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Frankie Russel Faison (born June 10, 1949), often credited as Frankie R. Faison, is an American actor known for his role as Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell in the HBO series The Wire[1] and as Barney Matthews in the Hannibal Lecter franchise.

Frankie Faison
Frankie Russel Faison

(1949-06-10) June 10, 1949 (age 70)
EducationIllinois Wesleyan University (BA)
New York University (MFA)
Years active1974–present

Personal lifeEdit

Faison was born in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Carmena (née Gantt) and Edgar Faison.[2] He studied drama at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois, where he joined Theta Chi Fraternity. He also attended NYU's Graduate Acting Program, graduating in 1974.[3]


Faison started his acting career in 1974 in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear, with James Earl Jones in the title role. Faison would later appear opposite Jones in the Broadway premiere of Fences, for which he received a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Faison's next role came in TV, in the short-lived series Hot Hero Sandwich in 1979. Faison did not make it to the big screen until 1980, when he appeared in Permanent Vacation as "Man in Lobby". A string of small roles followed until 1986, when he played the part of Lt. Fisk in Manhunter. Also that year, he appeared in the comedy The Money Pit, as an unruly construction worker, and in the Stephen King film Maximum Overdrive. In 1988, he appeared alongside Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones in Coming to America in the role of a landlord and won a minor role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. Faison also appeared in 1996's "The Rich Man's Wife" as Detective Ron Lewis. He also appeared in the 1999 remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" as Detective Paretti. Faison is notable for being the most frequent actor to appear in adaptations of Thomas Harris' Hannibal books: along with Manhunter, he also appeared as Lector's jailer Barney in The Silence of the Lambs, the sequel Hannibal and the prequel Red Dragon.

During the 1990–1991 season, he starred in the Fox situation comedy True Colors with Stephanie Faracy and Nancy Walker about an interracial couple. He was replaced by Cleavon Little for the second season of the program. In 1991, Faison again appeared alongside Hopkins in the film Freejack, which also starred Mick Jagger and Maximum Overdrive co-star Emilio Estevez. In 1998, he was a regular on the science-fiction TV show Prey. In the 2003 film Gods and Generals, Faison played the role of Jim Lewis, a freed-slave, who shares his religious faith and optimism with CSA General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson as the General's personal cook. In 2004, he starred as JoJo Anderson in The Cookout and appeared in White Chicks. Faison had a starring role as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner Ervin Burrell on the HBO drama The Wire.

Faison appeared in Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns, a movie about a single mom who takes her family to Georgia for the funeral of her father—a man she never met. There, her clan is introduced to the crass, fun-loving Brown family. Faison played the role of Brown and Vera's brother, L.B. Brown. In 2009, he was also among the ensemble cast of John Krasinski's adaptation of Brief Interviews With Hideous Men playing the son of a toilet attendant who caustically recounts his father's experiences in one of the titular monologues.

Faison played Richard Evans on One Life to Live from 2009 through 2012.

He has recently appeared in episodes of Blue Bloods, which also stars Tom Selleck, as an assistant police commissioner. His main film role in this period was as Harlan in the film Adam. He also appeared in a third season episode of Lie to Me.

Faison played the role of Sugar Bates, a prizefighter turned tavernkeeper, on the Cinemax program Banshee. He appeared as Henry "Pop" Hunter in the Netflix series Luke Cage,[4] and played a supporting role in the 2016 Amazon Studios original special An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win.[5]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Permanent Vacation Man in Lobby
1981 Ragtime Gang Member No. 1
1982 Cat People Detective Brandt
1982 A Little Sex Electrician
1982 Hanky Panky Cop Driver
1984 C.H.U.D. Sergeant Parker
1984 Exterminator 2 Be Gee
1986 The Money Pit James
1986 Maximum Overdrive Handy
1986 Manhunter Lieutenant Fisk
1988 Coming to America Mr. Townsend
1988 Mississippi Burning Eulogist
1989 Do the Right Thing Coconut Sid
1990 Betsy's Wedding Zack Monroe
1991 The Silence of the Lambs Barney Matthews
1991 City of Hope Levonne
1992 Freejack Eagle Man
1993 Sommersby Joseph
1993 Money for Nothing Madigan
1994 I Love Trouble Police Chief
1995 Roommates Professor Martin
1996 The Stupids The Lloyd
1996 Mother Night Robert Sterling Wilson
1996 The Rich Man's Wife Detective Ron Lewis
1997 Albino Alligator Agent Marv Rose
1997 Julian Po Sheriff Leon
1998 Jaded Henry Broker
1999 The Thomas Crown Affair Detective Paretti
1999 A Little Inside Tom Donner
1999 Oxygen Phil Kline
2000 Where the Money Is Security Guard
2001 The Sleepy Time Gal Jimmy Dupree
2001 Hannibal Barney Matthews
2001 Down to Earth Whitney Daniels
2001 Thirteen Conversations About One Thing Richard 'Dick' Lacey
2002 Showtime Captain Winship
2002 Red Dragon Barney Matthews
2003 Gods and Generals Jim Lewis
2004 Highwaymen Will Macklin
2004 America Brown Coach Bryant
2004 White Chicks Chief Elliott Gordon
2004 Messengers Tom Mabry
2004 The Cookout Jojo Andersen
2004 Crutch Jerry
2004 In Good Company Corwin
2006 Premium Phil
2007 My Blueberry Nights Travis
2008 Meet the Browns L.B.
2009 Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Subject #42
2009 Adam Harlan
2009 Splinterheads Pope
2009 Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Rhamus Twobellies
2009 For Sale by Owner Gene Woodman
2009 Breaking Point Judge Green
2011 Mayor Cupcake Lenny Davis
2012 Cowgirls 'n Angels Augustus
2013 Tio Papi Gilly
2013 Danger Word Grandpa Joe Short film
2014 Clipped Wings, They Do Fly Mayor Goode
2014 Assumption of Risk Dr. Paulson
2014 Away from Here Carl
2016 An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win Frank Ellison
2016 Smoke Filled Lungs Stanley
2017 The Case for Christ Joe Dubois
2017 The Sounding Roland
2018 An Actor Prepares Deacon Frank Dodge
2020 Grudge Post-production
TBA I'm Your Woman Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Great Performances Captain Episode: "King Lear"
1983 The Edge of Night Ralph Pettibone Episode: "16919"
Sessions Intern Television film
1985 Search for Tomorrow Willard Clovis Episode: "18643"
Kate & Allie Detective Episode: "The Bad Seed"
1987 The Equalizer Zudo Episode: "Mission: McCall: Part 1"
1989 A Man Called Hawk Mr. Carver Episode: "Choice of Chance"
Monsters Jack Lyle Episode: "The Mandrake Root"
1990 Law & Order Lester Crawford Episode: "Out of the Half-Light"
1990–91 True Colors Ron Freeman 33 episodes
1994 The Spider and the Fly Detective Turner Television film
1995 The Langoliers Don Gaffney Two-part miniseries
1996 New York Undercover Captain Wilton Episode: "Fire Show"
1997 Oz Cornelius Keane Episode: "Capital P"
1997–98 Cosby Ron 2 episodes
1998 Prey Ray Peterson 13 episodes
1998–99 All My Children Frank Dawson 4 episodes
2001 Call Me Claus Dwayne Television film
2002–08 The Wire Ervin Burrell 40 episodes
2007–08 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit FBI Agent Tom Nickerson 2 episodes
2008 Army Wives General Baxter Episode: "Departures, Arrivals"
2008–12 One Life to Live Richard Evans 25 episodes
2009 Grey's Anatomy William Bailey Episode: "Holidaze"
2010 Blue Bloods Jeffords Episode: "Samaritan"
Lie to Me Teddy Episode: "Smoked"
2010–15 The Good Wife Jeremiah Easton 4 episodes
2013 Grey's Anatomy William Bailey Episode: "Things We Said Today"
Elementary Judge Brewster O'Hare Episode: "Tremors"
2013–16 Banshee Sugar Bates 35 episodes
2014 Unforgettable Mayor Beverly Episode: "Omega Hour"
Black Box Wade Episode: "Sing Like Me"
Forever Pepper Evans Episode: "6 A.M."
2016 Luke Cage Henry "Pop" Hunter 3 episodes
2017 The Good Fight Jeremiah Easton Episode: "Reddick v Boseman"
Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television Captain Jackson #5 Episode: "Hungry for Justice"
2018 Grey's Anatomy William Bailey Episode: "(Don't Fear) the Reaper"
Hawaii Five-0 Leroy Davis Episode: "Aohe Mea Make I Ka Hewa; Make No I Ka Mihi Ole"
2019 The Village Ron


  1. ^ "Frankie Faison". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Frankie Faison Biography (1949–)
  3. ^ "NYU Graduate Acting Alumni". 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Freeze, Kellie (21 October 2016). "Amazon and American Girl Explore Civil Rights in An American Girl Story — Melody 1963: Love Has to Win". Channel Guide. Retrieved 5 November 2016.

External linksEdit