“I'm a journeyman actor and part of my journey is getting to work with those actors I admire and make good films.” William Sanderson
Versatile actor William Sanderson has appeared in a number of films, including “Coal Miner's Daughter” (1980), “Blade Runner” (1982), “Lone Wolf McQuade” (1983), “The Client” (1994), “Last Man Standing” (1996), “Stanley's Gig” (2000), “Gods and Generals” (2003), “Disappearances” (2006) and “Pretty Ugly People” (2008), to name a few. On the small screen, Sanderson currently portrays Sheriff Bud Dearborne on the HBO successful series “True Blood” (2008-2010), opposite Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Kevin Alejandro and Marshall Allman. The role brought him a Screen Actors Guild nomination and Satellite's Special Achievement Award. He also played E. B. Farnum on the series “Deadwood” (HBO, 2004-2006), Dick Crowe in “Maximum Bob” (ABC, 1998) and Larry in “Newhart” (CBS, 1982-1990). Adding to his impressive resume, he portrayed Lippy Jones in the CBS hit miniseries “Lonesome Dove” (1989) and reprised the role in the 1993 miniseries “Return to Lonesome Dove.” Sanderson has also guest starred in several popular television series, including “ER,” “The Practice,” “The X-Files,” “Without a Trace” and “Lost.”
In 2008, Sanderson earned a Distinguished Alumnus award from the University of Memphis.
Childhood and Family:
“Well, it was very exciting because that's where (Elvis) Presley was, where he started, and the music was a fabulous inspiration, being able to see Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and it just went on and on. And I also saw the African-American entertainers from Stax Records like Sam & Dave. I don't think I saw Otis Redding, but I heard him all the time. So we had that great music and acting was the closest I could get to it.” William Sanderson (on growing up in Memphis)
William Sanderson was born on January 10, 1948, in Memphis, Tennessee, to a landscape designer father and an elementary school teacher mother. As a child, he delivered newspapers, played baseball and attended Bellevue Baptist Church. With his aptitude for portraying various characters, the teen William would sneak into sporting events and concerts for free. After serving two years in the Army, during which time he served as a medic, William attended Southern Methodist University. He received a BBA degree and a JD Law degree from Memphis State University (now known as the University of Memphis). His love for acting, however, kept him from taking the bar exam. He relocated to New York and trained with acting coaches Herbert Berghof and William Hickey.
On December 5, 1993, William married Sharon Wix and they own homes in Burbank, California, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He has a son named Andrew, who runs a lawn and gutter service in Raleigh, N.C., named The Blade Runner. William is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
William Sanderson began acting in college productions while at Memphis State University. After graduation, he headed to New York to pursue acting full time and began landing roles in off-Broadway productions and independent features. Early in his career, Sanderson appeared in over thirty plays, including “Hello Out There,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “When You Comin' Back Red Ryder.” He made his television movie debut in “The Other Side of Victory” in 1976 and the next year appeared in such films as “Blue Nude,” an Italian production shot in New York, “Fight for Your Life,” where he starred as Jessie Lee Kane, and “Savage Weekend,” a horror film written and directed by David Paulsen.
After moving to Hollywood, Sanderson got a small role in the based on novel “The Onion Field” (1979), a drama directed by Harold Becker that starred John Savage and James Woods. It was followed by the role of Loretta Lynn's young uncle, Lee Dollarhide, in Michael Apted's “Coal Miner's Daughter” (1980), a biopic about country music performer Loretta Lynn (played by Sissy Spacek), and appearances in Boaz Davidson's “Seed of Innocence” (1980), Peter R. Hunt's “Death Hunt” (1981, starred Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin) and Jack Fisk's “Raggedy Man” (1981), for which he was reunited with Spacek. Sanderson made his television series debut as a regular in the short lived western series “Bret Maverick” (NBC, 1981), starring James Garner. He also appeared in episodes of “The Dukes of Hazzard” (1980), “Walking Tall” (1981) and “Quincy M.E. “(1982).
Sanderson's breakthrough role arrived when he was cast as J.F. Sebastian in the science fiction movie “Blade Runner” (1982), which starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young. The film, directed by Ridley Scott with the screenplay written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples and loosely based on Philip K. Dick's novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” was a commercial flop upon its release but has since achieved cult status. “Blade Runner” was nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Effects, Visual Effects and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and a Golden Globe for Best Original Score - Motion Picture.
Sanderson gained additional prominence with his portrayal of Larry in “Newhart,” a situation comedy series starring comedian Bob Newhart and actress Mary Frann. The show premiered on CBS on October 25, 1982, and ran until May 21, 1990. Still in 1982, Sanderson also had an unaccredited role in the TV miniseries “The Executioner's Song,” which was adapted from the 1980 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name by Norman Maile, worked with Edward James Olmos, James Gammon, Tom Bower and Bruce McGill in the television movie “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” and guest starred in “Knight Rider.”
Next up for Sanderson, he appeared as a gas station attendant in “Terror in Topanga,” a segment of the 1983 horror film “Nightmares,” played a young delinquent named Snow in the Steve Carver directed action movie “Lone Wolf McQuade” (1983, starred Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera and Robert Beltran), supported Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds in Richard Benjamin's “City Heat” (1984), had a small role in the Chevy Chase comedy “Fletch” (1985), which was adapted from the popular Gregory Mcdonald novels, and rejoined Tommy Lee Jones for the John Carpenter penned action film “Back Moon Rising” (1986). He then portrayed Casper in Damian Lee's “Last Man Standing” (1987) and supported Ed Marinaro in the action thriller “Dead Aim” (1987). On the small screen, Sanderson appeared in the TV films “Who Will Love My Children” (1983), “Streets of Justice” (1985), “The Defiant Ones”(1986), “Dalton: Code of Vengeance II” (1986) and “The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains” (1987). In 1989, Sanderson was cast as Lippy Jones in the popular western television miniseries “Lonesome Dove,” an adaptation of Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. The CBS show starred Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae and Captain Woodrow F. Call, respectively. The same year, he also appeared in the films “Thunderground” (with Michael Ironside and Margaret Langrick) and “Deadly Weapon” (starred Rodney Eastman).
The following decade, Sanderson could be seen playing roles in Marina Sargenti's horror movie “Mirror, Mirror” (1990, opposite Rainbow Harvest, Karen Black and Yvonne De Carlo), Joe Johnston's “The Rocketeer” (1991), John Lafia's “Man's Best Friend” (1993, starred Ally Sheedy and Lance Henriksen), Joel Schumacher's “The Client” (1994, starred Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones), Peter Markle's “Wagons East” (1994, starred John Candy and Richard Lewis), and the sequel “Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance” (1994). He also acted in Walter Hill's “Last Man Standing” (1996, as bartender Joe Monday) and Stu Pollard's “Nice Guys Sleep Alone” (1999), among other films, and played Carl Mueller (age 44) in the television film adaptation of Stephen King's “Sometimes They Come Back” (1991). He then reprised his role of Lippy Jones in the miniseries “Return to Lonesome Dove” (1993) and appeared as Deuce in “Grail” (1994), an episode of the TNT hit series “Babylon 5.” He reprised the last character in the 1998 TV movie “Babylon 5: Thirdspace” and provided the voice of Clem in the CBS animated series “Santo Bugito” (1996). Sanderson also played the voice role of Dr. Karl Rossum in “Batman” (4 episodes, 1992-1994), Professor J.S. Ibsen in the animated series “Jumanji” (1996-1998), and received the role of Dick Crowe in the short lived series “Maximum Bob” (ABC, 1998). In addition, he guest starred in television series like “Married with Children” (1991), “The X Files” (1994), “ER” (1996), “Coach” (1997), “The Practice” (1998) and “L.A. Heat” (1999).
Entering the new millennium, Sanderson had a small role in the horror film “Stageghost” (2000, starred Edward Albert and Christopher Atkins), costarred with Faye Dunaway in Marc Lazard's “Stanley's Gig” (2000), supported Amy Stewart and Jeremy Renner in “Monkey Love” (2002), portrayed Major General A.P. Hill in “Gods and Generals” (2003), and costarred in “The Low Budget Time Machine” (2003). He also appeared with Giuseppe Cederna, Ernie Banks and Patrick Bauchau in “Promised Land” (2004) and was cast as Riley in the science fiction movie “Avatar” (2004). Meanwhile on the small screen, the actor appeared in the series “Walker, Texas Ranger” (2 episodes, 2001), “Dharma & Greg” (1 episode, 2002), “Without a Trace” (1 episode, 2003) and “Monk” (1 episode, 2004), and in the TV films “Miracle on the Mountain: The Kincaid Family Story” (2000), “Crossfire Trail” (2001) and “Monte Walsh” (2003, as Skimpy Eagens).
In 2004, Sanderson joined Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, Jim Beaver, Brad Dourif and Paula Malcomson in the western series “Deadwood,” which was created, produced, and primarily written by David Milch. He appeared in the show on HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, and received a 2007 Screen Actors Guild in the category of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series for his work on the series. While working on “Deadwood,” Sanderson also appeared in the comedy “Wit's End” (2005), the family adventure “The Treasure of Painted Forest” (2005), “Disappearances” (2006, directed and written by Jay Craven) and the horror film “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” (2006, with George Peroulas, Fountain Yount and Gregory Fawcett).
After the cancellation of “Deadwood,” Sanderson appeared in an episode of “Life” called “What They Saw” (2007) and portrayed Sam in the comedy “Pretty Ugly People” (2008) before returning to television series as a regular cast member on “True Blood,” a supernatural drama that premiered on HBO on September 7, 2008. Playing Sheriff Bud Dearborne, he shared a 2009 Satellite Award in the category of Special Achievement Award, Best Ensemble, Television and a 2010 Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. 2009 also saw Sanderson appear in “Alienski,” a segment of “Imps,* in an episode of “Lost” called “He's Our You” and an episode of “Trauma” called “Blue Balloon.” In 2010, he appeared in “Choices,” an episode of “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”
Satellite: Special Achievement Award, Best Ensemble, Television, “True Blood,” 2009
University of Memphis: Distinguished Alumnus, 2008