Family & Companions
This tall, athletic and bald character player of film and TV certainly made the most of a guest shot on a first season episode ("Tooms") of the hit Fox paranormal drama "The X-Files." Pileggi (pronounced "puh-ledgy") was invited back for an eight-episode arc at the beginning of the second season--largely coinciding with Gillian Anderson's diminished presence due to her pregnancy. Initially viewed with suspicion by both the show's protagonists and fans, the intense, repressed and seething FBI Assistant Director Skinner eventually won everyone over with his quietly heroic efforts to aid his sometimes renegade agents even at the price of angering his masters and putting his professional and physical life on the line. Skinner has said that he stands on the line that David Duchovny's Agent Fox Mulder routinely crosses. The character became one of the show's tiny group of recurring characters. Pileggi realized well into his characterization that he had been unconsciously modeling Skinner on his own late father, Vito, a defense contractor.
The peripatetic nature of his father's profession took the young Pileggi and his family from his native Portland, OR to California to such far-flung locales as Turkey, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Iran. He first began acting as a student in an American high school in Turkey, discovering a penchant for musicals. Pileggi fell away from the limelight after high school, taking an undergraduate business degree at the University of Texas at Austin. He worked as a defense contractor himself for several years in Iran before fleeing the revolution. Settling finally in Austin, TX, Pileggi took up performing in community theater and went on to bit parts in TV. Moving to Los Angeles, he won additional TV guest shots and roles in low-budget genre movies--his most notable was as mass murderer Horace Pinker, the lead in Wes Craven's wildly uneven supernatural thriller "Shocker" (1989). His character survives the electric chair transformed into a malevolent energy that kills through TV. Pileggi sank his teeth into the showy part--cast by Craven for his ability to make criminality sexy--but the film's poor critical and commercial reception thwarted the producers' aim to create a new Freddy Krueger. Usually cast as toughs, unsympathetic cops and bad guys, Pileggi had small parts in such films as "Return of the Living Dead Part II" (1988), "Basic Instinct" (1992) and "It's Pat" (1994).
Finally achieving celebrity with his role on "The X-Files," Pileggi has become a sex-symbol of sorts to many of the show's ardent admirers. His relaxed and youthful demeanor during conventions and personal appearances has served to enhance his status as a fan favorite. Accordingly, the shows' producers have slowly been giving Skinner more of a life beyond the walls of his office. Pileggi was promoted to series regular with the 1996-97 season.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his TV-movie acting debut in "The Sky's No Limit", a CBS drama about three female astronauts
Made his feature acting debut with a small part in "On the Line/Rio Abajo", a Spanish production about the relationship between two U.S. border guards and a Mexican prostitute
Had his first TV guest spot on NBC's "The A-Team"
Had his first feature lead role playing mass murderer Horace Pinker in Wes Craven's thriller "Shocker"
Appeared in three episodes of the hit CBS primetime soap "Dallas"
Joined the cast of Fox's hit paranormal drama "The X-Files" in the recurring role of Assistant Director Walter Skinner
Provided narration for the Fox compilation special "More Secrets of the X-Files"
Landed a recurring role on the TV series "Tarzan"
Reprised his role as Walter Skinner in the X-Files movie "The X-Files: I Want To Believe"
Nabbed a recurring part on "Supernatural"
Played Ernest Darby on 14 episodes of "Sons of Anarchy"
Played Walter Skinner once again in the 2016 TV reboot of "The X-Files"
Appeared in "Transformers: The Last Knight"
Reprised Skinner role yet again for the eleventh season of "The X-Files"