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Esai Morales

Esai Morales

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: October 1, 1962 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: actor, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Handsome, charismatic and intense, actor Esai Morales' film debut as a brutal youth offender in "Bad Boys" (1983) was so chillingly convincing that he struggled against being confined to similar roles throughout the remainder of his career. After his near battle to the death against Sean Penn in "Bad Boys," Morales landed what would be his biggest cinematic success with the role of Richie Valens' mercurial older brother in the rock-n-roll box office hit "La Bamba" (1987). He stretched himself as an actor with admirable turns in films such as "Rapa-Nui" (1994), before finding his comfort zone as a member of generational ensemble pieces like the drama "Mi Familia" ("My Family") (1995), co-starring Edward James Olmos and Jimmy Smits. Morales helped break new ground with the Latino-centric series "Resurrection Blvd" (Showtime, 2000-03) and "American Family" (PBS, 2001-04), in addition to gaining wider visibility as a cast member on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) during the same period. His opportunity to lead a high-profile series failed to take off, however, when the science-fiction soap opera "Caprica" (SyFy, 2009-2010) lasted for less than a season. Despite the challenges of finding work in projects...

Handsome, charismatic and intense, actor Esai Morales' film debut as a brutal youth offender in "Bad Boys" (1983) was so chillingly convincing that he struggled against being confined to similar roles throughout the remainder of his career. After his near battle to the death against Sean Penn in "Bad Boys," Morales landed what would be his biggest cinematic success with the role of Richie Valens' mercurial older brother in the rock-n-roll box office hit "La Bamba" (1987). He stretched himself as an actor with admirable turns in films such as "Rapa-Nui" (1994), before finding his comfort zone as a member of generational ensemble pieces like the drama "Mi Familia" ("My Family") (1995), co-starring Edward James Olmos and Jimmy Smits. Morales helped break new ground with the Latino-centric series "Resurrection Blvd" (Showtime, 2000-03) and "American Family" (PBS, 2001-04), in addition to gaining wider visibility as a cast member on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) during the same period. His opportunity to lead a high-profile series failed to take off, however, when the science-fiction soap opera "Caprica" (SyFy, 2009-2010) lasted for less than a season. Despite the challenges of finding work in projects that allowed him to break free of preconceived notions and ethnic stereotypes, Morales continued to work steadily in film and on television in roles both familiar and surprising.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Teachers (2013)
4.
5.
 Gun Hill Road (2011)
6.
7.
8.
 Cherry (2010)
9.
10.
 American Fusion (2007)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1978:
Ran away from home at age 15 when his mother objected to his theatrical ambitions; became a voluntary ward of the state (date approximate)
:
Enrolled in NYC's High School of Performing Arts
:
Professional stage debut, "El Hermano" at the Ensemble Theater in NYC
1981:
Off-Broadway debut at age 17 in NY Shakespeare Festival production of "The Tempest"
1983:
Feature debut, "Bad Boys" opposite Sean Penn
1984:
TV acting debut, "The Great Love Experiment", an "ABC Afterschool Special"
1985:
First feature starring role, "Rainy Day Friends" (released on video 1988)
1986:
TV miniseries debut, "On Wings of Eagles" starring Burt Lancaster
1987:
Played the ex-convict/half-brother of 1950s rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens in "La Bamba"
1992:
Broadway debut as a young Syrian in love with the titular temptress in "Salome"
1994:
TV directorial debut, "America's Most Wanted"
1995:
Appeared in "My Family/Mi Familia"
1996:
Co-starred in ABC TV-movie "Dying to Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story"
1997:
Had leading role in "The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca"
2000:
Played recurring role in the Showtime drama series "Resurrection Blvd."
2001:
Joined regular cast of the ABC series "NYPD Blue" as Lt. Tony Rodriguez
2002:
Had recurring role on the PBS drama "American Family" as an ex-convict
2005:
Cast in the lead role of Cesar Castillo in the Broadway-bound musical staging of "The Mambo Kings"
2006:
Cast in the short-lived Fox drama, "Vanished" as an FBI agent
2006:
Cast as part of an ensemble in "Fast Food Nation," Richard Linklater's adaptation of Eric Schlosser's non-fiction book
2007:
Joined the CBS series "Jericho" in a recurring role, as Col. Hoffman, a career military officer and Iraq War veteran
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Education

The School of Performing Arts: New York , New York -

Notes

"I'll never lose the sense of being an underdog. I'm capable of a lot more." --Esai Morales quoted in People, March 25, 2002.

"In high school Esai was gorgeous and always chasing girl...he's still gorgeous!" -- Elizabeth Pena quoted in People. June 24, 2002.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Susie Field. Dated in late summer 1996.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Esai Morales. Retired welder. Born c. 1937; divorced from Morales' mother c. 1968.
mother:
Iris Morales. Union activist. Was involved with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union; divorced from Morales' father c. 1968; remarried.

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