Commanding performer Bill Nunn made his feature debut in fellow Morehouse College graduate Spike Lee’s School Daze (1988), but really etched himself into moviegoers’ minds as a formidable screen presence in his second film with Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989), playing Radio Raheem, whose ever-present boom box is at the center of a fight that leads to his death at the hands of an overzealous police officer, the prelude to the all-out riot that follows (Nunn also acted in Mo’ Better Blues (1990) and He Got Game (1998) for Lee). Though he made his initial mark playing young street toughs on screen, this veteran of the Atlanta stage showed he could use his impressive size for something other than menace with a critically acclaimed performance as Harrison Ford’s sympathetic, high-spirited physical therapist in Regarding Henry (1991). Nunn subsequently played pretty much every type there is, all the way up to nice, huggable teddy bear guys like Whoopi Goldberg’s protector Eddie Souther in Sister Act (1992).
His professionalism made him a favorite of other directors besides Lee. He portrayed a Southern police chief in Bill Condon’s White Lie (1991) (USA Network), later reteaming with Condon for Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995), and has also acted twice for Michael Apted (Extreme Measures (1996), HBO’s Always Outnumbered (1998)) and Gary Fleder (Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995), Kiss the Girls (1997)). Nunn also turned in a fine performance as Tim Roth’s adoptive father in La leggenda del pianista sull’oceano (1998), Giuseppe Tornatore’s first English-language feature, released initially in Italy and then in the United States in 1999. He can also be seen in Spider-Man (2002), People I Know (2002) with Al Pacino and the prison thriller Lockdown (2000).
Nunn has also found time to do numerous television pilots and three series. He was in the CBS series Traps (1994) with George C. Scott, sitcom Local Heroes (1995) for NBC and the critically acclaimed The Job (2001) with Denis Leary on ABC. He appeared on episodes of Chicago Hope (1994), Touched by an Angel (1994) (both CBS), New York Undercover (1994) and Millennium (1996) (both Fox), among others.
Nunn lived in Georgia with his wife Donna and daughters Jessica and Cydney.
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