Smits at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival
July 9, 1955 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Known for||LA Law
LA Law: The Movie
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Smits (1981–1987)|
|Partner(s)||Wanda De Jesus (1986–present)|
Jimmy Smits (born July 9, 1955) is an American actor. Smits is perhaps best known for his roles as attorney Victor Sifuentes on the 1980s legal drama L.A. Law, as NYPD Detective Bobby Simone on the 1990s police drama NYPD Blue, and as Matt Santos on The West Wing. He is also notable for his portrayal of Bail Organa in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and Miguel Prado in Dexter.
Smits was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Cornelius Smits, is Surinamese while his mother, Emilina, is Puerto Rican. Smits identifies himself as Puerto Rican, and was raised in a strict devout Roman Catholic family. "Jimmy" is actually the name on his birth certificate, rather than "Jim" or "James". He has two sisters, Yvonne and Diana. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood and spent time in Puerto Rico during his childhood.  Smits earned a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College in 1980 and an MFA from Cornell University in 1982. Though born in New York, Smits has deep Puerto Rican roots and frequently visits the island. In 2001, he was arrested for his participation in protests against U.S. Navy bombing practices on the Puerto Rican offshore island of Vieques.
A notable early role played by Smits was that of Eddie Rivera in the series premiere of Miami Vice. In the episode, he was Sonny Crockett's original partner, only to be shortly killed off in a sting gone wrong. He played Victor Sifuentes in the first five seasons of the long-running legal drama L.A. Law.
One of Smits' most acclaimed roles was that of Detective Bobby Simone on NYPD Blue, which he starred in from 1994 to 1998. He was nominated numerous times for Emmys for his performance on that television series and won the ALMA award twice.
A new audience became aware of Smits for his appearance as Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, who appears in the film Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and becomes Princess Leia's adoptive father in the film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He reappears as Bail Organa in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Smits was to have hosted the 2001 Latin Grammy Awards broadcast on September 11, 2001, but it was called off because of the terrorist attacks that day. He instead hosted a non-televised press conference to announce the winners.
Smits played the role of Congressman Matt Santos of Houston, Texas in the final two seasons of the American television drama The West Wing, joining fellow L.A. Law alumnus John Spencer. Smits's character eventually ran for and won the US Presidency in the series.
For the third season of Dexter, Smits played the role of Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney who befriends Dexter. Smits was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for the role. Additionally, he portrayed the character, Alex Vega, in the CBS TV series Cane, which aired from September 25, 2007 to December 18, 2007 and was subsequently cancelled by the network due to the 2007 Screen Writer's Guild strike.
Smits joined the Sons of Anarchy cast in season 5 as Nero Padilla, a high-level pimp who refers to himself as a "companionator". He builds a relationship with Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal) and creates an alliance and mentorship with the central character Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam).
In the mid-1980s, Smits acted in numerous performances at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York. His roles at the Hangar included Max in the 1982 production of Cabaret and Paul in Loose Ends the same year. Smits has participated in the Public Theater's New York Shakespeare Festival, playing the role of Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night in 2002, and Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing in 2004. From November 2009 to February 2010, he appeared opposite Christine Lahti, Annie Potts and Ken Stott in the critically lauded Broadway play, God of Carnage, replacing Jeff Daniels. In December 2012 through March 2013, he appeared in Chicago in The Motherfucker with the Hat at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
Smits was married to Barbara Smits from 1981 until their divorce in 1987. They have two children, Taina (born in 1973) and Joaquin (born in 1983). Since 1986, Smits has been in a relationship with actress Wanda De Jesus; they live in Los Angeles. Smits helped found the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts to advance the presence of Latinos in the media, telecommunications and entertainment industries. Smits is also an advocate for diagnostic colorectal screening and has appeared in a public service commercial. Most recently, Smits filmed a PSA for Detroit Non-Profit Cass Community Social Services. Smits will act as the Honorary Chair of their 6th Annual "Catch the Fireworks With Cass" event that takes place during the notable fireworks display in Brooklyn.
Smits was arrested in 1987 for assaulting an officer after police answered a call for help at his home. He and his girlfriend were arrested for battery on three police officers who responded to the call. The charges were later dropped because of conflicting witness statements. Smits later pled guilty to the misdemeanor of disturbing the peace, receiving a sentence of 18 months of unsupervised probation and a $150 fine. Wanda DeJesus pled guilty to misidentifying herself to a police officer and disturbing the peace. She received a fine of $250, 18 months of unsupervised probation and 75 hours of community service.
Smits's main accomplishment in the private sector was his work with the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts in order to make Spanish artists and actors better known. The website for this organization is www.hispanicarts.org. However, Smits has also donated to several other organizations including the Red Cross, New York Cares, and Stand up to Cancer. In addition, he regularly donates to HIV and AIDS treatment and to help human rights around the world. He also donates for disaster relief whenever a big natural disaster occurs and he donates for the creative arts. His main work with Latinos is summarized by these two quotes, "I've been very lucky to work on a wide variety of projects, including two long-run and top-10 dramatic television shows. That is why it is so important to offer a helping hand to the next generation of young Latinos coming up behind me." and "I am a firm believer in education and have worked very hard to tell young Latinos that they must go to college and that, if possible, they should pursue an advanced degree. I am convinced that education is the great equalizer.�"
|1986||Running Scared||Julio Gonzales|
|1986||Rockabye||2nd Policeman||Television movie|
|1987||Hotshot||Stars Team Member|
|1987||The Believers||Tom Lopez|
|1987||The Highwayman||Bo Ziker||Television movie|
|1987||Stamp of a Killer||Richard Braden||Television movie|
|1988||Glitz||Vincent Marra||Television movie|
|1988||Mickey's 60th Birthday||Victor Sifuentes||Television movie|
|1989||Old Gringo||Gen. Tomas Arroyo|
|1990||Vital Signs||Dr. David Redding|
|1992||The Broken Cord||David Norwell||Television movie|
|1993||Gross Misconduct||Justin Thorne|
|1993||The Tommyknockers||Jim 'Gard' Gardner||Television movie|
|1994||The Cisco Kid||Cisco Kid||Television movie|
|1995||My Family||Jimmy Sanchez|
|1995||The Last Word||Actor (Martin)|
|1995||Solomon & Sheba||King Solomon||Television movie|
|1996||Marshal Law||Jack Coleman||Television movie|
|1997||Murder in Mind||Peter Walker|
|1997||Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special||Old King Cole||Television movie|
|2000||Adventures in Wild California||Narrator|
|2000||The Million Dollar Hotel||Geronimo|
|2000||Price of Glory||Arturo Ortega|
|2000||Bless the Child||Agent John Travis|
|2002||Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones||Senator Bail Organa|
|2005||Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith||Senator Bail Organa|
|2005||Lackawanna Blues||Ruben Santiago, Sr.||Television movie|
|2007||The Jane Austen Book Club||Daniel Avila|
|2009||Backyard||Mickey Santos||Also known as El Traspatio|
|2010||Mother and Child||Paco|
|1984||Miami Vice||Eddie Rivera||Episode: "Brother's Keeper"|
|1986–1992||L.A. Law||Victor Sifuentes||107 episodes|
|1986||Spenser: For Hire||Hector Valdes||Episode: "In a Safe Place"|
|1989||Pee-wee's Playhouse||Johnny Wilson||Episode: "Conky's Breakdown"|
|1990||Cop Rock||Victor Sifuentes (uncredited)||Episode: "Potts Don't Fail Me Now"|
|1994–2004||NYPD Blue||Det. Bobby Simone||90 episodes|
|1995||Happily Ever After||Old King Cole||Episode: "Mother Goose"|
|1997||Happily Ever After||Price Felipe||Episode: "Cinderella"|
|2004–2006||The West Wing||Matt Santos||37 episodes|
|2007||Cane||Alex Vega||13 episodes|
|2008||Dexter||Miguel Prado||12 episodes|
|2010||Outlaw||Cyrus Garza||8 episodes|
|2012–present||Sons of Anarchy||Neron 'Nero' Padilla||25 episodes|
Awards and nominations
- Taking Charge Through Education, by Jimmy Smits
- Crawford, Franklin (December 10, 1998). "Away for 16 years, Jimmy Smits is still a big man on campus". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved August 12, 2010. "The oldest of three children born to a devout Catholic family,..."
- Hernandez, Lee (July 9, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: Jimmy Smits on Playing Outlaws: "There Might Be An Ethnicity Thing to It"". Latina. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- "In Step With: Jimmy Smits". Parade Magazine. January 2, 2005.
- Jimmy Smits – Redbook
- Gale – Free Resources – Hispanic Heritage – Biographies – Jimmy Smits
- Consuelo Lopez Springfield (August 6, 2001). "Navy Must Heed Puerto Ricans: Stop The Bombing". The Puerto Rico Herald. Retrieved December 11, 2006.
- "Jimmy Smits Joins Dexter. Couldn't You Just Die?". TV Guide. June 5, 2008.
- Bill Keveney (1 October 2012). "On 'Sons of Anarchy,' new faces and new fears". USA Today. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- "Mission Statement". HispanicArts.org.
- Frederick M. Muir, Los Angeles Times, 'L.A. Law' Star Smits Arrested in Alleged Attack on 3 Officers, August 12, 1987
- Associated Press, 'L.A. Law' Star Jimmy Smits Pleads No Contest, November 25, 1987
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jimmy Smits.|
- Jimmy Smits at the Internet Movie Database
- Jimmy Smits at the TCM Movie Database
- Jimmy Smits at AllMovie