Charles Dutton

Active - 1985 - 2015  |   Born - Jan 30, 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born January 30, 195, Charles Dutton attended the Yale School of Drama, and in 1983 he first appeared off-Broadway in Richard III. Before long he was delivering Tony-calibre performances in such Broadway productions as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and The Piano Lesson. In films since 1986's No Mercy, the forceful, thunder-voiced Dutton has been seen in movies ranging from the mirth-provoking Crocodile Dundee 2 to the spine-chilling Alien 3. In 1991, Charles Dutton began a long TV run as the star of the Fox Network sitcom Roc.

Dutton became an actor while serving a seven and a half-year prison sentence for stabbing a man during a street fight. While in prison, Dutton was stabbed in the neck with an ice pick during a fight with another inmate. The incident proved to be the turning point in Dutton's life when he refused to retaliate. Shortly thereafter, he became interested in drama and while serving his sentence completed a two-year college degree course. Upon his release from prison, Dutton was admitted into the Yale School of Drama. There he studied under playwright August Wilson and director Lloyd Richards.

In 2000, Dutton directed The Corner, an acclaimed miniseries from HBO adapted from David Simon and Ed Burns' novel "The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood". The Corner won several awards, including an Emmy for Best Miniseries, and Dutton himself was honored for his direction. This would not be the last Emmy he received; the actor won Emmy Awards in 2002 and 2003 for supporting roles in televisiond dramas The Practice and Without a Trace. In 2003, Dutton starred in the made-for-TV drama D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear, and continued to make appearances on popular television shows including The L Word, The Sopranos, and House, M.D. Dutton joined the cast of Threshold in 2005. While the CBS science fiction series gained a loyal following, the show was short-lived. The actor went on to appear in filmmaker John Sayles' 2007 drama Honeydripper, which follows the owner of a blues club that was revitalized by a young electric guitarist.

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  • As a child, he was called "Rockhead" because of his involvement in neighborhood rock fights. The nickname was shortened to "Roc" when he became an amateur boxer.
  • Served time in prison for manslaughter and other offenses.
  • In prison, started up a theater group after reading the play Day of Absence by Douglas Turner Ward.
  • In 1984, made professional stage debut in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the first Broadway play by Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson.
  • Wrote and performed a one-man play, From Jail to Yale: Serving Time on Stage (2008), about the journey from his troubled youth in Baltimore to becoming an accomplished actor.