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Frankie R. Faison Biography

  • Profession: Actor
  • Born: Jan 1, 0001
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001

A veteran character actor whose work has shown he's as comfortable with comedy as drama, Frankie Faison was born in Newport News, VA, in 1949. Faison developed the acting bug while in grade school after appearing in a school play, and after high school he was a theater student at both Illinois Wesleyan University and New York University. Faison began pursuing a career in the theater, and appeared in a number of acclaimed off-Broadway productions, including Athol Fugard's Playland, the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of Before It Hits Home, and an adaptation of King Lear at the NYSF Delacorte Theater. Faison made his film debut in 1981 with a small role in Ragtime, and Faison soon began supplementing his stage work with small parts in motion pictures and guest shots on television. An inkling of what was to come for Faison appeared in 1986, when he was cast in a small role as a cop in Manhunter, an adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon, in which Brian Cox played the murderous Hannibal Lector. In 1987, Faison appeared on Broadway in August Wilson's drama Fences, opposite James Earl Jones; Faison's performance earned him a Tony award nomination. In 1988, Faison scored a showy comic role in the Eddie Murphy vehicle Coming to America, and a year later he was one of the "corner men" in Spike Lee's acclaimed and controversial Do the Right Thing. In 1990, Faison scored the male lead in a short-lived sitcom, True Colors, and in 1991 he appeared in another adaptation of a Thomas Harris novel when he was cast as Barney Matthews, the big but gentle male nurse in The Silence of the Lambs. Faison continued to win supporting roles in a variety of notable films, including City of Hope, Sommersby, Mother Night, I Love Trouble, Albino Alligator, Where the Money Is, and The Thomas Crown Affair, and he had a leading role in the well-regarded police drama Prey; sadly, the show fared poorly in the ratings and didn't survive its first season. Faison revived his role as Barney Matthews in 2001's box-office blockbuster Hannibal, making him the only actor to appear in all three films about the famous cannibal. ~ Mark Deming ~ Rovi