William Atherton

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
William Atherton
2009 CUN Award Party William Atherton 008.JPG
William Atherton in February 2009
Born William Robert Atherton Knight, Jr.
(1947-07-30) July 30, 1947 (age 74)
Orange, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1972–present

William Atherton (born July 30, 1947), born William Robert Atherton Knight, Jr., is an American film, stage and television actor.

Early life

Atherton was born in Orange, Connecticut, the son of William Robert Atherton Sr. and Myrtle (maiden name Robison) Knight.[1] He studied acting at the Drama School at Carnegie Tech and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1969.[1][2]


Atherton was successful on the New York stage immediately after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1969 and worked with many of the country's leading playwrights including David Rabe, John Guare and Arthur Miller, winning numerous awards for his work on and off Broadway.[3]

He got his big break playing hapless fugitive Clovis Poplin in The Sugarland Express, the feature film debut of Steven Spielberg. After this, he garnered major roles in dark dramas such as The Day of the Locust and Looking for Mr. Goodbar, as well as the big-budget disaster film The Hindenburg. He also starred as cowboy Jim Lloyd in the ground-breaking 1978 miniseries Centennial, based on the novel by James Michener. In 1984, Atherton appeared in the comedy Ghostbusters as the overbearing EPA agent Walter Peck. In 1985, Martha Coolidge chose Atherton to play Professor Jerry Hathaway in the teen comedy Real Genius. In 1988, Atherton played narcissistic reporter Richard "Dick" Thornburg in the blockbuster action film Die Hard, and reprised the role in its 1990 sequel Die Hard 2.[4]

Other film credits include No Mercy, The Pelican Brief, Bio-Dome, Mad City, The Crow: Salvation, The Last Samurai, Grim Prairie Tales, the TV movies Buried Alive, Headspace and Virus. He has also made guest appearances on such TV shows as The Twilight Zone, Murder She Wrote, Desperate Housewives, Law & Order, The Equalizer, Boston Legal, and Monk. Atherton provided the voice of Dr. Destiny on Justice League. He had a recurring role in NBC's detective drama Life.[4]

While starring in The Day of the Locust, Atherton was offered and accepted the opportunity to provide lead vocals for "What'll I Do", the main title theme for the Robert Redford film version of The Great Gatsby. His 2007 appearances included the film The Girl Next Door, an adaptation of the best-selling Jack Ketchum novel of the same name. He has reprised his role as Walter Peck in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, released on June 16, 2009.[4]

Atherton was cast in the final season of ABC's Lost.[5] He appeared in the musical Gigi for the Reprise Theatre in Los Angeles as "Honoré Lachailles" in 2011.[6]

Following his work on the musical, he stepped into a comedic role in Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, produced by Will Ferrell's Funny or Die, Gary Sanchez Productions and Abso Lutely Productions.[7][8]

In summer of 2014, Atherton was cast in a recurring role as Viceroy Mercado in the Syfy series Defiance's second season.

Select filmography


Video games



  1. 1.0 1.1 "William Atherton profile at". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "William Atherton Biography". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2010-12-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Professional Bio". William Atherton. Retrieved July 1, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 William Atherton at the Internet Movie Database
  5. "Executive Producer Reveals Lost Guest Star on Twitter". tvguide.com. October 28, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Mayank Keshaviah (2011-02-24). "LA Weekly Calendar 'Gigi"". laweekly.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "William Atherton back on the big screen!". Moviehole. 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2011-03-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Weinstein, Joshua L. (2010-01-14). "'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie' Ramps Up With Galifianakis, Ferrell". Thewrap.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links