William Joseph Devane (born September 5, 1939) is an American film, television and theatre actor, known for his role as Greg Sumner on the primetime soap opera Knots Landing (1983–1993) and as James Heller on the Fox serial dramas 24 (2001–2010) and 24: Live Another Day (2014). He is also known for his work in films such as Family Plot (1976), Marathon Man (1976), Rolling Thunder (1977), Payback (1999), and Space Cowboys (2000).
Devane was born in 1939 in Albany, New York, the son of Joseph Devane, who had been Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chauffeur when he was Governor of New York. His father was of Irish descent and his mother had Dutch and German ancestry. Devane graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1962.
Devane began his acting career with the New York Shakespeare Festival where he performed in 15 plays. In 1966, Devane portrayed Robert F. Kennedy in the off-Broadway spoof MacBird. He gained acclaim for his role as President John F. Kennedy in a television docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Missiles of October (1974), and again when he played blacklisted radio personality John Henry Faulk in the Emmy Award-winning TV movie Fear on Trial (1975). He is widely known for his ten years as the ambitious and hardnosed politician-turned-corporate titan Greg Sumner on Knots Landing.
In 1994, Devane appeared as Al Capone in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in an episode entitled “That Old Gang of Mine”. He also had a recurring role on the CBS show Early Edition (1996–2000) as the lead character’s father. Devane appeared in the films McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971); Lady Liberty (1971); Family Plot (1976), directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Marathon Man (1976); Rolling Thunder (1977); Yanks (1979); Testament (1983) with Jane Alexander; Timestalkers (1987) with Lauren Hutton and Klaus Kinski; Forgotten Sins (1996) with John Shea; Exception to the Rule (1997); Payback (1999); Hollow Man and Space Cowboys (2000).
Devane has played members of the Presidential Cabinet on two evening dramas. In 2004, on The West Wing, he guest-starred as the Secretary of State and potential Vice-Presidential nominee. Devane appeared in several scenes with Martin Sheen; they also appeared together as President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, respectively, 30 years earlier in The Missiles of October (1974). In 2005, he joined the cast of 24 as Secretary of Defense James Heller for seasons 4, 5 and 6.
In 2004, Devane appeared in three episodes of Stargate SG-1 as President Henry Hayes and appears in the direct-to-DVD movie Stargate: Continuum. He also co- starred in the short-lived sitcom Crumbs and as Brian’s real estate broker father in What About Brian (2006–07). In 2008, he appeared in Russ Emanuel’s Chasing the Green alongside Jeremy London, Ryan Hurst, and Robert Picardo. He also appears as police officer turned psychologist Dr. Dix in the Jesse Stone mystery movies with Tom Selleck. In 2010, he appeared in the NCIS episode “Worst Nightmare” as a grandfather, who is not what he appears to be and is actually a former U.S. deep cover special operations agent, of a child kidnapped from Marine Corps Base Quantico.
In 2012, Devane began a recurring role as Grandpa Edward Grayson on the ABC primetime soap opera Revenge. Devane also played the President of the United States in the Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight Rises. Devane reprised his role as James Heller, now President, in the limited-run series 24: Live Another Day, which premiered in May 2014.
Devane was also part of the regular cast of the sitcom The Grinder. He had a cameo role as Williams, as part of NASA, in the 2014 film Interstellar.
Devane is currently a spokesman for Rosland Capital.
Devane married Eugenie Devane in 1961. They have two sons. One of his sons, Joshua Devane, is also an actor. The couple lost their oldest son, Bill Devane in a tragic accident leaving the couple with one son.
|1967||In the Country||Unknown|
|1969||Gunsmith of Williamsburg||Narrator|
|1971||The Pursuit of Happiness||Pilot|
|The 300 Year Weekend||Tom|
|McCabe & Mrs. Miller||Clement Samuels, Esq|
|My Old Man’s Place||Jimmy Pilgrim|
|Lady Liberty||Jock Fenner|
|1972||The Irish Whiskey Rebellion||Lieutenant Ashley|
|1975||Report to the Commissioner||Assistant District Attorney Jackson|
|1976||Family Plot||Arthur Adamson / Edward Shoebridge|
|Marathon Man||Commander Peter ‘Janey’ Janeway|
|1977||The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training||Mike Leak|
|Rolling Thunder||Major Charles Rane|
|1979||The Dark||Roy Warner|
|1981||Honky Tonk Freeway||Mayor Kirby T. Calo|
|1981||Red Flag – The Ultimate Game||Major Phil Clark|
|1987||Hadley’s Rebellion||Coach Ball|
|1987||Timestalkers||Dr. Scott McKenzie|
|1990||Vital Signs||Dr. Chatham|
|1994||Lady in Waiting (Alternate title: Hollywood Madam)||Lieutenant Barrett|
|1997||Exception to the Rule||Lawrence Kellerman|
|2000||The Man Who Used To Be Me||Sam|
|Poor White Trash||Ron Lake|
|Space Cowboys||Eugene ‘Gene’ Davis|
|Hollow Man||Dr. Howard Kramer|
|2001||Race to Space||Roger Thornhill|
|2002||The Badge||The Judge|
|Threat of Exposure||Colonel Weldon|
|2003||The Wind Effect||L.T. Porter|
|Monte Walsh||Cal Brennan|
|2008||The Fall||Judge Stanley Seeban|
|Stargate Continuum||President Henry Hayes|
|2009||The Least Among You||Alan Beckett|
|Chasing the Green||Victor Gatling|
|2010||The River Why||‘Dutch’ Hines|
|The Kane Files: Life of Trial||Thompson|
|2011||Flag of My Father||Jake|
|2012||Red Clover||Pops O’Hara|
|The Dark Knight Rises||The President|
|2013||Bad Turn Worse||‘Big Red’|
|2014||50 to 1||Leonard ‘Doc’ Blach|