A tall, intense, hulking actor who was a natural to play Frankenstein's monster in The Bride (1985), Clancy Brown has utilized his naturally menacing exterior for a career's worth of villainous roles, most notably in films such as Highlander and The Shawshank Redemption. With good looks that could be described as somewhat Neanderthal in nature, he has also found the occasional sympathetic portrayal, and been equal to the task of acting it. Clancy Brown was born on January 5, 1959, in Urbana, OH, the son of a newspaperman-turned-U.S. congressman. He was raised in both Urbana and Washington, D.C., and claims to have been introduced to acting by a neighbor who got him into Shakespeare at a young age. Brown acted in high school and during his teenage summers before enrolling at Northwestern University on a track scholarship as a discus hurler. He graduated with a degree in speech and went on to mix drinks in Chicago while working in local theater. Brown's first film role established the trend for how his services would be used throughout his career. He appeared as Viking in the Sean Penn "juvy" drama Bad Boys (1983), in which he threw around his muscle as one of the detention center's intimidators. Next he appeared in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) as the cowboy Rawhide, then as Highlander's sword-wielding embodiment of evil, Kurgan, in the 1986 cult classic. A succession of roles as bruising heavies, often corrupt cops, followed during the late '80s and '90s, in films such as Dead Man Walking (1996) and The Hurricane (1999). The most memorable among these was Captain Byron Hadley, the crooked prison guard with the deadly billy club in the multiple-Oscar-nominated The Shawshank Redemption (1994). In 1997, he played one of his more infrequent good guy roles as Sergeant Zim in Starship Troopers. From 1997-1998, he had a prominent recurring guest role as a doctor on NBC's ratings champ ER. His prolific television career also includes a role on the sci-fi series Earth 2 (1994). In 2002, Brown appeared among an ensemble cast in the HBO film The Laramie Project, which was about the beating death of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard. The next year, he took on the prominant role of Brother Justin Crowe on HBO's cryptic period drama Carnivàle, joining another talented ensemble cast and once again tapping into his dark side. Brown's distinctive voice has been in high demand throughout his career, resulting in dozens of voice-over credits in animated features such as The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004) and television series. Of course his distinctively brute face was still very much an important part of his career, with an onscreen role in the hit television series Lost serving well to provide viewers with a valuable history of the mysterious "hatch." A trip back in time found the hulking Brown assuming the role of a monstrous viking in director Markus Nispel's Pathfinder, and later that same year the actor could once again be spotted on the big screen in the Kevin Costner Coast Guard drama The Guardian. In 2008 he appeared in the college football film The Express, and the next year had small but crucial roles in the indie drama The Twenty, as well as Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! He continued to land small parts in bug budget Hollywood spectacles like the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cowboys & Aliens, and Green Lantern.
Biography by Derek Armstrong
- His father and grandfather served as U.S. Congressmen from Ohio.
- Attended Northwestern University on a track scholarship as a discus thrower.
- Made his film debut in 1983 as Viking Lofgren in Bad Boys, opposite a then-unknown Sean Penn.
- Some of his best known roles include the Kurgan in Highlander, Captain Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption and Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivale.
- Does extensive voice-over work, including Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob SquarePants.
- In 2002, became chairman of the board of the Brown Publishing Company, the newspaper business started by his grandfather in 1920.
- Has two children, a daughter and a son, with his wife Jeanne Johnson.