Family & Companions
The grandson of famed Mexican character actor and comedian Pedro Gonzales Gonzales, Clifton Collins, Jr. launched his own career as a film and television performer in the late 1980s. At first, Collins' Latino heritage assured him steady work in stereotypical roles - thugs, police officers, troubled youth - in features like "Menace II Society" (1993) and "187" (1997). But his versatility and dedication to craft allowed him to spread his wings in a wider variety of characters, appearing in higher-profile picture like "Traffic" (2000), "Capote" (2005) and "Babel" (2006). An Emmy nominee for the short-lived "Thief" (FX, 2005-06), Collins was a frequent guest star on episodic series, and even began adding producer credits to his CV in 2005, making him one of the more versatile and talented young actors to have emerged on the scene.
Born in Los Angeles on June 16, 1970, Collins was raised in an entertainment family which included his musician and dancer grandmother, an uncle and aunt who worked in the business, and his famed grandfather who sometimes played the sidekick in John Wayne movies. Collins paid tribute to Gonzales Gonzales by adopting the surname for some of his earliest appearances, which began accumulating in the late 1980s with guest spots on television. His feature debut came with a bit role in Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" (1991), then he soon began amassing an impressive list of small turns in features like Stuart Gordon's sci-fi thriller "Fortress" (1993), the Hughes Brothers' star-making "Menace II Society" (1993), and John Singleton's "Poetic Justice" (1993). His debut as a series regular came with the Emmy-nominated medical drama "Crisis Center" (NBC, 1996-97), which lasted a scant three months.
Collins had a star-making turn in the overheated vigilante drama "187" (1997) opposite Samuel Jackson. Though his role as Cesar - a psychotic gang member with an axe to grind over Jackson's gun-toting teacher - was another example of Hollywood pulp, Collins impressed critics and audiences with the intensity of his performance. More lethal characters soon followed in action features like "The Replacement Killers" (1997), but Collins wisely held out for more dramatically diverse roles that could showcase the extent of his talents. He found one of his best in "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit" (1999), a fantasy-drama based on the short story and play by acclaimed author Ray Bradbury. Collins took the lead as a lovelorn young man who partners with a quartet of downtrodden individuals to purchase the title outfit, a magical item that will grant their fondest desires. Though released direct-to-video, the film garnered critical acclaim during its brief tour of festivals, giving audiences a glimpse at the breadth of his talent. It also afforded him the rare opportunity to co-star in a scene with his grandfather, who passed away shortly after the film's release.
Collins soon branched out into more sympathetic roles, including a student who takes part in a school takeover in "Light It Up" (1999), a troubled soldier in training for duty in Vietnam in "Tigerland" (2000) and a gay drug cartel hitman in Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" (2000). The latter earned him his first major film award from the Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by a Cast, though he had been netting smaller, but no less significant, trophies in previous years, including the Margo Albert Award for Most Promising Actor from the Nosotros Golden Eagle. After the new millennium, Collins moved into predominately mainstream features, where he further proved his ability to embrace a wide range of characters. He was an unhinged drug dealer trying to sew up a debt from James Van Der Beek's privileged college student in "The Rules of Attraction" (2002), a prisoner who shares a romantic relationship with a closeted young man in "American Girl" (2002) and a wheelchair-bound cop training to become an FBI profiler in "Mindhunters" (2004). Collins also enjoyed prominent guest appearances on "Alias" (ABC, 2001-2006) and voiced the character of former gang member Cesar Vialpando in the controversial video game, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" (2004).
After making his debut as producer with the little-seen comedy "Tom 51" (2005), Collins earned the strongest notices of his career for "Capote" (2005). As real-life killer Perry Smith, who becomes the subject of author Truman Capote's acclaimed book In Cold Blood, Collins delivered an enormously sympathetic performance of a man steeped in remorse for his heinous actions, comparing favorably to Robert Blake's turn in the same role for the 1960 version. Collins netted an ALMA Award nomination for the role, which was soon followed by several equally fine-tuned performances that same year. He was a former gang member turned LAPD officer involved in a cover-up in the indie drama "Dirty" (2006), then portrayed Kenneth Bianchi, one of the most vicious serial killers in American history, in "The Hillside Strangler" (2006), on which he also served as co-producer. He finished the year with an Emmy-nominated turn as a deeply religious criminal who believes that God is on his side in the acclaimed, but unfortunately short-lived drama series "Thief," which he soon followed by playing a border patrol officer in the international ensemble drama, "Babel" (2006).
Collins shared an acting award from the Phoenix Film Festival with the cast of "Little Chenier" (2006), a well-received indie drama about life in a Cajun community which he helped to produce. His full schedule for 2008 and 2009 proved his status as one of Hollywood's more in-demand character actors - in addition to leading roles in the thrillers "Still Waters" and "The Horsemen" (2008), Collins was cast as the manager of a Mexican boys' baseball team that played the Little League World Series in "The Perfect Game" (2008), then joined the cast of J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" (2009) as a henchman to chief villain, Nero (Eric Bana).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made film debut in Stuart Gordon's "Fortress"
First significant film role, as gang thug César Sánchez in "One Eight Seven"
Played lead role in Ray Bradbury's cult Latino film "The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit"
Portrayed a hitman for Mexican drug cartels in Steven Soderbergh's ensemble drama "Traffic"
Appeared opposite Colin Farrell in "Tigerland"
Cast as prison inmate in "Confessions of an American Girl"
Played wheelchair-bound ex-cop in Renny Harlin's "Mindhunters"
Received rave reviews for portrayal of killer Perry Smith in fact-based film "Capote"
Appeared as an undercover ICE agent on two-episode arc of FX's "The Shield"
Landed minor role as a Mexican border police in "Babel"
Starred on FX network's short-lived series "Thief"
Co-produced "National Lampoon's TV: The Movie," in which he played Officer Sanchez alongside Jacob Vargas
Appeared in Jim Sheridan's remake of "Brothers"
Cast as General Ayel, Nero's henchman in J. J. Abrams directed reboot of "Star Trek"
Played a factory worker in Mike Judge workplace comedy "Extract"
Starred in "The Perfect Game" as the coach of first non-U.S. team to win Little League World Series
Cast opposite Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez in crime thriller "Parker"