Jimmy Smits

Actor, Community organizer
Despite trying to stake his claim in features films without much success, actor Jimmy Smits earned his greatest acclaim on the small screen in roles that were connected by their proximity to the law. Smits emerged into ... Read more »
Born: 07/08/1955 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (110)

L.A. Law 1986 - 1992, 1995 - 1998, 2005 - 2006, 2008 - 2011, 2013 - 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

Sons of Anarchy 1995 - 1998, 2005 - 2006, 2008 - 2015 (Tv Show)

Actor

Conan 2014 (Tv Show)

Guest

Lesser Prophets 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Dexter 1995 - 1998, 2005 - 2006, 2008 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

NYPD Blue 1994 - 1998, 2005 - 2006, 2010 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

Outlaw 1997 - 1998, 2005 - 2006, 2010 - 2011 (Tv Show)

Actor

A Capitol Fourth 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Host

Latin Music USA 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Narrator

Mother and Child 2010 (Movie)

Paco (Actor)

The 2009 Alma Awards 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

The 2009 Creative Arts Emmy Awards 2009 - 2010 (TV Show)

Actor

A Capitol Fourth 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Host

Backyard 2009 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Capitol Fourth 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Host

The 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

Cane 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

National Memorial Day Concert (2007) 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

TV Land Myths & Legends: Elvis Presley 2006 - 2007 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jane Austen Book Club 2007 (Movie)

Daniel (Actor)

The Late Show With David Letterman 2007 (Tv Show)

Guest

2006 Alma Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

The 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

The West Wing 2004 - 2006 (Tv Show)

Actor

A Capitol Fourth 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Actor

NYPD Blue: A Final Tribute 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)

Host

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 2005 (Movie)

Senator Bail Organa (Actor)

Yo Soy Boricua Pa'que Tu Lo Sepas! 2005 (Movie)

Narrator (Actor)

TV Land Moguls 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

TV Revolution 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

The 29th Annual People's Choice Awards 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

The 3rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)

Actor

America: A Tribute to Heroes 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones 2002 (Movie)

Senator Bail Organa (Actor)

The 1st Annual Latin Grammy Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The 43rd Annual Grammy Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The Million Dollar Hotel 2001 (Movie)

Geronimo (Actor)

5th Annual ALMA Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Bless the Child 2000 (Movie)

John Travis (Actor)

Price of Glory 2000 (Movie)

Arturo Ortega (Actor)

The 2000 ESPY Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The 42nd Annual Grammy Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1999 ALMA Awards 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The 41st Annual Grammy Awards 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

ALMA Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Keeping America's Promise 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Narrator

Latino Laugh Festival 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Voice

Second Annual Latino Laugh Festival 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1997 Hispanic Heritage Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

VH1 97 Fashion Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

53rd Presidential Inaugural Gala 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1996 NCLR Bravo Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The 24th Annual American Music Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The 51st Annual Tony Awards 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

The West 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Voice

1995 NCLR Bravo Awards 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

CityKids All Star Celebration 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Television's Greatest Performances 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The Blockbuster Entertainment Awards 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The Second Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Up For the Golden Globes 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Concert of the Americas 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Latin Nights: An All-Star Celebration 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

My Family, Mi Familia 1995 (Movie)

Jimmy Sanchez (Actor)

The 16th Annual CableACE Awards 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Last Word 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The Newsweek American Achievement Awards 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Gross Misconduct 1993 (Movie)

Justin Thorne (Actor)

Stephen King's The Tommyknockers 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

All-Star Fiesta at Ford's 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Fires Within 1991 (Movie)

Nestor (Actor)

Switch 1991 (Movie)

Walter Stone (Actor)

The "L.A. Law" 100th Episode Special 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

Face to Face With Connie Chung (05/14/90) 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The 41st Annual Emmy Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Vital Signs 1990 (Movie)

Dr David Redding (Actor)

Miami Vice 1984 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Mickey's 60th Birthday Special 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Old Gringo 1989 (Movie)

Arroyo (Actor)

The Highwayman 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The Believers 1987 (Movie)

Detective Joe Lopez (Actor)

The Other Side of the Border 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Narrator

Running Scared 1986 (Movie)

Julio Gonzales (Actor)

Clemente (TV Show)

Narrator

Dangerous Affection (TV Show)

Actor

Glitz (TV Show)

Actor

Lackawanna Blues (TV Show)

Actor

Marshal Law (TV Show)

Actor

Murder in Mind (TV Show)

Actor

Remember Pearl Harbor (Movie)

(Voice)

Rockabye (TV Show)

Actor

Solomon & Sheba (TV Show)

Actor

The Broken Cord (TV Show)

Actor

The Cisco Kid (TV Show)

Actor

The Golden Eagle Awards (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

Despite trying to stake his claim in features films without much success, actor Jimmy Smits earned his greatest acclaim on the small screen in roles that were connected by their proximity to the law. Smits emerged into the public consciousness as a sharp, but uptight attorney on Stephen Bochco's award-winning legal drama, "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994). After leaving the show before its run ended, he languished in a series of easily dismissed features and slightly better made-for-television movies before returning to television as an understated detective on the groundbreaking cop drama, "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005). Once again, Smits left the show prior to its time running out and again found himself taking on largely forgettable films, though he did manage a small recurring part in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005). Returning to regular series glory, he gave a commanding performance as a legislator-turned-president on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006), an Emmy-nominated turn as an assistant district attorney with a murderous dark side on "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006- ),and a widely praised performance as a semi-reformed gang leader on "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 2008- ), all of which confirmed that the distinguished performer was best served in authoritative roles on the small screen.

Relationships

Wanda Jesus

Companion
Together since 1985 worked together onstage in an L.A. production of "Death and the Maiden" (1993)

Cornelis Smits

Father
Surinamese immigrant of Dutch descent divorced wife c. 1973

Barbara Smits

Wife
High school girlfriend married from 1981-1987 mother of Smits' two children

Emelina Smits

Mother
Puerto Rican divorced husband c. 1973

Taina Smits

Daughter
Born c. 1973 mother, Barbara Smits

Joaquin Smits

Son
Born c. 1983 mother, Barbara Smits

Diana Smits

Sister
Younger

EDUCATION

Brooklyn College

Brooklyn , New York 1980
Switched major from education to theater with a minor in Puerto Rican studies

Cornell University

Ithaca , New York 1982

Thomas Jefferson High School

Brooklyn , New York
Played linebacker on the football team and acted in plays

Milestones

2010

Played a Supreme Court Justice starting up his own law firm in the short-lived NBC show, "Outlaw"

2008

Joined the third season of Showtime's "Dexter" as Miguel Prado, an assistant district attorney; earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

2007

Cast as Alex Vega, a heir to his family's sugar and rum business in the short-lived CBS drama, "Cane"

2007

Joined an ensemble cast for the feature adaptation of "The Jane Austen Book Club"

2005

Starred in the HBO original movie "Lackawanna Blues" based on Ruben Santiago-Hudson autobiographical one man show

2005

Reprised role of Senator Bail Organa in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," the final film in the Star Wars saga

2004

Joined the cast of the NBC political drama "The West Wing," as Representative Matthew Santos

2003

Appeared in the Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Nilo Cruz play "Anna in the Tropics"

2002

Cast as Bail Organa in "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones"

2000

Joined an ensemble cast in Wim Wenders' "The Million Dollar Hotel"

2000

Portrayed washed-up boxer Arturo Ortega in "Price of Glory"

1995

Headlined a stellar Latino cast (including Edward James Olmos and Esai Morales) in Gregory Nava's "My Family, Mi Familia"

1994

Joined the cast of ABC's police drama, "NYPD Blue" in the leading role of Bobby Simone after series star David Caruso left; character killed off in November 1998 after Smits decided to leave the show; earned five Emmy nominations

1993

Starred in first TV miniseries, "Stephen King's 'The Tommyknockers'" (ABC)

1993

Appeared in the L.A. stage production of "Death and the Maiden" opposite off-screen companion Wanda De Jesus

1992

Acted in acclaimed ABC docudrama "The Broken Cord"

1989

Initial leading role in a feature film, "Old Gringo"; starred alongside Jane Fonda and Gregory Peck

1987

Narrated the PBS documentary on the illegal immigration of Mexicans into the US, "The Other Side of the Border"

1987

First leading role in a TV-movie, "The Highwayman" (NBC)

1986

Breakthrough role as Victor Sifuentes, the firm's uptight law partner and pro-bono lawyer on NBC's legal drama, "L.A. Law"; earned a total of six Emmy nominations as a supporting actor

1986

Feature film debut as an exuberant drug dealer in "Running Scared"

1986

First TV-movie, "Rockabye" (CBS) playing a cop

1984

TV debut in the "Miami Vice" (NBC) pilot, playing Don Johnson's ill-fated first partner Eddie Rivera

1984

Played a supporting role in Michael Weller's "The Ballad of Soapy Smith" at the New York Shakespeare Festival

1982

Off-Broadway debut in "Hamlet" at the New York Shakespeare Festival

Worked for a time as a community organizer in the New York area before moving into acting

Raised primarily in Brooklyn, New York, but lived briefly in Puerto Rico

Bonus Trivia

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"I've been fortunate. I've always had teacher role models who kind of pointed me in the right direction. In junior high Rhoda Olanoff would do these lavish musicals. In high school there was a teacher who would take us to Broadway and Off-Broadway all the time. There was somebody in college who said I should continue on my path to graduate school. There was always somebody along the way to help cultivate the dream." - Smits quoted in the Daily News, Nov. 13, 1994

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"I never said I was leaving 'L.A. Law' to pursue a film career. You guys did, in the media. My contract was over and I just wanted to move on. It wasn't like I left with a three-picture deal in my back pocket. It was never about leaving 'L.A. Law' and becoming a giant movie star." - Smits quoted in TV Guide, Nov. 12, 1994

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About finding himself pigeonholed in Latino characters: "It's a fine line, and I have to deal with that all the time. I do want to be involved in quality projects that say something about the Latino community. But as an actor, you want to sell your versatility. One thing should go hand in hand with the other. We [Hispanic actors] want to play different roles, we want to be cast in different ethnicities and act in films about different historical times. I think that's good for us, in terms of non-traditional casting. And I don't see why, for the most part, I can't do that." - Smits to the Daily News, March 17, 1996

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"There's an intensity about Jimmy," Bochco says. "When he smiles, he lights up a room, but you always have the feeling that there's a volatile side that he contains." - producer Steven Bochco to Emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2007

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