Jeffrey Wright (actor)

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Jeffrey Wright
Jeffrey Wright by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Wright in July 2013.
Born (1965-12-07) December 7, 1965 (age 48)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1990–present
Spouse(s) Carmen Ejogo
(m. 2000–present;2 children)

Jeffrey Wright (born December 7, 1965) is an American film, television and stage actor. He is known for such roles as Belize in the HBO miniseries Angels in America, Muddy Waters in Cadillac Records, Jean-Michel Basquiat in Basquiat, Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Valentin Narcisse in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, and Beetee in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Early life[edit]

Wright was born in Washington, D.C., to a mother who worked as a customs lawyer and a father who died when Wright was a child.[1] He graduated from St Albans School and attended Amherst College, receiving a bachelor's degree in political science and planning to attend law school; however, he decided to study acting instead. After attending New York University for two months, he left to become a full-time actor.[2]

Career[edit]

Wright began appearing off-Broadway in New York City and Washington DC, and in 1990, he appeared in his first major film as an attorney in Presumed Innocent, which starred Harrison Ford. In 1991, Wright joined John Houseman's national touring repertory company The Acting Company with productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Athol Fugard's Blood Knot. In 1994, he was cast 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, Wright appeared in both 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, Wright reprised his role as Norman "Belize" Arriaga in HBO's award-winning adaptation of Angels in America. His performance garnered him an Emmy award as well as 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, Wright returned to HBO Films in Lackawanna Blues. He also guest starred on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Homicide: Life on the Street.

Among his other film roles was Washington attorney Bennett Holiday in Syriana (2005). The same year, he played Bill Murray's eccentric Ethiopian neighbor Winston in Broken Flowers. In 2005, he starred in the play This Is How It Goes. He also appeared as one of the tenants in Lady in the Water. In 2006, Wright was featured as Felix Leiter in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. He reprised the role in Quantum of Solace.[3]

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 about 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.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Wright married actress Carmen Ejogo in August 2000. They have a son named Elijah and a daughter named TK and live in Brooklyn, New York.[5] In 2004, Wright received an honorary degree from his alma mater, Amherst College.[6]

Wright has been a longtime activist working to end resource-related conflicts. In 2011, Wright established Taia Lion Resources, a mineral exploration company focused on ethical and sustainable mining in Sierra Leone.[7] In August 2012, Wright's conflict-free mining philosophy was highlighted in a video by the Enough Project.[8]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

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 Producer
2008 W. Colin Powell
Quantum of Solace Felix Leiter
Cadillac Records Muddy Waters
2009 One Blood Dan Clark Producer
2011 Source Code Dr. Rutledge
The Ides of March Senator Thompson
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close William Black
2013 Broken City Carl Fairbanks
A Single Shot Simon
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Beetee
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete Henry
2014 Ernest & Celestine Grizzly Judge's voice
Only Lovers Left Alive Dr. Watson
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Beetee Post-production
2015 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Beetee Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1991 Separate But Equal William Coleman
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Sidney Bechet 2 episodes
1994 New York Undercover Andre Foreman 1 episode
1997 Homicide: Life on the Street Hal Wilson 3 episodes
2001 Boycott Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
2003 Angels in America Belize
2005 Lackawanna Blues Mr. Paul
2007 American Experience Narrator 1 episode
2008 Independent Lens Bobby Seale 1 episode
2011 House Dr. Walter Cofield Season 8, Episode 11: "Nobody's Fault"
2013 Boardwalk Empire Dr. Valentin Narcisse Season 4

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2002 AFI Awards AFI Actor of the Year – Male – Movie or Mini-Series Boycott Won
2002 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 Best Supporting Actor Cadillac Records Won
Best Ensemble Won
2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Acting Ensemble The Ides of March Nominated
2007 Chicago International Film Festival Career Achievement Award Won
2004 Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Angels in America Won
2004 Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Angels in America Won
2002 Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Boycott Nominated
2006 Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special 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
1997 Independent Spirit Awards Best Debut Performance Basquiat Nominated
2006 Best Supporting Male Broken Flowers 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
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

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jeffrey Wright". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Jeffrey Wright – About This Person – Movies & TV – NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  3. ^ Meza, Ed; Siegel, Tatiana (January 2, 2008). "'Bell' man takes on Bond". Variety. Retrieved January 2, 2008. 
  4. ^ Moaba, Alex (March 6, 2013). "Jeffrey Wright Joins 'Boardwalk Empire'". Huffington Post. 
  5. ^ "Jeffrey Wright Biography (1965?–)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  6. ^ Amherst Magazine Summer 2004: College Row Amherst Magazine, Summer 2004
  7. ^ Wright, Jeffrey (2012-08-16). "Creating Conflict-Free Companies for the 21st Century". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 
  8. ^ ""Jeffrey Wright: Conflict-Free Philosophy" August 14, 2012". Enoughproject.org. 2012-08-14. Retrieved 2013-01-02. 

External links[edit]