One of several popular young actors who emerged in the late 1990s, Shawn Hatosy stood out from the pack with his intense portrayal of unlikable and even dangerous figures in projects like "John Q" (2002), "The Cooler" (2003) and "Alpha Dog" (2007). However, his talents allowed him to tackle more even-tempered figures, including the smart-alecky lead in "Outside Providence" (1998), the future Senator John McCain in "Faith of My Fathers" (A&E, 2005), and a hard-working detective on "Southland" (NBC/TNT, 2009-13). Eschewing fame for quality work seemed to boost Hatosy's stature in the entertainment community from hopeful to fine character actor, which he continued to cultivate with complex turns on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13), among other projects.
Born Shawn Wayne Hatosy in Frederick, MD on Dec. 29, 1975, he was the son of graphic designer Wayne Hatosy and his wife, Carole, who worked as a loan officer. He began acting at an early age in local theater and television productions before landing his first national screen role in an episode of "Homicide: Life on the Street" (NBC, 1993-99) shortly after graduation from Linganore High School. Minor roles in indie features like "All Over Me" (1997) and "Niagara, Niagara" (1997) preceded his breakout role in Frank Oz's "In & Out" (1997), as a high school student who stands up for beloved teacher Kevin Kline after he is outed as gay by the national press.
Hatosy's performance, by turns quietly comic and persuasively dramatic, brought him to the attention of Hollywood, where he quickly assumed larger roles in a variety of productions. He was a football player who leaves athletics behind to focus on his studies, only to rely on his physical prowess when an alien invasion overtakes his school in Robert Rodriguez's "The Faculty" (1999), then moved back to indie features to play one of three street kids who kidnap a suicidal Martin Landau for his money in "The Joyriders" (1999). His first lead came with "Outside Providence" (1998), a period drama produced by the Farrelly Brothers about a working class teen sent to a tony prep school by his father (Alec Baldwin), where he learned self-respect. Though not a moneymaker, the film was critically praised, with the lion's share going to Hatosy's likable turn.
Unfortunately, Hatosy's next efforts failed to find a broad audience. The thriller "Simpatico" (1999), with Hatosy as the younger version of Nick Nolte's failed crook, was largely disregarded despite its origins as a Sam Shepard play, and "Anywhere but Here" (1999) and "Down To You" (2000) stranded him in generic romance plotting opposite Natalie Portman and Freddie Prinze, Jr., respectively. "Borstal Boy" (2000) gave him a choice role as Brendan Behan's teen IRA soldier who was imprisoned with English youth. It would be his last major film role for several years.
In the early 2000s, Hatosy settled in a steady stream of character parts in features and on television. He was frequently cast as hotheaded young men with a cruel streak, like his abusive teen caught in the middle of desperate father Denzel Washington's hostage crisis in "John Q" (2002), or as William H. Macy's estranged, coldly cruel son in "The Cooler' (2003). In "Soldier's Girl" (Showtime, 2003) his sexually conflicted Army private began a smear campaign against another soldier (Troy Garity) who had fallen in love with a transgender performer (Lee Pace), while in "Alpha Dog" (2007), he played a fictionalized version of Ryan Hoyt, a member of drug dealer Jesse James' Hollywood's gang and the cold-blooded killer of teenage abductee Nick Markowitz. But he was equally adept at playing men of stronger moral fiber, like the future Senator John McCain in "Faith of My Fathers," which detailed his brutal treatment at the hands of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam conflict, and FBI agent John Madala in Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" (2009).
In 2009, he was cast as Detective Sammy Bryant, whose turbulent home life played havoc with his crimefighting abilities on "Southland." The critically acclaimed series was yanked from the NBC lineup in 2009 to make room for the 10 p.m. television experiment, "The Jay Leno Show" (NBC, 2009-2010). Seeing a golden opportunity to expand their impressive primetime drama lineup, basic cable station TNT gave the show a new lease on life by taking on distribution. The following year, Hatosy returned to the darker side of the law as Boyd Fowler, a degenerate road crew worker who moonlighted as the clean-up man for a circle of rapists and murders on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-13).
Cast (Feature Film)
Began acting in local theater productions at age 10
Made TV acting debut in an episode of NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street"
Had a bit part in his film debut, "Home For the Holidays"
Featured in "All Over Me"
Was featured in the CBS TV-movie, "Double Jeopardy"
First received attention as one of Kevin Kline's students in "In & Out"
Had small roles in "Inventing the Abbotts" and "The Postman"
Played the star quarterback in the sci-fi thriller, "The Faculty"
Starred opposite Natalie Portman in "Anywhere But Here"
Played the lead role of Timothy 'Dildo' Dunphy in the comedy, "Outside Providence"
Played Irish writer Brendan Behan in "Borstal Boy"
Appeared in Nick Cassavetes' "John Q"
Co-starred in "A Soldier's Girl," with Troy Garity starring as a Soldier who is beaten to death for falling in love with a transgender
Played William H. Macy's son in "The Cooler"
Cast in "Dallas 362," the directorial debut of Scott Caan
Re-teamed with Nick Cassavetes for "Alpha Dog"
Appeared in Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"
Cast as Det. Sammy Bryanton on the drama series, "Southland"; premiered on NBC, but later moved to TNT
Appeared on the fifth season of Showtime's "Dexter" as