Clarke Peters, August 2010
April 7, 1952
New York City
|Occupation||Actor and singer|
Clarke Peters (born April 7, 1952) is an American actor, singer, writer and director best known for his roles as detective Lester Freamon and Albert "Big Chief" Lambreaux, on the HBO dramas The Wire and Treme, respectively.
Peters was born Peter Clarke, as the second of four sons, in New York City, and grew up in Englewood, New Jersey. At the age of 12, he had his first theater experience, in a school production of My Fair Lady. He began to have serious ambitions to work in the theater at the age of 14. He graduated from Dwight Morrow High School in 1970.
Shortly before he left the United States, he was arrested for obstructing police lines after an anti-Vietnam war demonstration, but was cleared. He later said of this experience: "It made me more angry than anything else, because what I experienced was how impotent you could be as an American citizen."
In 1971, Peters' elder brother enabled him to work as a costume designer for a production of the musical Hair in Paris, in which he later starred. While there, he received a letter from the FBI that accused him of draft evasion. When he went to New Jersey to contest his charge, he said "if the enemy comes to America, I'll be there, but I don't know the Vietnamese. If you put me in the army, I'm not going there."
In 1973, he moved to London, and changed his name to Clarke Peters due to Equity rules. While in London, he formed a soul band, The Majestics, and worked as a backup singer on such hits as "Love and Affection" by Joan Armatrading, "Boogie Nights" by Heatwave, and some David Essex songs. However, music was not Peters' main ambition, and he preferred to work in the theater.
His first West End theatre musical roles, which he received with assistance from his friend Ned Sherrin, were I Gotta Shoe (1976) and Bubbling Brown Sugar (1977). Other West End credits include Blues in the Night, Porgy and Bess, The Witches of Eastwick, Chicago, and Chess. In 1981, Peters starred in the Sean Connery space western Outland as the treacherous Sgt. Ballard.
After writing several revues with Sherrin, In 1990 Peters wrote the revue Five Guys Named Moe, which received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical. He followed this up with Unforgettable, a musical about Nat King Cole, which received "shocking" reviews. He starred in the 2010 UK production of Five Guys Named Moe.
As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh (1999), which won him the Theatre World Award, and as shady lawyer Billy Flynn in the revival of Chicago in 2000 and 2003. In regional theatre he has appeared in Driving Miss Daisy, The Wiz, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Carmen Jones, and The Amen Corner.
Peters is familiar to television viewers as Detective Lester Freamon in the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire. Peters also starred in the HBO mini series The Corner, portraying a drug addict named Fat Curt, as well as the FX series Damages as Dave Pell. Both The Wire and The Corner were created by writer and former Baltimore Sun journalist David Simon. Peters also stars in Simon's HBO series Treme, in the role of Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux. Other screen credits include Notting Hill, K-Pax, Mona Lisa, Freedomland, Nativity! and Marley & Me.
He also appeared in the UK show Holby City, appearing as Derek Newman, the father of nurse Donna Jackson. He voiced a part in the Doctor Who animated episode Dreamland. And in the In Plain Sight episode Duplicate Bridge as a man in Witness Protection named Norman Baker/Norman Danzer. He played Nelson Mandela in the 2009 film, Endgame, and Bishop Enoch in Spike Lee's 2012 film, Red Hook Summer. In 2010, he read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption for BBC 7. In that year, he also had a guest appearance as Professor Mark Ramsay in the pilot episode of the USA Network TV Series Covert Affairs.
Since 2012, Clarke Peters has a recurring role as Alonzo D. Quinn in the CBS TV series Person of Interest.
Peters splits his time between a house in the Charles Village section of Baltimore, which he bought in 2006 while working on The Wire, and one in London, where his wife Penny and third son Max live. Max played the young Michael Jackson in the West End production of the musical Thriller – Live. An earlier relationship produced two sons: Joe Jacobs, an actor, and Guppy, who died of a kidney tumor at the age of four in 1992.
- "Clarke Peters: From The Wire to Nelson Mandela". The Independent. April 30, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- Hattenstone, Simon (August 8, 2010). "Clarke Peters: Razzle dazzler". The Guardian. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- Walker, Dave (June 5, 2011). "For local 'Treme' viewers, Clarke Peters brings Big Chief Albert Lambreaux to life". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- Clarke Peters at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
- "Audiobook Reviews: Telegraph Avenue", Audiofile. Retrieved on 15 September 2012.
- "The Wire podcasts: Clarke Peters". The Mark Steiner Show. March 7, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Egner, Jeremy (July 27, 2012). "Clarke Peters in ‘Red Hook Summer,’ Directed by Spike Lee". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Lewis, John (November 2012). "Academy Reward". Baltimore. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- Rich, Frank (April 9, 1992). "From London, a Celebration Of Louis Jordan and His Music". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "Did Jesus study yoga in the East? Me and My God, Clarke Peters talks to John Morrish". The Sunday Telegraph. 1997-04-20. "He encountered the Brahma Kumaris a couple of years later ... found what [he] was looking for."