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Jeffrey Wright
Jeffrey Wright by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Wright in 2019
Born (1965-12-07) December 7, 1965 (age 58)
Education Amherst College (BA)
New York University
Occupation Actor
Years active 1990–present
(m. 2000; div. 2014)
Children 2

Jeffrey Wright (born December 7, 1965) is an American actor. Wright has received numerous accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Tony Award.

Wright began his career in theatre where he gained prominence for his role as nurse Belize in the Broadway production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America (1993), for which he won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He reprised his role in the 2003 HBO miniseries adaptation, earning a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He returned to Broadway in the Suzan-Lori Parks play Topdog/Underdog (2002), for which he received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

His first starring film role was as Jean-Michel Basquiat in Basquiat (1996). His other notable films include Shaft (2000), Syriana (2005), Lady in the Water (2006), Cadillac Records (2008), The Ides or March (2011), Rustin (2023) and American Fiction (2023). He also acted in the Wes Anderson films The French Dispatch (2021), and Asteroid City (2023), and has played Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008) and No Time to Die (2021), Beetee Latier in The Hunger Games films, and Jim Gordon in The Batman (2022).

Wright earned acclaim for his role as Valentin Narcisse in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire (2013–2014) and Bernard Lowe in the HBO series Westworld (2016–2022), the later of which earned him three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. He also lent his voice as Isaac Dixon in the video game The Last of Us Part II (2020) and the Watcher in the Marvel Studios animated series What If...? (2020–present).

Early life and education

Wright was born on December 7, 1965, in Washington, D.C., the son of Barbara Evon Whiting-Wright, a customs lawyer, and James Charles Wright Jr., who died when Jeffrey was a child. He graduated from St. Albans School and attended Amherst College, receiving a bachelor's degree in political science, planning to attend law school, but chose instead to study acting. After attending the MFA acting program at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts for two months in 1988, he left to appear in Les Blancs at Arena Stage before transferring with it to the Huntington Theatre Company and deciding to be an actor full-time.



Jeffrey Wright cropped by David Shankbone
Wright at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28, 2007

Wright began appearing off-Broadway in New York City and Washington, D.C. In 1990 he appeared in his first major film as an attorney in Alan J. Pakula's legal drama Presumed Innocent. In 1991, he joined John Houseman's national touring repertory company The Acting Company in productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Athol Fugard's Blood Knot. In 1993 and 1994, he appeared as Norman "Belize" Arriaga in Tony Kushner's award-winning play Angels in America. His portrayal of a gay nurse forced to take care of Roy Cohn as he dies of AIDS won him the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He also had small roles in the films Jumpin' at the Boneyard (1992), Faithful (1996), and Critical Care (1997).

He guest-starred in George Lucas's The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as a fictionalized Sidney Bechet and Homicide: Life on the Street in the early to late 1990s. In 1996, Wright starred in his first leading film role, portraying painter Jean-Michel Basquiat in the film Basquiat, to critical acclaim. Critic Roger Ebert praised Wright as "[giving] a performance of almost mystical opacity". For his performance he earned a Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance nomination. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he appeared in leading and supporting roles in such films as Woody Allen's satirical comedy Celebrity (1998), and Ang Lee's western Ride with the Devil (1999).


In 2000 he starred in three films, Shaft, Hamlet, and Crime and Punishment in Suburbia. He also starred in Clark Johnson's HBO television film Boycott (2001) as Martin Luther King Jr., for which he received an AFI Award. He starred opposite Carmen Ejogo and Terrence Howard. The following year he portrayed Howard Bingham in Michael Mann's biographical sports drama Ali (2001). The film also starred Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Voight. The following year he returned to Broadway playing Lincoln in the Suzan-Lori Parks play Topdog/Underdog (2002). He starred opposite Mos Def who played Booth. Wright for his performance earned a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play nomination. In 2003, he reprised his role as Norman "Belize" Arriaga in HBO's award-winning adaptation of Angels in America, garnering him an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. In 2004, he appeared in Jonathan Demme's remake of The Manchurian Candidate starring Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington. In February 2005, he returned to HBO Films in Lackawanna Blues.

Jeffrey Wright (36224441065)
Wright at San Diego Comic Con in 2017

In 2005, he played Washington attorney Bennett Holiday in Syriana and Bill Murray's eccentric Ethiopian neighbor Winston in Broken Flowers, the later of which earned Wright a Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male nomination. That same year he also starred in the play This Is How It Goes, and appeared as one of the tenants in M. Night Shyamalan's psychological thriller Lady in the Water (2006). In 2006, he appeared as Felix Leiter in the James Bond film Casino Royale. He reprised the role in Quantum of Solace and No Time to Die. In 2007, Wright starred in the alien invasion suspense thriller The Invasion. In 2008, he portrayed Colin Powell in Oliver Stone's biographical drama film W. He portrayed Muddy Waters in Cadillac Records, a biopic, loosely based on the rise and fall of Chess Records.


In 2010, Wright played Jacques Cornet in the world premiere run of A Free Man of Color at the Vivian Beaumont Theater of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City. In 2011 he acted in three films Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and The Ides of March starring George Clooney. Wright plays Beetee in The Hunger Games film series, starting with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, released in November 2013. He landed the role of Dr. Valentin Narcisse in season 4 of Boardwalk Empire, starting in the fall of 2013. In 2015 he voiced Poppa Henry in the Pixar animated film The Good Dinosaur. He portrayed Charles Ogletree in the HBO film Confirmation (2016), and Bernard Lowe in HBO's Westworld the later of which earned him three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. In March 2017, Wright appeared in a commercial for Dell Technologies.

Jeffrey Wright (48470887391)
2019 San Diego Comic Con

In 2018, Wright produced the HBO documentary We Are Not Done Yet, which gives voice to war veterans who, through a USO-sponsored arts workshop at Walter Reed National Military Hospital, discover the power and healing of shared experience to unite and find resilience in the face of post-traumatic stress. That same year, Wright starred in HBO's O.G., a film about a man confronting his past crime and preparing to leave prison after decades behind bars. The film was directed by Madeleine Sackler, and was filmed entirely in Pendleton Correctional Facility near Indianapolis, Indiana. The film was shot in a working prison and many prisoners and staff were recruited as actors for the film, including Wright's co-star, Theotus Carter, who plays Beecher, a younger prisoner that Louis, (Wright's character) takes under his wing, which threatens Louis' release date. During shooting Wright was sometimes mistaken for a prisoner by other real prisoners and guards. The film debuted on HBO on February 25, 2019. Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker said, "The performances are exceptionally strong, both by the free-to-leave professional actors (especially Jeffrey Wright, who plays Louis, the 'O.G.' of the title, an older inmate on the verge of release) and by the incarcerated neophytes." Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times said, "Jeffrey Wright gives a rich, imposing performance as the former 'mayor' of Pendleton Correctional Facility."

In 2018 Wright acted in six feature films including the legal drama Monster, the drama The Public, the action comedy Game Night and the crime drama Age Out. He starred in the HBO film O.G. which was filmed entirely in a Pendleton Correctional Facility. Also in 2018 he acted in the Netflix action thriller Hold the Dark which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2019 he acted in the Steven Soderbergh directed Netflix comedy-drama The Laundromat starring Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas, and Gary Oldman. He also acted in John Crowley's drama The Goldfinch starring Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, and Finn Wolfhard.


Wright starred in the video game The Last of Us Part II as Isaac, the leader of the Washington Liberation Front. The game was released on June 19, 2020. Wright voices the Watcher in the Disney+ animated series What If...? (2021), which is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

In 2021, Wright portrayed food writer Roebuck Wright in the film The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson. He reunited with Anderson portraying General Gibson in the film Asteroid City (2023). That same year he portrayed Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in the Netflix biographical drama film Rustin and played fictional author Thelonious "Monk" Ellison in the satirical comedy-drama American Fiction, the later of which earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy nomination.

Personal life

Wright married actress Carmen Ejogo in August 2000. They have a son named Elijah and a daughter named Juno and lived in Brooklyn, New York City. They have since divorced.

He is a fan of the Washington Commanders.

In 2004, Wright received an honorary degree from his alma mater Amherst College.

Wright is chairman and co-founder of Taia, LLC and Taia Peace Foundation and Vice Chairman of Taia Lion Resources, Inc, a gold-exploration company looking to create a conflict-free gold mining operation in Sierra Leone.



Not yet released Denotes works that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
1990 Presumed Innocent Prosecuting Attorney
1992 Jumpin' at the Boneyard Derek
1996 Faithful Young Man
Basquiat Jean-Michel Basquiat
1997 Critical Care Bed Two
1998 Too Tired to Die Balzac Man
Celebrity Greg
Meschugge Win
Blossoms and Veils Ben
1999 Cement Ninny
Ride with the Devil Daniel Holt
2000 Hamlet Gravedigger
Crime and Punishment in Suburbia Chris
Shaft Peoples Hernandez
2001 Ali Howard Bingham
2002 D-Tox Jaworski
2004 Sin's Kitchen Rex
The Manchurian Candidate Al Melvin
2005 Broken Flowers Winston
Syriana Bennett Holiday
2006 Lady in the Water Mr. Dury
Casino Royale Felix Leiter
2007 The Invasion Dr. Stephen Galeano
Blackout Nelson Also producer
2008 W. Colin Powell
Quantum of Solace Felix Leiter
Cadillac Records Muddy Waters
2009 One Blood Dan Clark Also producer
2011 Source Code Dr. Rutledge
The Ides of March Senator Thompson
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close William Black
2013 Broken City Carl Fairbanks
A Single Shot Simon
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Beetee
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete Henry
2014 Ernest & Celestine Grizzly Judge (voice) English dub
Only Lovers Left Alive Dr. Watson
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Beetee
2015 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
The Good Dinosaur Poppa Henry (voice)
2018 Monster Mr. Harmon
The Public Mr. Anderson
Game Night FBI Agent Ron Henderson Uncredited
Age Out Detective Portnoy
O.G. Louis
Hold the Dark Russell Core
2019 The Laundromat Malchus Irvin Boncamper
The Goldfinch James "Hobie" Hobart
Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook Narrator
2020 All Day and a Night J.D.
2021 The French Dispatch Roebuck Wright
No Time to Die Felix Leiter
2022 The Batman Jim Gordon
2023 Asteroid City General Gibson
Atrabilious Vincent Daugherty
Rustin Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
American Fiction Thelonious "Monk" Ellison


Year Title Role Notes
1991 Separate but Equal William Coleman Television movie
1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Sidney Bechet 2 episodes
1994 New York Undercover Andre Foreman Episode: "Garbage"
1997 Homicide: Life on the Street Hal Wilson 3 episodes
2001 Boycott Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Television movie
2003 Angels in America Norman "Belize" Arriaga / Mr. Lies /
Homeless Man / The Angel Europa
6 episodes
2005 Lackawanna Blues Mr. Paul Television movie
2007 American Experience Narrator Episode: "New Orleans"
2012 House Dr. Walter Cofield Episode: "Nobody's Fault"
2013–14 Boardwalk Empire Valentin Narcisse 11 episodes
2016 The Venture Brothers Think Tank (voice) Episode: "Tanks for Nuthin"
Confirmation Charles Ogletree Television movie
BoJack Horseman Cuddlywhiskers / Father (voice) 3 episodes
2016–22 Westworld Bernard Lowe / Arnold Weber Main role
2017 She's Gotta Have It Purple "ITIS" Voice (voice) Episode: "#NolasChoice (3 DA HARD WAY)"
2019 Sesame Street Bernard Lowe Segment: "Respect World"
Green Eggs and Ham McWinkle (voice) 13 episodes
Rick and Morty Tony (voice) Episode: "The Old Man and the Seat"
2020 Finding Your Roots Himself Episode: "This Land is My Land"
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Narrator Episode dated 28 August 2020
2021–present What If...? The Watcher (voice) 9 episodes
2023 Digman! (voice) Episode: "The Grail"
I Am Groot The Watcher (voice) Episode: "Groot and the Great Prophecy"
TBA Ark: The Animated Series Henry Townsend (voice)

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2020 The Last of Us Part II Isaac Dixon Voice; Also motion capture


Year Title Role Production company Notes
2021 The Sandman: Act II Destiny Audible
2021 Batman: The Audio Adventures Batman/Bruce Wayne Blue Ribbon Content


Year Title Role Author Venue
1993 Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Belize / Mr. Lies Tony Kushner Walter Kerr Theatre, Broadway
1993 Angels in America: Perestroika Belize / Mr. Lies /
Council of Principalities
1996 Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk Da Voice Reg E. Gaines Ambassador Theatre, Broadway
2002 Topdog/Underdog Lincoln Suzan-Lori Parks
2010 A Free Man of Color Jacques Cornet John Guare Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Broadway

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
2002 AFI Awards AFI Actor of the Year – Male – Movie or Mini-Series Boycott Won
2005 Black Movie Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Syriana Nominated
2002 Black Reel Awards Network/Cable – Best Actor Boycott Nominated
2004 Television: Best Supporting Actor Angels in America Won
2005 Best Supporting Actor The Manchurian Candidate Nominated
2006 Best Supporting Actor – Television Lackawanna Blues Won
Best Supporting Actor Syriana Nominated
2008 Cadillac Records Won
Best Ensemble Won
2016 Outstanding Voice Performance The Good Dinosaur Nominated
2017 Outstanding Supporting Actor – Drama Westworld Nominated
2018 Outstanding Actor – Drama Westworld Nominated
2012 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Acting Ensemble The Ides of March Nominated
2007 Chicago International Film Festival Career Achievement Award Won
2004 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Angels in America Won
2023 Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy American Fiction Pending
1997 Independent Spirit Awards Best Debut Performance Basquiat Nominated
2006 Best Supporting Male Broken Flowers Nominated
2002 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Boycott Nominated
2006 Lackawanna Blues Nominated
2009 Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Cadillac Records Nominated
2012 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture The Ides of March Nominated
2022 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance What If...?: What If... Ultron Won? Nominated
2004 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Angels in America Won
2017 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Westworld Nominated
2018 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2020 Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2005 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Supporting Actor Broken Flowers Won
2002 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film Boycott Nominated
2004 Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film Angels in America Nominated
2004 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Angels in America Nominated
2017 Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Westworld Nominated
1994 Tony Awards Best Featured Actor in a Play Angels in America: Perestroika Won
2002 Best Actor in a Play Topdog/Underdog Nominated
2000 Toronto Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Performance, Male Shaft (tied with Tobey Maguire for Wonder Boys) Won
2017 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on a Television Series Westworld Nominated
2019 Best Actor on a Television Series Nominated

See also

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