Although many would likely recognize Bill Duke from his roles in such high-profile releases as [[Feature~V39013~Predator~predator]], [[Feature~V32212~Menace II Society~menaceiisociety]], and [[Feature~V266877~Red Dragon~reddragon]], perhaps only a few connect the face in front of the camera with the name of the man who also directed such features as [[Feature~V40088~A Rage in Harlem~arageinharlem]] and [[Feature~V158646~Hoodlum~hoodlum]]. A native of Poughkeepsie, NY, and the first in his family to graduate from college, the actor/director studied speech and drama at Boston University before earning his M.F.A. from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Subsequently penning off-Broadway plays and launching a film career with roles in [[Feature~V8160~Car Wash~carwash]] (1976) and [[Feature~V1969~American Gigolo~americangigolo]] (1979), Duke's early breakthrough came with a featured role in the critically acclaimed [[Performer~P29695~Alex Haley~alexhaley]] miniseries [[Feature~V128069~Palmerstown U.S.A.~palmerstownusa]] in 1980. Deciding to refine his skills behind the camera, the burgeoning actor later studied at the American Film Institute, where his student project The Hero earned him a solid reputation as a director to watch. In the years that followed, Duke earned a reputation as an efficient and effective television director as he took the helm for episodes of [[Feature~V175069~Hill Street Blues~hillstreetblues[tvseries]]], [[Feature~V280668~Fame~fame[tvseries]]], [[Feature~V64686~Miami Vice~miamivice[tvseries]]], Spenser: For Hire, and [[Feature~V267960~Matlock~matlock[tvseries]]]. He soon moved into feature territory with the PBS drama [[Feature~V27324~The Killing Floor~thekillingfloor]] (which screened at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival and earned the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival). In 1989, Duke's adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun showed that, although his directing had thus far been limited to the small screen, he also had the potential to launch a lucrative career in theatrical features.
After acting in such features as [[Feature~V10528~Commando~commando]] (1985), [[Feature~V39013~Predator~predator]] (1987), and [[Feature~V5721~Bird on a Wire~birdonawire]] (1990), Duke's first theatrical feature, [[Feature~V40088~A Rage in Harlem~arageinharlem]], was released in 1991. An effective crime drama featuring a gangster's moll, a trunk load of gold, and a slew of unsavory heavies, the film was unfairly interpreted by audiences to be a rip-off of the popular 1989 comedy [[Feature~V21583~Harlem Nights~harlemnights]]. For the dark crime thriller [[Feature~V13040~Deep Cover~deepcover]], Duke teamed with future collaborator [[Performer~P23625~Laurence Fishburne~laurencefishburne]] for the first time, and after lightening things up a bit with [[Feature~V8734~The Cemetery Club~thecemeteryclub]] (1993), Duke earned a direct hit at the box office with the popular sequel [[Feature~V119906~Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit~sisteract2:backinthehabit]] the same year. The remainder of the '90s found the actor/director evenly dividing his duties on both sides of the camera, and, in 1997, he re-teamed with [[Performer~P23625~Fishburne~laurencefishburne]] for the throwback gangster drama [[Feature~V158646~Hoodlum~hoodlum]]. With all of his directorial duties, Duke found little time to accept onscreen roles, though performances in [[Feature~V175687~Payback~payback]] and [[Feature~V180088~Fever~fever]] in 1999 reminded audiences that he was still a compelling screen presence. Duke returned to the small screen the following year to direct an episode of [[Feature~V193503~City of Angels~cityofangels[tvseries]]] and the Nero Wolfe mystery [[Feature~V187013~The Golden Spiders~nerowolfe:thegoldenspiders]], and remained in television to shoot episodes of [[Feature~V273660~Fastlane~fastlane[tvseries]]] and [[Feature~V274446~Robbery Homicide Division~robberyhomicidedivision[tvseries]]]. In 2003, Duke directed the moving, made-for-TV drama [[Feature~V282244~Deacons for Defense~deaconsfordefense]]. As roles in [[Feature~V266877~Red Dragon~reddragon]] (2002) and [[Feature~V263067~National Security~nationalsecurity]] (2003) continued to fuel his feature career, Duke was also seen on the small screen in episodes of [[Feature~V273660~Fastlane~fastlane[tvseries]]] and the [[Feature~V162749~Out of Sight~outofsight]] (1998) spin-off [[Feature~V295840~Karen Sisco~karensisco[tvseries]]]. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi