Nepotism is certainly a commonplace thing in many industries and Hollywood is no different. Plenty of individuals have landed gigs thanks to who they know, but the trick for success is to prove you've got more than connections. For William Mapother, cousin of Tom Cruise, that opportunity came when he was cast as the hot-tempered estranged husband of a woman (Marisa Tomei) having an affair with a much younger man (Nick Stahl) in Todd Field's feature directorial debut "In the Bedroom" (2001). With bleached blond hair and a beard, Mapother proved a menacing figure, yet he also managed to convey the humanity of a man capable of extreme actions. His delicately nuanced performance demonstrated he had the chops to succeed on his own.
The Louisville native and graduate of Notre Dame arrived in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and served as a production assistant on films that spotlighted his movie star cousin (e.g., "Cocktail" and "Rain Man" both 1988). Beginning with 1989's "Born on the Fourth of July," Mapother moved in front of the cameras, but he spent almost a decade away from the silver screen, mostly working as a substitute teacher or penning screenplays. By the late 90s, though, Mapother was once again pursuing an acting career, landing small roles in films like "Without Limits" (1998), "Magnolia" (1999) and "Mission: Impossible II" (2000). His intense portrayal of an abusive husband and father in "In the Bedroom" certainly raised his profile and boded for a promising career. Along with appearances in a few more of his cousin's films, "Vanilla Sky" (2001) and "Minority Report" (2002), Mapother racked up supporting credits in "Swordfish" (2001), "Self Storage" (2002), "The Kiss" (2003) and "Suspect Zero" (2004), and made an indelible appearance in the horror hit "The Grudge" (2004) as one of the American relatives who falls prey to the violent cure on a Japanese home.
Mapother also scored in guest shots on popular series such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami," "Law & Order Special Victims Unit" and "Touched by an Angel." In 2004 he appeared in a recurring role as the mysterious antagonist Ethan who menaces the crash survivors during the first season of the hit ABC drama "Lost" (2004-10).
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Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Worked as a production assistant on "Cocktail" and "Rain Man", both starring Tom Cruise
Film debut in "Born on the Fourth of July"; also served as Cruise's assistant; billed as William R. Mapother
Had featured role in "Without Limits"
Breakthrough screen role, "In the Bedroom," as Richard Strout, the estranged husband of a woman having an affair with a younger man
Starred in the ABC movie "The Pennsylvania Miners' Story" based on the real-life chronicle of the 'nine for nine' Pennsylvania coal miners who were rescued in the summer of 2002
Appeared in "Minority Report", starring Cruise
Cast opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar in the thriller "The Grudge"
Starred in the thriller "Zodiac" with Justin Chambers and Rory Culkin
Cast in Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center"