An accomplished actor who has graced the stage, screen, and television, Harold Perrineau has earned a well-deserved reputation as a performer willing to take on just about anything, with roles ranging from drag queens to hardened criminals. A native of Brooklyn, Perrineau studied music and theatre at the Shenandoah Conservatory, but began his career as a dancer with the Alvin Ailey Company, performing with the troupe for a year and a half. A gradual shift to acting led Perrineau to the theatre, where he acted in a number of shows including Dreamgirls, the critically acclaimed Avenue X, the off-Broadway revival of Godspell, and most recently, his first leading role on Broadway opposite Diane Lane in Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard.
While he was working on the stage, Perrineau also began appearing on TV in such shows as The Cosby Show, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, I’ll Fly Away, and Law & Order. He segued onto the big screen in the late ’80s, but had his first memorable role as “Rashid Cole”, a young man searching for his long-absent father (Forest Whitaker) in Smoke, an acclaimed 1995 drama directed by Wayne Wang and based upon the writings of Paul Auster. The following year he gained further exposure for his flamboyant, explosive portrayal of “Mercutio” in Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet. At one point outfitted in a glitter miniskirt and platform heels, Perrineau proved a worthy, if idiosyncratic, foil for Leonardo Di Caprio’s “Romeo” and gave a performance that marked him as one of the more distinctive “Mercutios” in the play’s history.
Perrineau subsequently appeared in a number of supporting roles in films ranging from Auster’s Lulu on the Bridge (1998) to The Best Man (1999), a celebrated romantic comedy directed by Malcolm D. Lee (cousin of Spike Lee) that saw Perrineau share the screen with other members of a group widely billed as a new generation of African- American actors, including Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, and Nia Long. In addition to appearances in various independent films, Perrineau starred in Woman on Top (2000), a comedy that cast him as the drag queen best friend of a young woman (Penelope Cruz) experiencing romantic woes. Perrineau also starred last year in Fox’s hit 28 Weeks Later and in the independent features Gardens of the Night, Your Name Here. In addition to his film work, Perrineau remained active on television with a significant part as a paraplegic prisoner in the acclaimed HBO series Oz.
Perrineau reached an even wider audience through a string of high profile projects including a starring role in the final two installments of The Matrix trilogy (Revolutions & Reloaded) and his portrayal of “Michael” in the Emmy and Golden Globe winning ABC television series Lost which garnered Perrineau a Screen Actors Guild award in 2004 for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Drama Series.” Perrineau’s previous recognitions include a “Best Supporting Male” nomination at the Independent Spirit Awards for his work on Smoke as well as an NAACP award for his performance in the award winning production on TopDog/Underdog.
Harold was recently seen in Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award-nominated Zero Dark Thirty as well as Malcolm D. Lee’s The Best Man Holiday, the anticipated sequel to The Best Man for Universal. On television, 2016 and 2017 brought another busy year for Perrineau as he starred opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath on Amazon, as well as garnering critical acclaim and an NAACP IMAGE award for his portrayal of Niecy Nash’s autistic brother in TNT’s hit CLAWS.