Striking terror deep in the hearts and subconsciousness of filmgoers worldwide with his chilling portrayal of aspiring transsexual serial killer James "Buffalo Bill" Gumb in director Jonathan Demme's acclaimed thriller The Silence of the Lambs, Steppenwolf Theater alumnus Ted Levine may not have received the star status some may have expected would follow the role, but he can consistently be counted on to turn in a lively performance, no matter how small his part may be.
Born in Cleveland, OH, Levine received his M.F.A. in acting from the University of Chicago before making frequent appearances in such 1980s made-for-television efforts as Michael Mann's Crime Story (1986) and his feature debut in 1987's Ironweed. Taking small roles in such features as Betrayed (1988) and Next of Kin (1989) before his big break in Silence, Levine, curiously, stuck mostly to television following his portrayal of Buffalo Bill, not taking another featured role until his turn as a cop on the trail of a carnivorous industrial speed iron in The Mangler (1995). Appearing in Georgia and Michael Mann's acclaimed Heat the same year, Levine began to gain more prominent roles in the following years before taking to the seas with Patrick Stewart in Moby Dick (1998). Though he received critical acclaim for his role in the controversial television series Wonderland (2000), the show aired a meager two episodes (though four were produced) before being pulled due to outcry over its portrayal of the mental health system and its inhabitants. Bouncing back to the big screen, fans found that Levine could still be counted on to turn in absorbing performances in such features as Evolution and The Fast and the Furious (both 2001). Over the next several years, Levine would remain extremely active, appearing in films like The Manchuriuan Candidate, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Hills Have Eyes, and Shutter Island, as well as on TV series like Monk and Luck.