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 theater 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 theater, where he acted in a number of productions including Dreamgirls, the critically acclaimed Avenue X and the off-Broadway revival of Godspell.
While 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 and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as “Rashid Cole,” a young man searching for his long-absent father (Forest Whitaker) in Smoke, the acclaimed 1995 drama directed by Wayne Wang and based on 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 DiCaprio'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, Terrence Howard 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 in 20th Century Fox's hit 28 Weeks Later, opposite Jeremy Renner, and in the independent features Gardens of the Night and 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 has 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 serial Lost, which garnered Perrineau a Screen Actors Guild Award® in 2004 for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a Drama Series. During this time, he also won an NAACP Award for his performance in Topdog/Underdog, directed by George C. Wolfe.
Perrineau can also be seen in Kathryn Bigelow's Academy Award®-nominated Zero Dark Thirty, as well as Malcolm D. Lee's The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to The Best Man. In addition, he starred as one of the leads of the TBS series The Wedding Band, recurred on Sons of Anarchy in his critically acclaimed performance as “Damon Pope” and played “Judge Keller” in Amazon's breakout hit Goliath.