“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 and Spielberg. And I think Gus Van Sant is totally cool.” Clifton Collins Jr.
Differentiated by his adaptability and uncanny ability to immerse himself in the characters he plays, American actor Clifton Collins Jr. is best known to moviegoers for his portrayal of the menacing brute Cesar in One Eight Seven (1997), along side Samuel L. Jackson. He further increased his popularity by playing roles in such films as The Replacement Killers (1998), The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998), Tigerland (2000), the acclaimed Traffic (2000, won a Screen Actors Guild Award), The Last Castle (2001, earned an ALMA nod), The Rules of Attraction (2002) and Mindhunters (2004). More recently, the recipient of Nosostros Golden Eagle’s Most Promising Actor (1998) experienced a monumental shift forward in his career with his festinating performance as assassin Perry Smith in the art-house darling Capote (2005).
On television, an acting chameleon, Collins gained a huge break for his role as Jack “Bump” Hill in the series “Thief” (2006-?). Delivering a fine acting, he received a 2006 Emmy nomination. In addition to appearance in television films, he also has made top guest performance in several series, including “NYPD Blue,” “Resurrection Blvd,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Alias.”
As for his private life, 5’ 8” tall Collins has been romantically involved with actress Debi Mazar (born on August 15, 1964), whom he dated in summer 2000. But, the two are no longer together.
Childhood and Family:
A native of Angeleno, Clifton Craig Collins Jr. was born on June 16, 1970 in Los Angeles, California. He grew up fated to be a part of the Latino showbiz. Clifton is the grandson of renowned character actor Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (died in 2006), one of the first Mexicans to find Hollywood triumph, and his great-grandparents on his mother’s side were a Spanish dancer and Mexican trumpet player. His aunt and uncle also pursued career in the industry.
In his spare time, the Spanish speaker enjoys snowboarding.
Clifton Collins Jr. began his career in 1988 by using his real name of Collins, but two years later started billing himself as “Clifton Gonzales-Gonzales” as an honor to his old granddad and his early accomplishments. After a series of bit parts either as an urban gangster or besieged blue-collar worker, he finally could break the boundaries of the Latino typecast as he began to get and branch standout roles in the mid-1990s. Gradually, Collins moved up in billing, even in mediocre material like the 1993’s sci-fi prison flick Fortress, starring Christopher Lambert and Loryn Locklin, and the mindless ‘70s rock-era comedy The Stöned Age (1994), which starred Michael Kopelow and Bradford Tatum as a couple of rockers who are on a seek for ‘chicks’.
The young actor, however, did not break through the mainstream until 1997, when he was cast in the role of Cesar, the sadistic student and gang banger in director Kevin Reynolds’ One Eight Seven, opposite Samuel L. Jackson. The same year he also made himself known by making major guest performance in such series as “ER” and “NYPD Blue.”
Collins’ role in One Eight Seven won him enough attention that led to a compelling collection of other portrayals, both bad-guy and good-guy, in films like The Replacement Killers (1998, opposite the international star Chow Yun-Fat), Disney’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998) for the Fantafestival Award-winning director Stuart Gordon, and the war/drama Tigerland (2000), helmed by Joel Schumacher and costarring Colin Farrell and Matthew Davis. In Steven Soderbergh’s critically acclaimed ensemble drama Traffic (2000), Collins demonstrated his versatility as a gay Mexican hitman, a role that brought him a 2001 Screen Actors Guild for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture. He shared the award with Traffic co-stars like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Amy Irving, Benjamin Bratt and Albert Finney.
The young up-and-comer then was seen in supporting roles in the wide-release movies like The Last Castle (2001), where he received an ALMA nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor for finely playing Cpl. Ramon Aguilar, and director Roger Avary’s The Rules of Attraction (2002), a luminous adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis novel, found Collins steadily achieving the impetus to set a continuing career in the cinematic industry. In between his busy film schedule, he maintained his presence in the small screen by appearing in several episodes of “Resurrection Blvd” (2000-2001, as James Garcia) and “Alias” (2003, as Javier Parez), as well as an episode of “The Twilight Zone” (2002). He also costarred with director-writer-actor John Leguizamo in the made-for-TV-film Undefeated (2003).
After roles in the mainstream thriller Mindhunters, playing a psychology profiler for the FBI named Vince Sherman, the alcoholism-themed comedy drama Glory Days, the highly anticipated sequel Boondock II: All Saints Day (all 2004) for director Troy Duffy, Life of the Party, Tom 51 and the television film Bounty Hunters (all 2005), Collins’ career gained much boost with his mesmerizing portrayal of killer Perry Smith, the object of writer Truman Capote’s obsession, in the art-house favorite Capote (2005). His acting received good reviews from critics, and along with his costars that include the Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, he nabbed a Screen Actors Guild nod for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. Still in 2005, he also appeared with Academy Award darling Cuba Gooding Jr. in the crime/thriller Dirty.
Recently, Collins co-produced and acted in Little Chenier (2006), and Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders (2006), where he played serial killer Kenneth Bianchi, as well as had a small part in director Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s Babel, which starred Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt. On the small screen, Collins made a name for himself as Jack “Bump” Hill in the crime series “Thief” (2006-?), where he picked up a 2006 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie.
The 36-year-old actor will play a role in the upcoming comedy film National Lampoon’s TV the Movie (2006), opposite Preston Lacy and Steve-O. Additionally, he is reportedly in negotiation to star as Prince in Fluorescent (2006). The drama film is directed and written by Adam Christian Clark.
- Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture, Traffic, 2001
- Nosostros Golden Eagle: Most Promising Actor, 1998