Perhaps best remembered for his touching performance as “Bubba” opposite Tom Hanks in the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump (1994), Mykelti Williamson is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood, who has been steadily honing his craft since he first began acting professionally at the age of 18.
This past fall Williamson starred as Lt. Philip Gerard, the hardnosed detective determined to recapture escaped convict Dr. Richard Kimble (Tim Daly) in CBS’ update of the classic 1960’s action series The Fugitive (2000).
The son of an Air Force Staff Sergeant (father) and certified public accountant (mother), Williamson was born in St. Louis, MO, and began performing on the stage at the age of 9. Like many youngsters, he was enamored with the concept of television, and thought that the images he was seeing on the small screen were reality. It wasn’t until his mother put him in a church play that he realized that what the people on the small screen were doing was performing. He was instantly hooked. At the age of 15, Williamson and his family settled in Los Angeles. A superb athlete, he excelled at both football and basketball, but the acting bug led him to quit sports and dance with the cheerleading squad, much to the chagrin of his coaches.
Following graduation, Williamson began acting professionally, making appearances on television shows such as Starsky and Hutch (1975), Hill Street Blues (1981) and China Beach (1988), among others. He made his film debut in the Walter Hill-directed feature Streets of Fire (1984), opposite Diane Lane, Michael Paré and Willem Dafoe.
He would subsequently appear in the feature The First Power (1990) with Lou Diamond Phillips, Miracle Mile (1988) with Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham, Number One with a Bullet (1987), Wildcats (1986) and Free Willy (1993).
Following his critically acclaimed performance in Forrest Gump (1994), Williamson starred in Forest Whitaker’s Waiting to Exhale (1995); partnered with Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s Heat (1995); Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995), and starred alongside Nicolas Cage in Con Air (1997).
Williamson was also seen in Mike Nichols’ political drama Primary Colors (1998) (a cameo appearance which he did as a personal favor to Nichols and John Travolta) and Three Kings (1999), opposite George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube.
In 1996 Williamson returned to television when he starred opposite Delroy Lindo and Blair Underwood in the critically acclaimed HBO telefilm Soul of the Game (1996) and received rave reviews for his stirring portrayal of legendary Negro League baseball legend Josh Gibson. Williamson also starred in Buffalo Soldiers (1997) for TNT and 12 Angry Men (1997) for Showtime, as well as starring in the cable network’s series The Hoop Life (1999).
On stage Williamson starred with Samuel L. Jackson, D.B. Sweeney, Ellis Williams, Matt McGrath and Richard Reilly in Clark Gregg’s (“What Lies Beneath”) 1995’s ensemble drama “Distant Fires”, which earned the cast a prestigious L.A. Theatre Award.
An avid sports fan and devoted family man, Williamson enjoys restoring classic cars and rodeoing in his free time. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two of his three daughters.
Named by his grandfather for ‘Spirit’ or ‘Silent Friend’ in the language of Blackfeet Indians, Mykelti Williamson has quietly built a reputation in Hollywood as one of the most consistently proven actors in the business, delivering stirring and honest performances that always capture audiences.
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