William Devane is an American actor known for his works in films, television, and theatre. Among his most notable works is his recurring role of James Heller in the popular American TV series ‘24’. The show became a huge success and earned several Emmy Awards as well as two Golden Globes. He also earned popularity for his role of Greg Sumner in the American television soap opera ‘Knots Landing’ in which he appeared in a total of 269 episodes. The American series was also aired internationally. William Devane has also appeared in many films, mostly in supporting roles. He was seen in the Oscar nominated film ‘McCabe and Mrs. Miller’, where he played the role of Clement Samuels. He was seen in an important role in the Oscar nominated film ‘Marathon Man’ as well. More recently, he appeared in Christopher Nolan’s superhero film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ where he portrayed the President of the United States. The film was a commercial hit. He also had a cameo role in Nolan’s epic science fiction film ‘Interstellar’.
Childhood & Early Life
William Joseph Devane was born on 5th September 1939 in Albany, New York in the US. His parents were Joseph and Kate Devane. His father worked for Franklin D Roosevelt as a chauffeur when the latter was the Governor of New York.
Devane studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts located in New York, from where he graduated in 1962.
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After his graduation, William Devane performed in several plays with the New York Shakespeare Festival. He portrayed US President John F Kennedy in a Broadway parody named ‘Macbird.’ He portrayed Kennedy again in the TV docudrama ‘The Missiles of October’ in 1974, for which he earned much acclaim.
After he became known for his role in ‘The Missiles of October,’ he appeared in the 1975 Emmy winning TV movie ‘Fear on Trial’. He portrayed the well-known radio personality named John Henry Faulk. In 1979, he was seen in a main role in the TV miniseries ‘From Here to Eternity’.
He was also gaining popularity for his work in films during this period. His early works include the Oscar nominated 1971 film ‘McCabe and Mrs. Miller’, ‘Report to the Commissioner’ (1975), ‘Marathon Man’ (1976), and ‘Yanks’ (1979). Devane was mostly seen in supporting roles.
Devane’s popularity reached new heights after he portrayed Greg Sumner in the American soap opera ‘Knots Landing’. The series aired from December 1979 to May 1993. It not only gained huge popularity but also became one of the longest running American TV dramas. Eventually the show also started broadcasting in other countries such as the UK, Australia, France and Israel.
He also continued to work in films, appearing in movies like ‘Honky Tonky Freeway’ (1981) and ‘Testament’ (1983). In 1987, he appeared in the sci-fi TV movie ‘Timestalkers’, playing the lead role. Directed by Michael Schultz, the film was based on a novel by Ray Brown named ‘The Tintype’. It earned mostly positive reviews from critics.
In the coming decades he appeared in films, such as ‘Vital Signs’ (1990), ‘Lady in Waiting’ (1994), ‘Exception to the Rule’ (1997), ‘Space Cowboys’ (2000), ‘The Badge’ (2002), and ‘The Least Among You’ (2009). His works on TV for this period include the series ‘Phenom’ which aired from 1993 to 1994, and ‘Early Edition’, which aired from 1997 to 1999.
In 2005, he started playing the role of James Heller in the well-known American TV series '24'. He appeared in a total of 32 episodes throughout the series. The show gained critical acclaim and also earned several awards. It aired from 2001 to 2014.
His more recent works include ‘Red Clover’ (2012), ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012), ‘Bad Turns Worse’ (2013) and ‘Interstellar’ (2014). In 2015, he was seen in the TV series ‘The Grinder’ and ‘Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise’.
'McCabe and Mrs. Miller,' a 1971 American film, was one of the early works in William Devane’s career. Directed by Robert Altman, the film was based on a 1959 novel ‘McCabe’ by Edmund Naughton. The film starred actors such as Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Michael Murphy and Anthony Holland. The film was nominated for a British Academy Film Award as well as a Writers Guild of America Award.
William Devane played an important role in the famed American TV series ‘24’. The show focused on the efforts of the fictional Counter Terrorist Unit in the US to protect the country from terrorist attacks. The show earned huge popularity and also won many awards. It won twenty Emmy Awards out of sixty-eight nominations, as well as two Golden Globe Awards, out of twelve nominations. It aired from 2001 to 2014. An Indian adaption of the show was also created, which aired in 2013 and 2016.
Devane portrayed the President of the United States in the 2012 film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Directed by Christopher Nolan, the film was based on the famous DC Comics vigilante superhero ‘Batman’. Other actors in the film were Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, and Tom Hardy. The film was a huge commercial success, grossing more than $1 billion. It won several awards such as the ‘Golden Trailer Award’ and the ‘Teen Choice Award’.
Awards & Achievements
William Devane’s performance in the TV series ‘Knots Landing’ earned him a nomination for the ‘Golden Globe’ for ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a TV series’.
He was nominated for the Emmy Award twice, in 1975 and 1976. His first nomination was for his role in the docudrama ‘The Missiles of October’ and his second nomination was for his role in the TV movie ‘Fear on Trial’.
He won three Soap Opera Digest Awards for his work in the soap opera ‘Knots Landing’. He won his first award in 1989 for ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’. He won his second and third award in 1990 and 1991 respectively, in the category of ‘Outstanding Lead Actor’.
He won the TV Land Award (shared with rest of cast) in 2009, for his work in ‘Knots Landing’.
William Devane married Eugenie Devane in 1961. The couple has two sons.