Bill Smitrovich Bio
All images used courtesy Brinson Banks.
Bill Smitrovich began his professional acting career in 1980 at the age of 33 in the world premiere of Arthur Miller’s “The American Clock” at the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina. In a baptism of fire, Bill, who had been hired in his first professional job as the understudy for all the male roles in the show, found himself onstage for the lead actor on opening night. In true dramatic fashion, a star was born. The play moved to Broadway and Bill’s theatrical opportunities multiplied. “The American Clock” was followed by “Of Mice and Men” and “Food From Trash” at the Actors Theatre of Louisville and the International Arts Festival in Hong Kong, “Requiem for a Heavyweight” at Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, “Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune” at Westside Arts Theatre, “The Skin of Our Teeth”,” A Winter’s Tale” at Williamstown Theatre Festival and “Far East” by A.R. Gurney which moved from Williamstown to New York’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.
West Coast stage appearances include “A Number” by Caryl Churchill, directed by Anna Shapiro and also starring Josh Charles at A.C.T., voted “Best Play of 2006” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Last year, he played the conflicted shop owner, Donny, in the Geffen Theatre’s 2013 award winning production of “American Buffalo”directed by Randall Arney.
Born in Connecticut, Bill graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 1972 and holds an honorary doctorate from that institution. He received a Masters of Fine Arts from Smith College in 1976. He briefly taught acting at the University of Massachusetts, while helping to found the illustrious No Theatre Company in Northampton, which is now associated with another innovative and provocative theatre company, the Wooster Group. In 1978, he came to New York City with “The Elephant Man”, an original production which was a precursor to the popular movie of the same name.
In the early 1980’s Bill began tackling film and television roles. He made his film debut in “A Little Sex”, directed by Bruce Paltrow. More complicated and diverse roles soon followed. “Splash” and “Crazy People” broadened his repute, but it was a meeting for a small part on a TV pilot which propelled his career into film and TV. Bill won the part of Sonny Crockett’s sorrowful and desperate partner in the TV pilot of “Miami Vice” and thus began a long creative relationship with Michael Mann. A string of creative ventures with Mann include “Manhunter”, “Band of the Hand”, and the unparallelled sixties-noir TV drama, “Crime Story”.
He has hosted the annual "Life Goes On Celebrity Golf Classic" for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles. Following this TV success, Bill co-starred on the A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2000) with Timothy Hutton and Maury Chaykin, had a recurring chief California called a decade later with ABC’s ground- breaking series “Life Goes On”. Bill played Drew, a family man and father of a son with Down Syndrome. Through his association with many loving and inspiring members of the Down Syndrome community he met during this period, he became an active supporter of the Special Olympics and served as a board member for the International Special Olympics.
Subsequent television roles include cigar chomping Inspector Cramer in “Nero Wolfe Mysteries”, tough DA Kenneth Walsh in “The Practice”, Agent Olcyk in “Without a Trace”, Lt. Bob Bletcher in “Millennium”, and Kirsty Alley’s neurotic boyfriend, Cry Baby McGuire, in “Fat Actress”. He co-starred with James Brolin in the telefilm “The Reagans” as Alexander Haig,and co- starred with Annette Benning as her lawyer in HBO’s “Mrs. Harris”. In “The Event”, he starred as Vice President Raymond Jarvis. He is proud to have been a member of George Clooney’s all-star live production of “Fail Safe”.
Last season Bill's television work included RAKE with Greg Kinnear, and Michael Bay's "The Last Ship" in which Bill plays Commander Chandler's intrepid father.
Movie roles range from a young immigrant bartender in Andrei Konchalovsky’s “Maria’s Lovers” to TED’s witless employer to the imposing Maxwell Taylor in Kevin Costner’s “Thirteen Days”. Other films include: “Independence Day”, Rob Reiner’s “Ghosts of Mississippi, “Iron Man”, “Air Force One”, “Seven Pounds”, two films with Johnny Depp, “Nick of Time” and the homage to Hunter S. Thompson, “The Rum Diary”, and many others.
His most recent film, "November Man" just opened in theaters nationwide. Bill plays the wily CIA boss (John Hanley) who maneuvers The November Man (Pierce Brosnan) back into the spy game.
Bill served as a member of the Screen Actors Guild Hollywood Board 2008 - 20011 and found his work as National Chair of the Senior Performers Committee particularly fulfilling. He helped to inaugurate the SAG Foundation Golf Classic which provides care for needy members of the Screen Actors Guild. He is also very proud of his relationship with the U.S. Military, especially Air Space Command, and all the courageous men and women who protect and serve our great country.
As National Senior Performer's Chair of the Screen Actor's Guild, Bill became involved in the fight for the continuation of long term care services for the Motion Picture and Television Fund's fabled Motion Picture Home. The storied fight pitted the families of working actors, set dressers, transportation people and other studio laborers against the powers that be who sought to end long term care services. The outcome was in favor of those 'studio workers on whose shoulders we stand'.
Bill lives outside of Los Angeles, CA, with his wife, actress Shaw Purnell. His son A.J. is currently the creator and voice of My Dad's LP's, a popular Internet radio show while Maya, his daughter, just made him a grandpa!
who am i? what am i? are no longer important questions.
knowing that i am is finally enough
like discovering dessert is delicious following a disastrous
meal, a sweetness that reawakens
the palate, or finding that one's chalice is unexpectedly
filled with elixir of euphoria
and i stumble happily into the cornucopia, arms outstretched, upturned, drunk
my heart athrum, bones full samba, the night
blesses me with his constellations
baptizes me with his deathless autumnal chill
and i invade the moody indigo
full-throated and singing
- Wanda Coleman