William L. Petersen

He was born on the 21st of February 1953, in Evanston, Illinois, and attended Bishop Kelly High School in Idaho as a teenager, winning a football scholarship to Idaho State University. He went on to study acting in Spain, which led to his successful career in film, and latterly television, as both an actor and producer.

Although appearing in Michael Mann’s Thief (aka: Violent Streets) as a Katz & Jammer Bartender, his career took off once he acquired the leading role in William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. in 1985. He was cast opposite Willem Dafoe’s violent forger as ‘Det. Richard Chance’, an investigator in the Fraud division of the Los Angeles police department. It was a popular action thriller, in the same genre as Friedkin’s previous French Connection, that went on to give Petersen opportunities to be in such films as Michael Mann’s cult classic, Manhunter. He achieved critical acclaim as the mentally profound FBI agent, ‘Will Graham’, in this film adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon.

He has made numerous films and television appearances in the years following Manhunter, such as the role as ‘Sheriff Patrick Floyd 'Pat' Garrett’ in Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory, a sequel to the hugely popular Young Guns, and as John F. Kennedy in the T.V. production of The Rat Pack.

In the year 2000, Petersen was cast as ‘Gil Grissom’ in the television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as well as an executive producer on the show. It received critical acclaim and has become successful around the world, renewing him to the heights of fame not rightfully seen since To Live and Die in L.A. and Manhunter.

He is also credited as just William Petersen in several of his films.


1. Wrigley Field: Beyond the Ivy (2001) (V)

2. Haven (2001) (TV)

3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000) TV Series

4. The Contender (2000)
aka Manipulations (2001) (France)

5. The Skulls (2000)

6. Kiss the Sky (1999)

7. The Rat Pack (1998) (TV)

8. The Staircase (1998) (TV)

9. Gunshy (1998)

10. The Beast (1997)

11. 12 Angry Men (1997) (TV)

12. The Beast (1996) (mini) TV Series
aka Peter Benchley's The Beast (1996) (mini)

13. Mulholland Falls (1996) (uncredited)

14. Fear (1996)
aka No Fear (1996)
aka Obsession mortelle (1996)

15. In the Kingdom of the Blind, the Man with One Eye Is King (1995)
aka In the Kingdom of the Blind (1995)

16. Present Tense, Past Perfect (1995) (TV)

17. Curacao (1993) (TV)
aka Deadly Currents (1993) (TV)

18. Return to Lonesome Dove (1993) (mini) TV Series

19. Keep the Change (1992) (TV)

20. Passed Away (1992)

21. Hard Promises (1991)

22. Young Guns II (1990)
aka Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory (1990) (UK)

23. The Kennedys of Massachusetts- (1990) (mini) TV Series

24. Cousins (1989)

25. Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987)
aka Silent Voice (1987)

26. Long Gone (1987) (TV)

27. Manhunter (1986) (as William Petersen)
aka Red Dragon: The Pursuit of Hannibal Lector (1986)

28. To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

29. Thief (1981)
aka Violent Streets (1981)

Filmography taken from www.imdb.com