Michael John Harney is an actor from America who has garnered fame for portraying Corrections Officer Sam Healy in the Netflix original series ‘Orange Is the New Black’. Active in the industry since 1992, Harney has appeared in about a hundred film and TV projects. He is originally from New York City and grew up deeply inspired by its legendary theatre culture. After receiving intense training from renowned acting teachers William Esper and Phil Gushee, he opened The Michael Harney Acting Studio in New York. While he was in New York City, he appeared in or served as a director on 80 plays and one-acts. Harney had his screen debut in the 1993 comedy-drama film ‘Italian Movie’. His first television appearance came in a 1994 episode of ‘L.A. Law’. In the ensuing years, he has portrayed various memorable characters in shows like ‘Law & Order’, ‘NYPD Blue’, ‘Deadwood’, ‘Weeds’, and ‘Project Blue Book’. He received three Screen Actors Guild Awards as a member of the cast of ‘Orange Is the New Black’.
Michael Harney was intensely trained in acting by the legendary acting teachers William Esper and Phil Gushee. After spending seven years in learning about his craft, he became an acting teacher himself and operated The Michael Harney Acting Studio in New York City for eight years. When he was there, Harney performed in or directed around 80 plays and one-acts. He was cast as Charlie Malloy in a Broadway revival of ‘On The Waterfront’.
In 1993, Harney had his first on-screen appearance in Roberto Monticello’s comedy-drama ‘Italian Movie’. A year later, he appeared in the episode ‘Whose San Andreas Fault Is It, Anyway?’ of the NBC legal-drama series ‘L.A. Law’. In those early years of his career, he predominantly guest-starred in various popular TV shows before starring in his second film, the 1997 action thriller ‘Turbulence’. Between 1992 and 1997, Harney portrayed various characters in several episodes of the NBC police procedural drama series ‘Law & Order’. He played Micky Swift in the crime thriller ‘Shade’. Written and directed by Damian Nieman, the movie revolves around a group of hustlers who find themselves at odds with a vengeful gangster.
Harney first appeared on the HBO western series ‘Deadwood’ in the season two episode ‘Complications’ in 2005. His character, Steve Fields, is one of the drunks of the camp and has gained notoriety for being a braggart and scathing racist. Harney made his last appearance on the show in the series finale, which aired on August 27, 2006. He shared screen space with the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Al Pacino in the third instalment in the Ocean’s trilogy, ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ (2007).
In 2008, Harney played a line-up detective in ‘The Onion Movie’, a comedy film written by the writing staff of the satirical news outlet ‘The Onion’. He was part of the main cast of the 2010 short-lived NBC mystery-drama series ‘Persons Unknown’. Between 2011 and 2012, he portrayed Det. Mitch Ouellette in 14 episodes of the Showtime dark-comedy-drama series ‘Weeds’. He also played the recurring role of Leo Farwood in three episodes of the CBS short-lived period-drama series ‘Vegas’ (2012-13).
He worked with Theo Rossi, Ashley Williams, Johnny Whitworth, and Karen Allen in Mark Kemble’s directorial venture ‘Bad Hurt’. He played the patriarch of the Kendall family, who looks after their Iraq veteran son with PTSD and their mentally disabled daughter.
In 2013, he began portraying Corrections Officer Sam Healy in the Netflix comedy-drama series ‘Orange Is the New Black’. Unarguably his best performance to date, Healy initially appears to be wary and rigid but is kind and considerate towards some of the inmates. Later, he displays an unexplained dislike for lesbians. He becomes completely disillusioned with his job and is revealed to have had a turbulent past. Harney was part of the main cast in the first four seasons of the show. In the other three seasons, his character sporadically appeared in some episodes.
In 2014, he essayed the role of Sheriff Steve Geraci in the first season of the HBO anthology series ‘True Detective’. In USA Network’s anthology series ‘Unsolved’ (2018), he played the real-life police officer Lieutenant Paul Larson. Harney was part of an international cast in the 2018 drama film ‘Soy Nero’. The film was one of the entries for the Golden Bear at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. That year, he acted alongside Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in Cooper’s rendition of ‘A Star Is Born’.
Harney is currently starring as General Hoyt Vandenberg in History’s period-drama series ‘Project Blue Book’ (2019-present). He is set to appear in the upcoming shows ‘For All Mankind’ and ‘Space Command’ and the drama film ‘The Banker’.
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Family & Personal Life
Michael Harney was born on March 27, 1956, in the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA. Little else is known about his family and upbringing. He is married and has a son named Dylan. Although Dylan has a neurological disorder, he plays competitive baseball.