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William Petersen

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Title: William Petersen  
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Subject: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Manhunter (film), To Live and Die in L.A. (film), Fear (1996 film), Cousins (1989 film)
Collection: 1953 Births, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, 21St-Century American Male Actors, American Male Film Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American Male Television Actors, American People of Danish Descent, American People of German Descent, American Television Producers, Idaho State Bengals Football Players, Idaho State University Alumni, Living People, Male Actors from Chicago, Illinois, Male Actors from Evanston, Illinois, Male Actors from Idaho, People from Boise, Idaho
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

William Petersen

William Petersen
Petersen on the set of CSI in March 2004.
Born William Louis Petersen
(1953-02-21) February 21, 1953
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Other names William L. Petersen
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1976–present
Spouse(s) Joanne Brady
(1974–1981; divorced)
Gina Cirone (2003–present)
Children 3

William Louis Petersen (born February 21, 1953) is an American actor and producer best known for playing Dr. Gilbert "Gil" Grissom in the CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He also starred in films, such as To Live and Die in L.A. and Manhunter.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
  • Production credits 5
  • Live theatre 6
    • Remains Theatre 6.1
    • Steppenwolf Theatre Company 6.2
    • Goodman Theatre 6.3
    • Victory Gardens Theatre 6.4
    • Wisdom Bridge Theatre 6.5
    • Other stage works 6.6
  • Stage director 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Petersen was born in Evanston, Illinois, the youngest of six children of Helen June (née Hoene; 1909–2006) and Arthur Edward Petersen, Sr. (1907–2004), who worked in the furniture business.[1][2] He is of Danish and German descent.[3] He has two brothers, Arthur, Jr. and Robert, plus three sisters, Anne, Mary Kay, and Elizabeth.[4] He graduated from Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, Idaho, in 1972. He was accepted to Idaho State University on a football scholarship. While at Idaho State, Petersen took an acting course, which changed the direction of his life. He left school along with his wife, Joanne, in 1974 and followed a drama professor to the Basque country, where he studied as a Shakespearean actor. Petersen was interested in Basque culture and he studied the Basque language, Euskera, and gave his daughter the Basque name Maite Nerea (meaning My Beloved); she was born in Arrasate/Mondragón 1975.[5] Petersen returned to Idaho with the intention of being an actor. Not wanting to work a nonacting job in Idaho, he returned to the Chicago area, living with relatives. He became active in the theater and earned his Actors' Equity card. He performed with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, of which he has been an ensemble member since 2008, and was a co-founder of the Remains Theater Ensemble, which also included other prominent Chicago actors Gary Cole and Ted Levine.


In 1985, Petersen received his first break when he starred as a Secret Service agent gone rogue to avenge his mentor in William Friedkin's 1985 action film To Live and Die in L.A. The following year, Petersen played FBI agent Will Graham in the first Hannibal Lecter film, Manhunter. Because his role was so emotionally exhausting, he did everything he could to rid himself of Graham after finishing principal photography. He shaved off his beard, cut his hair and bleached it blond. He also claims to have done this because, while rehearsing for a play in Chicago, his dialogue was always coming out like Graham's; he dyed his hair so he could look in the mirror and see a different person.[6]

He declined a part in Oliver Stone's Platoon, as it would have kept him in the Philippines, away from his family. Instead, he worked on the 1987 HBO made-for-TV movie Long Gone as a minor league baseball player and manager. Petersen was offered the role of Henry Hill in the movie Goodfellas, but turned it down. An exposé about the film in the May 2015 issue of Playboy claims that Petersen turned down the audition altogether. [7]In a 1990 ABC three-part miniseries, The Kennedys of Massachusetts, Petersen played U.S. President John F. Kennedy's father, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy. The film won an Emmy and a Golden Globe from eight and two nominations, respectively. Also in 1990, Petersen portrayed the infamous Patrick Floyd "Pat" Garrett in Young Guns II. In 1993, Petersen appeared in another miniseries, Return to Lonesome Dove, and in 1996's Fear. Petersen played the role of Governor Jack Hathaway, an unscrupulous candidate for vice president following the death of the incumbent, in The Contender.

He appeared uncredited in the noir thriller Mulholland Falls as a character who finds himself on the violent receiving end of a Los Angeles police squad's tactics. He starred in Kiss the Sky and also appeared as part of an all-star cast in a remake of the film 12 Angry Men (as Juror #12, aka "the Snob"). From 2000 to 2010, he played Dr. Gil Grissom in the CBS crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Petersen took a break from CSI to appear in a five-week run of the Trinity Repertory Company production of Dublin Carol in Providence, Rhode Island. On May 30, 2007, he was at Wrigley Field to join WGN radio sportscasters covering a Chicago CubsFlorida Marlins game, and he mentioned he had seen CSI: The Experience at the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago) on the South Side of Chicago. He expressed how he and his castmates were "blessed" to have such a successful series when he had seen shows starring friends cancelled after only a few episodes.

Petersen renewed his contract with CBS to appear on CSI for the 2008-09 season, reportedly for $600,000 per episode.[8] On July 15, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Petersen was leaving the show as a regular following Season 9's tenth episode in order to pursue more stage acting opportunities, but that he might return for guest spots.[9] He remained an executive producer of the show.[9] He reprised his role of Gil Grissom in the eleventh season episode "The Two Mrs. Grissoms" (aired February 3, 2011).

On February 3, 2009, Petersen was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Most of the cast and crew of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation attended the ceremony. His star is located at 6667 Hollywood Blvd., directly in front of the legendary Musso & Frank Grill.

Personal life

Petersen married longtime girlfriend Gina Cirone in July 2003. He has a daughter, Maite (born c. 1975), from his previous marriage to Joanne Brady. Through Maite, he has two grandsons, Mazrik William (born October 2003) and Indigo August (born August 2009). He is an avid Chicago Cubs fan. In 2004, he described to Playboy Magazine a near-death experience he had in the 1980s that gave him "assurance" that there is an afterlife.[10]

On July 5, 2011, Petersen and Cirone (via surrogate) welcomed twins, a son and daughter.[11]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 Thief Katz & Jammer Bartender
1985 To Live and Die in L.A Richard Chance
1986 Manhunter Will Graham
1987 Amazing Grace and Chuck Russell
1989 Cousins Tom
1990 Young Guns II Pat Garrett
1991 Hard Promises Joey
1992 Passed Away Frank Scanlan
1995 In the Kingdom of the Blind, the Man with One Eye is King Tony C.
1996 Fear Steve Walker
1996 Mulholland Falls Jack Flynn, Mafia Mobster Uncredited
1998 Gunshy Jake Bridges
1999 Kiss the Sky Jeff
2000 The Skulls Ames Levritt
2000 The Contender Jack Hathaway
2011 Detachment Sarge
2012 Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Glenn
2015 CSI: Immortality Dr. Gilbert "Gil" Grissom Television Film


Year Title Role Notes
1986 The Twilight Zone Edward Sayers Episode: "Need to Know"
1987 Long Gone Cecil Cantrell Movie
1990 The Kennedys of Massachusetts Joseph P. Kennedy Miniseries
1993 Return to Lonesome Dove Gideon Walker 3 episodes
1992 Keep the Change Joe Starling Movie
1993 Curacao Stephen Guerin Movie
1995 Fallen Angels George Episode: "Good Housekeeping"
1996 The Beast Whip Dalton Movie
1997 12 Angry Men Juror #12 Movie
1998 The Staircase Joad Movie
1998 The Rat Pack John F. Kennedy Movie
2000–2009; 2011–2013 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Gil Grissom 197 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2002–2004)
Nominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2002–2004)
2001 Haven Jackson Connolly Movie
2007 Without a Trace Gil Grissom Episode: "Where and Why?"
2013 Blue Mitch Episode: "Hard Time"
2015 Manhattan Col. Emmett Darrow[12] Episode # 2.1

Production credits

Live theatre

Remains Theatre

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Goodman Theatre

Victory Gardens Theatre

Wisdom Bridge Theatre

  • Canticle of the Sun (1981) .... ???
  • Belly of the Beast (1983) .... Jack Henry Abbott (Prize Joseph Jefferson Awards from Best Actor)
  • Speed the Plow (1987) .... Bobby Gould

Other stage works

  • Appeared in productions at Boise State University and Lewis and Clark College.

Stage director

  • Farmyard, Remains Theatre, Chicago, IL, c. 1980
  • Traps, Remains Theatre, 1983


  1. ^ William Petersen Biography (1953-)
  2. ^ "Marriage Announcement 3 - No Title". 1931-08-02. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  3. ^ "Star didn't have a clue 'CSI' would be a huge hit - Page 2 -". 2007-08-04. Retrieved 2013-01-20. 
  4. ^ Hiltbrand, David (2004-02-06). "William Petersen didn't have a clue `CSI' would be a huge hit". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  5. ^ "El Imparcial: Noticias: William Petersen (Grissom, de CSI) habla y canta en vasco". 2008-12-20. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  6. ^ Inside Manhunter: Interviews with stars William Petersen, Joan Allen, Brian Cox and Tom Noonan
  7. ^ Playboy Magazine, May 2015
  8. ^ William Petersen Renews CSI Contract" TV Guide. March 31, 2008. Retrieved on April 1, 2008.
  9. ^ a b "CSI series star William Petersen leaving in 9th season". Associated Press. 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  10. ^ Playboy magazine, March 2004, page 139
  11. ^ "William Petersen Welcomes Twins – Moms & Babies – Moms & Babies -". Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  12. ^ "William Petersen Returns to Television in WGN America’s Manhattan". March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2015. 

External links

  • William Petersen at the Internet Movie Database
  • Screen grabs, press stills and information about Petersen's famous role in Michael Mann's "Manhunter" (1986)
  • Petersen not sad about 'CSI' exit Digital Spy, January 9, 2009
  • Billy in theatre
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