“Sometimes a director will say something that will inspire you and take you to a new place, and there is nothing I enjoy more than that.” William Fichtner
Getting his first break on the CBS long-running soap opera "As the World Turns," William Fichtner made his film debut in “Malcolm X” (1992) and has since appeared in several high profile films, including "Quiz Show" (1994), "Heat" (1995), "Contact" (1997), "Armageddon" (1998), "Go" (1999), "The Perfect Storm" (2000), "Pearl Harbor" (2001), "Black Hawk Down" (2001), "Crash" (2004), "The Amateurs" (2005), "The Longest Yard" (2005) and "Blades of Glory" (2007). He will soon be appearing in the upcoming Batman sequel, "The Dark Knight" (2008).
The intense, versatile New York-born character actor was also seen on television as Ryan Sparks (1994-1995), Brett Butler's love interest, in the ABC sitcom "Grace Under Fire," as well as starred as Dr. Bruce Kellerman in the short-lived ABC medical drama series "MDs" (2002). He is also recognized as Sheriff Tom Underlay in the ABC science fiction drama series "Invasion" (2005-2006). He now plays Alexander Mahone, a Special Agent of the FBI assigned to track down and capture escapees in the FOX critically-acclaimed action drama television series "Prison Break."
On a more personal note, the 6' 0½" performer, one of “People Magazine's” “Sexiest Men Alive” (2006), has been married twice and has two children.
Childhood and Family:
A military brat, William Edward Fichtner, nicknamed Bill, was born at Mitchell Field Air Force Base, in East Meadow, Long Island, New York, on November 27, 1956, but grew up in Buffalo, New York. The only boy out of five siblings born to Patricia and William E. Fichtner, William has four sisters, Margaret, Mary, Patricia, and Pamela.
William graduated from Maryvale High School in Cheektowaga, New York, in 1974, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from State University of New York, in Brockport, in 1978. He also attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. On May 18, 2008, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by his alma mater Farmingdale State College.
In 1996, William divorced his first wife, Betsy Aidem, with whom he has one child. He also has another child with his present wife, Kimberly Kalil, whom he married on July 25, 1998.
William, whose favorite food is sushi, is an avid hockey fan and his favorite team is the Buffalo Sabres. He once presented an award at the NHL Awards for the 2006/2007 season on June 14, 2007.
A military brat who originally planning on going into law enforcement, William Fichtner took an acting class and fell in love with it. He signed up with the Circle Repertory Theatre and received critical acclaim for his performance in the Norman Rene-directed Off-Broadway production of “The Fiery Furnace” (1993), in which he acted opposite Julie Harris. His other theater work includes “Raft Of The Medusa,” “The Years,” “Clothes For A Summer Hotel” and “Machinal.”
Fichtner began appearing on television in the late 80s by playing Josh Snyder/Rod Landry in the CBS long-running soap opera "As the World Turns," where he stayed from 1987 to 1993. He was spotted as a guest in a November 1989 episode of the hit TV series "Baywatch" and landed small roles in Spike Lee's biographical film "Malcolm X" (1992; starring Denzel Washington), Jonathan Sarno's independent romantic comedy "Ramona" (1993) and Robert Redford's true story-based "Quiz Show" (1994; starring John Turturro, Rob Morrow, and Ralph Fiennes).
From 1994 to 1995, Fichtner had a recurring role as Ryan Sparks, the love interest to Brett Butler's lead character, on the ABC sitcom "Grace Under Fire." During this time, Fichtner also played a sheriff in the made-for-television movie "A Father for Charlie" (1995, starring Louis Gossett Jr. and Joseph Mazzello) and was cast opposite Peter Gallagher in "Underneath" (1995), Steven Soderbergh crime/drama film based on the novel "Criss Cross" by Don Tracy.
He also played supporting roles in Brett Leonard's science fiction movie starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, "Virtuosity," Norman René's drama/comedy starring Mia Farrow, "Reckless," writer/director Michael Mann's epic crime drama starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, "Heat" and Kathryn Bigelow's science fiction film starring Ralph Fiennes, "Strange Days" (all in 1995).
"I remember I worked on 'The Underneath' then 'Strange Days' came along. I was traveling between New York and L.A. I remember I met them and there wasn't much to the role. But Kathryn Bigelow, she's a director that puts importance into everything in a really healthy, good way. I remember she said, 'This guy is really important. Him and [Vincent] D'Onofrio, this is what they mean to the story.' And I was, 'Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Sure.'" William Fichtner
In 1997, Fichtner received a breakthrough screen role when he teamed up with Matt Dillon and Gary Sinise in Kevin Spacey's directorial debut, "Albino Alligator." He followed it up with a featured role as a blind astronomer in Robert Zemeckis' science fiction film adapted from the novel by Carl Sagan, "Contact" (1997; starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey) and played Colonel William Sharp in Michael Bay's disaster/science fiction blockbuster "Armageddon" (1998; with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler).
Fichtner wrapped up the decade co-starring with John C Reilly and Kelly McGillis in Mark Steilen's film version of Lawrence H. Toffler's comedic play, "The Settlement," which debuted at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, and playing a crooked cop in Doug Liman's ensemble "Go," starring Sarah Polley and Katie Holmes.
"'Go' is one of my favorite things that I ever did. Not that I critique myself, but sometimes I'll be passing by the television and I'll say, 'Meh, maybe I would have done that a little different.’ I can't help [but] do that. But 'Go' was one of those things—I really loved working with Doug Liman. Detective Burke in 'Go' is one of those roles that's about everything I like to do, really twisted, potentially funny; a real sort of character-driven oddball. I'm so drawn to things like that. I love parts like that and 'Go' seems to be the thing that rolled it all into one." William Fichtner
Entering the new millennium, Fichtner provided his voice for TV commercials for Time Warner Cable. On the wide screen, he portrayed David 'Sully' Sullivan in Wolfgang Petersen's film adaptation of Sebastian Junger's non-fiction 1997 book "The Perfect Storm," and starred opposite Demi Moore in Belgian director Alain Berliner's first English-language film, the psychological drama "Passion of Mind."
Fichtner was subsequently cast as Sergeant First Class Jeff Sanderson in Ridley Scott's war film "Black Hawk Down" (2001). Alongside cast members that included Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, Ewen Bremner, Sam Shepherd, and Orlando Bloom, Fichtner received a Best Acting Ensemble nomination at the Phoenix Film Critics Society (PFCS) Awards.
About the film, Fichtner commented, “That was hard, really hard. It was a long time being away and I was away from my older boy for a long time. It was such a difficult journey, but at the same time, Ridley had such attention to detail. We went through training at different military bases. The guys that were really in Somalia were there with us, really wanting us to get it right, and all of us wanting to get it right. There was a real sense of the honor. It's based on a true story and to honor these guys, there were people there to help us find the nuance, so everything that was close to what they went through. That was really something special.”
After starring as Dr. Bruce Kellerman in the short-lived ABC medical drama series "MDs" (2002) and appearing in print advertisements for Gap, Fichtner returned to the silver screen to support Christian Bale and Taye Diggs in writer/director Kurt Wimmer's action and science fiction film "Equilibrium" (2002; aka. "Cubic").
Fichtner next appeared in the music video for Sara Evans' song "Perfect" off her 2003 album "Restless," which he did as a favor for a friend who was directing it. He also starred as assistant district attorney Flanagan in Paul Haggis' Academy Award-winning drama film, "Crash" (2004), which earned him a Gotham Award nomination for Best Ensemble Cast and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
2005 saw Fichtner as Ed Harris' dull-witted acquaintance Jimmy Minty in the HBO critically-acclaimed two-part mini-series "Empire Falls" (2005), which was based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name written by Richard Russo. He also acted in Rodrigo Garcia's movie "Nine Lives," which earned him a Best Ensemble Cast nomination at the Gotham Awards and co-starred in Arie Posin's "The Chumscrubber." He then teamed up with Jeff Bridges and Tim Blake Nelson in writer/director Michael Traeger's comedy film "The Amateurs.”
From 2005 to 2006, Fichtner starred as Sheriff Tom Underlay in the ABC science fiction drama series "Invasion," for which he was nominated for Best Actor on Television at the Saturn Awards.
"Things end and we move on. If it didn’t end I wouldn’t be doing 'Prison Break' and 'Prison Break' is a real highlight so I’m very happy with the situation right now." William Fichtner
When the show was eventually canceled, William joined the cast of FOX's Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated action drama television series "Prison Break," playing Alexander Mahone, a Special Agent of the FBI.
While working on "Prison Break,” Fichtner continued acting in film and was seen in Mark Fergus' thriller “First Snow” (2006). About his character in the film, Fichtner said, “Yeah, I'm the buddy. Everybody's got to have a buddy. Really, that's what he is. The first time I read the script I thought, 'What a great little story.' It's interesting and engaging. [Director] Mark Fergus and his writing partner, Hawk Ostby, wrote such an interesting piece. So yeah, I play a buddy to this guy, but it's such an interesting journey and the truth is that I'm such a fan of Guy [Pearce] as an actor that I thought it would be great to work with him.”
He was also cast as Jon Heder's billionaire adoptive father in Josh Gordon and Will Speck's comedy "Blades of Glory" (2007), which also stars Will Ferrell.
Fichtner has completed filming “The Dark Knight,” an upcoming sequel to 2005's "Batman Begins" in which he will play the Gotham National Bank Manager.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, "Crash," 2006