Whether on stage or the big screen, Delroy Lindo projects a powerful presence that is virtually impossible to ignore. Though it was not his first film role, his portrayal of manic depressive numbers boss West Indian Archie in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992) is what first attracted attention to Lindo's considerable talents. Since then, his star has slowly been on the rise and the actor has had steady opportunity to display his talent in a number of diverse films.
The son of Jamaican parents, Lindo was born in London, England, on November 18, 1952. He was raised in Lewisham, England, until his teens, when he and his mother moved across the Atlantic to Toronto. Following a move to the U.S. a short time later, he became involved in acting, eventually graduating from San Francisco's renowned American Conservatory Theater. After graduation, he landed his first film role, that of an Army sergeant in More American Graffiti (1979). He would not appear in another film for a decade, spending the intervening years on the stage. In 1982, Lindo debuted on Broadway in Master Harold and the Boys, directed by the play's author, Athol Fugard. Six years later, he earned a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Harold Loomis in Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
Although possessing obvious talent and the potential for a distinguished career, Lindo found himself in something of a rut during the late '80s. Wanting someone more aggressive and appreciative of his talents, he changed agents (he'd had the same one through most of his early career). It was a smart move, but it was director Spike Lee who provided the boost that the actor's career needed. The director was impressed enough with Lindo to first cast him in Malcolm X and then as patriarch Woody Carmichael in his semi-autobiographical comedy Crooklyn (1994), a role for which Lindo earned some long overdue praise. 1995 proved to be another big year for the actor, as he landed substantial supporting roles in two major films, playing a mercurial drug dealer in Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty and another drug dealer in Lee's Clockers. The following year, he could be seen in yet another villainous role in Feeling Minnesota. However, he also proved that he could portray the other side of the law, in the Mel Gibson thriller Ransom, in which he played an FBI agent, and John Woo's Broken Arrow, which cast him as a colonel. He made good as baseball player Satchel Paige in the upbeat Baseball in Black and White that same year, winning himself an NAACP Image nomination in the process.
Following a turn as a jaded angel opposite Holly Hunter in Danny Boyle's A Life Less Ordinary (1997), Lindo returned to a more earthly realm, further proving his talent for playing shadesters in The Cider House Rules (1999), in which he portrayed a cider house foreman who impregnates his daughter, and Romeo Must Die (2000), a loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet that cast him as a vengeful mob boss. Following roles in Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), Heist (2001), and The Last Castle (also 2001), Lindo re-teamed with Romeo star Jet Li for another high-kicking action opus, The One, in late 2001. Supporting roles in such high profile Hollywood films as The Core, Sahara, and Domino kept Lindo in the public eye over the course of the following decade, and in 2009 the actor lent his voice to the character of Beta in the runaway Pixar hit Up.