Posted by medusamorlock on November 27, 2008
Much of the time around here we’re talking about old things, and dead people, and it felt like a good time to be able to celebrate someone who’s alive, well and doing wonderful work in the movies. Actor William Fichtner — the face is definitely familiar if perhaps you don’t immediately connect the name — turns 52 years old today. Fichtner’s name in the credits of a movie or television show make you sit up and take notice, waiting for his appearance, because you know it won’t disappoint.
You’ve no doubt seen him in some of the recent past’s most successful films, working for an assortment of contemporary directors who look to him as a solid onscreen presence who always adds something special to a scene. (By the way, his last name is pronounced fick ner). Fichtner’s a Long Island boy who made it big in soap operas — As The World Turns — then graduated to minor uncredited roles in several movies such as Quiz Show. He received good notices for his recurring role in the TV comedy Grace Under Fire in 1995, and soon after his feature film career started to take off in earnest.
Roles in Virtuosity, Strange Days, Heat and several others led to his standout role as Jodie Foster’s blind scientist colleague, a charming and sympathetic supporting performance, in the science fiction drama Contact from 1997. The movie roles just kept coming, sometimes smaller, sometimes more major, but always showing his versatility and credibility onscreen. Switchback was followed by a role as part of the macho ensemble of players in director Michael Bay’s overdone but popular meteor-meets-Earth disaster action movie Armageddon, which put Fichtner smack in the middle of a box office mega-hit. He went from Armageddon to a series of smaller but interesting roles in movies like the 1999′s offbeat drug drama Go, the equally offbeat all-star murder comedy Drowning Mona, and the romance Passion of Mind opposite Demi Moore.
In 2000 he joined the cast of The Perfect Storm, director Wolfgang Petersen’s adaptation of the best-selling book about the tragic aftermath of a once-in-a-lifetime weather event on the crews of several commercial fishing boats. He followed that up with a role, again for director Michael Bay, in his ambitious but ultimately not-so-successful Pearl Harbor, but soon was back in the audiences’ good graces via his role in the harrowing Black Hawk Down, based on the book of the same name, about a group of U.S. soldiers who find themselves in the middle of a violent uprising in Somalia. Fichtner also assured his place in the hearts of hardcore gamers everywhere with his voicework in the insanely popular and controversial title Grand Theft Auto (plus a sequel). Here’s the trailer for Black Hawk Down:
Since then, Fichtner’s enjoyed a career which has freely moved between television and motion pictures, the latter including Equilibrium, 2004′s Oscar-winning drama Crash, 2005′s The Longest Yard, the futuristic vampire pic Ultraviolet, the broad comedy Blades of Glory, and most recently a role in the latest Batman movie The Dark Knight. Television-wise, William Fichtner’s done great work in the short-lived medical drama MDs, HBO’s miniseries Empire Falls, plus he turned short-lived science fiction series Invasion into a mini-cult classic, and these days is enjoying super tube success with a big role as agent Mahoney in Fox’s exciting drama Prison Break. Here’s his scene from The Dark Knight:
I know you’ve seen William Fichtner and enjoyed him. He’s the kind of actor whose performances are worth savoring and seeking out. We love to talk about classic actors around here, and William Fichtner is certainly the new version of one, a contemporary classic with many more skilled performances ahead of him. We look forward to all of them. Happy Birthday, William Fichtner!
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