A sturdy lead cut from the classic leading man mold of the 1950s, Billy Burke was an American actor who graduated from indie features and television to substantial roles in Hollywood features. A drama student in his native Seattle, he earned his big break in the slapstick comedy "Mafia!" (1998), but hewed to more dramatic fare in subsequent efforts. A steady stream of supporting roles and guest shots led to recurring appearances on "24" (Fox, 2001-10) and other top series, which significantly increased his profile. Burke eventually returned to features with choice turns in major productions like "Ladder 49" (2004), "Fracture" (2007) and, most famously, as Bella Swan's ever-exasperated father in the vampire "Twilight" franchise that included five films altogether. In addition to stealing scenes from Robert Pattinson and onscreen daughter Kristen Stewart in the tween screen sensation, Burke branched out with starring roles in such projects as "Drive Angry" (2011) and landed back on the small screen, multi-tasking on two shows at the same time: "Revolution" (NBC, 2012-14) and the hit "Rizzoli & Isles" (TNT, 2010-16). A personable actor who projected confidence and sensitivity with each of his performances, Burke was among the more dependable players in film and television going into the next millennium.
Born William Albert Burke in Bellingham, WA on Nov. 25, 1966, Burke began performing at the age of nine and was a regular in local bands by his teenaged years. Music and acting remained his focus while attending Western Washington University, and he soon graduated to stage work in local theater. Burke's film debut came in 1990 with "Daredreamer," a high school comedy shot in Seattle. The experience prompted a move to Los Angeles, where he began landing regular work in episodic television. Burke's first role in a Hollywood motion picture came in "Mafia!" a Zucker Brothers spoof of gangster pictures that cast him as the unstable, Sonny Corleone-like son of Lloyd Bridges' addled Mob patriarch. A modest success at the box office, the picture did not afford Burke a boost to bigger projects, so he continued to toil in the indie and TV fields. Among his more notable projects was "Dill Scallion" (1999), an amiable comedy about a ruthlessly ambitious country singer (Burke) who tears down all those around him on his way to the top.
Burke got his first shot as a series regular with "Wonderland" (ABC, 2000), a controversial series that took place in a mental institution. The program was pulled shortly after its network debut, so Burke returned to regular rotation in TV-movies and episodic work. His career got a boost in 2001 when he was cast as FBI agent Ben Devine, who assists Morgan Freeman's forensic psychologist in tracking down a serial killer in "Along Came a Spider." The exposure led to more work on television, most notably as Gary Matheson on "24." The violence-prone boss of Agent Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) daughter, Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert), he murders his own wife (Tracy Middendorf) after she attempts to aid her own daughter in fleeing from his anger. Gary was later murdered by Kim during an attack, which led to her arrest.
Burke returned to series work as a regular with "The Jury" (Fox, 2004), a legal drama produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana. Burke was one of four New York attorneys trying cases that were eventually decided by a jury of 12, who were played by a rotating list of guest stars. Despite the abundance of talent in front of and behind the camera, the series failed to catch on and was axed after just 10 episodes. Despite the setback, Burke kept busy in features and television, most notably the firefighting drama "Ladder 49" (2004), starring John Travolta. He also penned a tongue-in-cheek horror movie, "Dead and Breakfast" (2004), which pitted teens against a horde of undead creatures called up by David Carradine's malevolent mystic.
In 2007, Burke played a corrupt police detective who attempts to plant evidence in order to convict millionaire and accused murdered Anthony Hopkins in the intricate thriller "Fracture." Though not a substantial hit, the picture kept Burke in the public eye, and he followed it with several independent features, including the romantic drama "Feast of Love" (2007), which reunited him with "Spider" co-star Morgan Freeman. In 2008, he was cast as Charlie Swan in the highly anticipated "Twilight," based on the teen-oriented vampire romance novels by Stephenie Meyers. Swan was a small town police officer and father to the story's female lead, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart). His lack of relationship with his daughter after his divorce from her mother spurs her to investigate the town around her, which in turn introduces her to its clan of vampires, particularly one named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), much to the consternation of her father.
As predicted, "Twilight" became one of the most successful films of the decade and Burke was brought back for the second installment of the franchise, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" (2009), in which Mr. Swan initially takes the werewolf's (Taylor Lautner) side in the heated Edward-Bella-Jacob triangle. Enjoying the boost given to his career by the hit films, he also picked up roles in projects like the metaphysical horror tale "Luster" (2010) and "Ticket Out" (2010), a crime-thriller starring Ray Liotta. After starring in the low-budget horror tale "Removal" (2010), Burke once more reprised the role of Officer Swan for "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" (2010), which found him investigating the disappearance of a young man, who later reappears as a "newborn" vampire.
Burke was busier than ever the following year. He took on the role of charismatic cult leader Jonah King opposite Nicolas Cage in the high-octane occult thriller "Drive Angry" (2011), then played the father of "Red Riding Hood" (2011) in the widely panned reimagining of the fable, directed, ironically, by "Twilight" original helmer, Catherine Hardwicke. On the opposite side of the box office scale was "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" (2011), the first-half of the finale for the mega-franchise. Also during this period, the prolific actor stole many a scene with his recurring role as FBI Agent Gabriel Dean on the police procedural "Rizzoli & Isles" (TNT, 2010-16). As fans braced themselves for the conclusion of the epic macabre romance to be wrapped up in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" (2012), Burke prepared for his professional life post-"Twilight" as the star of the sci-fi adventure series "Revolution" (NBC, 2012-14), the tale of a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world in which all technology was mysteriously disabled 15 years prior.
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made feature film debut in the independent film "Dare Dreamer"
First TV role was an episode of the sci-fi series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (syndicated)
First substantial film role as Joey Cortino, Lloyd Bridges's 'psychotic' son in "Mafia!"
Starred as psychiatrist Abe Matthews on the short-lived ABC series "Wonderland"
Cast in a small role opposite Morgan Freeman in the thriller "Along Came a Spider"
Joined the second season of "24" (Fox) in a recurring role
Appeared in several episodes of The WB series "Gilmore Girls"
Cast as Attorney John Ranguso on the short-lived Fox series "The Jury"
Played a young firefighter opposite Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta in "Ladder 49"
Co-starred with Anthony Hopkins in the psychological thriller "Fracture"
Joined Robert Benton's ensemble drama "Feast of Love"
Appeared in several episodes of "My Boys" (TBS) as Bobby's (Kyle Howard) smooth-talking brother
Cast as Charlie Swan in the feature adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's bestselling novel "Twilight"
Reprised the role of Charlie Swan in the sequel "The Twilight Saga: New Moon"
Reprised the role of Charlie Swan in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"
Cast as Cesaire in fantasy thriller "Red Riding Hood"
Reprised role of Charlie Swan in the Bill Condon directed "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1"
Co-starred on NBC drama series "Revolution" as former Marine sergeant-turned-bartender Miles Matheson
Returned in franchise's final film "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2," also directed by Bill Condon