Family & Companions
From the time he was a young lad, Gary Dourdan knew that he wanted to be an actor. Despite a myriad of interests, which included music, athletics and even breakdancing, Dourdan focused much of his passion centered on acting. His determination, of course, eventually paid off - after an increasing series of television guest spots that led to regular series roles, he came to prominence in the "Alien" film franchise in 1997, officially starting him on the path towards stardom. While the one-time New Jersey native worked steadily, it was his role as forensic investigator Warrick Brown on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000-15) that put him on the map, introducing Dourdan to a large audience week after week and establishing him as a top-notch television star.
Born in Philadelphia, PA on Dec. 11, 1966, Dourdan was raised by his creative-minded mother, a fashion designer, and father, an agent who represented jazz musicians. Dourdan was the youngest child in a family of five; a mixture of various ethnicities including, among others, African, European and Indian. As a child, he excelled in music, playing a variety of instruments including piano, guitar and saxophone - the latter of which was introduced to him through his uncle, a former sax player for local disco sensation Sister Sledge of "We are Family" fame. When Dourdan was six years old, the family was dealt a crushing blow when oldest brother Darryl, then 23, went to Haiti to research the family lineage and was pushed off a motel balcony to his death. The crime was never solved.
Into his youth, the family moved to the suburb of Willingsboro in southern New Jersey. Dourdan continued an eclectic set of interests in acting, martial arts, music and breakdancing. He enrolled in the Freedom School, where he focused more on acting, before later attending John F. Kennedy High School. Dourdan dropped out of Kennedy High, after which his uncle coaxed the young musician to make his way to New York after stints playing rock music in Jersey and Miami. By 1986, he was working as a doorman at a rehearsal facility that housed the projects of filmmakers, musicians and avant-garde artists - one of many jobs, including working as a chef - which he held to support his dreams.
Dourdan soon began studying with acting coach legend Lee Strasberg, and by the end of the 1980s, began performing in off-Broadway plays. While his career was on the right track, his personal life began to veer off course when he began relying on drugs and alcohol to help cope with his brother's death. Eventually, Dourdan was able to rid himself of his substance abuse problems. Meanwhile, his start on television seemed promising. After meeting "A Different World" (1987-1993) producer Debbie Allen in Paris, Dourdan was cast in the role of Shazza Zulu, a recurring gig he played for over two seasons. Dourdan was then plucked by pop star Janet Jackson to be the object of desire in the 1993 video for her single "Again." From there, he landed a steady degree of work, but yearned for meatier roles. He popped up in "The Good Fight" (Lifetime, 1992), then the HBO miniseries "Laurel Avenue (1993). A year later, he segued back into primetime on the cop drama "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-98) and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (ABC, 1993-97).
Dourdan found good roles in features hard to come by, doing small turns in "Weekend at Bernie's II" (1993) and Ron Howard's "The Paper" (1994). By the mid 1990s, Dourdan landed a pilot for "The Office" (CBS, 1994-95), playing Bobby, a creative whiz who helps maintain a small company office. Despite hitting the air as a midseason replacement in 1995, "The Office" was gone from the lineup in a matter of weeks. But Dourdan had already moved on to shooting the theatrical basketball drama "Sunset Park" (1996). Switching gears, Dourdan quickly snatched up another series regular role on "Swift Justice" (UPN, 1995-96), an edgy cop drama that managed to stick around for a few months before getting the network axe.
In his off time, Dourdan always had a way to keep busy, continuing to play music in rock bands like The Bell Café Band. In 1996, Dourdan landed the role of Yates in the Touchstone Pictures-based action drama "Playing God" (1997), then was part of a six-month shoot in Los Angeles for the largely derided "Alien: Resurrection" (1997). After filming the independent drama "Thursday" (1998), Dourdan saw the release of "Playing God" in October 1997, which was soon followed by "Alien: Resurrection." Despite an underwhelming critical and financial response, Dourdan's high-action role as a prime member of Ripley's team of alien hunters brought heavy visibility. But the first couple of years after "Alien" were not as fruitful as he had hoped; prompting him to focus on music in New York instead.
Dourdan later decided to return to television, this time with better results. In 2000, he appeared in the ABC movie "Muhammad Ali: King of the World," taking on the formidable role of the iconic Malcolm X. Back in features, Dourdan headlined the independent drama thriller "Trois" (2000), then appeared in Reggie Bythewood's Hollywood drama "Dancing in September" (2000). By April 2000, Dourdan had been recruited for the crime procedural, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Picked up for the fall season, the series revolved around a forensics investigating unit in Las Vegas, with Dourdan playing Warrick Brown, a smart, complex and moody investigator with a shaky past as a gambler. The show quickly took off with critics and viewers, later paving the way for two successful "CSI" spin-offs.
As part of a dramatic ensemble, Dourdan and his castmates were acknowledged with Screen Actors Guild Award nominations in successive ceremonies between 2002 and 2005, with the team finally taking home the statue in 2005. Dourdan himself was singled out by NAACP's Image Awards for nominations five years running, between 2002-07. In 2003 and 2006, he won his category as "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series." He next essayed another real-life political figure, Black Panther George Jackson, in "Black August" (2003). With little time for outside screen work beyond his day job, he made an appearance as Captain Burke in the oft-reshot sci-fi thriller "Imposter" (2002). In 2006, Dourdan co-starred opposite Halle Berry as her on-again, off-again boyfriend in the thriller "Perfect Stranger" (2007), but it was his successful stint on "CSI" that he always comfortably returned to.
That was, until early 2008 when it was announced that Dourdan would leave the show which had made him a star. In the season finale, a crooked officer shot his character twice in the neck. A show source said it was common knowledge that Dourdan's contract was up at the end of the season, but rumors swirled as to why the sudden departure. To make matters even worse, after attending the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in the Palm Desert, Dourdan was arrested by police after being found sleeping in his car on the wrong side of the street and for having on his person, several illegal narcotics. The actor was promptly charged with possession of cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy and released on $5,000 bail. After an "embarrassing" month, Dourdan plead guilty to counts of cocaine and Ecstasy (the heroin charge was dismissed) and learned he would face no prison time. Instead, of doing time for three years, eight months as the initial charges called for, he was given a 16-class diversion drug treatment program.
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Was discovered by Debbie Allen while in Paris and cast in a recurring role on the sitcom "A Different World" (NBC)
Made TV-movie debut in the Lifetime original "The Good Fight"
Feature acting debut with a small role in "Weekend at Bernie's II"
Featured in a two-part HBO special "Laurel Avenue," about a working-class African-American family
Made a cameo in Ron Howard's look at the inside of a news daily, "The Paper"
Was a regular on the short-lived CBS sitcom "The Office"
Featured in the basketball-themed feature "Sunset Park"
Was a regular on the UPN crime drama series "Swift Justice"
Acted in the organized crime comedy "Playing God"
Appeared in the features "A Woman Like That" and "Fool's Paradise"
Featured in the sequel "Alien Resurrection"
Featured in the HBO police thriller "Scarred City"
Acted in the independent comedy "Thursday"
Acted in the basketball comedy "The New Jersey Turnpikes"
Played Malcolm X in the ABC TV-movie "Muhammad Ali: King of the World"
Had a recurring role on the Showtime drama "Soul Food"
Cast as Warrick Brown on the hit series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS)
Hosted the BET spoken word show "Lyric Cafe"
Co-starred with Halle Berry in the thriller "Perfect Stranger"
Featured in the comedy "Jumping the Broom"
Starred in the thriller "Five Thirteen"
Took on the recurring role of Sheldon on the series "Being Mary Jane"
Appeared in the sci-fi thriller "Reversion"