Award-winning actor Edward James Olmos was born on February 24, 1947 in Los Angeles, California. The son of parents with Mexican descent, he grew up wanting to become a professional baseball player, and started playing the sport. He then became involved with rock and roll during his teens, starting the band Pacific Ocean, which performed in several venues in Los Angeles. He studied at East Los Angeles College, and later, the California State University in Los Angeles, where he started training as an actor.
Olmos branched out to acting in the late 1960s and early 1970s, playing roles in several productions on stage and television. He grew to prominence with the play Zoot Suit, which dramatized racial riots during World War II in California. His portrayal of the narrator, El Pachuco, earned praise, eventually earning him a Tony nomination upon the move to Broadway. He played the same role in the 1981 film version, and appeared in several other films, including Blade Runner and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.
In 1984, Olmos joined the cast of the police drama Miami Vice. His role, that of taciturn and reclusive police officer Martin Castillo, earned him a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 1985. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the 1988 drama Stand and Deliver. His other films during the time include Selena and My Family/Mi Familia.
Olmos’ most recent notable role was in the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica. He joined the cast of the reimagined version of the original ‘70s series in 2003, playing the role of William Adama, a Viper pilot who rose up the ranks and eventually became commanding officer of the Battlestar Galactica. He appeared in the miniseries and reprised his role in the resulting regular series, playing the role throughout its four-season run from 2004 to 2008. He also directed three episodes of the series.
He gained 20 pounds and thinned his hair to prepare for the role of Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver (1988).
He agreed to the role of William Adama on the Battlestar Galactica remake only on the condition that the stories reflect as much realism and credibility as possible.
2008 - ALMA Award - Outstanding Actor in a Drama Television Series for Battlestar Galactica
2007 - ALMA Award - Outstanding Actor - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie
for Battlestar Galactica
2007 - ALMA Award - Outstanding Director - Television Series, Mini-Series, Television Movie
1999 - ALMA Award - Outstanding Individual Performance in a Made-for-Television Movie or Mini-Series in a Crossover Role for The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
1998 - ALMA Award - Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film for Selena
2009 - Saturn Award - Best Actor in Television
for Battlestar Galactica
1985 - Emmy - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Miami Vice
1995 - Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
for The Burning Season
1986 - Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV
for Miami Vice
Dead Man's Walk (1996) - Capt. Salazar
The Limbic Region (1996) - Jon Lucca
Caught (1996) - Joe
12 Angry Men (1997) - Juror #11
Selena (1997) - Abraham Quintanilla, Jr.
The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (1997) - Roberto Lozano
The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998) - Vamanos
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1998) - Det. Anthony Piscotti
Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999) - Salvatore Maranzano
The Road to El Dorado (2000) (voice) - Chief Tannabok
Gossip (2000) - Detective Curtis
The Judge (2001) - Judge Armando
In the Time of the Butterflies (2001) Rafael Trujillo
Jack and Marilyn (2002) - Pasquel
Cerca, La (2005) - Nino
Nausica of the Valley of the Wind (2005) - Voice of Mito
Splinter (2006) - Capt. Garcia
Walkout (2006) - Julian Nava
Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) (voice) - Diablo
The Green Hornet (2011) - Michael Axford
"Sometimes you gotta do things that you don't really want to do. But you don't do them for money."
"I love to drive. It's one of the most pleasurable things to me. I have a 1986 Porsche--it's got over 100,000 miles on it. Most people don't drive their Porches at all, but I drive mine like most people drive their Volkswagen."