Clifton Collins Jr. filmography and biography
Date of birth: 16 June 1970, Los Angeles, California, USA
Clifton Collins Jr. biography
An acting chameleon who can easily lose himself in the life of his film
and TV characters, Clifton Collins Jr. is a native Angeleno who grew up
destined to become a part of the Latino entertainment industry. His
great-grandparents on his mother's side were a Mexican trumpet player
and Spanish dancer who formed a traveling family act, and his
grandfather was well-known character actor
Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, most famous for his humorous sidekick
roles in 1950s/1960s John Wayne (I) westerns (he played the
excitable hotel keeper in Rio Bravo) and in TV sitcoms.
His uncle and aunt dabbled in the business at one point as well. While
his famous granddad was unable to break out of the old unflattering
Latino stereotypes, Collins Jr. has done Pedro proud in the new
millennium. Playing everything from cops to boxers to serial killers,
he has managed to transcend the typical racial trappings of his
grandfather's era and play flesh-and-blood, three-dimensional
characters. It was not always that way.
Born short, lean and mean on June 16, 1970, he started his career in 1988 using his real name of Collins, but two years later began billing himself as "Clifton Gonzales-Gonzales" as a tribute to his aged grandfather and his early accomplishments. Pedro, who died in 2006, lived long enough to witness his grandson's achievements. Toiling in typical "barrio" roles at the beginning of his career, Collins Jr. found himself stuck in bit parts either as a struggling blue-collar worker or urban thug. In the mid-'90s he began to search out and wing standout roles that enabled him to break the confines of the Latino stereotype. He slowly moved up in billing, even in mediocre material such as the futuristic prison flick Fortress and the mindless '70s rock-era comedy The StAtilde;para;ned Age. His breakout role as Cesar, the vicious student and gangbanger in One Eight Seven opposite L.A. substitute teacher Samuel L. Jackson, set him on the right path. This led to a mesmerizing collection of other portrayals, both good-guy and bad-guy, in such films as The Replacement Killers, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit and Tigerland. His versatility finally tested, he played everything from a gay Mexican hitman in the critically acclaimed Traffic to a psychological profiler for the FBI in the mainstream actioner Mindhunters. A number of top guest appearances came his way \on such shows as NYPD Blue and The Twilight Zone and he had recurring roles on Resurrection Blvd. and Alias.
A monumental shift forward in his career happened recently with his hypnotic portrayal of killer Perry Smith, the object of writer Truman Capote's obsession, in the art-house favorite Capote. Decades ago Robert Blake (I) played the same part in the gripping Capote book-to-film In Cold Blood. This heralded achievement has enabled Collins to move into the co-producer's chair of late, notably for Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders, in which he inhabits the role of serial killer Kenneth Bianchi. Obviously, there's plenty more in the works for this major talent.
Clifton Collins Jr. trivia
- Enjoys snowboarding.
- Speaks Spanish.
- "I study like a madman." - On his preparation for auditions.
- Was extremely proud of his grandfather, actor/comedian Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, who was, for the most part, a victim of Latino stereotypes in 50s and 60s John Wayne (I) westerns and TV sitcoms. As a tribute, Clifton changed his professional name to Clifton Gonzalez-Gonzalez in 1990, claiming that he was tired of people not knowing his grandfather or appreciating the significance of his ordeal. He reverted back to the name of Collins in 2000 after his father passed away.
- Brother of Veronica Collins.
Clifton Collins Jr. quotes
- I almost got to do Saving Private Ryan, playing a German. I learned a German monologue in two days. I worked with Marco Hofschneider from Europa Europa. We taped it and I went over it about a hundred times. It got down to me and Jeremy Davies (I). Even though it didn't work out, I know he's [Steven Spielberg] got his eye on me now so that's kind of cool.
- I'm a big fan of Gary Oldman - Sid and Nancy, Dracula, Immortal Beloved - I've watched every film he's ever done. I'd also love to work with some of the old school greats like Mike Nichols (I) and Steven Spielberg. And I think Gus Van Sant is totally cool.
- "I'm so busy trying to be other people. You start acting just as soon as you walk into the door of that casting office. You can't just be yourself because they don't want to hire you. I am not a killer. I don't beat my mother. I don't do these things, but you have to walk in there and be these things because they don't want to hire somebody who 'pretends to be gay' or 'pretends to be a gang member.'" - On auditioning.