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James Ransone

James Ransone's life reads like a more adult Lifetime movie-of-the-week, or a slightly older version of Jim Carroll's "The Basketball Diaries." A sensitive, creative kid from Baltimore, Ransone (who goes by the nickname PJ) played in several Fugazi-inspired punk bands and started acting with early roles in indie films such as the sci-fi musical "The American Astronaut" (2001) and Harmony Korine's controversial "Ken Park" (2002). Ransone's intense demeanor, wiry energy and native Bawl'more accent led to his casting as the hot-headed Ziggy Sobotka in the second season of "The Wire" (HBO, 2002-08). After leaving the critically-acclaimed but low-rated series, he landed supporting roles as a dirt-obsessed sex addict in John Waters' "A Dirty Shame" (2004) and a desperate criminal in Spike Lee's "Inside Man" (2006). Although Ransone's professional career was on an upward trajectory, personally his life was going down the drain; he developed a sizable heroin addiction after moving to New York City, and eventually realized the only way to quit would be to do something even crazier. So he teamed up with David Simon and Ed Burns, creator and head writer of "The Wire," respectively, and moved to Namibia for eight months to make "Generation Kill" (HBO, 2008), a mini-series based on a Rolling Stone reporter's firsthand account of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. His next few roles were considerably less dangerous, but no less compelling; among them were a tattooed farmer/fashion designer in HBO's "How To Make It in America" (2010-2011), and a stoner NYC transplant in Simon's "Treme" (HBO, 2010-13). With back-to-back roles in the semi-autobiographical "Red Hook Summer" (2012) and "Oldboy" (2013), the no-B.S. actor officially became a member of the Spike Lee Players. Ransone is all cleaned up, dressed up, and ready to go.
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