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Keith David
Born Keith David Williams
June 4, 1956 (1956-06-04) (age 53)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1979–present

Keith David Williams (born June 4, 1956), better known as Keith David, is an American film, television, and voice actor. He is perhaps most known for his live action roles in such films as Crash, There's Something About Mary, Barbershop and Men at Work. He has also had memorable roles in numerous cult favorites, including John Carpenter's films The Thing (as Childs) and They Live (as Armitage), the Riddick films Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick (as the Imam), and as King in Oliver Stone's Platoon. David is also well known for his voice over career, primarily his Emmy winning work as the narrator of numerous Ken Burns films. Goliath on the Disney series Gargoyles, the Arbiter in Halo 2 and Halo 3, David Anderson in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, the Decepticon Barricade in Transformers: The Game, Julius Little in Saints Row, Sgt. Foley in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and as Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog.


Early life

David was born in Harlem, New York City, the son of Delores (née Dickenson) and Lester Williams.[1] He first knew he was going to become an actor after playing the Cowardly Lion in a school production of The Wizard of Oz and went on to study at Manhattan's School of Performing Arts.

Film and television acting

In 1980–81, David honed his craft touring the country with John Houseman's The Acting Company in productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot. Less than two years later he went on to star as Childs, opposite Kurt Russell in John Carpenter's The Thing, and his lengthy on-screen career had begun. In the '80s run of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, he portrayed Keith the Southwood Carpenter in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe segments. He also played Keith, the game coin collector in an episode where Rogers and a small child learn to play the arcade game Donkey Kong.

He went on to appear in films such as Oliver Stone's Platoon, They Live (reuniting with The Thing director, John Carpenter), Road House, Men at Work, Marked for Death, and Stars and Bars. He played the character of Kirby, the one legged war veteran, in the acclaimed 1995 Hughes Brothers film Dead Presidents, and he appeared in the 1995 Spike Lee's film Clockers, and followed this up with roles in big films such as Volcano, Armageddon, There's Something About Mary, Pitch Black, Barbershop, Agent Cody Banks, The Chronicles of Riddick, Crash, ATL, Delta Farce, and First Sunday.

At the same time he has appeared in numerous independent films including the critically-acclaimed Requiem for a Dream, playing the role of Big Tim. He has also appeared extensively in TV productions since the 1980s and as a regular character Lieutenant Williams on the short-lived TV series The Job. He was a regular on another shoot made for ABC entitled 'The Big House' in 2004.

Voice acting

Although known for his roles in films and TV, he has done extensive voice-acting work, and is noted for his deep, commanding bass voice. He is known most notably as the voice behind Goliath from Gargoyles and the title character in the Spawn animated series. In the English dub of Princess Mononoke, David played the narrator and Okkoto. Additionally, he provided the voice for the character Decker in the computer role-playing game Fallout and the voice for the character Vhailor in a similar video game Planescape: Torment. David provided the voice of the Arbiter for the video game Halo 2, released in 2004; later, he reprised that role in the Xbox 360 follow-up, Halo 3. He played the role of Captain David Anderson in BioWare's Mass Effect. David also did voice work in the Xbox 360 title Saint's Row playing gang leader Julius. David can be heard on the intro of several Ice Cube projects, including Westside Connection's 2003 release, Terrorist Threats, and Cube's 2008 solo album Raw Footage, and he narrated the documentary Beef II, which also featured Ice Cube. The two have worked together in live action films like Barbershop and First Sunday.

He has worked with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns several times, narrating Burns's Jazz, Mark Twain, The War, and Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. David won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for his work in the latter two films. He also performs the narration duties in the BBC documentary, World War II: Behind Closed Doors.[2]

David is popular in advertising, particularly in United States Navy recruitment commercials. He has done voice-over work for many other documentaries including several for National Geographic and the documentary Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked for the History Channel. He replaced Paul Winfield as narrator for the popular A&E show City Confidential, taking over after Winfield's death in 2004. He voiced the trailer for the movie Primeval, which was released in the U.S. on January 12, 2007.

Additionally, David provided the voice of police detective Alex Cross for the audiobook versions of three novels by James Patterson: Cat and Mouse (1997), Pop Goes the Weasel (1999), and Roses are Red (2000).

Other voice roles include Bebe Proud Clone from The Proud Family Movie, Atlas from the Teen Titansanimated series,Uncle Pockets on Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends and the Decepticon Barricade in Transformers: The Game.

He recorded a public service announcement for Deejay Ra's "Hip-Hop Literacy" campaign. David has done voiceovers for promos on the Versus Network, particularly for college football.

Recently, David did the voices of the Black Cat in Coraline , Sgt. Foley in Modern Warfare 2, and Doctor Facilier in The Princess and the Frog.

Stage acting

In 1992, David received a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jelly's Last Jam. David received raves for his Shakespeare work on stage in Central Park, New York City.

In 1995, David played the lead as Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton in August Wilson's Seven Guitars on Broadway.

In May 2006, he appeared in the musical Hot Feet on Broadway in New York.




Voice work

Further reading

  • Voisin, Scott, "Character Kings: Hollywood's Familiar Faces Discuss the Art & Business of Acting." BearManor Media, 2009. ISBN 9-781593-933425.


External links


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