William Sadler (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
William Sadler
Sadler in 2019
William Thomas Sadler

(1950-04-13) April 13, 1950 (age 73)
EducationState University of New York, Geneseo (BA)
Cornell University (MFA)
Years active1977–present
Marni Joan Bakst
(m. 1977)

William Thomas Sadler (born April 13, 1950)[1] is an American stage, film, and television actor. His television and motion picture roles have included Chesty Puller in The Pacific, Luther Sloan in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sheriff Jim Valenti in Roswell, convict Heywood in The Shawshank Redemption, Senator Vernon Trent in Hard to Kill, Death in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and Bill & Ted Face the Music,[2] and Colonel Stuart in Die Hard 2. He played Matthew Ellis in Iron Man 3, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and WHIH Newsfront. He also recurs as John McGarrett in the 2010 remake of the 1968 television series Hawaii Five-O, and the Boston boxing promoter and suspected drug dealer Gino Fish in the Jesse Stone television film series, opposite Tom Selleck. He also played Don in the 1992 movie Trespass starring Ice Cube, Ice-T and Bill Paxton.

Early life[edit]

Sadler was born in Buffalo, New York, the son of Jane and William Sadler.[3] From an early age, he took to performing in front of an audience. Playing a variety of stringed instruments, he found hometown success during his high-school years at Orchard Park High School. He took on the persona of Banjo Bill Sadler,[4] a banjo-playing singer who cracked jokes while playing.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled in SUNY Geneseo; then spent two years at Cornell University, where he earned his master's degree in acting with a minor in speech communications. He is a certified speech teacher and practiced in accents.[citation needed]


Sadler took his first post-school role in Florida and soon relocated to Boston, moving in with his sister while scrubbing the floors of a lobster boat by day and performing his acting roles at night.[citation needed]

A chance meeting with an old schoolmate on a trip into the city resulted in Sadler's casting in an off-off-Broadway production of Chekhov's Ivanov.

After a brief turn at the Trinity Square Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, Sadler moved back to New York and rented an apartment in the East Village, beginning twelve years in which he appeared in over 75 productions, including originating the role of Sgt. Toomey in the Broadway run of Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues, opposite Matthew Broderick in 1985.

Sadler is best known for his roles in the 1990 action film Die Hard 2 as Colonel Stuart, as Heywood in the 1994 prison drama The Shawshank Redemption, Death in the 1991 comedy Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and as Brayker in Demon Knight. When he first auditioned for a role in Die Hard 2, he was told he was too young. With a make-up artist friend's help, Sadler re-auditioned as a 70-year-old, and won the part.[5] In addition to appearing in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey as Death, Sadler also appears as himself, with his real-life wife and 5-year-old daughter, in scenes where families around the world respond to Bill and Ted's actions.[5] He reprised his Death role in the 2020 sequel Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Sadler was also a regular on the television series Roswell as Sheriff Jim Valenti, and in Wonderfalls as Darrin Tyler.

His other film credits include Trespass, K-9, Project X, Disturbing Behavior, Kinsey, The Battle of Shaker Heights, Purple Heart, Jimmy and Judy and August Rush.

Sadler's TV guest appearances include In the Heat of the Night, Roseanne, Tru Calling, Tour of Duty, CSI, Numb3rs, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He had a recurring role on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Luther Sloan.

He appeared in three episodes as Sloan in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's final two seasons. In 2007, he played Carlton Fog on ABC's Traveler, and in 2008 he appeared in both NBC's Medium as well as Fox Television's Fringe. The 1989 pilot episode of the HBO horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt featured Sadler in its lead role. In March 2011, Sadler made a guest appearance in NBC's Chase.[6]

Sadler portrayed Julius Caesar in the contemporary adaptation of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar on Broadway alongside Denzel Washington at the Belasco Theatre. Recently, he finished shooting with American independent filmmakers Dylan Bank and Morgan Pehme on the film Nothing Sacred. Sadler portrayed the robot Victor in the 2010 video game, Fallout: New Vegas. Sadler played Lee Underwood in Greetings from Tim Buckley, a film on Tim and Jeff Buckley, which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.[7][8]

Sadler appeared as Matthew Ellis, the President of the United States, in Iron Man 3 (2013).[9]

In 2015, Sadler was part of the Texas Frightmare Weekend,[10] and starred in Ava's Possessions, which was screened at SXSW.[11]

On September 8, 2021, it was announced that Sadler was cast in the Stephen King adaptation of Salem's Lot in an undisclosed role.[12]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Hanky Panky Hotel Clerk
1986 Off Beat Dickson
1987 Project X Dr. Carroll
1989 K-9 Don, Car Salesman
1990 Hard to Kill Senator Vernon Trent
Die Hard 2 Colonel William Stuart
The Hot Spot Frank Sutton
1991 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Death / English Family Member Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor
Rush Monroe
1992 Trespass Don Perry
1993 Freaked Dick Brian
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Heywood
1995 Demon Knight Frank Brayker
1996 Bordello of Blood The Mummy
Solo Colonel Frank Madden / Improved Solo
1997 RocketMan Bill 'Wild Bill' Overbeck
1998 Ambushed Jim Natter
Disturbing Behavior Dorian Newberry
Reach the Rock Quinn
1999 Stealth Fighter Admiral Frank Peterson
The Green Mile Klaus Detterick
2001 Skippy Ringo
2002 Another Life Man Short film
2003 The Battle of Shaker Heights Abraham 'Abe' Ernswiler
2004 Kinsey Kenneth Braun
2005 Devour Ivan Reisz
Confess Senator Roger Lampert
Purple Heart Colonel Allen
2006 Jimmy and Judy Uncle Rodney
Premium Cole Carter
Unspoken Dad
The Wine Bar Bartender Short film
2007 A New Wave Mr. Dewitt
August Rush Thomas Novacek
The Mist Jim Grondin
2008 Eagle Eye William Shaw
The Good Student Phil 'Honest Phil' Palmer
2009 Stream Dr. Shelby Short film
Shadowheart Thomas Conners Direct-to-video
The Hills Run Red Wilson Wyler Concannon
Last Day of Summer Mr. Crolick
Beyond All Boundaries Lieutenant Colonel Lewis 'Chesty' Puller (voice) Short film
Red & Blue Marbles John
2010 Melvin Smarty Bob
Mineville Tom O'Roarke
2011 Silent But Deadly John Capper
Open Gate Robert
2012 Man on a Ledge Frank Cassidy / Valet
See Girl Run Marty
Greetings from Tim Buckley Lee Underwood
2013 Iron Man 3 President Matthew Ellis
Machete Kills Sheriff Doakes
The Suspect Sheriff Dixon
2014 Freedom Plimpton
The Historian Dr. Valerian Hadley
2015 Ant-Man President Matthew Ellis Deleted scene
2016 The Duel Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Governor of Texas
The Hollow Sheriff Beau McKinney
2018 Deadly Crush Sheriff Dusty Hawkins
Living Among Us Samuel
The Statement Counselor Short film
2019 The Highwaymen Henry Barrow
VFW Walter Reed
2020 The Grudge Detective Wilson
Bill & Ted Face the Music Death Also executive producer
2021 The Unholy Father William Hagan
2022 She Came from the Woods Gilbert McAlister
TBA Salem's Lot TBA Upcoming film


Year Title Role Notes
1977 The CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People Unknown Episode: "Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare"
1978 The Great Wallendas Dieter Schmidt Television film
1981 Charlie and the Great Balloon Chase Joey
Nurse Dr. George Bradford Episode: "Margin for Error"
1982 The Neighborhood Neighbor Television film
1983 Newhart Guest Episode: "Lady & the Tramps"
AfterMash Joe Warner
1985 Assaulted Nuts The Grim Reaper, Various Characters Unknown episodes
1986 The Equalizer Rick Dillon / Kevin Moore Episode: "Shades of Darkness"
1987 Private Eye Charlie Fontana 12 episodes
Tour of Duty Major Rigby Episode: "Dislocations"
1987–1988 Private Eye Lieutenant Charlie Fontana 12 episodes
1988 In the Heat of the Night Ritchie Epman Episodes: "Blind Spot: Part 1" & "Blind Spot: Part 2"
St. Elsewhere Mr. Oppenheimer Episode: "The Abby Singer Show"
Cadets Colonel Tom Sturdivant Television film
Dear John Ben Episode: "The Younger Girl"
1989 Roseanne Dwight 2 episodes
Hooperman Lanny Hardin Episode: "Look Homeward, Dirtbag"
Unconquered Coach Dickey Television film
Murphy Brown Colonel Fitzpatrick Episode: "Off the Job Experience"
Hard Time on Planet Earth Officer Rollman Episode: "The Way Home"
Gideon Oliver Franklin Finney Episode: "By the Waters of Babylon"
1989–1994 Tales from the Crypt Niles Talbot
The Grim Reaper
Episodes: "The Man Who Was Death"
"The Assassin"
1990 The Face of Fear Anthony Prine Television film
1991 The Last to Go Treat Television film
Tagget Yuri Chelenkoff
1992 Two-Fisted Tales Mr. Rush (Presenter)
1993 Night Driving Eddy Television short film
Jack Reed: Badge of Honor Anatole Television film
1994 Bermuda Grace Sam Grace
Roadracers Sarge
1995 The Omen Dr. Linus
The Outer Limits Frank Hellner Episode: "Valerie 23"
1996 Poltergeist: The Legacy Shamus Bloom Episode: The Fifth Sepulcher
1998–1999 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Luther Sloan Episodes: "Inquisition", "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", "Extreme Measures"
1999 Witness Protection US Attorney Sharp Television film
1999–2002 Roswell Sheriff Jim Valenti 61 episodes
2003 Ed Lee Leetch Episode: "The Case"
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Kyle Devlin Episode: "Graansha"
Project Greenlight Himself Unknown episodes
2004 Wonderfalls Darrin Tyler 13 episodes
JAG Saul Wainwright Episode: "Retrial"
2005 Third Watch Scotty Murray Episode: "Forever Blue"
Tru Calling Travis Episode: "Enough"
Law & Order: Trial by Jury Paul Rice Episode: "Blue Wall"
Law & Order Kevin Drucker Episode: "Life Line"
2006 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Karl 'Red' Cooper Episode: "Killer"
The Path to 9/11 Neil Herman Miniseries
2007 Numb3rs J. Everett Tuttle Episode: "Democracy"
The Black Donnellys Munst Episode: "All of Us Are in the Gutter"
Jesse Stone: Sea Change Gino Fish Television film
Traveler Carlton Fog 7 episodes
2008 Medium John Edgemont Episode: "Girls Ain't Nothing But Trouble"
2008–2011 Fringe Dr. Sumner Episodes: "The Equation" & "Alone in the World"
2009 Jesse Stone: Thin Ice Gino Fish Television film
Jesse Stone: No Remorse Gino Fish
Criminal Minds Ray Finnegan Episode: "Reckoner"
2010 The Pacific Lieutenant Colonel Lewis 'Chesty' Puller Miniseries
2010–2020 Hawaii Five-0 John McGarrett Various episodes: seasons 1–5, 10
2011 White Collar Brett Gelles Episode "Where There's a Will"
Person of Interest Seamus O'Mara Episode: "Pilot"
Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost Gino Fish Television film
2012 Damages Helmut Torben 6 episodes
Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt Gino Fish Television film
2013 666 Park Avenue Nate McKenny 2 episodes
Elementary Ian Gale Episode: "Blood Is Thicker"
Homeland Michael Higgins 3 episodes
2013–2019 The Blacklist Sam Milhoan 4 episodes
2014 The Flash Simon Stagg Episode: "Fastest Man Alive"
2014–2015 Madam Secretary George Peters 2 episodes
2015 Edge Bill 'Big Bill' Television film
Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise Gino Fish
Z Nation Sam Custer Episode: "Zombie Road"
2015–2019 Blue Bloods Armin Janko Episodes: "Absolute Power"[13]& "Identity"
2015–2016 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. President Matthew Ellis 3 episodes
2016 Berlin Station Clay Williams 4 episodes
2017 When We Rise Chuck Cooper
2017–2018 Power Tony Teresi
2018 Bull Father Andy Episode: "A Higher Law"
2018–2020 Our Cartoon President John F. Kelly, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Various Voices
2019–2020 God Friended Me Reverend Elias
2019 When They See Us Michael Sheehan Miniseries
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gary Dolan Episode: "Facing Demons"
2020 Hunters Dr. Friedrich Mann Episode: “Eilu v’ Eilu”
The Comey Rule Michael Flynn Miniseries
2023 Full Circle Gene McCusker Miniseries


Year Title Role Notes
2016 WHIH Newsfront President Matthew Ellis 2 episodes
2017 Day 5 Bob / Sandman 4 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2008 Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy Alexander Conklin Credited as Bill Sadler
2010 Fallout: New Vegas Victor


  1. ^ Burnett, Robyn (2002). Crash Into Me: The World of Roswell. ECW Press. p. 52. ISBN 1-55022-539-1.
  2. ^ Bernstein, Sharon (July 27, 1991). "'Bill & Ted's' Grim Reaper Is a Vegetarian and Songwriter". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
  3. ^ "William Sadler | TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
  4. ^ Bill Sadler biography, aol.com; accessed February 18, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Cedrone, Lou (August 1, 1991). "William Sadler's role as Death gives birth to a comedy career". Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada). p. C6.
  6. ^ Keck, William (January 18, 2011). "Keck's Exclusives: NBC's Chase Casts Annie's Dad". TV Guide. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved January 18, 2011.
  7. ^ HitFix Staff (August 23, 2011). "Anthrax bassist Frank Bello joins Penn Badgely's Jeff Buckley film". HitFix. Archived from the original on September 1, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  8. ^ Kurchak, Sarah (August 15, 2012). "TIFF 2012 Adds Greetings From Tim Buckley, Spike Lee's Bad 25 Michael Jackson Doc, Skrillex Soundtrack". Spinner. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  9. ^ Moore, Roger (May 2, 2013). "Final 'Iron Man' is more violent, Stark more fiery". Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota). p. 5.
  10. ^ Fangoria Staff (February 27, 2015). "Texas Frightmare Weekend 2015 Adds "DEMON KNIGHT" star William Sadler!". Fangoria. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  11. ^ Barton, Steve (March 9, 2015). "SXSW 2015 - First Look at Ava's Possessions". Dread Central. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  12. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (September 8, 2021). "Stephen King's Salem's Lot Movie Just Added A Shawshank Redemption Star". CinemaBlend. Retrieved October 29, 2022.
  13. ^ Blue Bloods "Absolute Power" episode, imdb.com; accessed February 18, 2016.

External links[edit]