Bob Gunton

Like all good character actors, Bob Gunton is probably known more by his face than his name - his craggy, often impassive visage has essayed a score of tough, taciturn, often morally questionable men, the best known of which was the cold-hearted warden in "The Shawshank Redemption." But the California native has given life to a wide variety of roles during his four decades as an actor, including several award-winning musical performances on Broadway and in several comedies, including "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" on the big screen and the cult series "Greg the Bunny" (2002) on the small screen. Born Robert Gunton, Jr. in Santa Monica, CA on Nov. 15, 1945, he attended St. Peter's College in Maryland and the University of California at Irvine, graduating in 1968. Soon after, the young man served in the Army from 1969 to 1971, where he received the Viet Service Medal and Bronze Star for Valor. Upon his return to civilian life, Gunton gravitated towards theater work; his earliest credit is the off-Broadway production "Who Am I?" in 1971. Over the next decade, he amassed an impressive list of stage credits in dramas, comedies, and musicals, including "King of Hearts," "Evita" (opposite Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin), "Big River," "How I Got That Story," and the 1989 revival of "Sweeney Todd." For his work, Gunton received a Drama Desk Award in 1980 for "Evita" and an Obie that same year for "How I Got That Story," as well as Tony nominations for "Evita" and "Sweeney Todd." Gunton began working in front of cameras in the early 1980s, starting with a supporting role in Alan J. Pakula's "Rollover" (1981). He would divide his time between film and television for the next decade, with occasional inroads onto a TV series, including a stint on the little-seen sketch improv show "Comedy Zone" (CBS, 1983-84) which also featured Joe Mantegna and Mark Linn-Baker. Gunton's screen persona was quickly established during this period; he was drawn to and effectively portrayed strong-willed men of power - like Jacqueline Bouvier's stepfather Hugh Auchincloss in "A Woman Called Jackie" (NBC, 1991), Governor George Wallace in "Unconquered" (CBS, 1989) - or calculating heels, like his villainous company spy in John Sayles' "Matewan" (1987). He also covered his share of military men ("Glory" (1989) and "Mission of the Shark" (CBS, 1991)) and government types ("The Public Eye" (1992)), before catching the attention of Oliver Stone, who cast him in smaller roles in "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989) and "JFK" (1991). Higher profile projects seemed to follow, including turns in Stone's miniseries "Wild Palms" (ABC, 1993), "Patriot Games" (1992), the excellent Charles Starkweather biopic "Murder in the Heartland" (ABC, 1993), and the TV miniseries "Sinatra" (CBS, 1992) in which he played bandleader Tommy Dorsey. In 1994, Gunton caught audiences' attention as Warden Norton in Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption," an adaptation of a Stephen King novella that developed a sizable following in the decade after its release. Gunton's roles grew somewhat meatier after "Shawshank," though his characters remained essentially the same - he played Franklin D. Roosevelt in the TV movie "Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long" (TNT, 1995), Richard Nixon in the comic revisionist TV movie "Elvis Meets Nixon" (Showtime, 1997) and prosecuting attorney Finley Largent in Clint Eastwood's "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997). Gunton also appeared in the feature films "The Perfect Storm" (1999), John Woo's "Broken Arrow" (1996), and perhaps his most hissable antagonist in the Robin Williams melodrama, "Patch Adams" (1998). Gunton also logged considerable hours on episodic television and made-for-TV features, including recurring roles on "Nip/Tuck" (FX 2003-2010) and "Desperate Housewives" (ABC 2004-2012), as well as a turn as Woodrow Wilson in the HBO production "Iron-Jawed Angels" (2004). He also appeared in high profile films including "I Heart Huckabees" (2004), Matthew McConaughey's comeback vehicle "The Lincoln Lawyer" (2011), Best Picture Oscar winner "Argo" (2012), and miner rescue drama "The 33" (2015). He also began a recurring role on the comic book series "Daredevil" (Netflix 2015- ) as supervillain Leland Owlsley.