William Atherton in February 2009
|Born||William Atherton Knight
July 30, 1947
Orange, Connecticut, U.S.
Atherton was born in Orange, Connecticut, the son of Robert Atherton Knight and Roby (maiden name Robison). He studied acting at the Drama School at Carnegie Tech and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1969.
Atherton made a splash on the New York stage immediately after graduating college and worked with many of the country's leading playwrights including David Rabe, John Guare and Arthur Miller, winning numerous awards for his work on and off Broadway. He got his big break playing hapless fugitive Clovis Poplin in The Sugarland Express, the feature film debut of Steven Spielberg. After this, he garnered major roles in dark dramas such as The Day of the Locust and Looking for Mr. Goodbar, as well as the big-budget disaster film The Hindenburg. He also starred as cowboy Jim Lloyd in the ground-breaking 1978 miniseries Centennial, based on the novel by James Michener.
Atherton entered pop culture history in 1984, when he appeared in the hit comedy Ghostbusters as the overbearing EPA agent Walter Peck. In 1985, Martha Coolidge chose Atherton to play Professor Jerry Hathaway in the teen comedy Real Genius. In 1988, Atherton played narcissistic reporter Richard "Dick" Thornburg in the blockbuster action film Die Hard, as well as its 1990 sequel.
Other film credits include No Mercy, The Pelican Brief, Bio-Dome, Mad City, The Crow: Salvation, The Last Samurai, Grim Prairie Tales, the TV movies Buried Alive, Headspace and Virus. He has also made guest appearances on such TV shows as The Twilight Zone, Murder She Wrote, Desperate Housewives, The Equalizer, Law & Order, Boston Legal, and Monk. Atherton also provided the voice of Dr. Destiny on Justice League. Recently, Atherton was a recurring series lead in NBC's detective drama Life.
While starring in The Day of the Locust, Atherton was offered and accepted the opportunity to provide lead vocals for "What'll I Do", the main title theme for the Robert Redford film version of The Great Gatsby.
He has reprised his role as Walter Peck in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, released on June 16, 2009.
Following his work on the musical, Atherton steps into a comedic role in Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, produced by Will Ferrell's Funny or Die, Gary Sanchez Productions and Abso Lutely Productions.
|This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: separate into film and TV credits. (July 2012)|
- The New Centurions (1972) - Johnson
- Class of '44 (1973) - Fraternity President
- The Sugarland Express (1974) - Clovis Michael Poplin
- The Day of the Locust (1975) - Tod Hackett
- The Hindenburg (1975) - Boerth
- Independence (1976) - Benjamin Rush
- Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) - James
- Centennial (1978–1979) (TV miniseries) - Jim Lloyd
- A Single Light (1981) (TV) - unknown role
- The House of Mirth (1981) (TV) - Lawrence Selden
- Tomorrow's Child (1982) (TV) - Jim Spence
- Malibu (1983) (TV) - Stan Harvey
- Ghostbusters (1984) - Walter Peck
- Real Genius (1985) - Prof. Jerry Hathaway
- The Twilight Zone (1985, 1987) (TV series) - Mr. Dundee/Brian Wolfe
- Murder, She Wrote (1985, 1987, 1991) (TV series) - Larry Holleran/Greg Dalton/Andy Henley
- A Fight for Jenny (1986) (TV) - Michael Rosen
- No Mercy (1986) - Allan Deveneux
- The Equalizer (1987, 1989) (TV series) - Martin 'Alpha' Loeber/Gideon
- Die Hard (1988) - Richard Thornburg
- Intrigue (1988) (TV) - Doggett
- Buried Alive (1990) (TV) - Cortland 'Cort' van Owen
- Grim Prairie Tales: Hit the Trail... to Terror (1990) - Arthur
- Die Hard 2 (1990) - Richard Thornburg
- Oscar (1991) - Overton
- Tales from the Crypt (1991) (TV series) - Malcolm Mayflower
- Diagnosis: Murder (1992) (TV) - Eric Walker
- Chrome Soldiers (1992) (TV) - Sheriff Blackwell
- The Pelican Brief (1993) - Bob Gminski
- Saints and Sinners (1994) - Terence McCone
- Frank & Jesse (1995) - Allan Pinkerton
- Virus (1995) (TV) - Dr. Reginald Holloway
- Broken Trust (1995) (TV) - Roemer
- Raven Hawk (1996) (TV) - Philip Thorne
- Bio-Dome (1996) - Dr. Noah Faulkner
- Nash Bridges (1996) (TV series) - Dr. Linus Mills
- Executive Power (1997) - President John Fields
- Hoodlum (1997) - Thomas Dewey
- Mad City (1997) - Malt Dohlen
- The Practice (1997, 1999) (TV series) - D.A. Keith Pratt
- Michael Kael contre la World News Company (1998) - James Denit
- The Outer Limits (1998) (TV series) - Franklin Murdoch
- The Stranger (1999) - Arthur
- Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) (TV) - Darryl Zanuck
- The Crow: Salvation (2000) - Nathan Randall
- Burning Down the House (2001) - Arthur Kranston
- Night Visions (2001) (TV series) - William Price
- Race to Space (2001) - Ralph Stanton
- Law & Order (2002, 2004) (TV series) - Don Snyder/Dan Jensen
- Who's Your Daddy? (2003) - Uncle Duncan 'Duncay' Mack
- Justice League (2003) (TV series) - Dr. Destiny (voice only)
- The Last Samurai (2003) - Winchester Rep
- Gone But Not Forgotten (2004) (TV) - Sen. Ray Colby
- Into the Sun (2005) - Agent Block
- Headspace (2005) - Dr. Ira Gold
- Boston Legal (2005) (TV series) - A.D.A. Howard Zale
- Stargate SG-1 (2006) (TV series) - Varta
- Desperate Housewives (2006) (TV series) - Dr. Barr
- Kush (2007) - King
- Totally Baked: A Pot-U-Mentary (2007) - Lyle Funion
- Hacia la oscuridad (Towards Darkness) (2007) - John
- The Girl Next Door (2007) - Adult David
- Numb3rs (2007) (TV series) - Warren Pierce
- Aces 'N' Eights (2008) (TV) - Howard
- bgFATLdy (a.k.a. Black Crescent Moon) (2008) - Jo Dexton
- Ghouls (2008) (TV) - Stefan
- Monk (2008) (TV series) - Commander Nathan Whitaker
- Life (2008–2009) (TV series) - Mickey Rayborn
- Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009) (VG) - Walter Peck (Voice)
- Lost (Episode 607: "Dr. Linus") (2010) (TV series) - Principal Donald Reynolds
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2010) (TV series) - Ned Bogden
- The Kane Files: Life of Trial (2010) - Daniel Morgan
- Jinn (2010) - Father Westhoff
- Castle (Episode 61: "Head Case") (2011) (TV series) - Dr. Ari Weiss
- Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012)
- Jersey Shore Shark Attack 
- Workaholics (Episode 306: "The Meat Jerking Beef Boys") (2012) - Thor Holmvik
- "William Atherton Biography (1947-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
- "William Atherton Biography - Yahoo! Movies". Movies.yahoo.com. 1947-07-30. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
- "Bio". William Atherton.
- "Executive Producer Reveals Lost Guest Star on Twitter". tvguide.com. 28 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- "LA Weekly Calendar 'Gigi"- - Review by Mayank Keshaviah". laweekly.com. 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- "William Atherton back on the big screen!". Moviehole. 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- Weinstein, Joshua L. (2010-01-14). "'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie' Ramps Up With Galifianakis, Ferrell | The Wrap Movies". Thewrap.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- William Atherton at the Internet Movie Database
- William Atherton at the Internet Broadway Database
- William Atherton at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- William Atherton at AllRovi