A highly intense and prolific actor with a penchant for iron-willed roles, Denis O'Hare emerged as one of the most memorable characters on "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-14), playing the chief antagonist, the Vampire King of Mississippi, during the show's third season. An accomplished stage actor, O'Hare made a career portraying various authority figures - a priest on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), a brusque immigration officer in the comedy "The Proposal" (2009), and a rigid state senator in the biopic "Milk" (2008). But his career reached a pop culture high when he joined the cast of "True Blood," director Alan Ball's popular fantasy saga. As the vampire king, O'Hare manifested true evil, yet he brought a surprising levity to the role by expressing delight in the supernatural, even when going against him. O'Hare successfully brought to life a character that was on the exterior a polite Southern gentleman, but was also the true incarnation of evil; successfully essaying this dichotomy proved the actor's immense talent was no fluke.
Born on Jan. 17, 1962 in Kansas City, MO, O'Hare was raised in Southfield, MI, in a musical home, thanks to his mother, a church organist who influenced his passion for learning the clarinet, oboe and organ as a child. As a teenager, O'Hare was part of a local community theater where he appeared in a production of "Showboat." After graduating in 1980 from high school, O'Hare moved to Chicago to attend Northwestern University, where he graduated in 1984. Before making a splash in Hollywood, O'Hare spent the early part of his career as a stage actor. He amassed a number of awards, including a 2003 Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out" (2002), where he portrayed a gay business manager who falls in love with the game of baseball. O'Hare also won a 2005 Drama Desk Award for his performance on the 2005 Broadway revival of "Sweet Charity," opposite Christina Applegate. By the mid-1990s, the classically trained actor started making regular appearances on film and television, landing parts that often called for authority figures like a stern boss or a hard-nosed politician. He had a recurring role on "Law & Order," guest starred as a judge on "The Good Wife" (CBS, 2009-16), and had a multi-episode arc on "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC, 2006-2011) as a tough campaign manager.
O'Hare also displayed his versatility on the big screen in parts slightly similar to those he played on television. He played State Senator John Briggs in "Milk," the award-winning biopic of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), an activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official. In addition, O'Hare played a CIA station chief in "Charlie Wilson's War" (2007), a businessman with frequent run-ins with George Clooney's character in "Michael Clayton" (2007), and a surly suit trying to deport Sandra Bullock to Canada in "The Proposal." After many years of playing supporting characters, O'Hare finally got his lion's share of the spotlight as Russell Edgington on the thrilling vampire saga "True Blood," based on Charlaine Harris' series of novels about residents of a small Louisiana town who live among modern-day vampires. As the 2,800-year-old Vampire King of Mississippi, O'Hare oozed both Southern charm and unbending cruelty. O'Hare's character arrived in Bon Temps with his partner of 700 years, Talbot (Theo Alexander), and quickly stirred suspicions that he was involved in the disappearance of the vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). "True Blood" also starred Anna Paquin as a telepathic waitress in love with Bill, and Alexander Skarsgård as a very powerful and calculating Nordic vampire. In 2011, O'Hare played a Roman legionnaire in "The Eagle" opposite Channing Tatum and Donald Sutherland, followed by a supporting role in Clint Eastwood's biopic "J. Edgar" (2011). After co-starring in the indie comedy-drama "C.O.G." (2013), O'Hare appeared in the searing drama "Dallas Buyers Club" (2013), Ryan Murphy's TV adaptation of "The Normal Heart" (2014), and the Robert Downey Jr. drama "The Judge" (2014). Throughout this period, O'Hare also played multiple roles on Murphy's anthology series "American Horror Story" (FX 2011- ).
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Appeared in John Logan's off-Broadway play "Hauptmann"
Made first of several appearances on NBC's "Law & Order"
Made his Broadway debut in "Racing Demon"
Appeared on Broadway in the revival of "Cabaret"
Co-starred in the ensemble feature "The Anniversary Party"
Won a Tony for his performance in Richard Greenberg's "Take Me Out"
Appeared in Alejandro González Iñárritu's acclaimed film "21 Grams"
Played Charles J. Guiteau in the Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins"
Performed in the Broadway revival of "Sweet Charity" opposite Christina Applegate
Landed multi-episode arc on "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC) as a tough campaign manager
Played a CIA station chief in "Charlie Wilson's War"
Appeared as a businessman with frequent run-ins with George Clooney's character in "Michael Clayton"
Played State Senator John Briggs in "Milk"
Played an immigration officer trying to deport Sandra Bullock in "The Proposal"
Landed recurring role as Judge Charles Abernathy on "The Good Wife" (CBS)
Joined the cast of HBO's "True Blood" in its third season as Russell Edgington, the vampire king of Mississippi
Returned to Broadway to play the title character in "Elling"
Portrayed Albert Osborne in the Clint Eastwood directed biopic "J. Edgar"
Made recurring appearance on FX's "American Horror Story" as burn victim Larry Harvey