From stage to screen, Carl Lumbly is an actor respected for his steadfast talent, versatility and class. His prolific career includes over 100 credits in television, film and the theatre, along with extensive critical acclaim.
For the big screen, Lumbly played a pivotal role in Warner Bros.’ supernatural thriller, Stephen King’s “Doctor Sleep,” the imaginative continuation of “The Shining” storyline. He stars as ‘Dick Hallorann,’ the role originally played by Scatman Crothers. The gripping film is directed by Mike Flanagan from his own screenplay based upon King’s best-selling novel.
Lumbly currently appears in “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” which received a Grammy Award nomination in the category of “Best Music Film.” He voices the iconic jazz musician in this feature-length documentary that premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and is screening theatrically to wide acclaim. “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” will have an exclusive U.S. broadcast in February 2020 on “American Masters” on PBS.
Lumbly portrayed CIA agent ‘Marcus Dixon,’ the gentle, mild-mannered field partner to agent ‘Sydney Bristow’ (Jennifer Garner) for five seasons on ABC’s hit drama series, “Alias,” which celebrated its 10th year anniversary in May 2016.
He recently had a recurring role as classic DC character M’yrnn J’onzz, the father of J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter on The CW television series “Supergirl.” He previously voiced action hero J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter in the Cartoon Network’s animated series “Justice League.”
The busy actor has also recently booked recurring roles on Showtime’s “The Chi,” CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles” and CBS’ drama series “Zoo,” along with guest-starring roles in CBS’ “God Friended Me,” Netflix’s “Altered Carbon,” NBC’s “This Is Us” and HISTORY’s military action drama, “Six.”
Lumbly’s impressive feature credits include a role opposite Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Men of Honor,” portraying the father of the first black diver in U.S. Navy history. In “Everybody’s All-American” with Jessica Lange and Dennis Quaid, he starred as a former football player affected by the segregated South. Other film credits include “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “South Central,” “Pacific Heights,” “To Sleep With Anger,” “The Bedroom Window,” “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,” “Caveman” and “Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation.” In 2017, he appeared in director Gore Verbinski’s supernatural horror feature, “A Cure for Wellness,” which was released through New Regency’s deal with 20th Century Fox.
For the stage, Lumbly starred as ‘Gil Scott-Heron’ in Magic Theatre’s 2017 world premiere of Han Ong’s “Grandeur,” directed by Loretta Greco. In 2016, he starred as ‘Ira Aldridge’ in the San Francisco Playhouse’s production of “Red Velvet.”
He received glowing reviews for his 2015 performance of ‘Pops Washington’ in “Between Riverside and Crazy” at the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco. States the Huffington Post, “Pops is portrayed with torrents of fury and flashes of gentleness by the marvelous Carl Lumbly. He is one of seven characters in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s play, which won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama, but he provides the fuel that energizes all.”
In 2015, Lumbly starred as ‘Alfred’ in Kwame Kwei-Armah’s “Let There Be Love” at ACT and as ‘Leo Price’ in the San Francisco Playhouse’s premiere of “Tree,” by Julie Hebert. In 2014, he starred as ‘Chester Kimmich’ in John Patrick Shanley’s “Storefront Church” at the San Francisco Playhouse and as ‘Troy’ in August Wilson’s “Fences” at the Marin Theatre Company.
In 2013, Lumbly starred Off-Broadway at Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre in the Pershing Square Signature Center in “stop. reset,” directed by Regina Taylor. “stop. reset.” tells the story of ‘Alex Ames’ (Lumbly), the owner of Chicago’s oldest African-American book publishing company. As e-books begin to outsell printed copies, ‘Ames’ must question his employees to determine who is still relevant in a rapidly changing world.
Also in 2013, Lumbly starred in the San Francisco Playhouse’s West Coast Premiere of the raucous comedy, “The Motherf**ker with the Hat,” directed by Bill English. He played drug and parole counselor ‘Ralph D.,’ the role Chris Rock played on Broadway in 2011.
He starred in the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s (LHT) 2012 production of British playwright Joe Penhall’s comedy drama “Blue/Orange” in San Francisco. He portrayed an enigmatic psychiatric patient who claimed to be the son of an African dictator – a story that becomes more and more unnervingly plausible as the play progresses.
He was featured in the San Francisco Playhouse’s 2010 production of Cormac McCarthy’s “Sunset Limited.” In 2007, he starred in the SF Playhouse’s production of “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” directed by Bill English. For his remarkable performance, he was honored with a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Performance by an Actor.
Lumbly was born in Minnesota, the son of Jamaican immigrants. His father was an avid reader, which inspired his early appreciation for literature. After graduating from Macalester College with a degree in English, he landed a job writing for the Associated Press in Minneapolis.
While on assignment for a story on Dudley Rigg’s Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre, Lumbly attended a public audition and was handed an audition card. “I thought it would be a great perspective from which to write the story,” he says. After a three-week audition process, the company offered Lumbly a coveted spot in its cast. He stayed for two years doing improvisational comedy flavored with political satire.
Lumbly moved to San Francisco intending to continue his work as a journalist for the Associated Press. Just two days after arriving, he came across a newspaper ad seeking “two black actors for South African political plays.” He went to the audition and met the other actor already cast — an unknown Danny Glover. He landed the part and toured with Glover in productions of Athol Fugard’s “Sizwe Bansi is Dead” and “The Island.”
The plays brought Lumbly to Los Angeles, where he signed with an agent, followed by a move to New York. He landed his first significant on-screen role in a movie-of-the-week, “Cagney and Lacey,” which turned into the hit series. Lumbly starred as ‘Detective Mark Petrie’ for the show’s seven-year run.
Lumbly’s versatility spans a range of characters, from his NAACP Image Award-nominated work in TNT’s “Buffalo Soldiers,” produced by Danny Glover, to a wealthy, black entrepreneur in “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding,” starring opposite Halle Berry. He starred in the Showtime telefilm “Just a Dream,” directed by Danny Glover. In addition, he has starred in the telefilms “Color of Friendship,” “Little Richard,” “On Promised Land,” “The Ditchdigger’s Daughters,” “Nightjohn” and “Sounder,” ABC’s telefilm remake of the 1972 classic. Of his critically acclaimed performance in “Sounder,” the Houston Chronicle stated, “Carl Lumbly plays ‘Father’, and his performance is a stunner: Dignity and anguish come together to touch your heart.” According to director Kevin Hooks (one of the stars of the original film), Lumbly is “one of the most underrated actors out there.” Hooks also believes that Lumbly is “the epitome of sensitivity and compassion as an artist, and it spills over into the characters he’s playing.”
He also starred in the drama series “M.A.N.T.I.S,” where he played an independently wealthy paraplegic scientist/crimefighter, marking the first black superhero on series television. In 2012, he had a recurring role on the TNT cop drama, “Southland,” where he played old-school, no-nonsense LAPD Captain ‘Joel Rucker.’ He appeared in the ensemble cast of A&E’s suspense series “The Returned” and has made numerous guest-starring appearances on such popular television series as “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” “Chuck,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Cold Case,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “The West Wing,” “ER” and “The X-Files.”
Lumbly works out regularly to keep in shape for his demanding roles. In his free time, he enjoys writing, as well as running, playing basketball and doggedly lowering his handicap in golf.
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