hobart
Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook Narrator
2020 All Day and a Night J.D.
2021 The French Dispatch Roebuck Wright
No Time to Die Felix Leiter
2022 The Batman James Gordon
TBA Asteroid City Not yet released Post-production
Rustin Not yet released Post-production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1991 Separate but Equal William Coleman Television movie
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Sidney Bechet 2 episodes
1994 New York Undercover Andre Foreman Episode: "Garbage"
1997 Homicide: Life on the Street Hal Wilson 3 episodes
2001 Boycott Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Television movie
2003 Angels in America Norman "Belize" Arriaga / Mr. Lies /
Homeless Man / The Angel Europa
6 episodes
2005 Lackawanna Blues Mr. Paul Television movie
2007 American Experience Narrator Episode: "New Orleans"
2012 House Dr. Walter Cofield Episode: "Nobody's Fault"
2013–14 Boardwalk Empire Valentin Narcisse 11 episodes
2016 The Venture Brothers Think Tank (voice) Episode: "Tanks for Nuthin"
Confirmation Charles Ogletree Television movie
BoJack Horseman Cuddlywhiskers / Father (voice) 3 episodes
2016–2022 Westworld Bernard Lowe / Arnold Weber Main role
2017 She's Gotta Have It Purple "ITIS" Voice (voice) Episode: "#NolasChoice (3 DA HARD WAY)"
2019 Sesame Street Bernard Lowe Segment: "Respect World"
Green Eggs and Ham McWinkle (voice) 13 episodes
Rick and Morty Tony (voice) Episode: "The Old Man and the Seat"
2020 Finding Your Roots Himself Episode: "This Land is My Land"[30]
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Narrator Episode dated 28 August 2020
2021 What If...? The Watcher (voice) 9 episodes[31]
2022 Ark: The Animated Series Henry Townsend (voice) [32]

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2020 The Last of Us Part II Isaac Dixon (voice) Also motion capture

Audio

Year Title Role Author Production company Notes
2021 The Sandman: Act II Destiny Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs Audible [33]
2021 Batman: The Audio Adventures Batman/Bruce Wayne Dennis McNicholas Blue Ribbon Content

Awards

Year Award Category Work Result
2002 AFI Awards AFI Actor of the Year – Male – Movie or Mini-Series Boycott Won
2005 Black Movie Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Syriana Nominated
2002 Black Reel Awards Network/Cable – Best Actor Boycott Nominated
2004 Television: Best Supporting Actor Angels in America Won
2005 Best Supporting Actor The Manchurian Candidate Nominated
2006 Best Supporting Actor – Television Lackawanna Blues Won
Best Supporting Actor Syriana Nominated
2008 Cadillac Records Won
Best Ensemble Won
2016 Outstanding Voice Performance The Good Dinosaur Nominated
2017 Outstanding Supporting Actor – Drama Westworld Nominated
2018 Outstanding Actor – Drama Westworld Nominated
2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Acting Ensemble The Ides of March Nominated
2007 Chicago International Film Festival Career Achievement Award Won
2004 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Angels in America Won
1997 Independent Spirit Awards Best Debut Performance Basquiat Nominated
2006 Best Supporting Male Broken Flowers Nominated
2002 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Boycott Nominated
2006 Lackawanna Blues Nominated
2009 Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Cadillac Records Nominated
2012 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture The Ides of March Nominated
2022 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance What If...? Nominated
2004 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Angels in America Won
2017 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Westworld Nominated
2018 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2020 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2005 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Supporting Actor Broken Flowers Won
2002 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Boycott Nominated
2004 Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film Angels in America Nominated
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Angels in America Nominated
2017 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Westworld Nominated
1994 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play Angels in America: Perestroika Won
2002 Best Actor in a Play Topdog/Underdog Nominated
2000 Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Performance, Male Shaft (tied with Tobey Maguire for Wonder Boys) Won
2017 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on a Television Series Westworld Nominated
2019 Best Actor on a Television Series Nominated

References

  1. ^ . "Jeffrey Wright". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2013. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  2. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, January 14, 2020
  3. ^ Richards, David (February 12, 1988). "Barren 'Blancs'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  4. ^ Horwitz, Simi (November 22, 2010). "Jeffrey Wright Preens in 19th Century New Orleans". Reuters. Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Meza, Ed; Siegel, Tatiana (January 2, 2008). "'Bell' man takes on Bond". Variety. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
  6. ^ Moaba, Alex (March 6, 2013). "Jeffrey Wright Joins 'Boardwalk Empire' And More Casting News". HuffPost.
  7. ^ "Jeffrey Wright". Television Academy.
  8. ^ Matyszczyk, Chris (March 26, 2017). "Is Dell claiming it's better than all that Apple magic?". CNET.
  9. ^ Simkins, J. D. (November 15, 2018). "New HBO documentary puts a much-needed face to complex veteran struggles with PTSD". Military Times. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  10. ^ "I'm in Prison—And on HBO". The Marshall Project. March 1, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Travers, Ben (February 23, 2019). "'O.G.' Review: Jeffrey Wright Awes in a Meditative HBO Film Shot in a Working Prison". IndieWire. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Smith, Jamil (February 22, 2019). "Inside Man: 'O.G.' Star Jeffrey Wright on Life Behind Bars". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  13. ^ Travers, Ben (February 28, 2019). "Jeffrey Wright Made 'O.G.' in a Working Prison to Show the Thin Line Between Us and Them". IndieWire. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Paumgarten, Nick. "The Première of "O.G.," the Film Made Inside an Indiana Prison". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  15. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (April 17, 2018). "17 Movies to Enjoy for the Tribeca Film Festival's 17th Edition". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  16. ^ Hawkins, Josh (June 22, 2020). "The Last of Us Part 2 voice actors and cast". Shacknews.
  17. ^ Welk, Brian (July 20, 2019). "Jeffrey Wright to Play The Watcher in Marvel's 'What If...?' Animated Series". TheWrap. Retrieved October 27, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "About Us". www.taiapeace.org. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  19. ^ "Jeffrey Wright". Oslo Freedom Forum. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  20. ^ Bergner, Daniel (January 16, 2014). "Jeffrey Wright's Gold Mine". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  21. ^ Shaffer, Claire (May 4, 2020). "'The First Time': Jeffrey Wright". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  22. ^ "Mining in Africa for the 21st Century". Human Rights Foundation. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  23. ^ "Jeffrey Wright Biography (1965?–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  24. ^ "Carmen Ejogo: 'There's some kind of trauma at play'", The Independent, 4 September 2009 (retrieved 2 July 2015).
  25. ^ "Carmen, Elijah & Juno Wright" alittlemuse.com, 7 September 2011 (retrieved 2 July 2015).
  26. ^ "Actor Jeffrey Wright and family". bck online. August 31, 2009. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  27. ^ Zahed, Ramin; "'Selma' allows Carmen Ejogo to play Coretta Scott King a second time", LATimes.com, 18 December 2014 (retrieved 26 December 2014).
  28. ^ Amherst Magazine Summer 2004: College Row Archived 2011-10-04 at the Wayback Machine Amherst Magazine, Summer 2004
  29. ^ Bramesco, Charles (September 27, 2018). "Jeffrey Wright on Hold the Dark: 'I Was Worn Out, Physically and Mentally'". Vulture. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  30. ^ "Finding Your Roots: Meet Our Guests – Jeffrey Wright". PBS. Retrieved October 27, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ Mancuso, Vinnie (July 20, 2019). "Marvel's 'What If?' Announces Massive Voice Cast of MCU Stars & Jeffrey Wright as The Watcher". Collider. Archived from the original on July 21, 2019. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  32. ^ Del Rosario, Alexandra (December 11, 2020). "'Ark: The Animated Series': Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh & Elliot Page Among Voice Cast Members In New Video Game-Inspired Show". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. ^ Spangler, Todd (July 22, 2021). "'The Sandman: Act II' on Audible Premiere Date Set, James McAvoy Returns to Lead Star-Studded Cast". Variety. Retrieved October 27, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
Preceded byDavid Hedison Felix Leiter actor 2006 – 2021 Incumbent Preceded byBen McKenzie Commissioner Gordon actor 2021 – present