Born on April 18, 1947 in Vernal, Utah, James Woods has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and twice nominated for an Oscar. He is an actor best known for his roles on such critically acclaimed films as Once Upon a Time in America, Ghosts of Mississippi, Salvador, and Hercules. He was born to an army intelligence officer and a pre-school owner. He attended Pilgrim High School in Warwick, Rhode Island where he grew up. He was accepted at the United States Air Force Academy but an accident weeks before the start of classes prevented him from pursuing his studies there. He instead chose to take his undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he majored in political science.
James Woods' career has been noted for the intense characters he has chosen. He was nominated for an Academy Award twice: the first in 1987 for Best Actor in Salvador and again in 1996 for Best Supporting Actor for Ghosts of Mississippi. He has also garnered critical praise for his voice work for Hades in Disney's Hercules and in the Kingdom Hearts video game series. His personal favorite of all of his roles, however, is as the domineering gangster Max in Sergio Leone's gangster epic Once Upon A Time In America (1984).
Woods appeared as himself in the episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer and Apu" and in an episode of Family Guy entitled "Peter's Got Woods." In 2006, Woods starred opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in the intense political thriller End Game. Also in 2006, Woods played himself in the season 3 premiere episode of Entourage. Woods now stars in the new CBS legal drama Shark. Woods plays an infamous Los Angeles defense lawyer who, growing disillusioned, becomes a prosecutor. Shark is directed by Spike Lee and also stars Jeri Ryan.