Courtney B. Vance

Actor
This no-nonsense, Ivy-educated, stage-trained player parlayed his success on the boards into increasingly substantial work in TV and films. A history major as a Harvard undergraduate, Vance began acting in college and ... Read more »
Born: 03/12/1960 in Detroit, Michigan, USA

Filmography

Actor (58)

American Crime Story 2015 - 2017 (TV Show)

Actor

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert 2016 (Tv Show)

Guest

Scandal 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

State Of Affairs 2014 - 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

Terminator: Genisys 2015 (Movie)

Miles Dyson (Actor)

Masters of Sex 2014 (Tv Show)

Actor

Graceland 2013 (Tv Show)

Actor

Joyful Noise 2012 (Movie)

Pastor Dale (Actor)

The Divide 2012 (Movie)

Delvin (Actor)

Final Destination 5 2011 (Movie)

Agent Block (Actor)

The Closer 2010 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

Extraordinary Measures 2010 (Movie)

Marcus Temple (Actor)

Flash Forward 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

FlashForward: What Did You See? 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Narrator

ER 2008 - 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

Nothing But the Truth 2008 (Movie)

Agent O'Hara (Actor)

InStyle Celebrity Weddings 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

State of Mind 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Boston Public 1994 - 1995, 2000 - 2006 (Tv Show)

Actor

Law & Order: Criminal Intent 2001 - 2006 (Tv Show)

Actor

Picket Fences 1994 - 1995, 2001 - 2006 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

The Fight 2003 (Movie)

(Narrator)

War Letters 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Voice

Detox 2001 (Movie)

Willie Jones (Actor)

Jazz 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Voice

Culture Shock 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Narrator

Space Cowboys 2000 (Movie)

Roger Hines (Actor)

Cookie's Fortune 1999 (Movie)

Otis Tucker (Actor)

Love and Action in Chicago 1999 (Movie)

Eddie Jones (Actor)

Any Day Now 1998 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Last Supper 1996 (Movie)

Luke (Actor)

The Preacher's Wife 1996 (Movie)

Henry Biggs (Actor)

Dangerous Minds 1995 (Movie)

Mr George Grandey (Actor)

Law & Order 1990, 1995 (Tv Show)

Actor

Panther 1995 (Movie)

Bobby Seale (Actor)

Holy Matrimony 1994 (Movie)

Cooper (Actor)

The Adventures of Huck Finn 1993 (Movie)

Jim (Actor)

The Hunt for Red October 1990 (Movie)

Seaman Jones (Actor)

Hamburger Hill 1987 (Movie)

Doc (Actor)

12 Angry Men (TV Show)

Actor

Ambushed (TV Show)

Actor

Beyond the Law (TV Show)

Actor

Blind Faith (TV Show)

Actor

Let It Shine (TV Show)

Actor

Percy and Thunder (TV Show)

Actor

The Affair (TV Show)

Actor

The Boys Next Door (TV Show)

Actor

The Piano Lesson (TV Show)

Actor

The Tuskegee Airmen (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

This no-nonsense, Ivy-educated, stage-trained player parlayed his success on the boards into increasingly substantial work in TV and films. A history major as a Harvard undergraduate, Vance began acting in college and joined Shakespeare and Company, a theater company in nearby Lenox, Massachusetts. He went on to further hone his thespian skills at the Yale School of Drama. While there, Vance originated the role of Cory, son of a formidable James Earl Jones, in the Yale Rep production of August Wilson's award-winning "Fences." In 1987, he made his Broadway debut reprising the role. Vance's performance garnered critical kudos, a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Play. His other stage credits included the 1988 New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Romeo and Juliet," Athol Fugard's "My Children! My Africa!" (1989), for which he won an OBIE Award and a starring role in the Broadway production of John Guare's "Six Degrees of Separation," which brought Vance yet another Tony nomination. When "Six Degrees of Separation" came to the big screen as a 1993 feature, Stockard Channing reprised her role from Broadway but Vance could not even get a meeting to read for the role of the charismatic liar Paul, the self-proclaimed son of Sidney Poitier. Though he had already had significant experience in film and TV, the producers opted for a "name" actor--the better known, if less trained, rapper-cum-sitcom star Will Smith. Vance responded by developing another strategy for Hollywood success. He networked with fellow Harvard alumni in the industry to land meaty TV roles in high-minded cable movies such as "The Tuskegee Airmen" and "The Affair" (both HBO, 1995) and "Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad" (Family Channel/BET, 1994) and classy network specials like the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations of August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson" (CBS, 1995) and Tom Griffin's "The Boys Next Door" (CBS, 1996). These projects displayed Vance's range as he variously played a love-struck slave with aspirations to escape North ("Race to Freedom"), a sweet-natured dimwit ("The Piano Lesson"), an innocent black G.I. in love with a married white woman in WWII England ("The Affair") and a severely mentally challenged man in a group home ("The Boys Next Door"). In features, Vance has successfully cultivated an image of dignity and restraint. He was the outspoken medic Doc in the war drama "Hamburger Hill" (1987) and a submarine sonar specialist in "The Hunt for Red October" (1990). Vance gained attention with his interpretation of the role of Jim in a Disney retelling of Mark Twain's classic "The Adventures of Huck Finn" (1993). He strayed from the outdated renditions of the Jims of old, creating a more intelligent figure and bringing weight and sadness to a man whose only desire is to be free. He also convinced as a subdued Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, in Mario and Melvin Van Peebles' "Panther" and a soft-spoken traditionalist high school principal in "Dangerous Minds" (both 1995). Vance held his own against glamorous headliners Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston as he played the frustrated minister in Penny Marshall's romantic comedy fantasy "The Preacher's Wife" (1996). Vance married renowned actress Angela Bassett in 1997 and continued to win key roles in notable productions, including William Friedkin's acclaimed multiracial made-for-TV update of "12 Angry Men" (Showtime). He received accolades for his lead turn in the legal feature "Blind Faith" (1998), and appeared in Robert Altman's small-town dramedy "Cookie's Fortune" (1999), both films that co-starred Charles S. Dutton. After playing an astronaut in the Clint Eastwood movie "Space Cowboys" (2000), Vance portrayed the title character in Showtime's "Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story" (2002), a real-life tale of misplaced Texan justice. Gravitating more towards television, he joined the cast of the procedural drama spin-off "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC/USA, 2001-2011) as by-the-book assistant district attorney Ron Carver, a role that he held for five seasons. Following a recurring role on the medical drama series "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), Vance became a regular on the much-touted high-concept drama "FlashForward" (NBC, 2009-2010), but the show was cancelled after one season, giving him a window to appear on episodes of "The Closer" (TNT, 2005-2012). Returning more prominently to movies, Vance had supporting roles in the thoughtful drama "Extraordinary Measures" (2010), starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, and the tense thriller "The Divide" (2011), before playing a skeptical FBI agent in the hit horror sequel "Final Destination 5" (2011). Notably switching gears for the warm, folksy gospel movie "Joyful Noise" (2012), he also turned up briefly on the TV mystery series "Revenge." In 2013, Vance successfully returned to his theater roots, playing editor Hap Hairston in the tabloid-centric Nora Ephron play "Lucky Guy," a performance that won him a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor. After appearing in "Terminator Genisys" (2015), a critically unsuccessful reboot of the action franchise, Vance returned to television as defense attorney Johnnie Cochran in "American Crime Story" (FX 2016- ).

Relationships

Angela Bassett Actor

Wife
Engaged in 1997 Married Oct. 12, 1997 Played married couple on NBC's "ER" in 2008

Conroy Vance

Father
worked at Chrysler committed suicide in 1990

Leslie Vance

Mother
retired

Cecilie Vance

Sister
worked at Federal Express born c. 1958

EDUCATION

Detroit Country Day School

Detroit, Michigan 1978
Captain of basketball, track and football teams

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut 1986

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts 1982
Began acting in college productions

Milestones

2013

Featured in the Broadway play "Lucky Guy," leading to a Tony win

2012

Appeared alongside Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah in the musical comedy "Joyful Noise"

2009

Cast as Stanford Wedeck, the head of the FBI Los Angeles office on ABC's "FlashForward"

2008

Appeared in the final season of NBC's "ER"

2000

Landed a small role in Clint Eastwood's "Space Cowboys"

1999

Joined an ensemble cast for Robert Altman's "Cookie's Fortune"

1996

Co-starred with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston in Penny Marshall's "The Preacher's Wife"

1995

Co-starred as Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale in the feature "Panther"

1995

Starred in the HBO movie "The Affair" as a black GI who falls in love with a married white woman in WWII England

1993

First leading role in a feature, "The Adventures of Huck Finn" opposite Elijah Wood

1991

Appeared in the Broadway production of "Six Degrees of Separation"

1987

Made his Broadway debut reprising the role of Cory in "Fences"

1987

Made feature acting debut in "Hamburger Hill"

1986

Originated the role of Cory in August Wilson's "Fences" at the Yale Repertory Theater

1983

Made TV acting debut in the CBS movie "First Affair"

Bonus Trivia

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When Vance appeared on "ER," he portrayed the husband of Dr. Catherine Banfield, played by his real-life wife, Angela Bassett.

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Vance has been featured in numerous productions also starring Charles S. Dutton.

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