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Andre Braugher spent five critically acclaimed years playing zealous justice-seeker Detective Frank Pembleton on NBC's "Homicide" (NBC, 1993-99), where his character was the galvanizing, if hard-to-like, center of the ensemble drama. Naturally, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor was sought out to star in other television offerings, including the short-lived medical drama "Gideon's Crossing" (CBS, 2000-01), the buddy dramedy "Men of a Certain Age" (TNT, 2009- ) and the Emmy-winning miniseries, "Thief" (FX, 2005), in which he broke with his upstanding image to star as a morally conflicted high-stakes thief. The character-driven actor's flair for decisive confidence led to memorable film roles as men-in-charge in "10,000 Black Men Named George" (Showtime, 2002), "Poseidon" (2006) and "The Andromeda Strain" (A&E, 2008). For his commitment to three-dimensional characters and his high-caliber work in primetime and beyond, Braugher helped pave the way for African-American actors to be accepted in a much wider range of roles than ever before.Born July 1, 1962, and raised on Chicago's West Side by working class parents, Braugher excelled in academics as a child and later earned a scholarship to...
Andre Braugher spent five critically acclaimed years playing zealous justice-seeker Detective Frank Pembleton on NBC's "Homicide" (NBC, 1993-99), where his character was the galvanizing, if hard-to-like, center of the ensemble drama. Naturally, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor was sought out to star in other television offerings, including the short-lived medical drama "Gideon's Crossing" (CBS, 2000-01), the buddy dramedy "Men of a Certain Age" (TNT, 2009- ) and the Emmy-winning miniseries, "Thief" (FX, 2005), in which he broke with his upstanding image to star as a morally conflicted high-stakes thief. The character-driven actor's flair for decisive confidence led to memorable film roles as men-in-charge in "10,000 Black Men Named George" (Showtime, 2002), "Poseidon" (2006) and "The Andromeda Strain" (A&E, 2008). For his commitment to three-dimensional characters and his high-caliber work in primetime and beyond, Braugher helped pave the way for African-American actors to be accepted in a much wider range of roles than ever before.
Born July 1, 1962, and raised on Chicago's West Side by working class parents, Braugher excelled in academics as a child and later earned a scholarship to Stanford University. After a few years as an engineering major, he fell into an audition for a Shakespeare play and it opened up a whole new world; one in which he changed his major and set a personal goal to use acting to better the image of black men in the media. Braugher further earned an MFA in Theater from Juilliard in 1988, and following his graduation, began performing with the New York Shakespeare Festival and at the Folger Theater in Washington D.C. In 1989, Braugher made his screen debut in "Ariana" (NBC), the first of five "Kojak" TV movies in which he portrayed a dogged assistant detective. More memorable was his feature debut in "Glory" (1990) as a Harvard-educated Union soldier in one of the first black soldier units in the Civil War. A striking presence in dramatic confrontations, Braugher played a civil rights activist in "Murder in Mississippi" (NBC, 1990) and had the lead in "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" (TNT, 1990), which traced the future baseball great's fight against military segregation policies.
In 1993, Braugher was tapped to bring the same intensity and commanding presence to the character-driven police drama, "Homicide: Life on the Street," in which he portrayed Detective Pembleton. At once hard-headed and sensitive, Pembleton solved cases with an intuitive approach and broke down the guilty with emotional ammunition. Segments of the series featuring Pembleton one-on-one with a suspect in the interrogation room were a highlight of the program; far more affecting and harrowing than any of the high-speed action sequences. Braugher was inarguably the breakout star of the series, and in the future, his character would be remembered by TV Guide with their ranking of great television detectives, with Braugher's Pembleton coming in third behind Columbo and Jim Rockford. While holding down his commanding weekly spot in primetime, Braugher continued to appear on stage and even ventured again into feature films, appearing in a supporting role as a district attorney in the Bruce Willis headliner, "Striking Distance" (1993). For the 1995 season of "Homicide," Pembleton - at Braugher's suggestion - suffered a debilitating stroke, making his tough-as-nails character more fragile, which gave him an added dimension. His performance that year earned Emmy and Image Award nominations, in addition to a second nomination for "The Tuskegee Airmen" (1995), HBO's WWII historical drama in which Braugher portrayed a squadron commander.
Braugher made further inroads into his film career with a supporting role in the courtroom drama, "Primal Fear" (1996), starring Richard Gere, and with a stand-out part as an egocentric, unsympathetic actor in "Get On the Bus" (1996), Spike Lee's musings on the Million Man March. Braugher earned an Obie Award in 1997 when he returned to the New York Shakespeare Festival to play the title role in "Henry V," and the following year, announced that after five years on "Homicide," he would leave the series in 1998 to pursue new frontiers. There was plenty of press surrounding Braugher's departure, and amid recognition of the new professional doors he had helped open for African-American actors, Braugher's send-off also included a well-deserved Emmy Award. Unfortunately, his first follow-up screen appearance was a sidekick role alongside Nicolas Cage as a guardian angel in "City of Angels" (1998), Brad Silberling's Hollywood massacre of the soaring German film, "Wings of Desire" (1987). In short order his distinctive booming voice was tapped to narrate the 1999 documentaries "Wildfire: Feel the Heat" and "Scottsboro: An American Tragedy."
After "Homicide," Braugher did not shy away from TV projects, though he did try to distance himself from his Pembleton character with a variety of surprising roles that showcased his facility with complex, three-dimensional men. As Father Joseph Verrett in the TNT original film, "Passing Glory" (1999), Braugher earned an Image Award nomination for his portrayal of an idealistic and stubborn Catholic priest who seeks to bridge 1960s racial gaps with a controversial mixed-race basketball game. That same year, Braugher tried his hand at directing, and proved an even-handed and focused helmer with "A Love Song for Dad," a segment of the Showtime drama trilogy, "Love Songs" (1999). After playing a successful gay lawyer embroiled in a heterosexual tryst complicated by gunfire in the ensemble drama "All the Rage" (1999), he had a pivotal supporting role in the tear-jerker time travel drama, "Frequency" (2000). Braugher racked up more big screen credits with a co-starring turn as an ex-con in Bruce Paltrow's karaoke comedy-drama "Duets" (2000), and a starring role in the police thriller, "A Better Way to Die" (HBO, 2000). The same year, he reprised his role of Detective Pembleton in the TV movie special, "Homicide: The Movie" (NBC, 2000).
In 2000, Braugher was cast to star in the medical drama "Gideon's Crossing" (CBS, 2000-01) as Ben Gideon, a skilled and empathetic doctor who dispenses medicine and inspiration in equal doses, even in the face of failing to find a cure. The absorbing, deeply layered series received overwhelmingly positive reviews, and Braugher earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for his dynamic role, though low audience numbers spelled cancellation after just one season. Braugher weathered that disappointment and soldiered on to executive produce and star in the Showtime movie, "10,000 Black Men Named George" (2002), in which he portrayed real life train porter and union activist A. Philip Randolph; his work earned him nominations for Best Actor from the Black Reel Awards and the Image Awards. He next co-starred as the former partner of a cop-turned-cabbie (David Morse) who helps solve street crimes on the CBS drama series, "Hack" (2002-04), as well as served as the narrator of the music documentary, "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" (2002).
Following the cancellation of "Hack," Braugher starred in the critically acclaimed miniseries, "Thief" (FX, 2005) as Nick Atwater, a cool, efficient thief whose wife and 14-year-old stepdaughter know nothing of his double life pulling high-risk jobs on banks and insurance companies. The miniseries focused more on character relationships and Atwater's moral struggle than on any particular heist, though there was plenty in the way of tense action. Braugher earned rave reviews for his complex performance, and took home an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Television Miniseries. Back on the big screen, Braugher played the captain of a doomed ocean liner in Wolfgang Petersen's passable disaster film remake, "Poseidon" (2006), and enjoyed his first blockbuster with his supporting role as General Hager in the comic book adaptation, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (2007). Braugher rounded out his run of films playing one of an ensemble of terrified townsfolk in Stephen King's "The Mist" (2007), before offering a composed turn as the head of a government bio-terror unit in the Emmy Award-nominated miniseries, "The Andromeda Strain" (A&E, 2008), based on the novel by Michael Crichton.
In 2009, Braugher was cast in a recurring role on "House M.D." (Fox, 2004- ) as the doctor with the unenviable task of weaning the cranky title character off his addiction to prescription painkillers. Later that year, Braugher was cast alongside Ray Romano and Scott Bakula in Romano's first post-"Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005) creation, "Men of a Certain Age" (TNT, 2009- ). The well-received comic drama focused on a trio of middle-aged friends facing forty-something issues, and Braugher proved surprisingly adept at subtle comedy with his role as a father and husband yoked with financial responsibility, but resentful of having to sell cars at his father's dealership. Braugher's deft performance justly earned him Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, he ventured back into features to play the secretary of defense in the action spy thriller "Salt" (2010), starring Angelina Jolie.
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CAST: (feature film)
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"Homicide" creator Tom Fontana on Andre Braugher: "There are three kinds of actors. One is an actor you hire and he gives you nothing. Another gives you exactly what you've written. And the third takes what you give him and just completely soars with it. That's Andre. Andre is one of those actors who makes me think I'm a better writer than I really am." --quoted in the New York Times, February 2, 1994.
"The kind of roles I like to take are three-dimensional characters. Unusally when people call you in, it's 'the black character'. It's Paul or Tom, or Dick, the handsome black man. Meanwhile, all these other characters, who don't have meticulous or specific descriptions, I want to play those people because they have more to do, or they're more interesting, or they're more interesting to me. I'd like to play those characters, but I'm not called in for those characters." --Braugher to the New York Times, February 2, 1994.
Andre Braugher on becoming a household name: "The danger for me is I'll forget who I am and where I came from. I might begin to believe my own hype.
"I don't have a manager. I don't have a publicist. I don't want to go on 'The Tonight Show' and be all palsy-walsy with the host. I think I want to be rich but I don't want to be famous." --quoted in Entertainment Weekly, October 28, 1994.
Asked by USA Weekend (March 15-17, 1996) if he is interested in a full-time film career, Braugher responded: "If Hollywood were clamoring for Andre Braugher, I'd be working more. So I'm not deceived into thinking I have what it takes."
"I'm not interested in playing characters who are worried about being liked. We don't go through life being liked." --Andre Braugher quoted in Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1996.
"I'm black in America. On a daily basis, I'm reminded that I'm unwanted. It's just a fact of life. I was born without civil rights and I grew up angry. I'm not protected by my family or wealth or intelligence from the daily assaults that are inflicted on the dignity of black Americans everywhere in this country." --Braugher in the Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1996.
"He is so tough and smart and sure of himself that he intimidates everyone around him--including me." --"Homicide" producer Tom Fontana in People, September 2, 1996.
Braugher on his character's outlook-altering stroke in the series "Homicide": "I've been that detective for so many years that I reall need something new.
"Change is hard, but I'd like to [play] a man who's more appreciative. The quandary becomes that the audience really caught on to the character three years after we debuted, And they want their guy back." --quoted in TV Guide, December 28, 1996.
On his lack of comedic roles: "I don't think I'm really cut out for that! I try to choose projects that emphasize the human spirit. So I have not done a 'Booty Call'! But if I were handed a superb 'Booty Call' that explores the human spirit, maybe ..." --Braugher quoted in the San Francisco Examiner, April 7, 1998.
Braugher on putting his family before his work: "If my ambiton to become a 'movie star' became so great that I'd be willing to neglect my marriage and my role as a father, I would suffer the consequences. This is a business in which the divorce rate is very high, and very few people are on their first marriage." --quoted in Daily News, April 9, 1998.
According to Newsday (April 23, 1998), Braugher stopped watching television in the 1970s. "'Three's Company' ... that was my Waterloo. It's been a non-love affair for quite a long time. I think consequently I've been out of the loop on a lot of the fads that have come and gone".
Braugher on his criteria for success: "If you do a film and your experience is really terrible, and you suffer every conceivable reversal on it possible, you hate the experience--and it's a hit--do you feel any better about it? No. If you go there and you have a wonderful time, you learn things, you make the best friends, you feel yourself challenged in every way--and it's a bomb--do you feel any worse about it? No.
"So the only thing you can really take away from any movie that you make is the experience itself. And if you did it for the right reasons, and it turned out to be something that was valuable and profitable to you--as a person--then you have been in a successful movie." --quoted in Newsday, February 18, 1999.
"I'm not a chameleon. I'll never be known as one of those guys who people say, 'I didn't recognize him in that film.' But it's a quality that shines out, that people have found attractive. I don't know whether it would be a limitation to me in the course of my career." --Braugher quoted in The Dallas Morning News, February 21, 1999.
"TV and film are gigantic enterprises. There is no instant feedback. But in theater, if you're boring, the audience will fall asleep right in front of you. Every night, you have to create magic. It has its own type of danger--without actually having to go to war." --Braugher quoted in Daily News, May 3, 2000.
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