You’ve seen it in movies like ‘Seabiscuit’, ‘Transformers’, ‘Sea of Love’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. His face is also familiar from many TV series: “The West Wing”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”, “Bates Motel”, “Extant”, “Rectify” and many others.
Alabama native Michael O’Neill has a resume any character actor would be proud to claim. He played heroes and villains, senators and cops, judges and sheriffs. And dads. Lots of dads lately, including a surrogate dad on a heartwarming NBC series in 2020.
“For a guy who they said, ‘You’re not going to make it,’ it worked out well,” O’Neill, 71, said. “I never really thought of it as a career. I thought about the next job. It’s like a shark: if you stop moving, you fall.
O’Neill, who was born and raised in Montgomery, lives in California with his wife, Mary O’Keefe O’Neill. The couple have three adult daughters: Ella, Annie and Molly. The O’Neills raised their children in Birmingham for several years, but the west coast beckoned, and the acting opportunities it offered.
“Sometimes I look back and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that was a career,'” O’Neill says. “It was kind of shocking to me. Young actors will say, ‘I would love to have the career you had.’ I don’t know. I don’t know about the career. Just get a job.”