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Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Olmos at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
Edward Huizar Olmos

(1947-02-24) February 24, 1947 (age 76)
  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • activist
Years active 1974–present
Kaija Keel
(m. 1971; div. 1992)
(m. 1994; div. 2002)
Lymari Nadal
(m. 2002; separated 2013)
Children 6, including Bodie Olmos, Mico Olmos, and Daniela Olmos

Edward James Olmos (born February 24, 1947) is an American actor, director, producer, and activist. He is best known for his roles as Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo in Miami Vice (1984–1989), American Me (1992) (which he also directed), William Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009), teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver (1988) (for which he received an Academy Award nomination), Detective Gaff in Blade Runner (1982) and its sequel Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and the English dub voice of Mito in the 2005 Disney dub of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In 2018 through 2022, he has played the father of two members of an outlaw motorcycle club in the FX series Mayans MC.

For his work in Miami Vice, Olmos won the 1985 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. For his performance in Stand and Deliver, Olmos was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

He is also known for his roles as folk hero Gregorio Cortez in The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the film Selena, narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit, and the voice of Chicharrón in Coco.

Over the course of his career, Olmos has been a pioneer for more diversified roles and images of Latinos in U.S. media. His notable direction, production, and starring roles for films, made-for-TV movies, and TV shows include Wolfen, Triumph of the Spirit, Talent for the Game, American Me, The Burning Season, My Family/Mi Familia, Caught, 12 Angry Men, The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, Walkout, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, American Family, and Dexter.

Early life

Olmos was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California, the son of Eleanor (née Huizar) and Pedro Olmos, who was a welder and mail carrier. His father was a Mexican immigrant who moved to California in 1945 and his mother was an American of Mexican descent. His parents divorced when he was seven years old, and he was primarily raised by his great-grandparents as his parents worked. He grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player, and at age 13 joined the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system, playing as a catcher. He left baseball at age 15 to join a rock and roll band, which caused a rift with his father, who was hurt by the decision.

He graduated from Montebello High School in 1964. While at Montebello High School, he lost a race for Student Body President to future California Democratic Party Chair Art Torres. In his teen years, he was the lead singer for a band he named Pacific Ocean, so called because it was to be "the biggest thing on the West Coast". For several years, Pacific Ocean performed at various clubs in and around Los Angeles, and released their only record, Purgatory, in 1968. At the same time, he attended classes at East Los Angeles College, including courses in acting.



In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Olmos branched out from music into acting, appearing in many small productions, until his big break portraying the narrator, called "El Pachuco," in the play Zoot Suit, which dramatized the World War II-era rioting in California brought about by the tensions between Mexican-Americans and local police. (See Zoot Suit Riots.) The play moved to Broadway, and Olmos earned a Tony Award nomination. He subsequently took the role to the filmed version in 1981, and appeared in many other films including Wolfen, Blade Runner and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.

Film and television

Edward James Olmos March 2008 (cropped)
Olmos in 2008

In 1980, Olmos was cast in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film Virus (復活の日 Fukkatsu no Hi), directed by Kinji Fukasaku and based on a novel written by Sakyo Komatsu. His role required him to play a piano while singing a Spanish ballad during the later part of the film. Although not a box office success, Virus was notable for being the most expensive Japanese film ever made at the time.

From 1984 to 1989, he starred in his biggest role up to that date as the taciturn police Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the television series Miami Vice, opposite Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, for which he was awarded a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 1985. At this time, Olmos also starred in a short training video for the United States Postal Service entitled Was it Worth It?, a video about theft in the workplace. He was contacted about playing the captain of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) on Star Trek: The Next Generation when it was in pre-production in 1986, but declined.

Returning to film, Olmos became the first American-born Hispanic to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, in Stand and Deliver, for his portrayal of real-life math teacher, Jaime Escalante. He directed and starred in the controversial crime film, American Me in 1992, and also starred in My Family/Mi Familia, a multi-generational story of a Chicano family. He had a slight appearance in the video of the American rock band Toto, "I Will Remember" (1995), where he can be seen with actor Miguel Ferrer. In 1997, he starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the film Selena. Olmos played Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in the 2001 movie In the Time of the Butterflies. He also had a recurring role as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roberto Mendoza in the NBC drama The West Wing. From 2002 to 2004, he starred as a recently widowed father of a Hispanic L.A.-family in the PBS drama American Family: Journey of Dreams.

Edward James Olmos (Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara)
Olmos at the 2010 Guadalajara International Film Festival

From 2003 to 2009, he starred as Commander William Adama in the Sci-Fi Channel's reimagined Battlestar Galactica miniseries, and in the television series that followed. He directed four episodes of the show, "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down" (1.9), "Taking a Break from All Your Worries" (3.13), "Escape Velocity" (4.4), and "Islanded in a Stream of Stars" (4.18). He also directed a television movie based upon the show, The Plan. Regarding his work on the show, he told CraveOnline, "I'm very grateful for the work that I've been able to do in my life, but I can honestly tell you, this is the best usage of television I've ever been a part of to date."

In 2006, he co-produced, directed, and played the bit part of Julian Nava in the HBO movie about the 1968 Chicano Blowouts, Walkout. He also appeared in Snoop Dogg's music video "Vato". In the series finale of the ABC sitcom George Lopez, titled "George Decides to Sta-Local Where It's Familia"; he guest-starred as the plant's new multi-millionaire owner. More recently, he has been a spokesperson for Farmers Insurance Group, starring in their Spanish language commercials.

Olmos joined the cast of the television series Dexter for its sixth season, as a "brilliant, charismatic professor of religious studies".

Olmos starred in the second season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Robert Gonzales, the leader of a rival faction of S.H.I.E.L.D., for five episodes.


Olmos contributed backing vocals to the final song on Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything? album.

Social and political activism

Edward James Olmos 2009 Inaugural Ceremony (cropped)
Olmos in 2009

Olmos has often been involved in social activism, especially that affecting the U.S. Hispanic community. During the 1992 Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, Olmos went out with a broom and worked to get communities cleaned up and rebuilt. He also attended an Oprah episode relating to the L.A. riots as an audience member. In 1997, he co-founded the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival with Marlene Dermer, George Hernandez and Kirk Whisler. That same year, he co-founded with Kirk Whisler the non-profit organization, Latino Literacy Now, that has produced Latino Book & Festivals around the US, attended by over 700,000 people.

Westlake Theatre-1
Westlake Theatre building, side wall mural of Jaime Escalante and Edward James Olmos.

In 1998, he founded Latino Public Broadcasting and currently serves as its chairman. Latino Public Broadcasting funds public television programming that focuses on issues affecting Hispanics and advocates for diverse perspectives in public television. That same year, he starred in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. In 1999, Olmos was one of the driving forces that created Americanos: Latino Life in the U.S., a book project featuring over 30 award-winning photographers, later turned into a Smithsonian traveling exhibition, music CD and HBO special.

He also makes frequent appearances at juvenile halls and detention centers to speak to at-risk teenagers. He has also been an international ambassador for UNICEF. In 2001, he was arrested and spent 20 days in jail for taking part in the Navy-Vieques protests against United States Navy target practice bombings of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. On January 5, 2007, he blamed the United States government for not cleaning Vieques after the U.S. Navy stopped using the island for bombing practice.

Olmos narrated the 1999 documentary film Zapatista, in support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a revolutionary group that has abstained from using their weapons since 1994. He also gave $2,300 to New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for his presidential campaign (the maximum amount for the primaries). In 2020 supported Joe Biden for President.

He is also a supporter of SENS Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to treating and curing diseases of aging by repairing the underlying damage caused by aging. A series of animations explaining the concept of SENS has been narrated by him.

Personal life

From 1979 to 1987, Olmos lived in West New York, New Jersey. In 1971, he married Kaija Keel, the daughter of actor Howard Keel. They had two children, Bodie and Mico, before divorcing in 1992. Olmos has four adopted children: Daniela, Michael, Brandon, and Tamiko. He married actress Lorraine Bracco in 1994. She filed for divorce in January 2002 after five years of separation. Olmos also had a long-term relationship with actress Lymari Nadal. They married in 2002, and separated in 2013.

In 1993, Olmos was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) degree from Whittier College.

In 1996, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from California State University, Fresno. In 2007, after a seven-year process, he obtained Mexican nationality. Asteroid 5608 Olmos is named in his honor.


Edward James Olmos at Filly Brown Miami premiere (cropped)
Olmos at the 2013 Miami International Film Festival


1980 Fukkatsu no hi Capt. Lopez
1981 Wolfen Eddie Holt
Zoot Suit El Pachuco
1982 Blade Runner Gaff
The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez Gregorio Cortez
1985 Saving Grace Ciolino
1988 Stand and Deliver Jaime Escalante
1989 The Fortunate Pilgrim Frank Corbo
Triumph of the Spirit Gypsy
1991 Talent for the Game Virgil Sweet
1992 American Me Montoya Santana Also director
1993 Roosters Gallo Morales
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Musician at Barbecue
1994 A Million to Juan Angel
1995 Mirage Matteo Juarez
My Family Paco
1996 Dead Man's Walk Capt. Salazar
Caught Joe
1997 Selena Abraham Quintanilla
The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca Roberto Lozano
Hollywood Confidential Stan Navarro, Sr.
1998 The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit Vamanos
2000 The Road to El Dorado Chief Tannabok Voice (English and Latin Spanish dub)
Gossip Detective Curtis
2002 Jack and Marilyn Pasquel Also director
2005 Cerca, La Nino
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Mito English dub
2006 Splinter Capt. Garcia
2008 Beverly Hills Chihuahua Diablo Voice
2010 I'm Still Here Himself
2011 The Green Hornet Michael Axford
America Mr. Irving
2012 Filly Brown Leandro Also producer
2013 Go for Sisters Freddy Suarez
2 Guns Papa Greco
2014 Unity Narrator Documentary
2016 El Americano: The Movie Gayo "El Jefe" Voice
Also producer
Monday Nights at Seven Charlie Also producer
2017 Blade Runner Black Out 2022 Gaff Voice
Short film
Blade Runner 2049 Gaff Cameo
Coco Chicharrón Voice
2019 A Dog's Way Home Axel
Windows on the World Balthazar
The Devil Has a Name Santiago Also director
Imprisoned Hospicio
2020 Chasing Wonders Luis
2021 Walking with Herb Joe
TBA One Fast Move TBA


Edward James Olmos Sept 06 crop face
Olmos in 2006
Year Title Role Notes
1974 Cannon Unnamed Character (Credited as Edward Olmos) Episode: "The Exchange"
1975 Kojak Unnamed Bartender (Uncredited) Episode: "How Cruel the Frost, How Bright the Stars"
1977 Hawaii Five-O Dancer Episode: "Ready, Aim..."
1977 Starsky & Hutch Julio Guiterez Episode: "The Psychic"
1978 CHiPs Henry Episode: "Flashback"
Evening in Byzantium Angelo Television film
1981 Three Hundred Miles for Stephanie Art Vela
1982 Hill Street Blues Joe Bustamonte 2 episodes
1984 Hill Street Blues Judge Cruz Episode: "Parting Is Such a Sweet Sorrow"
1984–1990 Miami Vice Lt. Martin Castillo 106 episodes
1988 The Fortunate Pilgrim Frank Corbo 3 episodes
1990 The Earth Day Special Hospital Director
1994 Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills Jose Menendez Television film
The Burning Season Wilson Pinheiro
1995 The Magic School Bus Mr. Ramon Episode: "Going Batty"
1996 The Limbic Region Jon Lucca Television film
Dead Man's Walk Captain Salazar Television miniseries
1997 12 Angry Men Juror #11 Television film
1998 Touched By An Angel Col. Victor Walls Episode: "God and Country"
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Det. Anthony Piscotti Television film
1999 Bonanno: A Godfather's Story Salvatore Maranzano
Crucible of Empire: The Spanish-American War Narrator Documentary film
1999–2000 The West Wing Associate Justice Roberto Mendoza 2 episodes
2000 Super_Bowl_XXXIV: Halftime Show Narrator Sports event
The Princess & the Barrio Boy Nestor Garcia Television film
2001 The Judge Judge Armando
In the Time of the Butterflies Rafael Trujillo
2002–2004 American Family Jess Gonzalez 17 episodes
2003–2009 Battlestar Galactica William Adama 73 episodes
2006 Walkout Julian Nava Television film; also director
2007 George Lopez Mr. Hector Vega Episode: "George Decides to Sta-Local Where It's Familia"
2010 CSI: NY Luther Devarro Episode: "Sangre Por Sangre"
2011 Dexter Professor Gellar 10 episodes
Eureka Rudy Episode: "Do You See What I See?"
2012 Portlandia Himself Episode: "One Moore Episode"
2015 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Robert Gonzales 5 episodes
The Simpsons Pit Master Voice
Episode: "Cue Detective"
2016 Urban Cowboy Al Robles Pilot
2017 Narcos Chucho Peña 2 episodes
2018–present Mayans M.C. Felipe Reyes Main role
2018–2019 Elena of Avalor King Pescoro Voice
3 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Results
1985 Miami Vice Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film Won
1985 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Won
1986 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
1988 Stand and Deliver Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead Won
1988 Academy Award for Best Actor Nominated
1988 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama Nominated
1994 The Burning Season Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film Won
1994 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Nominated
1997 Selena ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film Won
1997 Hollywood Confidential ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2001 The Judge ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2003 Battlestar Galactica ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Won
2005 ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film Won
2006 ALMA Award for Outstanding Actor - Television Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie (tied with Michael Peña) Won
2007 Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television Nominated
2008 Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television Won
2009 ALMA Award for Best Actor on Television Nominated
2011 Dexter Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated
2011 Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television Nominated
2016 Himself Mary Pickford Award Won

Music video

Year Title Artist
1995 "I Will Remember" Toto

See also

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