A charming and handsome African-American actor who made the most of the late 1990s teen film popularity with his youthful looks and sensitive portrayals, Sean Patrick Thomas acted extensively in regional theater, and landed supporting roles in film and television before earning notice with a featured turn in 1999's "Cruel Intentions," a teen reworking of "Dangerous Liaisons." The unabashedly over-the-top film became an instant camp classic, and Thomas served as the perfect foil to his outlandish co-stars with a realistic turn as lovestruck cello instructor Ronald Clifford. Poor Ronald was not only faced with the racism that kept him away from his adored Cecile (Selma Blair), but he was also being manipulated by the very people who were supposed to be helping him (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe). Thomas managed to make his character the most traditionally likable, displaying neither the self-serving machinations of the evil characters nor the equally unattractive sanctimoniousness of the good ones. His impressive performance in the film and the outcry over the overwhelmingly white casts on TV's 1999 fall schedule led to Thomas landing a regular role on the "Cruel Intentions"-based TV series "Manchester Prep." Unfortunately for Thomas and for audiences eager to see how the characters' debauched antics would translate to the small screen, the Fox series was cancelled before the airing of any episodes.
Before the popularity of "Cruel Intentions," Thomas was featured on the TV series "New York Undercover" (Fox) in 1996 and "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher" (The WB) in 1997. He made his film debut with a role in the military drama "Courage Under Fire" in 1996, and followed up the following year with turns in "Picture Perfect" and "Conspiracy Theory." In 1998, he was featured in the high school graduation party-set comedy "Can't Hardly Wait," with a much larger role than his 'Jock No. 2' credit indicated. He played one of three sidekicks to Peter Facinelli's dumped golden boy Mike, a football player unwilling to give up his long-term girlfriend as per Mike's plan. Following his TV series debut on the drama "The District" (CBS, 2000-04), he co-starred opposite Julia Stiles in "Save the Last Dance," a popular 2001 dance-themed interracial romance. He followed that success up with an uncredited turn in the teen comedy spoof "Not Another Teen Movie!" (2001) as Black Guy at Party, and a stint in the teen-skewing horror market in "Halloween: Resurrection" (2002), before getting a fresh round of exposure playing Jimmy James, a college student who tries to impress everyone with his knowledge, in the hit comedy "Barbershop" (2002) and its sequel "Barbershop 2: Back in Business" (2004).
In addition to screen credits, the stage trained Thomas has had a relatively prolific career in theater, working extensively in regional productions including a starring turn in a 1997 musical adaptation of "Cooley High" and a featured role in the New York Shakespeare Festival's "Timon of Athens" in 1996.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made film debut in the military drama "Courage Under Fire"
Played Lucilius in New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Timon of Athens"
Guest starred on an episode of Fox's "New York Undercover"
Was featured in the romantic comedy "Picture Perfect"
Played a surveillance operator in the movie "Conspiracy Theory"
Guest starred on an episode of The WB's sitcom "Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher"
Starred onstage in a Philadelphia theater musical adaptation of "Cooley High"
Played a jock sidekick to Peter Facinelli's popular creep in the high school graduation party-set ensemble comedy "Can't Hardly Wait"
Co-starred in "Cruel Intentions", the campy teen reworking of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses"
Was tapped to co-star as a regular on "Manchester Prep", the TV series adaptation of "Cruel Intentions"; series was cancelled before airing
Featured in Moliere's "The Cheats of Scapin", produced by Circus Theatricals in Los Angeles
Featured in the independent coming-of-age drama "The Sterling Chase"
Had co-starring role in the CBS drama series "The District"
Starred opposite Julia Stiles in the teen romantic drama "Save the Last Dance"
Played Jimmy James in the comedy "Barbershop," also starred Queen Latifah and Ice Cube
Again portrayed Jimmy James in "Barbershop 2: Back in Business"
Co-starred in "The Fountain," written and directed by Darren Aronofsky