Frankie Faison

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Frankie Faison
Faison in 2016
Frankie Russel Faison

(1949-06-10) June 10, 1949 (age 74)
EducationIllinois Wesleyan University (BA)
New York University (MFA)
Years active1974–present
SpouseSamantha Jupiter Faison[1]

Frankie Russel Faison (born June 10, 1949) is an American actor known for his role as Deputy Commissioner, and, later, Commissioner, Ervin Burrell in the HBO series The Wire,[2] as Barney Matthews in the Hannibal Lecter franchise, and as Sugar Bates in the Cinemax series Banshee.

Early life and education[edit]

Faison was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Carmena (née Gantt) and Edgar Faison.[3] He studied drama at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, where he joined Theta Chi fraternity. He went on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1974.[4] Frankie has been married to Samantha Jupiter Faison since 2017.[5]


Faison started his acting career in 1974 in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear, with James Earl Jones in the title role. Faison later appeared opposite Jones in the Broadway premiere of Fences, for which he received a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Faison's next role came in TV, in the short-lived series Hot Hero Sandwich in 1979. Faison did not make it to the big screen until 1980, when he appeared in Permanent Vacation as "Man in Lobby". A string of small roles followed until 1986, when he played the part of Lt. Fisk in Manhunter. Also that year, he appeared in the comedy The Money Pit, as an unruly construction worker, and in the Stephen King film Maximum Overdrive. In 1988, he appeared alongside Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones in Coming to America in the role of a landlord, and won a minor role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. Faison also appeared in 1996's The Rich Man's Wife as Detective Ron Lewis. He also appeared in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair as Detective Paretti. Faison is notable for being the most frequent actor to appear in adaptations of Thomas Harris' Hannibal books: along with Manhunter, he also appeared as Lecter's jailer Barney in The Silence of the Lambs, the sequel Hannibal, and the prequel Red Dragon.

During the 1990–1991 season, he starred in the Fox situation comedy True Colors with Stephanie Faracy and Nancy Walker about an interracial couple. He was replaced by Cleavon Little for the second season of the program. In 1991, Faison again appeared alongside Hopkins in the film Freejack, which also starred Mick Jagger and Maximum Overdrive co-star Emilio Estevez. In 1998, he was a regular on the science-fiction TV show Prey. In 1992, he played the patriarch Bailey in the Cheryl West play Before It Hits Home. In the 2003 film Gods and Generals, Faison played the role of Jim Lewis, a freed slave, who shares his religious faith and optimism with CSA General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson as the general's personal cook. In 2004, he starred as JoJo Anderson in The Cookout and appeared in White Chicks. Faison had a starring role as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell on the HBO drama The Wire.

Faison appeared in Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, a movie about a single mom who takes her family to Georgia for the funeral of her father—a man she never met. There, her clan is introduced to the crass, fun-loving Brown family. Faison played the role of Brown and Vera's brother, L.B. Brown. In 2009, he was in the ensemble cast of John Krasinski's adaptation of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men playing the son of a toilet attendant who caustically recounts his father's experiences in one of the titular monologues.

Faison played Richard Evans on One Life to Live from 2009 through 2012.

He appeared in episodes of Blue Bloods, which also stars Tom Selleck, as an assistant police commissioner. His main film role in this period was as Harlan in the film Adam. He also appeared in a third-season episode of Lie to Me.

Faison played the role of Sugar Bates, a prizefighter turned tavernkeeper, on the Cinemax program Banshee. He appeared as Henry "Pop" Hunter in the Netflix series Luke Cage,[6] and played a supporting role in the 2016 Amazon Studios original special An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win.[7]

In 2017, Faison appeared in the music video for "Holding On" by The War on Drugs, from their fourth album A Deeper Understanding.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Permanent Vacation Man in Lobby
1981 Ragtime Gang Member No. 1
1982 Cat People Detective Brandt
A Little Sex Electrician
Hanky Panky Cop Driver
1984 C.H.U.D. Sergeant Parker
Exterminator 2 Be Gee
1986 The Money Pit James
Maximum Overdrive Handy
Manhunter Lieutenant Fisk
1988 Coming to America Mr. Townsend
Mississippi Burning Eulogist
1989 Do the Right Thing Coconut Sid
1990 Betsy's Wedding Zack Monroe
1991 The Silence of the Lambs Barney Matthews
City of Hope Levonne
1992 Freejack Eagle Man
1993 Sommersby Joseph
Money for Nothing Madigan
1994 Heading Home Horace Jones
I Love Trouble Police Chief
1995 Roommates Professor Martin
1996 The Stupids The Lloyd
Mother Night Robert Sterling Wilson
Albino Alligator Agent Marv Rose
The Rich Man's Wife Detective Ron Lewis
1997 Julian Po Sheriff Leon
1998 Jaded Henry Broker
1999 The Thomas Crown Affair Detective Paretti
A Little Inside Tom Donner
Oxygen Phil Kline
Orson Welles Sells His Soul to the Devil Carter Short
2000 Where the Money Is Security Guard
2001 Gina, an Actress, Age 29 Albert Short
The Sleepy Time Gal Jimmy Dupree
Hannibal Barney Matthews
Down to Earth Whitney Daniels
Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Richard 'Dick' Lacey
2002 Showtime Captain Winship
Red Dragon Barney Matthews
2003 Gods and Generals Jim Lewis
2004 Highwaymen Will Macklin
America Brown Coach Bryant
White Chicks Chief Elliott Gordon
Messengers Tom Mabry
The Cookout Jojo Andersen
Crutch Jerry
In Good Company Corwin
2006 Premium Phil
2007 My Blueberry Nights Travis
2008 Meet the Browns L.B.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Ticket Salesman
2009 Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Subject #42
Adam Harlan
Splinterheads Pope
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Rhamus Twobellies
For Sale by Owner Gene Woodman
Breaking Point Judge Green
2011 Mayor Cupcake Lenny Davis
2012 Cowgirls 'n Angels Augustus
2013 Tio Papi Gilly
Danger Word Grandpa Joe Short
2014 Clipped Wings, They Do Fly Mayor Goode
Assumption of Risk Dr. Paulson
Away from Here Carl
2016 An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win Frank Ellison
Smoke Filled Lungs Stanley
2017 The Case for Christ Joe Dubois
The Sounding Roland
2018 An Actor Prepares Deacon Frank Dodge
2019 The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.
2020 The Grudge William Matheson
I'm Your Woman Art
2021 Fatherhood Mike
2022 Till John Carthan


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Great Performances Captain Episode: "King Lear"
1979 Hot Hero Sandwich - TV series
1982 Another World Captain Hancock Episode: "Episode #1.4478"
1983 The Edge of Night Ralph Pettibone Regular cast
Sessions Intern TV movie
1985 Search for Tomorrow Willard Clovis Episode: "Episode #1.8643"
Kate & Allie Detective Episode: "The Bad Seed"
1987 The Equalizer Zudo Episode: "Mission: McCall: Part 1"
1989 A Man Called Hawk Mr. Carver Episode: "Choice of Chance"
Monsters Jack Lyle Episode: "The Mandrake Root"
1990 Common Ground - Miniseries
Law & Order Lester Crawford Episode: "Out of the Half-Light"
1990–91 True Colors Ron Freeman Main cast
1992 All My Children Minister Bauer Episode: "Episode #1.5910"
1994 The Spider and the Fly Detective Turner TV movie
1995 The Langoliers Don Gaffney Episode: "Episode #1.1 & #1.2"
1996 New York Undercover Captain Wilton Episode: "Fire Show"
1997 Oz Cornelius Keane Episode: "Capital P"
1997–98 Cosby Ron Episode: "I'm OK, You're Hilton" & "On the Rocks"
1998 Prey Ray Peterson Main cast
1998–99 All My Children Frank Dawson Regular cast
2001 Call Me Claus Dwayne TV movie
2002–08 The Wire Ervin Burrell Main cast (season 1-4), recurring cast (season 5)
2004 The Jury Nick Van Lier Episode: "Bangers"
2007–08 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit FBI Agent Tom Nickerson Episode: "Florida" & "Signature"
2008 Army Wives General Baxter Episode: "Departures, Arrivals"
Play or Be Played Detective Lyle TV movie
2008–12 One Life to Live Richard Evans Regular cast
2009–20 Grey's Anatomy William Bailey 4 episodes
2010 Blue Bloods Jeffords Episode: "Samaritan"
Lie to Me Teddy Episode: "Smoked"
2010–15 The Good Wife Jeremiah Easton 4 episodes
2013 Elementary Judge Brewster O'Hare Episode: "Tremors"
2013–16 Banshee Sugar Bates 34 episodes
2014 Unforgettable Mayor Beverly Episode: "Omega Hour"
Black Box Wade Episode: "Sing Like Me"
Forever Pepper Evans Episode: "6 A.M."
2016 Luke Cage Henry "Pop" Hunter 2 episodes
2017 The Good Fight Jeremiah Easton Episode: "Reddick v Boseman"
Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television Captain Jackson #5 Episode: "Hungry for Justice"
2018 Hawaii Five-0 Leroy Davis Episode: "Aohe Mea Make I Ka Hewa; Make No I Ka Mihi Ole"
2019 The Village Ron 10 episodes
2020 God Friended Me Mr. Johnson Episode: "Harlem Cinema House"
The Expanse Charles Episode: "Churn"
2021 The Blacklist Abraham Moores Episode: "The Fribourg Confidence"
Bull Lee Donaldson Episode: "King Bull"
Redemption in Cherry Springs
2022 The Rookie Christopher "Cutty" Clark 2 episodes
The Rookie: Feds Christopher "Cutty" Clark Main cast


  1. ^ "Frankie Faison". IMDb.
  2. ^ "Frankie Faison". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-07-27.
  3. ^ Frankie Faison Biography (1949–)
  4. ^ "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  5. ^ "Frankie Faison". IMDb.
  6. ^ "Over 20 Luke Cage Set Photos, Plus Another Cast Member Confirmed!". 25 September 2015.
  7. ^ Freeze, Kellie (21 October 2016). "Amazon and American Girl Explore Civil Rights in An American Girl Story — Melody 1963: Love Has to Win". Channel Guide. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  8. ^ "The War on Drugs - Holding on [Official Video]". YouTube.

External links[edit]