Jimmy Smits

Active - 1978 - 2021  |   Born - Jul 9, 1955 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Crime, Action

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Biography by AllMovie

Born July 9th, 1955 and bitten by the acting bug while in high school, Jimmy Smits earned a B.A. from Brooklyn College and an M.F.A. from Cornell. His excellent work in off-Broadway productions led to his being cast in several movie and TV projects, notably the two-hour pilot for Miami Vice (1984).

In 1986, Smits was signed to play tyro attorney Victor Sifuentes on the weekly NBC series L.A. Law, a role which would win him a fervent fan following as well as an Emmy. He eventually left the series to pursue a theatrical film career, but by 1994 was back on the small screen in such cable-TV productions as The Cisco Kid and Solomon and Sheba. While filming the latter production in Morocco, Smits was asked by the producers of the TV series NYPD Blue to replace another actor with movie aspirations, David Caruso. In the fall of 1994, Smits made his NYPD Blue bow in the role of detective Bobby Simone, almost immediately reclaiming the viewers who'd sworn to desert the series when Caruso left. Following this personal triumph, Smits starred in 1995's Mi Familia, a critically acclaimed film of barrio life.

In 1998, after four years in the role of Simone, Smits chose to leave NYPD Blue, though the show would continue for another seven years without him. The first few years of his career following the departure from the show were somewhat lackluster, but Smits eventually landed the role of Senator Bail Organa in the second and third Star Wars prequels, a move that would permanently cement him in film history in the minds of at least one very large fanbase.

In addition to his work with the Star Wars franchise, Smits also made an inevitable return to the small-screen mid-decade with a prominent role on NBC's The West Wing during the show's 2004-2005 season. Smits continued to find success on the small screen for his turn as assistant district attorney Miguel Prado. The role would earn him a Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.

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  • Mother was from Puerto Rico and father was from Dutch Guiana (now Surinam).
  • Before high school, lived for two years in Puerto Rico, where he learned to speak Spanish.
  • Worked as a union labor organizer during his college years.
  • An investor (along with Paul Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez) in the Conga Room, an L.A. dance club/restaurant that showcases Latino music.
  • Made his big-screen debut in the 1986 buddy-cop film Running Scared.
  • On the political drama West Wing, his character, Democratic president-elect Matthew Santos, was loosely based on Barack Obama, who was not yet even a U.S. senator at the time.
  • Reprised his Star Wars role of Sen. Bail Organa for the popular video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.