An intense, versatile performer, William Fichtner emerged as a memorable character actor through his work with some of the most notable filmmakers of the 1990s and beyond. After his military brat childhood, Fichtner studied criminal justice in college before moving to New York City to shift his focus to acting. Fichtner got his first major acting job on the serial As the World Turns in 1988 and played bit parts in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992) and Robert Redford's Quiz Show (1994). Steven Soderbergh gave Fichtner his first substantial film role as a small town hood in the neo-noir The Underneath (1994). After supporting turns in Kathryn Bigelow's Y2K fantasy Strange Days (1995) and Michael Mann's stylish police saga Heat (1995), Fichtner earned kudos for his psychotic hit man in actor Kevin Spacey's directorial debut Albino Alligator (1997). As a gentle blind scientist in Robert Zemeckis' empyreal sci-fi adventure Contact (1997), Fichtner further revealed his considerable range; among the hip ensemble cast in Doug Liman's time-bending rave comedy Go (1999), Fichtner managed to stand out with his humorously unsettling performance as a narcotics cop with an agenda. Fichtner finally achieved leading man status as one of Demi Moore's amours in Passion of Mind (2000), but Alain Berliner's first American effort failed at the box office. Moving easily between independent films and big-budget Hollywood, Fichtner next co-starred as one of the ill-fated swordfishermen in Wolfgang Petersen's adaptation of The Perfect Storm (2000). Maintaining his prolific ways after The Perfect Storm's success, and earning a place in 's 2001 photo spread of premier supporting actors, Fichtner took on a varied trio of roles in three major 2001 releases. After playing a small part as Josh Hartnett's dad in Michael Bay's overwrought $198 million disappointment Pearl Harbor (2001), Fichtner's turn as a gay detective in the lumbering comedy What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001) was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disposable movie. Back in his no-nonsense manhood style, Fichtner then appeared as a master sergeant involved in the troubled 1993 mission in Somalia in Ridley Scott's Oscar bait military drama Black Hawk Down (2001).
After the ensemble carnage of Black Hawk Down, Fichtner moved to the small screen for a starring role as one of two maverick ER doctors in the ABC medical drama MDs (2002). A competitive time slot and poor reviews, however, hampered MDs' ratings. Though his foray into series television stumbled, Fichtner continued to rack up movie credits, appearing alongside Christian Bale and Emily Watson in the dystopian science fiction thriller Equilibrium (2002). ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi