Character actor John Ortiz has built an impressive film resume since kicking off his career in 1993 with Brian De Palma's “Carlito's Way.” He has appeared in more than 20 movies, including Jonathan Lynn's “Sgt. Bilko” (1996), Ron Howard's “Ransom” (1996), Steven Spielberg's “Amistad” (1997), Julian Schnabel's “Before Night Falls” (2000), Lee Davis' “3 A.M.” (2001), Joe Carnahan's “Narc” (2002), Michael Mann's “Miami Vice” (2006) and Leon Ichaso's “El cantante” (2006). He also worked in “AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem” (2007), James Gray's “Two Lovers” (2008) and Justin Lin's “Fast & Furious” (2009) and received a SAG nomination for his role in the Ridley Scott blockbuster hit “American Gangster” (2007).
Ortiz has worked with such actors as Johnny Depp (“Public Enemies”), Bruce Willis (“Pinkville”), 50 Cent (“Everything's Alright”) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Jack Goes Boating”), who is a foundling member of the LAByrinth Theater Company. On the small screen, Ortiz is known as a series regular of ABC's “The Job” (2001-2002) and CBS' “Clubhouse” (2004) and for having guest or recurring roles in such series as “Touched by an Angel,” “Law & Order” and “CSI: Miami.” Fans should look forward to his performances in HBO's “Anatomy of Hope” (2009) and NBC's “Blue Blood.” As a stage performer, the founding member and Artistic Director of the New York-based LAByrinth Theater Company has performed in regional and national productions, as well as toured the world. For his acting, he won an Obie Award, a Drama League Award and a Drama Desk nomination.
Childhood and Family:
John Ortiz was born on May 23, 1968, in Brooklyn, New York. He later married a woman named Jen and they now have a son named Clemente. John is of Puerto Rican descent.
Fast & Furious
John Ortiz made his television debut in 1992 with a small role in an episode of “Law & Order” called “The Corporate Veil.” He quickly jumped to the big screen and made his auspicious debut as Guajiro, Carlito Brigante's (portrayed by Al Pacino) cousin, in “Carlito's Way,” Brian De Palma's 1993 movie adaptation of Edwin Torres' novels “Carlito's Way” and “After Hours.” Also included in the cast were Sean Pean, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo, Ingrid Rogers, Luis Guzmán, Viggo Mortensen and Adrian Pasdar
Ortiz made his television film debut two years later in the thriller “Shadow-Ops,” in which he costarred with Adam Baldwin, Terrence Howard and Leslie Hope. He then appeared in the movie “Lotto Land” (also 1995), an award winning drama written and directed by John Rubino. The following year, he was cast as Luis Clemente in the Jonathan Lynn directed comedy “Sgt. Bilko,” supported Mel Gibson and Rene Russo in Ron Howard's “Ransom,” and became a regular cast member of the short lived sitcom “Lush Life.” Ortiz then played Nicky in two episodes of CBS long running series “Touched by an Angel” and took part in the Showtime film “Riot” segment “Caught in the Fever” (both 1997). Ortiz next portrayed the supporting role of Montes in Steven Spielberg's engrossing drama “Amistad” (1997), which starred Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Matthew McConaughey and David Paymer, appeared with Rosario Dawson and Jennifer Esposito in the independent film “Side Streets” (1998) and closed out the decade with a performance in Mike Kirton's movie “The Last Marshal” (1999), opposite Scot Glenn and William Forsythe.
Opening the new millennium, Ortiz teamed up with Christopher Walken, Vera Farmiga and Olek Krupa in Myles Connell's comedy film “The Opportunists.” He than had the small role of Juann Abreu in Julian Schnabel's biopic “Before Night Falls,” which was based on the life of Cuban novelist and poet Reinaldo Arenas (played by Javier Bardem). He had substantial roles in “3 A.M.” (2001), the feature film directing debut of Lee Davis, and “Narc” (2002), which was written and directed by Joe Carnahan. The Brooklyn native also starred as Ruben Somarriba in the comedy series “The Job” (ABC, 2001-2002), whose cast members also included Denis Leary, Lenny Clarke and Julian Acosta.
After “The Job” left the airwaves, Ortiz made a guest appearance in an episode of the CBS short lived series “The Handler” (2003). He then guest starred in an episode of “Law & Order: SVU” (2003) before appearing in the CBS series “Clubhouse,” where he portrayed Carlos Tavares. Also starring Jeremy Sumpter, Dean Cain, Christopher Lloyd, Mare Winningham and Kirsten Storms, the series ran from September 26 to November 6, 2004.
Still in 2004, Ortiz resumed his film career in Matthew Harrison's “The Deep and Dreamless Sleep.” Two years later, he supported Antonio Banderas in “Take the Lead,” an inspirational film based on the true story of ballroom dancer Pierre Dulane. However, it was his role in the Michael Mann movie version of “Miami Vice” that brought the character actor praise. He followed it up with another strong performance in the Toronto Film Festival premiered “El cantante,” starring real life couple Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.
In 2007, Ortiz gained additional recognition with his role of Javier J. Rivera, the partner of Russell Crowe's Detective Richie Roberts, in Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster,” from which he shared a 2008 Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Premiering in the United States and Canada in November, the crime film debuted at the box office at No. 1. A huge hit, it has since collected over $266 million worldwide. Later that same year, he joined Steven Pasquale and Reiko Aylesworth to star in the science fiction movie “AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem,” an installment to 2004's “Alien vs. Predator.”
Ortiz briefly returned to television with a guest spot in “CSI: Miami” (2007) and “Law & Order” (2008), before offering a notable supporting role as Jose Cordero in “Two Lovers” (2008), which premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in May before receiving a limited theatrical release in February 2009. The movie was directed by James Gray and starred Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw and Isabella Rossellini. He was then reunited with “Miami Vice” star Colin Farrell and worked with Edward Norton, Jon Voight and Jennifer Ehle in “Pride and Glory” (2008), a successful saga from director Gavin O'Connor. He also played the supporting role of Campos in “Fast & Furious” (2009).
Ortiz recently completed filming “Blue Blood,” a NBC drama directed by Brett Ratner, and the HBO TV series pilot “Anatomy of Hope” (2009), adapted from Jerome Groopman's book “The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness.” Under the direction of J.J. Abrams, he will portray a character named Tom Hernandez. As for films, Ortiz was reunited with Michael Mann in the directors' drama “Public Enemies” (2009). Costars of the film included Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, Leelee Sobieski and Giovanni Ribisi. He will also work with Christopher McDonald and 50 Cent in “Everything's Alright” (2009), play Clyde in the based-on-play “Jack Goes Boating” (2010), and have a supporting role in the Bruce Willis upcoming vehicle “Pinkville” (2010).
Also an accomplished stage actor, Ortiz serves as the Artistic Director of LAByrinth Theatre Company, which he co-founded with several other Latin actors in 1992. Previously known as Latino Actors Base, the company has become a home for over 100 artists from various cultural backgrounds and creative disciplines. Making his Broadway debut in Nilo Cruz’ Pulitzer Prize winning play “Anna in the Tropics” (2003), Ortiz won an Obie Award in José Rivera's “References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot” (at the Public Theater) as well as a Drama Desk nomination and a Drama League Award for LAByrinth Theater's “Jesus Hopped the A Train,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis. Other stage credits include John Patrick Shanley's “Where's My Money,” Rivera's “Cloud Tectonics,” “The Adoration of the Old Woman,” “Sueno,” “ The Street of the Sun,” “School of the America” and Peter Sellars' “The Persians” and “Merchant of Venice,” among other productions.
Obie Award: “References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot”
Drama League Award: “Jesus Hopped the A Train”