Clark Johnson

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Clark Johnson
Clark Johnson.jpg
Clark Johnson in Karlovy Vary, 2009
Born (1954-09-10) September 10, 1954 (age 59)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1983—present

Clark Johnson (born September 10, 1954),[1] sometimes credited as Clark "Slappy" Jackson, Clarque Johnson, and J. Clark Johnson, is an American actor and director who has worked in both television and film.

Early years[edit]

Johnson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The family eventually moved to Canada.[2] He attended Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. 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 football, but he was expelled after he was caught stealing turkey frankfurters from the school cafeteria.[3] He attended several other universities including Loyola and the University of Ottawa before ending up at the Ontario College of Art as a film major.[3]

Career[edit]

Johnson was drafted by the Canadian Football League, and even played short stints with the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers before he decided he had "better try and get some sort of job."

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 movies 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.

Homicide: Life on the Street[edit]

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] Though the ensemble nature of the show meant that Johnson always filled an important role in the series, 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 made it nearly impossible for the police department to bring him up on charges. 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[edit]

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 series finale. He appeared as Gus Haynes, the fictional, principled city desk editor of the Baltimore Sun in the fifth and final season.[15]

Directing[edit]

Johnson's other directing credits include the big-screen releases The Sentinel (2006) and S.W.A.T. (2003), and episodes of Third Watch and The Shield 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.

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

Selected filmography[edit]

Actor[edit]

Director[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clark Johnson Biography (1954— )
  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 (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 (January 10, 1997). "Betrayal". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 5. Episode 12. NBC.
  8. ^ Clark Johnson (February 14, 1997). "Valentine's Day". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 5. Episode 16. NBC.
  9. ^ Clark Johnson (April 3, 1998). "Full Court Press". Homicide: Life on the Street. Season 6. Episode 18. NBC.
  10. ^ Clark Johnson (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 (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 (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". Washington Post. Retrieved September 3, 2007. 

External links[edit]